IIT Institute of Design is planning to offer a design graduate program in downtown Grand Rapids in fall 2010. The Master of Design Methods (MDM) would teach advanced courses in design thinking to area executives in a two-year, part-time format.
"Part of the appeal is the commitment on the part of Grand Rapids' civic leaders to make the area a national innovation hub. If we can play a role in that, it's a compelling story to help us grow both nationally and internationally."
–Hugh Musick, associate dean
Four potential students have begun the application process. Seth Starner, senior business innovation manager at Alticor Inc approached ID with the idea of coming to Grand Rapids last year.
"What if Grand Rapids was a hub not only for product design, but also for design thinking? With lots of people in town who can think of creative solutions, it becomes a center, a place you want to live. If we could have that sort of collection of people, imagine how powerful that would be for the sustainability and growth of our community."
Starner's introduction to ID was through Design Camp – a week of intensive executive courses that compresses the basics of the MDM program into five days.
"After summer camp, I knew I wanted more," he says. "I knew I needed these tools and I wanted more time with them."
Starner researched the highly respected programs offered by the design institutes at Stanford University, Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management. The programs at those schools tended to skew heavily toward business or design instead of meeting in the middle, but Starner thinks IIT's program provides an optimal balance.
About the design graduate program
The MDM program centers on design thinking. The goal is to give students knowledge of the latest user-centered and strategic design methods and new ways to solve problems. Students will use the tools of design in a business context to create value.
The design graduate program in Grand Rapids will be identical to the one offered at the Institute's Chicago campus, with the same professors traveling to teach the courses. Each month will focus on a different module, including design planning, user research, design analysis, problem framing and prototyping.
Students will work in interdisciplinary teams on a variety of projects, and will spend an intensive week at the school's Chicago campus after completing the first year of the program, where they'd be able to apply what they've learned to a single project.
Kelly Quintanilla tells the whole story in a recent article featured in Rapid Growth.