Home Homepage Feature Story Product Design Program Closes Its Doors Following This Semester

Product Design Program Closes Its Doors Following This Semester

by Nick Batista

After 18 years, Montclair State University has decided to close the doors of its product design major following the spring 2024 semester.

The decision sent shockwaves throughout the program and has left many students and faculty wondering why. Both students and faculty have learned a lot by joining the program, which was always welcoming to new students.

Jack O’Dell, a senior product design major, shared the program’s benefits from his perspective.

“The product design community at Montclair [State] was really inclusive and close-knit when I visited during the open house,” O’Dell said.

The program offered multiple opportunities for students and allowed them to venture into many different potential careers, providing a variety of internships.

“The program had ties with numerous companies, such as Movado Group, and the rate of job placement within a year of graduating is quite high,” O’Dell said.

Another student expressed their gratitude towards product design, as it has given them lots of experience.

Michael Bierbaum, a senior product design major, shared insights about the exclusive projects.

Michael Bierbaum, a senior product design major. Karsten Englander | The Montclarion

Michael Bierbaum, a senior product design major. Karsten Englander | The Montclarion

“I’ve gotten to work on a multitude of different projects, stretching all the way from working on professional watches at a one-to-one scale along with power tools and also automobile design projects,” Bierbaum said.

The product design major called for students who want to use their creativity to tackle real-world problems and innovate products. The major also has proven to be successful by providing a plethora of career opportunities for students.

O’Dell talked about the importance of the program.

“Product design is the bridge between engineering, design and business,” O’Dell said. “It focuses on the design process and how products can be designed to be more user-friendly and sustainable while boasting appealing form and quality.”

This decision has led to confusion among the students, as they believe their major had a lot to offer. Students were caught off guard by the decision since Montclair State never made an official statement.

Bierbaum shared his reaction to the announcement.

“As an out-of-state student, I chose this college solely for the program, so seeing it be discontinued in a quiet manner is something that’s frustrating,” Bierbaum said.

The frustration was one not just among students but faculty as well, who put a lot of work into keeping the program afloat while balancing their duties elsewhere.

“One of [the faculty members] is even the senior designer of an industry-leading tool company called Ingersoll Rand, yet he still makes the time to meet with students and provide them appropriate attention in terms of learning design,” Bierbaum said.

Another potential issue is about students who are currently enrolled in the program, as they will not be forced to change majors, but are unsure what the future will hold for them.

Due to the lack of classes available per semester, there is concern about how they will get their credits.

Bierbaum shared the scheduling conflicts he faced.

“Classes might only be offered every other semester, unlike other majors where you can substitute a class for another one when you need it,” Bierbaum said.

The future is uncertain for students in Finley Hall and no one is quite sure what will replace product design there. Some students are hopeful that Montclair State officials will rethink the decision and take another look at what they have to offer.

“It’d be amazing if you took a second glance at our program and realized the hard work, long hours of not sleeping and dedication that goes into making this such an amazing program,” Bierbaum said.

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