IDSA Member Gives Students Room to Grow

May 25 2019 - 11:40am


Dr. Thomas Ask, IDSA is a professor of industrial design at Pennsylvania College of Technology. He has written several books on industrial design and regularly blogs about the profession. He also encourages his students to not only become IDSA members but to be the change that ID needs to make the world a better place.

“ID is moving from styling to holistic design of products, interactions and experiences,” says Ask, adding that ID often “gets confused between stunning sketches and the real products they point to.” In his efforts to advance ID and support the next generation of designers, Ask encourages his students to stay grounded and “not fall in love with old technology.” In his view, “constantly looking at history as merely the Dreyfuss, Lowey, Geddes and Teague gang” is a hindrance to innovation.

Fortunately, his classroom bristles with new ideas. Within the college’s Industrial, Computing & Engineering Technologies department, there is "a robust, traditional foundation program of visual literacy, 2D, 3D, color and drawing, as well as a strong complement of art and design history courses,” says Ask. The college provides a wide range of technologies in this sphere, from hands-on manufacturing facilities to software, including gaming, simulation and cyber security.


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Ask notes that students are allowed five directed electives, and they have a lot of compelling choices, such as consumer behavior and qualitative research methods, in addition to all the hands-on courses.

Earlier this month, the Penn College publication PCToday profiled three of his students upon completion of their senior capstone projects. “We have some interesting projects this year, especially the dog scent training system, which is really new turf,” says Ask.



In recent years, his students have traveled internationally to study industrial design and interned at companies like K’NEX and IBC Shell. Ask takes immense pride in his students’ work and is eager to share articles about their successes.

He finds sharing information with and being a member of the Society especially helpful in the cultivation of new ideas and ensuring that the profession continues to evolve. As he puts it, industrial design is “a small but important discipline that benefits from the gathering and refining done through IDSA.”

About Penn College

Pennsylvania College of Technology, a special mission affiliate of Penn State, is a national leader in applied technology education. For more information, visit