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Design matters.

The act of creating something new shows up in many human endeavors. It can be a solution to a mundane problem like holding sheets of paper together or something as complex as the formulation of new institutions. Human Centered Design (HCD) is focused on problem-finding and problem-solving, and is charged with understanding the needs, wants, and limitations of end-users. This is accomplished through methodologies and practices where these considerations are integrated at every stage of the design process.

HCD creates novel learning and discovery opportunities that are needed to train the future professoriate, workforce, professionals and civic leaders. HCD can only be taught in a true interdisciplinary educational environment in which coursework and research embrace diversity, inclusiveness, educational breadth, and interdependence, while promoting a person-oriented, rather than a product-oriented, attitude towards education. 

Interdisciplinarity matters. 

Recent trends show that both higher education institutions and government agencies seek employees with interdisciplinary backgrounds, demonstrating strengths in more than one field, and the agility to work with colleagues across fields. To address this, our Interdisciplinary Graduate Education Program (IGEP) provides opportunities for graduate students whose goals cannot be met by a single discipline from a degree granting academic unit at the university. 

“Real world problems don’t fit nicely into boxes, specific fields, departments or programs,” said Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering Amy Pruden, who managed the program from 2015-17. “We need to have the opportunity for students so inclined to tackle these problems.”

HCD is a part of Virginia Tech’s Creativity + Innovation transdisciplinary initiative and includes faculty affiliates from the following disciplines:

College of Architecture and Urban Studies

  • Industrial Design
  • Graphic Design
  • Creative Technologies

College of Engineering

  • Computer Science
  • Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • Engineering Education
  • Industrial Systems Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering

College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences

  • English
  • Human Development
  • Learning Sciences and Technology (School of Education)
  • Science and Technology in Society
  • Music (School of Performing Arts)
  • Theater and Cinema (School of Performing Arts)


College of Natural Resources and Environment

  • Geography
  • Forest Resources