AMES, Iowa — Kellie Walters, a junior in industrial design from Mt. Vernon, is one of 24 students selected to represent Iowa State University at the “Research in the Capitol” event from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 28, in the Rotunda of the State Capitol building in Des Moines.

More than 60 undergraduate students from Iowa’s three Regent universities (Iowa State, the University of Iowa and the University of Northern Iowa) will display their research posters and describe their work to legislators and others at the annual event, which highlights the importance of research to the undergraduate learning experience as well as the depth and variety of research being done.

Walters’ presentation, “Changing the Perceptions of Making: Adjusting the Mechanics of Ideation for Multidisciplinary Success,” will focus on her assessment of instructional practices in industrial design sponsored studios — courses in which students work with a corporate or industry partner. She posited that idea development could be strengthened and streamlined, and the quality of student output enhanced, if the course were run like an in-house design studio. Students would concentrate on swiftly editing down a huge number of variables and avoid time wasted on improving the craft of an initial, potentially ill-developed concept, thus increasing the number of projects going into production.

In her case study, Walters examined the fall 2016 junior industrial design sponsored studio, which was taught using the premised framework. Students from industrial design; apparel, merchandising and design; and kinesiology worked on projects for partner United Sports Brands.

When Walters compared this studio with a 2014 studio that had been taught with a different approach (in which students focused more on refining early sketches than on robust concept development), she discovered that students in the 2016 studio “surpassed expectations of the client and learned how to think differently when time and resources were limited.”

“The outcomes were a monumental success, with elements of 15 projects moving forward at USB to the next phase of design and development, where only three moved forward to the next phase previously,” Walters said. “We looked at what specific instruction techniques, making techniques and resulting studio culture led to this kind of success.”

Walters’ faculty research mentor is Betsy Barnhart, assistant professor of industrial design. Barnhart taught the USB section of the fall sponsored studio.


Kellie Walters, Industrial Design junior, kellie@iastate.edu
Betsy Barnhart, Industrial Design, (515) 294-9240, betsy@iastate.edu
Heather Sauer, Design Communications, (515) 294-9289, hsauer@iastate.edu