Auburn University industrial design program ranked among best in North America according to AZURE Magazine

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Auburn University's industrial design program has been named as one of the best in North America by AZURE Magazine, a publication devoted to architecture and design.

The undergraduate and graduate programs in the College of Architecture, Design and Construction placed the school as one of the nine top industrial design programs in the United States and Canada. The magazine's criteria were based on what experts in the field look for when recruiting new employees.

An example of one of Auburn's design ideas is Nomad–a wearable device to help people with visual impairments better navigate their surroundings–developed by Jorge Paez, a senior in the industrial design program.

"There are four sensors and a 180-degree, rear-mounted camera that can detect obstacles the user would otherwise not see," said Paez. "All this is mounted on a pair of specially designed bone conducting headphones. When Nomad detects an oncoming obstacle the user is presented with a series of dings, which indicate where the obstacle is. As it gets closer, the dings increase in speed, indicating the distance."

Designing Nomad with Auburn's methods, Paez said he has a unique advantage sought by employers.

"We are taught the 'old school' way, with handmade technical drawings, marker renderings and prototype models. In a world that is dominated by computer generated designs and 3D printed models, the ability to create detailed refined models by hand is a breath of fresh air. We understand materials, and we are in tune with our craft on a deeper level than most," he said.

Christopher Arnold, associate professor and program chair for industrial design, said Auburn's students benefit greatly from close collaboration with partners in a variety of industries. That allows them to quickly gain a familiarity with the needs and expectations of the professional workplace.

"Their strong work ethic and practical approach–addressing the balance between business and technological constraints, as well as the wants, needs and desires of the people involved–often sets Auburn University industrial design graduates apart from the rest," said Arnold.

"Through the introduction of fabrication technologies and processes, students are able to orchestrate real-world solutions. With knowledge of the practical application of principles, techniques, procedures and equipment, these emerging professionals are capable of addressing design and production for a variety of goods and services."

AZURE Magazine focuses on contemporary architecture and design. The list of top industrial design programs is available online at

Auburn University is a nationally ranked land grant institution recognized for its commitment to world-class scholarship, interdisciplinary research with an elite, top-tier Carnegie R1 classification, life-changing outreach with Carnegie’s Community Engagement designation and an undergraduate education experience second to none. Auburn is home to more than 30,000 students, and its faculty and research partners collaborate to develop and deliver meaningful scholarship, science and technology-based advancements that meet pressing regional, national and global needs. Auburn’s commitment to active student engagement, professional success and public/private partnership drives a growing reputation for outreach and extension that delivers broad economic, health and societal impact.