In coming to Virginia Tech last year, I knew I would be presented with many new opportunities and organizations to join. I had heard about IDSA (Industrial Designers Society of America) last year in passing but never really understood what they did or who they were. This year, I decided to not only join, but try to become a 2nd year representative. After going to an interest meeting, I was convinced that spending time in this organization and group of seemingly really fun and intelligent people would be a great move for me.

Now that I’ve received the position, it was time to do a little more research. Obviously, the easy way to learn more about IDSA was to check out the website. First things  first, I pressed the “What is ID?” tab, as a second year, I always feel as though I could gain a much better appreciation for what exactly it is I’m doing. The most interesting thing I landed on while in this tab was “How do they do it?” – how do Industrial Designers create and produce everything they think of? Quickly, I was shocked and overwhelmed by the 31 steps they describe as being necessary to the design process. There are over 8 stages of sketching before any sort of prototype or modeling begins, which is also developed in nothing short of several steps. This is the basis of all design. No product would be successful without an incredible amount of iteration and constant rethinking.

Next, I wanted to find out about IDSA’s involvement in education. This page includes all the universities in which IDSA is involved. In theory, a incoming freshman could research their design program and also understand IDSA’s future role in their academics. Communication between different chapters is also a big part of IDSA at the university level. I know in studio, or in any of our design classes, collaboration between colleagues is exceedingly  important.

Most importantly, I noticed that both the IDSA organization and website are great for finding out about the professional world. Still being so young, it can be difficult for Industrial Design students my age to hear about job and internship prospects. At Virginia Tech, IDSA organizes internship “share outs” and presentations where students talk about jobs they have gone on or ones that they have heard are available. There are also district and national conferences which are set up for several schools in the same area to share what they are working on with eachother. I have always thought that one of the best things about the design world is the interconnection of it. There is so much innovation going and progress happening on a daily basis that it could certainly get overwhelming. Having a constant network of information certainly helps with this.

Finally what I like most about IDSA at Virginia Tech is all the support it offers. There are various settings like sketch groups and detoxes where a student can go and work on the skills they are not confident in. Additionally, last year, they implemented a new mentorship program, in which an older IDSA student takes a younger one under their wing. This forced union is a great way to form a relationship with someone who is generous enough to help you, whether it be with a school assignment or how to apply for an internship. This makes me really excited to be involved this year. Between all the opportunities available within this organization, I think I will really thrive as an ID student and second year representative.