A student sketches on classwork that's pinned to a wall.

What to Expect in a Studio Class

What to Expect in a Studio Class

At Georgia Tech, there's a difference between studio classes and other classes that consist of lectures and exams. You can cram for an exam, but studio classes are based on projects that require continual development, focus, and review, and involve an onslaught of real-world problems.

Studio classes are the foundation of the industrial design curriculum. Studios are available 24 hours a day, as are the workshop and the adjacent Interactive Product Design Laboratory. Our studios are equipped with sufficient power sources, technology, and reconfigurable furniture to allow for long, productive hours of collaboration and rapid prototyping.

A signature feature of our studio classes is an interdisciplinary culture: Our industrial design program is outward looking, developing critical ties to other programs on campus. We invite other groups at Georgia Tech into our studios to participate in the design process. That's why industry values our program so much: Most professional-level work is executed in a team environment, where problem-solving depends on collaboration.

The College's Design Shops

Industrial design studio classes teach the prototyping process as part of a user-centered design philosophy. While students can learn the fundamentals of prototyping through cardboard cutouts, popsicle sticks, and paper clips, the industrial design classes require more sophisticated models. The College of Design Shop, located on the ground floor of the Architecture East building, provides industrial design and architecture students with the machinery and space necessary for building accurate and rapid prototypes. The facility affords these students capabilities in:

A close-up of a waterjet cut metal lamp made by a student.


Sparks and flames aren't the only products of the metalworking machines in the shop. Students use plasma cutters to create parts for their prototypes that later get welded together, and there are also machines that form and manipulate sheet metal, bend piping, and punch holes.

A laser-cut wooden hand made by a student.


From chairs and lamps to parking kiosks and soda machines, industrial design students use wood to create models of the projects they're working on. Traditional cutting tools like table saws and band saws are complemented by a host of industry-used machining and cutting tools, like 5-axis routers and other computer numerical controlled machines.

A plastic mold of an iron.

Plastic Fabrication

Plastics are a fast and functional aspect of prototyping for industrial design students. They can replace the need for large 3D-printed parts and can easily be manipulated by hand. The College of Design Shop offers vacuforming, casting, and thermoforming capabilities.

Prototypes of pencil holders on top of sketches.

Rapid Prototyping

The College of Design Shop offers a print lab that is essentially a well-equipped Maker space. Multiple desktop 3D printers and an industrial sewing machine are augmented by much larger, high-end 3D printers and laser cutters.

Students build a gigantic Rube Goldberg machine in the DFL.

Digital Fabrication Lab

The Design Shop at the College serves the needs of most student projects, but for exceptionally large projects or specific graduate research, the Digital Fabrication Laboratory works with students on a case-by-case basis. Located on the far side of campus on Marietta Street, the 13,000-square-foot Digital Fabrication Laboratory focuses on manufacturing, fabrication, prototyping, and construction – and the subsequent testing and analysis of fabricated assemblies and materials.

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