Kickstarter's Role in Industrial Design Education


Industrial design, design education, self-efficacy, student motivation, designer validation


This paper provides a basic explanation of the Kickstarter platform and reports on the findings from five interviews conducted with design students who openly shared what they have learned from their experiences with Kickstarter projects. It also summarizes a successful design student Kickstarter project, the Tessel Jet Pack Backpack. The results of this research indicate that design students are primarily motivated to engage in Kickstarter projects to validate themselves as designers. Secondarily, students found these projects exposed them to new learning in marketing, finance, manufacturing, product delivery, and the complete “start to finish” framework of a product development process. Surprisingly, they also indicated that the experience only reinforced their pre-existing design training and did not significantly add to it. Despite the student learning that occurs throughout a Kickstarter project, we do not recommend that Kickstarter supplement or supersede design education because of the inherent real-world consequences. However, professors should consider how intrinsically-motivated, self-determined projects that build young designers’ self-esteem can be used to enhance current design studio courses.

Original Publication Citation

Howell, B., Morgan, D., Stark, C., & Puglisi, A. (2015). Kickstarters Role in Design Education. Conference proceedings of the 18th International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education: Design Teaching, Research & Enterprise (E&PDE15) (pp. 576-581), Loughborough, England, September 3-4.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

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Permanent URL






Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology



University Standing at Time of Publication

Associate Professor