Majoring in Industrial Design
Minoring in Anthropology
Lydia Swedberg will graduate in May with a major in industrial design and a minor in anthropology.
The Meredith, N.H., native recently won the Louis Sudler Prize in the Arts, which recognizes the graduating senior who has demonstrated the highest standards of proficiency in the performance or creation of art.
Here she shares some thoughts on her time at Purdue:
What’s your dream job? What do you want to do after graduation?
I’m not entirely sure yet. I’m interested in social design, which is trying to use design to make impacts on broader society. But right now, I’m open to a lot of different jobs. Ideally I want to eventually work for a design consultancy doing projects related to society at large.
Was this something you wanted to do from a young age? How did you get into your major?
I was originally interested in art when I was in high school. I liked to draw and I love ceramics, and then I also like math. That was my other favorite class in high school.
Originally I wanted to be an art teacher, but then my dad kind of found industrial design and was like, ‘You should look at this. I think you might be interested in it.’ I thought it sounded kind of cool inventing products and coming up with stuff, and I liked sketching and knew that designers did a lot of sketching. But I originally didn’t know. I applied to schools for both industrial design and interior design and art education because I had no idea what I was doing.
I ended up choosing Purdue because I thought I wanted to do industrial design, so I decided this was the best program for me and I came here. After doing it for the first two years, I was pretty sure I was in the right place, and I got reminders from my teachers that I was on the right track.
How has your time at Purdue prepared you for the future?
I’ve made a lot of really great connections. That’s one thing that’s great about our major at Purdue: Our industrial design program is only 16 students every year, so it’s a really small, tight-knit community. But that community is your biggest network going forward. It’s an intimate major, so I know them all very well, and we also brought in a lot of professionals.
I’ve done a lot of networking that way, and that’s huge going into the real world. A lot of people will say that you don’t get jobs by applying online, you get them by who you know. So the networking aspect is one of the biggest things for me.
What class at Purdue did you enjoy the most?
I actually would say the class I enjoyed the most is an anthropology class I took, Technology and Society. It was the first time that I started to realize how design impacted society, because when I first came into design, I liked it because I liked art and I liked aesthetics and I thought design was making really beautiful things.
Then I took this anthropology class and we were learning about how technology impacted society and how designers would create things without realizing the long-term impact they would have. It actually led me to minor in anthropology because I enjoyed the class so much, and that’s when my focus on design changed and I started to think about how it’s important to understand how our products are impacting people and the long-term implications of what we’re designing.
What did you participate in as a Purdue student?
I’m part of IDSA, which is the Industrial Designer Society of America, and I’m the president of that organization. I’ve been a part of it for the past three years. Basically the point of it is to help grow the designers at our school, as well as get more recognition for Purdue’s industrial design program. So we bring in professionals to come and talk to our students and we do networking events and then we also do demos and workshops to help improve skills for our members.
Then I was also part of an organization called Design for America, DFA, and I was one of the founding members of that my sophomore year. It’s an organization aimed at designing to help the local community. You work on multi-disciplinary teams, so students from any major can be part of that organization, and you pick a problem or a challenge in the local community and together you work to solve that during the semester. I was part of that for two years, too.
And I’m also involved in all the sports here, so I go to all the Purdue basketball games and the football games and volleyball.
What’s your favorite Purdue tradition?
That’s a hard one. I would probably say doing “Hail Fire” at the basketball games, when the band plays “Hail Fire” and the students do a little dance routine. That’s probably my favorite, but I also think the rivalry with IU is fun. I’m not from Indiana, so it’s something that I joined, but I think it’s enjoyable.
What did winning the Sudler Prize mean to you?
It was definitely a big deal for me. I didn’t realize actually how big of an award it was until after I started looking it up. I think it means a lot for my department, too, being from industrial design. That’s big for our department, and it’s exciting to get recognition for what I’ve done for the past four years.