How are new consumer products designed? KSC’s program approaches the artistic, scientific, and technical aspects from a viewpoint that values sustainability and sound business practices. Hands-on, project-based learning gives students the tools and experience for jobs in this fast-moving environment.
Toward a More Sustainable Future
To move us toward a more sustainable future, our world needs creative change-makers, confident and competent in their design thinking practices and grounded in a framework of sustainability principles to guide their decisions. The Sustainable Product Design and Innovation (SPDI) program was designed to integrate product design methodologies, cutting-edge technologies and hands-on model and prototype building within the context of business enterprise and the liberal arts.
As a SPDI major, you will navigate the design process, relying on your understanding of sustainability and your collaborations within interdisciplinary teams, as you bring forth your own unique solutions to improve our lives on this planet. Faculty mentors orient you to our 53,000-square-foot educational facility, the Technology Design and Safety (TDS) Center, a net-zero-energy-ready building eligible for LEED platinum certification. There you will learn to propel your initial concepts through a multitude of design iterations using state-of-the-art CAD/CAM software, digital manufacturing technologies (3D printing) and challenging model/prototype construction. You will experience and understand how things are made and the manufacturing processes involved in producing them so you can design durable products, minimize waste, consider the work experience of the makers and create economically-viable products. Your cross-disciplinary studies in management, marketing, operations management and safety will be woven together in capstone courses in product design and manufacturing enterprise.
Along the way you will test your tenacity and build your capacity to see a project through to a successful solution. By the time you present your body of work at SPDI Senior Portfolio night, you will understand the “big picture” of manufacturing design’s place in the world and how you will fit in and make your contributions to a sustainable 21st century.
Our Learning Community
Internships & career opportunities
- Product Design and Development
- Engineering Technology
- CADD Design
- CADD/CAM technology (including jigs and fixture design)
- EHS Support (Environmental Health and Safety)
- Quality Assurance
- Materials and Process Research
- Manufacturing Support
- CNC Operation
- Product Installation
- Technical Sales
- Design and Manufacturing Start-ups
Working in Keene State’s state-of-the-art laboratory, students are provided with a wide range of hands-on learning experiences that help them to translate their ideas and designs into marketable prototypes and acquire specific industry skills. For example, many SPDI students attain national proficiency certifications, providing clear evidence they have acquired much sought after skills using SolidWorks, our primary 3D CADD modeling and design tool. Others obtain mastery over additive printing, CMM machines for quality control and specific precision machining technologies and their programming languages.
The SPDI experience is provided in the context of the multi-faceted perspectives students acquire through the College’s liberal arts programs. Assisted by the SPDI faculty’s one-on-one mentorship, each SPDI student is encouraged to seek a combination of Integrated Studies courses or an existing minor that reinforces their career interests in environmental science, sustainability, art/sculpture/graphic design, safety studies, management, architecture, physics/math requisites for advanced degrees in engineering, and computer science. Since the launch of the SPDI major, each senior has been expected to consolidate their SPDI and liberal arts studies into a formal portfolio. Each spring the senior class formally displays their individual portfolios to members of our campus leadership, the SPDI Advisory Council and recent SPDI alumni. As a result of their professional presentations, most graduating seniors have been immediately invited to job interviews and hired for career-entry positions. Virtually all graduates of the program have found meaningful employment, largely based on internships that opened the doors to full-time job offers.
As the only program in New England that combines industrial design, project management, and manufacturing engineering technologies, Keene State’s SPDI program has emerged as a destination major for incoming and transfer students. The success of our first SPDI graduates has enhanced the program’s growing reputation.
Mike Heiligmann ’06 transferred to Keene State from Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston. “I wanted to do more design-type work, and that’s what got me interested in Keene,” he says. “I had a great time here. I loved the course and the program.”
A memorable project was designing an electric towel warmer using Solidworks, a 3D design software, and building a prototype. “It’s a box that you hang your towel inside, and it heats your towel up,” he says. “I still have it.” The towel warmer helped Heiligmann land his first job after he displayed the project at a meeting of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers a couple of months following graduation. He met the vice president of Kubotek USA, a computer-aided design (CAD) software development company, which led to a job with the company in tech support. After two years at Kubotek, he moved on to C&C Software, the developers of MasterCam, the software used to program the SPDI machines at Keene State. “I love talking to people, and solving problems is my kind of thing,” he says.
This state-of-the art facility is designed to support learning, while serving as a model for sustainability. Learn More
SPDI faculty members are continuing to work with the college and statewide Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) initiative. Regional educators gathered in our project-based-learning classroom for a STEM Problem-Based Learning (PBL) workshop in collaboration with the New England Board of Higher Education’s National Science Foundation funded PBL grant initiative. More about Faculty