My Experience as an IDSA Student Member and Chapter President

by Troy Dunn, S/IDSA, President of IDSA KU (University of Kansas) Chapter

Sep 10 2020 - 6:00pm


For me personally, my introduction to industrial design was not necessarily a graceful leap from my high school days. In my case, I stumbled my way through two years of engineering school before finding my true passion: design. A great deal of design students has found themselves in the same situation, though many know their passion from day one.

In either case, I’m sure we all remember our first day of design classes. It was very intimidating; there seemed to be a mountain of new skills in front of us to learn. Along with new environments, new techniques, and new goals, there were also new faces. I met my classmates, who became my new friends. I met mentors, instructors, councilors, and advisers. Amongst those people, there were the students who made up our school’s chapter of the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA). Amongst the sea of new things to explore, the young designers of IDSA acted in a supporting role that brought us, the new students, back to earth. 

The IDSA student chapter is where all of our school's ID students can come together. It's where freshman can interact with, learn from, and work alongside seniors. We were able to confide in the classes of student designers who had more experience than we did, and gain valuable knowledge about design school, the industry, and methods of success. At my first chance, I joined as a student member.

Being involved with IDSA has brought many benefits to me, both then and now. As a freshman and into my sophomore year, I was able to connect with members of IDSA to guide me through projects, technical skills, and networking opportunities. Our chapter often comes together with the Kansas City Chapter of IDSA, where our students get to socialize personally and professionally with experienced industrial designers who provide key insights into the ID field. Additionally, we host visiting designers at KU for workshops, demos, and presentations to students. Through these IDSA events, my classmates and I have established connections with professional designers who have become mentors for our futures. Ultimately, as a student member, IDSA gave me professional skills that has helped shape my career as a young designer.

When I was a junior, I was elected by my peers to be the student Vice President of the IDSA KU chapter; and then as a senior, I transitioned to student President. As President, I am given with the opportunity to guide our student organization in being that supporting role for new design students, and a source of comradery, inspiration, and healthy competition for all. We do this through team-building exercises, having a robust student mentoring program for lowerclassmen, holding design workshops, networking wth professionals in our region and bringing in voices from Industrial Design from afar, conducting technical skill demos, and hosting club meetings. As we all know, I.D. is a relatively small profession, though it is reaching further every day, and having connections in this tight-knit community is important to finding a place within it.

IDSA provides an opportunity for students to network and connect through a shared organization of highly skilled designers all over the globe. This organization has become the hub for student involvement in our design school and, as a student President, I’ve gained valuable leadership skills and the inspiration to improve them—both of which I will take with me into my career.

IDSA has given our school a platform to inspire others, encourage new ways of thinking, and represent The University of Kansas School of Architecture and Design in the highest possible manner. If you are a design student of any level, get involved! IDSA offers invaluable benefits that will change your career for the better!