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Programs / Industrial Design

Program Summary

Industrial designers are responsible for the concept, the design and the details that are worked out before the manufacturing process of any product can begin. They work behind the scenes to determine the features, appearance, materials and ergonomics of the many products—from toasters to cell phones—that we use every day.

At Carleton University, our unique and internationally respected Bachelor of Industrial Design (BID) program blends studies in design with applied sciences (such as math and physics) and the social sciences (like psychology and business). We focus on the process—from concept and design—through to the manufacturing and the everyday use of the product. There is also an emphasis on the context and social purpose of design.

In addition to the main program, you will have opportunities to complement your studies with a minor in areas such as business, psychology, sociology and anthropology.


Beginning in the very first year, you will learn design processes and methods by completing creative projects. Over the course of the program, you will move progressively from academic studies to more intensive design studio sessions, from theory to practice, while undertaking increasingly complex design projects. You will work on drawings, models, mock-ups and simulated products, while learning about materials, marketing, environmental issues, users’ needs and user testing. Much of your work will take place in team situations.

In your final year, you will participate in the School’s Annual Graduation Exhibition that showcases the work of all our students and, in particular, highlights the projects undertaken by fourth-year graduates. The exhibition attracts visitors and employers from different areas throughout the industry.

A team approach

Industrial designers usually work on teams to bring their unique perspective to the solution of problems. At Carleton, we simulate the real work environment of the industrial design field by providing many opportunities to work in team situations. This allows you to:

  • interact with other students in intimate, small group environments
  • work with students from other disciplines, including mechanical, computer systems and aerospace engineering
  • get involved with professors in innovative areas of research, such as interaction design, design for extreme environments and mass production technology
  • collaborate with industry partners on projects ranging from consumer products such as sports and leisure goods to medical-dental, biomedical and wearable-networked products

Extensive facilities

Ranked amongst the best in North America, our on-campus facilities include:

  • modelling and testing laboratories (wood, plastic, metal)
  • well-equipped design studios
  • photographic facilities
  • wireless computing facilities
  • rapid prototyping equipment
  • a mass-production/mould simulation laboratory
  • sensor/interactive products lab

Due to its location in Ottawa, the nation’s capital, Carleton University provides you with resources for research, study and work placements that few can match. These include:

  • a design workforce of over 3,500 designers
  • a large concentration of clinical, medical and life sciences research facilities
  • rich research resources such as the National Research Council Canada


Industrial designers are the specialists who determine the features, appearance, materials and ergonomics of the many products we use daily—from toasters and cell phones to sporting goods and tools. Industrial designers play a vital role on product development teams to ensure the connection between a product and its end user.


Are you smart and creative? Do you enjoy solving problems? Are you interested in drawings and designing three-dimensional objects? Are you curious about how things work? Are you keen to design products that are useful to people? If so, Industrial Design may be the course of studies for you.

Practical work experience

As a student in Carleton’s Industrial Design (ID) program, you will learn by doing—both inside and outside the classroom.

Co-op opportunities

Co-operative education placements usually begin after third year. You could work with leading Canadian design firms or design-oriented manufacturers and gain hands-on experience in real-life projects.


Internships can provide a minimum of 12 weeks of experience as a design intern.


You are required to submit a portfolio that demonstrates creativity and aptitude for the study of industrial design. Your portfolio should include:

  • curriculum vitae (academics, work experience, interests, etc.)
  • statement of interest with reasons for wanting to study industrial design
  • diverse selection of creative work with explanatory notes

Creative work may include freehand or computer-generated drawings, technical drawings, paintings, graphics and photographs, and images of 3-dimensional work such as sculptures, models, renovations, furniture, fashion items, etc.

Attending an information session at the School is also recommended. Visit for information about the portfolio.

Carleton Industrial Design graduates are well-prepared to join any professional design team. Carleton graduates can be found working as design entrepreneurs and consultants and/or as members of design teams in companies such as Bata, Teknion, Lee Valley Tools, Mitel, Canada Post, Mountain Equipment Co-op and Umbra.

Industrial Design graduates can also opt to continue their studies by completing a Master of Design (MDes) at Carleton University.

What students are saying about Industrial Design

Industrial Design Studio has been the most unique course I have ever taken. The small class size is great for receiving feedback on your work and getting to know your studio professors. Even though I am only a few months into my program, the group at the School of Industrial Design already feel like an extended family to me. I think it’s amazing that I know almost every person in my degree by name!
Justin Low, Industrial Design student

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