Course Overview

A gateway experience exploring the nature of design creativity and multi-disciplinary problem solving.

Specialist design degrees have increasingly given way to interdisciplinary design studies that focus on the development of a broad body of knowledge including visual mastery, social and cultural knowledge, digital awareness, and business knowledge.

The course will begin with an introduction to recent design history, progress to an understanding of industry specific terminology and techniques. As we progress students will explore the development of consumer objects and digital prototypes. In addition to lectures, students will have time to create simple 3D printed objects, sketch logos and brands, and prototype software-based products. The course will also discuss the value of portfolios as an indicator of skills for both admission to higher education as well as discussion or how are used to hire professionals.

All students who successfully complete the course will receive a Certificate of Completion and have the opportunity to request a Syracuse University credit transcript.

Course Objectives

At the conclusion of this course, students will:

  • Understand the role of design as it is linked to social development, technology, and commerce.
  • Recognize key factors impacting current and future design practice.
  • Develop a theoretical knowledge of the roles designers are filling in order to have a greater impact on society.
  • Have explored various experimental forms of professional practice.

Course Information

Course Prefix and Number: DES 121

Format: On Campus (at Syracuse University)

Eligibility: Students must be of rising high school junior or senior status – or a 2023 high school graduate. 

Credit: 3

Grading: A-F


  • Residential: $7,290
  • Commuter: $5,398

Program rates are subject to change and will be approved by the board of trustees.  Discounts and scholarships are also available.

Program Information

Summer College – On Campus: Experience what college is really like: take a college-level course, live in a residence hall, have meals with friends in a dining hall, and participate in activities and events on campus.

“I made amazing friends and had a great TA who motivated me to give full effort. I experienced a true sense of accomplishment showcasing my work at the conclusion of the courses.”

—Stella K., Summer College – Online Student, 2020

Course Dates and Details

ProgramCourse DatesClass Time (Eastern Time)Credit/NoncreditStatus
Summer College – On Campus4-Week Session: Sunday, July 2 – Friday, July 28, 2023MTWThF
9 – 11:30 a.m.,
1-3:30 p.m.
3 creditsClosed
Class will break for lunch daily for approximately one hour. Class times subject to change.

Course Requirements

Required Textbooks

Click here to purchase your required textbooks from The Campus Store!

Please note, students are responsible for acquiring textbooks for this course. You will not be able to properly participate in this course if you do not get the proper materials. We strongly encourage you order your books to be picked up from The Campus Store, so that you can stop by and pick them up on your move-in day.
*If you are a sponsored student, you do not need to purchase your textbooks.*

Typical Day

Tentative Schedule

Each class will begin with a lecture and then, working in small groups, students will discuss and prototype activities, or carry out observation and research activities.

During the afternoon sessions, students will work on individual and group projects and have access to technicians and teaching assistants.

When class is over, and on weekends, students can look forward to various Summer College – On Campus activities to meet and connect with other students! Check out our On Campus Experience page for more information!

Faculty Bios

Denise Heckman, Associate Professor

Before joining the faculty of the industrial and interaction design program at Syracuse University, Denise Heckman began her career at Hallmark Cards and then spent the greater part of the late 1990s in the technology ghettos of Seattle where she co-founded Motive Design Research, a design and consulting firm whose clients included Hewlett Packard, PhotoDisc, Adobe, and K2 Skis/Olen. Heckman worked as both a designer and as a design researcher for startup companies, biotech, medical, consumer products, and arts organizations before becoming a full-time educator in 2000.

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