2015 Archives

Engineering Solutions With Empathy

Kate Canales is changing the way SMU students problem-solve


The following is from the December 2015 edition of Modern Luxury. Kate Canales is research professor and director of Design and Innovation Programs in SMU's Lyle School of Engineering.

December 4, 2015

Kate CanalesAs the director of the new Master of Arts in design and innovation program that launched in fall 2015, Kate Canales is bringing her fresh expertise to the next generation. Canales graduated from Stanford University with a degree in mechanical engineering before landing a job as a product designer with IDEO. 

"They get a lot of credit for my perspective of the world,” says Canales of the company, adding that working for IDEO taught her to be understanding of human needs before making technical decisions. "Good designers know they are creating experiences for people." she says.

Tapping into empathy and firsthand understanding can he a powerful tool for creating innovative ideas in the world of design. The idea of human-centered design is a new and exciting journey for SMU, and with Canales at the helm, a new generation of thinkers just might find inspiration through empathy. 

Canales and supporters of the program such as Marc Christensen, the dean at Lyle School of Engineering, hope this philosophy will find its way into the inner workings of students' minds. Though the program is in the engineering school, students of all backgrounds are encouraged to join.  

“We are not teaching people how to do classic product design,” says Canales. "There are really good design schools that already do that.” 

The program at SMU intends to equip its students with a strong design skill set while teaching them to tackle problems that are multidisciplinary in nature.

See smu.edu/madi