Emily Siira

“I initially chose to pursue a degree in mechanical engineering, but stumbled upon my true passion—industrial design—two years into the collegiate process,” says Emily Siira, S/IDSA, the winner of the 2016 Design Foundation Undergraduate Scholarship. “I couldn’t be happier to have made the switch! ID provides a perfect balance of the fluid and the concrete, which allows me to apply my technical background throughout the creative process.”

“I feel exceptionally honored and excited to have been selected, as the award will significantly help to facilitate my final year of undergraduate studies,” adds Siira, an active member for several years of the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) MIAD Student Chapter. She's also participated in IDSA Wisconsin Chapter events.

In her youth, Siira describes having “an atypical combination of interests—art, mathematics and sciences.” Now, she draws inspiration from the way users and products function, to create intuitive designs.

In fall 2016, Siira heads into her senior year in the industrial design program at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design—performing well, inside and outside the classroom. She holds a perfect GPA, with hands-on ID experience even before she graduates. Siira is working in the Milwaukee office of EWI, a worldwide design firm. She’s also working as an independent design consultant on a variety of projects, such as the Nobo B60 wearable hydration monitor, which made its debut at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Her OLED lighting design and prototype exhibited at 2014 SDA international lighting showcase in New York City. Previously, Siira also interned with Visa Lighting in Milwaukee, then Master Lock in Oak Creek, WI.

Her honors include: MIAD Board of Trustees portfolio/merit and other scholarships; President’s List; National Merit Scholarship. She also earned spots on NCAA and ECAC Division 1 All-Academic teams while studying mechanical engineering at Sacred Heart University, before transferring to MIAD to pursue an ID degree.

In design—Siira especially appreciates human factors, product semantics, CAD modeling, 3D form development and prototyping. Personal exposure to the healthcare environment as a patient—provided her with “an abundance of design inspiration” and sparked her particular interest in ergonomics and medical design.

“I hope to contribute within these realms throughout my career,” says Siira. “My ultimate goals are to channel empathy; design products and systems which assist others with everyday challenges; and make the world more user-friendly.”

This is the second consecutive year a MIAD student has won the Design Foundation Undergraduate Scholarship.