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The Human-Centered Design concentration is a rigorous program of study that is focused on the conceptual development and realization of products, systems and services.

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The Human Centered Design Major at NMU

The Human-Centered Design concentration is a rigorous program of study that is focused on the conceptual development and realization of products, systems and services. In this area of concentration, students will develop a vast range of skills that enable them to research, conceptualize, and visualize their ideas in a variety of mediums. This entails a blend of techniques that merge design sketching, problem finding, problem solving, computer modeling, and digital fabrication in conjunction with traditional crafting skills. Ultimately, these skills allow for students to develop solutions as physical artifacts or as speculative proposals for future technologies.

Aside from the technical abilities required to develop form, the Human-Centered Design curriculum also challenges students to develop a design thinking/researching process that is exercised through a variety of projects both individually and in collaborative settings. This process not only helps enhance form, but also allows for a more in depth understanding of the needs, values and pleasures that lead to a more innovative concept solution. Within the structure of each Human-Centered Design course, critiques offer further insight into the concepts and provide suggestions for improvement in technical and presentation skillsets.

Human-Centered Design is an ideal choice for someone that enjoys working in cross-disciplinary process. The challenges offered in assignments encourage students to think conceptually while having the ability to work between pen and paper, a variety of software applications and many opportunities to take the “hands on” approach. Human-Centered Design is a discipline of development and refinement that stem from the desire to shape the environment with things of beauty, comfort, performance and social value.

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Students Develop Physical and Speculative Solutions for Future Technologies

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Human Centered Design Studio

The two Human-Centered Design studios consist of spaces that allow for formal instruction, individual/collaborative work settings and critiques. This space is designed to be flexible so that it can accommodate a variety of design activities and presentations. The fabrication studio provides a space for students to develop mock-ups and prototypes of their designs.

Within these two spaces, students have access to a range of model making and rapid prototyping equipment for their use. Please be sure to look at the specific requirements for the major. Students are required to take courses in other studio areas as well as Human-Centered Design. Once the courses have been completed, students will have access to other facilities (Woodworking, Metals & Ceramics) with the professor’s permission.


Dimension 1200 SST 3D Printer
Epilog Laser Engraver 36” x 24”
Techno Isel 20” x 30” x 7” CNC Router
Formech 24” x 24” Vacuum Forming Machine
Combination Machine Lathe / Milling Machine
Drill Press
14” Band Saw
Spindle / Disk Sander
Paint & Spray Booth


Rhino - 3D Modeling
RhinoCAM – CNC Machining
Keyshot – Rendering
Adobe Creative Suite

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3D Printer and Scanner
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Laser Cutter
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Computer Controlled Router
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Students Visual Concepts with Model Making and Rapid Prototyping

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Human Centered Design Faculty

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Alex Fekete

Assistant Professor
ING Slovak Polytechnic
MFA University of Illinois

Aside from academia, Alex Fekete works as a design consultant and sculpts objects in blown glass. His work appeared in New York Times, Business Week, Times Magazine, GQ and Absolute Sound.

Alex first arrived in the U.S. on a Fulbright Scholarship. After completing his MFA in Industrial Design he was professionally active in Silicon Valley. JAVA Station - the joined effort by M&P and Sun Microsystems - earned several prestigious awards, including Gold IDEA Award and Best Internet Hardware Award. Subsequently, his collaboration with Balanced Audio Technology gathered respect in the high end audio/video industry and also generated awards ranging from Golden Ear to Product of the Year Award.

Alex’s affair with glassblowing started during graduate studies and has continued since. Minimalist Glass Objects he creates found residence in public and private collections in U.S. and EU.

He was born in Bratislava, then-Czechoslovakia.

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Alex Fekete
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Alex Fekete
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Human Centered Design Courses

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AD 111 Human Centered Design: Foundations

4 credit hours
Offered: Fall Winter

An introduction to design principles and processes while employing basic problem-solving techniques. Emphasis will be placed on development of design sketching and model making as a conceptual tool, interaction with form, thought processes, craftsmanship, and use of materials.

AD 211 Human Centered Design: Digital Visualization

4 credit hours
Offered: Winter
Prerequisite: AD111

Introduction to computer modeling, digital manufacturing process with advanced presentation and conceptual development skills. 

AD 311A Human-Centered Design: Materials and Processes

4 credit hours
Offered: Fall, odd numbered years
Prerequisite: AD 211, or instructors permission

This course is an exploration and application of materials, manufacturing processes, and techniques used in the production of products. Emphasis placed on the relationship materials, efficiency, sustainability and the user.

AD 311B Human Centered Design: Human Factors and Semantics

4 credit hours
Offered: Fall, even numbered years
Prerequisite: AD 211, or instructors permission

This course explores the value of human factors in regard to physical and psychological realm as well as the social implications of design within culture as language through semantic principles.

AD 411A Human Centered Design: Design Research

4 credit hours
Offered: Winter, odd numbered years
Prerequisite: AD 303 or concurrent enrollment, AD 311A or AD 311B, or instructor's permission.

 This course is a collaborative project based studio that focuses on problem finding as well as problem solving. Students will develop skills in exploratory research of trend, behavior, culture and concept.

AD 411B Human Centered Design: Senior Design Studio

4 credit hours
Offered: Winter, even numbered years
Prerequisite: AD 303 or concurrent enrollment, AD 311A or AD 311B, or instructor's permission.

This studio is a culmination of knowledge skills and process acquired through previous courses. Individuals will define a self-generated research project that address contemporary cultural issues. Preparation of a professional portfolio of work and resume will also be required.

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Human Centered Design FAQ

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Five classes make me a designer?

The courses are demanding. Technical skills are taught throughout each of the five courses and expected to be utilized and refined through short/long term projects assigned in the courses. There are also additional courses required in other studio areas that will broaden your portfolio and enhance your design process and presentation skills. Included in these requirements are Drawing, Graphic Communication, Computer Art, Metals, Ceramics, Woodworking, and Manufacturing Process.

What degree should I pursue?

For job placement within the design industry it is a typical requirement that you have your Bachelor of Fine Arts degree (BFA). It is also mandatory for you to have your BFA if you decide to pursue a Master of Fine Arts degree. A BFA provides for more studio credit hours than a BA or BS degree. The BA and BS degrees provide you with the option to pursue a minor in addition to their major in Human-Centered Design.

What is the difference between a BFA and BS or BA degree?

The BFA degree includes 40 credits in liberal studies with 87 credits in Art and Design. This degree includes the most art and design classes with a studio emphasis.

The BS and BA degrees include 40 credits in liberal studies and 63 credits in the School of Art and Design, plus a 20 credit minor out side of the School of Art and department. The BA requires a language minor, the BS includes all other minors not in language. These degree choices allow a studio art major to diversify their knowledge with another discipline.

Will I need to submit a portfolio for admission?

There is no portfolio requirement for admission into the introductory (100 and 200 level) Art and Design courses. However, a faculty led portfolio review is conducted for students at the 300 levels in order to determine continuation in the program of study.

Are there scholarships for incoming freshman?

The school offers the High School Freshman Scholarship (four $1000 awards) that is available each year with applications due in April.

See the web for details
Scholarship Information

More Questions?
Please write Professor Alex
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