In the final academic year for graduate students, the MFA Transportation Design curriculum concludes with the Graduate Thesis, designed to help students articulate and execute a body of work that is the culmination of their graduate studies experience. Students follow a design development path that commences with a rigorous research phase. A busniess case and a creative brief emerge from their research findings. These serve as the plan of work for the completion of the Thesis. Through mutlitple phases - complete with milestones and reviews with their advisors - students complete a series of high-quality deliverables, building up to a final presentation to the Graduate Thesis Review Committee.

Here is an example of two students final thesis presentations. In this video, Daniel Couttolenc presents his final thesis, "Terrestrial." His thesis' main purpose is exploring the use of recyclable materials in the design and manufacturing of automobiles in an effort to cut down on landfill waste.

The second presenter is Shabtai Hirshberg, who's thesis explores how new aircraft design can benefit both airlines and passengers by reducing fuel costs and improving passenger comfort.

First Year

Fall

  1. Transportation Graduate Studio I: Extended Range Electric Vehicle
  2. Contextual Design Research I: Consumer Values, Attitudes, Behavior
  3. Digital Visual Communications Design: The Digital Narrative
  4. Graduate Seminar I: Foundations of Global Thinking
  5. Elective

Transportation Graduate Studio I: Extended Range Electric Vehicle

The design projects assigned in Transportation Design Graduate Studio I, II, III and IV share the same structure, but differ in their complexity and duration. Students are assigned formally structured design projects, requiring a substantive research phase (augmented by the Contextual Design Research class), a prototype or concept development phase, followed by a concept/design refinement phase, and finishing with design presentation and reflection phases. Topics will be relevant to today's ever-changing cultural and technological societies.

Contextual Design Research I: Consumer Values, Attitudse, Behavior

Contextual Design Research I and II introduce the methods, tools and techniques of research that are relevant to designing with people in mind for product, experience, space, or service. The methods and tools fall into the categories of “what people say,” “what people do” and “what people need.” Contextual Design Research I and II will be primarily lecture-based, but will also include a variety of hands-on learning activities that are applicable at all points along the design process. This course is structured around the graduate studio projects. Open to graduate students only.

Digital Visual Communications Design: The Digital Narrative

This course focuses on the process and creation of multi-faceted, multimedia narratives to express complex ideas, and designs for a full spectrum of audiences. It will cover the philosophy and practice of digital communication, narrative development through effective storytelling, a digital creation toolkit, workflow creation, implementation, timing, and process, as well as overview and exploration of the impact of social networks.

Graduate Seminar I: Foundations of Global Thinking

This seminar provides a foundation for thinking about economic, political, cultural and aesthetic issues in a global context, especially as they might inform individual design practice, i.e., the student’s local action. The seminar begins by examining the process of exchange and in particular the way humans interact with one another through market transactions. Students then examine various ways of understanding globalization as an economic and cultural system. Subsequent classes focus on the mechanisms of the global market and the increasingly important role design has come to play. Of particular concern are the aesthetic and informational values built into production and consumption practices. This further entails consideration of questions of sustainability and ethics. Provisions are made to accommodate the exploration of individual and group interests as the semester progresses.

Elective

Studio Electives I, II and III offer opportunities for graduate students to select studio courses from CCS’s wide-ranging undergraduate programs, either to pursue personal creative interests, gain studio experience related to an intended thesis direction or augment basic skills. Students will make their selection in consultation with their graduate advisor(s).

Winter

  1. Transportation Graduate Studio II: Extended Range Electric Vehicle
  2. Contextual Design Research II: Research Principles & Methods
  3. Digital Visual Communications II: Communication Campaigns
  4. Business Practice I: Marketing as Strategy
  5. Elective

Transportation Graduate Studio II: Extended Range Electric Vehicle

The design projects assigned in Transportation Design Graduate Studio I, II, III and IV share the same structure, but differ in their complexity and duration. Students are assigned formally structured design projects, requiring a substantive research phase (augmented by the Contextual Design Research class), a prototype or concept development phase, followed by a concept/design refinement phase, and finishing with design presentation and reflection phases. Topics will be relevant to today's ever-changing cultural and technological societies.

Contextual Design Research II: Research Principles & Methods

Contextual Design Research I and II introduce the methods, tools and techniques of research that are relevant to designing with people in mind for product, experience, space, or service. The methods and tools fall into the categories of “what people say,” “what people do” and “what people need.” Contextual Design Research I and II will be primarily lecture-based, but will also include a variety of hands-on learning activities that are applicable at all points along the design process. This course is structured around the graduate studio projects. Open to graduate students only.

