Industrial Design 3-year Applicant Portfolio Exercises

In lieu of a traditional design portfolio, 3-year Industrial Design applicants may complete and submit the at-home exercises below. Please review the design briefs carefully and create the corresponding documentation in whichever program you are most comfortable using. When completed, export the pages as a PDF and upload the file through your admission application portal using the portfolio submission link. 

You may upload additional work in a separate PDF but the portfolio requirement for 3-year applicants is satisfied by submitting solutions for the exercises explained below. 

If you have questions about the exercises, please email Kevin Strickland (

We would like you to spend no more than 2–3 hours redesigning a carry-out container. You are responsible for deciding and communicating the who, what, and where that defines your design and its use. We would like you to focus on the container’s use and functions, but, if you have time, you may also highlight possible ecological and economic impacts.

  1. Carefully observe more than one instance of take out scenarios, and identify intriguing problem areas. State in a simple sentence which specific problem you intend to resolve. Present this observation in simple snap photos.
  2. Ideate (generate approximately 5 rough ideas/scenarios) some potential solutions and settle on one you will pursue. Annotate your sketches.
  3. Iterate your chosen idea approximately 5 times. We would like to see your ideas expand and contract (be reconsidered and refined). It is usual and expected for some of this work to be presented as dead ends.
  4. Refine your idea and construct a very rough physical prototype with material you have on-hand in your home or can pick up at a grocery store. Photograph your prototype in “staged use.” (Do not worry about including all object details in this model. It does not need to be the correct color or even look like the correct material. Instead, if possible, make the object the scale it is meant to be in real life. Photograph on a non-busy, contrasting colored background.)
  5. Present and reflect. Assemble your work from each stage above in a simple but orderly multi-page pdf (up to 4 pages). Include a final drawing, communicate what your design responds to and is about, and tell us what about your solution is especially successful in responding to the identified problem and why.


Design a solution for managing charging equipment. Present your work in 4 pages. Spend no more than 2–3 hours responding to the prompt.

Use a combination of text, illustration, and image to explain issues you have experienced with or have heard anecdotally about charging equipment (e.g. cords, batteries, etc.). Present the issues you’ve identified as a list of challenges and/or opportunities.

Explore your own ideas about a design response. Through sketches, explore variations of form, features, and the object’s construction. Present a wide range of sketches.

Make a low-fidelity, full-scale model of what you consider to be your best idea. With any material of your choosing, quickly build a model to evaluate the object’s dimensions, features, and actual function. You do not need to include all details in this model—for example, it does not need to be the final color or material. Instead, concentrate on making the object a functioning prop. Photograph the model on a clean, contrasting colored background.

Page 4: TEST
Demonstrate and document how your new object functions. Photograph the key aspects of its use and function, and clearly relate each to the challenges and/or opportunities you identified earlier. Include captions that explain your images.