Engineering design alumnus uses master's skills to boost experiences in doctoral program


By Cassie Kidwell

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — As a doctoral candidate in mechanical engineering at Penn State, Rohan Prabhu applies systems design, human-centered design and design for manufacturing in his research — all concepts and skills he learned during his time as a graduate student in the School of Engineering Design, Technology, and Professional Program’s engineering design (DESIGN) program.

Prabhu works as a graduate research assistant for the Made by Design Lab, in collaboration with the Bridging Research in Innovation, Technology and Engineering Lab (britelab). Both research labs encourage additive manufacturing and consumer product innovation. He also is involved with the Engineering Design and Optimization Group, a research lab in the Department of Mechanical Engineering that specializes in a variety of engineering fields to optimize and integrate engineering design. 

“My research explores the effects of training student designers in additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, on their creativity and design outcomes,” Prabhu said. “The overall aim of the project is to develop a set of best practices for additive manufacturing education and to encourage designers to be creative in using additive manufacturing.” 

Prabhu said his master of science in DESIGN was critical to his success in his current research as his research topics were first introduced to him in his master's coursework. His previous experiences provide him with a comfort level at the intersection of design for additive manufacturing and human subjects research.

“This breadth is very important given the interdisciplinary nature of product design and development in the future where several domains interact in a variety of ways to result in successful products,” he said. 

For Prabhu, memorable parts of the DESIGN program were the design studio classes EDSGN 581: Design Studio I and EDSGN 582: Design Studio II, where teams of students are tasked with completing the design process of a product. 

“The projects we worked with were very chaotic and involved a lot of different elements, a common characteristic of any design process but something I'd rarely experienced,” he said. “Dealing with this chaos and coming up with meaningful results for the projects was definitely an interesting and enlightening experience and is something I will always remember.”

The wide range of faculty experience and various course options were big reasons why the DESIGN program stood out for Prabhu. He said the program gives students an opportunity to accumulate diverse set of skills and experiences they can use to explore their areas of interest.

“I would highly encourage the DESIGN program for engineers, designers and researchers interested in building a variety and breadth of skills crucial in exploring this messy area of design,” he said.


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College of Engineering Media Relations

“This breadth is very important given the interdisciplinary nature of product design and development in the future where several domains interact in a variety of ways to result in successful products."

- Rohan Prabhu, engineering design alumnus



The School of Engineering Design and Innovation delivers effective engineering education and unrivaled research opportunities through active, collaborative, project-based, and professionally oriented classroom experiences. The school offers a variety of programs that partner faculty, students, and industry in the study of real-life engineering problems. Our programs teach students to solve real-life problems with innovative solutions. 

School of Engineering Design and Innovation

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The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802

Phone: 814-865-2952