Digital Visual Communications II: Communication Campaigns

As a continuation of Digital Visual Communication I, this course focuses on creating clear and compelling visual presentations that describe design ideas using digital tools. Students advance and refine their software skills in a number of rendering, editing and presentation programs, including Photoshop, Showcase, PowerPoint, SolidWorks, Alias, and Rhino, and apply them to the presentation of complex transportation design issues. Wherever possible, assignments will relate to the Transportation Design II class. In addition to learning visual communications as a means of conveying ideas to clients, students are taught to use digital tools as a means for experimentation, idea generation and problem solving.

Business Practice I: Marketing as Strategy

This course is designed around a framework that organizes and interrelates marketing topics into succinct modules. Using the new textbook, "Marketing: The Big Picture" by Christie Nordhielm, students will be required to apply the big picture framework to a live “mini” case that they choose and write themselves using a carefully designed template. Students will then take a leadership role in managing the discussion of these mini-cases. In this way, the class will maximize their relevance to current business practices and also acquaint the students with the ‘business case’ format. Students will also leverage a simulation tool, the Big Picture Simulation, to test their knowledge of the concepts learned in class.

Elective

Studio Electives I, II and III offer opportunities for graduate students to select studio courses from CCS’s wide-ranging undergraduate programs, either to pursue personal creative interests, gain studio experience related to an intended thesis direction or augment basic skills. Students will make their selection in consultation with their graduate advisor(s).

Second Year

Fall

  1. Transportation Design Graduate Studio III
  2. Graduate Seminar II
  3. Transportation Design Graduate Thesis I

Transportation Design Graduate Studio III

The design projects assigned in Transportation Design Graduate Studio I, II, III and IV share the same structure, but differ in their complexity and duration. Students are assigned formally structured design projects, requiring a substantive research phase (augmented by the Contextual Design Research class), a prototype or concept development phase, followed by a concept/design refinement phase, and finishing with design presentation and reflection phases. Topics will be relevant to today's ever-changing cultural and technological societies.

Graduate Seminar II

Graduate Seminar II brings together the full cohort of CCS graduate students where they are exposed to key contemporary issues influencing the design professional. Students will attend lectures and workshops with visiting artists, designers and related industry and academic leaders. The Graduate Seminar serves to advance both the investigative and critical writing skills of students. Social context, sustainability, and ethics will be some of the themes addressed, possibly structured within a colloquial format. This seminar requires extensive reading, research and short, fast-paced assignments set in the various workshops. Students participate in individual and group presentations in the seminar. Open to graduate students only.

Transportation Design Graduate Thesis I

The Transportation Design Graduate Thesis I and II curriculum is designed to help students synthesize external factors - such as technology, global and environmental issues and trends, including social change – and translate them into a form that is meaningful in a business setting to create relevant design solutions. “Relevant” in this context requires that students’ design solutions resonate with an identified market segment, from all design and functional standpoints. The Transportation Design Graduate Thesis I and II are studio courses in which each student will be required to create a body of work that is the culmination of his/her graduate study experience. The Thesis will require that students follow a design development path that commences with an extensive and rigorous research phase. A business case and/or a creative brief will grow out of the research findings and will serve as the plan of work for the completion of the Thesis. Students will be expected to work through the subsequent phases of creating a high-quality creative deliverable(s), either digitally or hand built as appropriate.

Winter

  1. Transportation Design Graduate Studio IV
  2. Business Practices II
  3. Transportation Design Graduate Thesis II

Transportation Design Graduate Studio IV

The design projects assigned in Transportation Design Graduate Studio I, II, III and IV share the same structure, but differ in their complexity and duration. Students are assigned formally structured design projects, requiring a substantive research phase (augmented by the Contextual Design Research class), a prototype or concept development phase, followed by a concept/design refinement phase, and finishing with design presentation and reflection phases. Topics will be relevant to today's ever-changing cultural and technological societies.

Business Practices II

Business Practice II teaches business issues and the vocabulary of business related to product development management in a global context. Management matters specific to corporate settings and entrepreneurship will be explored. Written assignments include business plans and proposal writing. Development of verbal presentation skills is also a feature of this course sequence. Open to graduate students only.

Transportation Design Graduate Thesis II

The Transportation Design Graduate Thesis I and II curriculum is designed to help students synthesize external factors - such as technology, global and environmental issues and trends, including social change – and translate them into a form that is meaningful in a business setting to create relevant design solutions. “Relevant” in this context requires that students’ design solutions resonate with an identified market segment, from all design and functional standpoints. The Transportation Design Graduate Thesis I and II are studio courses in which each student will be required to create a body of work that is the culmination of his/her graduate study experience. The Thesis will require that students follow a design development path that commences with an extensive and rigorous research phase. A business case and/or a creative brief will grow out of the research findings and will serve as the plan of work for the completion of the Thesis. Students will be expected to work through the subsequent phases of creating a high-quality creative deliverable(s), either digitally or hand built as appropriate.

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