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Industrial Design Students Get Professional Feedback to Prepare for Job Market

An image of Kean Industrial Design student Pablo Galao Birkmann's modular flashlight

Industrial Design student Pablo Galao Birkmann presented his modular flashlight concept for hikers and adventurers to professionals at Aruliden as part of a collaboration with Kean University.

Kean University industrial design students are receiving important one-on-one feedback and networking with professionals through a collaboration with the prestigious global design company Aruliden.

Every two weeks, students from the industrial design program get the chance to present their work in 15-minute sessions with Aruliden industrial designers and receive immediate feedback to further develop their projects or presentations. 

“The students are getting feedback that they would get during a job interview,” said Efe Kutuk, Kean assistant professor and industrial design program coordinator. “They get exposed to the expectations of a prestigious design consulting firm in order to get hired. This way they can shape their portfolios in their last semester in consideration of the level of skills stated in these feedback sessions.” 

Joe Frankl, industrial designer at Aruliden, takes the lead and is joined by another Aruliden designer at each session.

“I've seen a diverse range of interests from the students at Kean,” he said. “As a student, I remember feeling a little unsure about how to combine my own specific expertise and interests into a career path. It's been rewarding to help each student hone their own skills and get closer to finding their own path.”

A draft of an industrial design project.
Industrial Design student Michael Ferraro's presentation for an adaptive flashlight to assist senior citizens and others using walkers included his concept ideation sketches.

Kutuk said the feedback is constructive and provides valuable insight into how independent design consulting studios work. 

“The students are taking this opportunity seriously. They even do side projects just to get feedback on certain skills like 3D modeling and rendering,” Kutuk said.

Junior industrial design major Benjamin Smith from Berlin, New Jersey, believes the experience will help him stand out as a job applicant.  

“Having designers who work for a notable company review my work allows me take my work to the next level,” he said. “This will help me in the near future as I approach an internship or job in the field.”

The idea for the collaboration with Aruliden grew from the 2018 Thinking Creatively Conference at Michael Graves College, at which Reid Schlegel, associate design director at Aruliden, gave a talk. Last summer, Schlegel reached out to Kutuk to discuss a collaboration, and together, they developed the current partnership.

Schlegel said he is drawn to the design enthusiasm of industrial design students and wants to help build a support net for them.

“It can be very challenging landing your first job out of school. This uphill struggle commonly causes many students to give up on ID and move to different fields. It is rewarding to give ID students the knowledge that I wish I had when starting my career, so that they can have a smoother and less demoralizing experience entering the workforce,” he said.

Kutuk said the partnership has generated excitement among Kean’s industrial design students and encouraged them to push themselves to impress professionals who could one day be their supervisors. He hopes it leads to further collaboration.

“We welcome any sort of collaboration. Perhaps Aruliden can join our midterm and final reviews as guest critics or mentor students individually. It's just a wonderful opportunity for our students, and I thank the Aruliden team for this amazing opportunity.”