This specialization belongs to the master's programme Industrial Design Engineering.

Develop a people-oriented vision of Industrial Design Engineering

Are you knowledgeable and skilled in the technical and aesthetic aspects of industrial design engineering, but at least as fascinated by the human factor in it all? Do you want to gain more expertise in understanding the needs and wants of people and in converting your insights into feasible product design solutions? If you are, the Master’s specialization Human Technology Relations (HTR), one of three tracks you can choose from within our Master’s programme Industrial Design Engineering (IDE), could be the perfect choice for you.

Some products have been beautifully designed and effectively engineered to solve a problem, yet they fail to connect with the deeper concerns and aims of the people using them. So how do you make sure your solutions combine a great look and feel with that vital human touch? What does it take to create technology – whether digital, mechanical or other – that gets as close as possible to what human beings truly want from the products and solutions they use? What role do engineers really play in people’s lives and in society at large? These are typical questions you will learn to handle confidently in the HTR track.

Students taking the Human Technology Relations track in our Master’s programme Industrial Design Engineering are fascinated by people and by adding meaning to people’s lives and society.Dr. Ir. Wouter Eggink, Track Coordinator of Human Technology Relations

What makes this track different from the other IDE tracks?

Tackling the problem from the viewpoint of human experience

The IDE track Human Technology Relations will deepen and broaden your knowledge of industrial design engineering, equipping you to work with the best of product creators. In this sense, it is on a par with the other two IDE specializations, Management of Product Development (MoPD) and Emerging Technology Design (ETD). The main difference is that in this track you will develop specialized knowledge and skills in factoring in the human touch and creating solutions that come as close as possible to what people really need and want.

While the ETD track will help you develop your expertise as a technology-oriented designer, and the MoPD will focus on your role as a designer-manager, the Human Technology Relations track will help you grow as a people-oriented designer.

Combine technological expertise with in-depth knowledge of social sciences

As an industrial design engineer specialized in Human Technology Relations you will be able to use any and every kind of technology, from digital to mechanical or electrical engineering. With this broad repertoire of solutions at your fingertips, you will be an expert in selecting the technologies that will help you reach the most people-friendly solution. You will design and engineer yourself, or in teams, with a clear focus on the interests, capacities and limitations of the end user. You will immerse yourself not only in technical disciplines, but also in social sciences, such as psychology, communication studies, ethics and philosophy. This combination of social sciences with technology and engineering will enable you to excel in creating solutions that work well, look great and are wonderful to use.

As an HRT specialist, you will be asked questions aimed at figuring out whether a problem has been understood properly, not just from a technical or aesthetic point of view, but also from the perspective of the end user. In some cases, you may end up reinventing a product, a solution or even a brand, bringing it more in line with the direction in which people and society are developing. In others, you may come up with products or product improvements that will help people improve their health or lifestyles, or to change their behaviour in other areas.

  • Expand the technology and engineering expertise you gained in your Bachelor’s programme
  • Develop a people-driven perspective on product development, drawing on disciplines such as communication studies, psychology, philosophy or ethics
  • Learn to recognize the subtler needs and wants of people, or society, and to factor those into your solutions
  • Become an Industrial Design Engineer who creates solutions people really love

Why should I take this master's track at the UT?

Combine technology and engineering with a deeply human touch

You can get a Master’s degree in industrial design at many universities worldwide. Here is what makes the IDE programme at the University of Twente, along with this track, different from others:

  • At the UT, we are pioneers in fusing technology, science and engineering with social sciences to impact the world around us (‘High Tech, Human Touch’). We have the mind-set, the faculties and the facilities to excel in ground-breaking, cross-disciplinary research and education. For example, during the HTR track, you will get a lot of solid input from our Master’s programmes in Communication Studies, Psychology and Philosophy of Science, Technology and Society. This cross-disciplinary approach makes the UT one of the best places in the world to specialize in Human Technology Relations during your Master’s in IDE.
  • In industrial design education around the world, the Netherlands is the only country in which you will find Master’s programmes that combine technical disciplines with non-technical aspects, such as you will find in the HTR and MoPD tracks. The UT Master’s is one of those hard-to-find holistic IDE programmes.
  • As a university with leading-edge engineering research and education, we devote a lot of attention to engineering in this track. This makes our Master’s in Industrial Design Engineering stand out as the programme for acquiring a knockout profile in technology and engineering.
  • The UT was acclaimed in 2017 as the best university of technology in the Netherlands, while in the overall ranking we joined our country’s top three universities. Not only will you benefit from our campus’ world-class facilities, but also from our pioneering research in many fields. At the UT you will develop a cross-disciplinary, engineering mind-set that will equip you to tackle complex challenges.

What courses does this track involve?

A lot of room for personal preferences

Like most of our Master’s tracks, the IDE track Human Technology Relations offers you a lot of room to make your own choices. Roughly speaking, you can draw up your own curriculum around the following components:

  • Mandatory courses: Scenario Based Product Design, Multisensory Design, Design for Behaviour Change, Science and Technology Studies, Design Histories & Create the Future. 
  • Elective courses related to IDE, your track or courses from HMI, Communication Studies & PSTS.   
  • Your graduation project

For a more detailed overview of all the IDE courses, check the curriculum*. (*The yellow blocks are HTR courses)

What king of graduation projects does this track involve?

Combine cutting-edge research with practical application

Naturally, you are free as a Master’s student to come up with your own graduation project proposal. As a university that places a strong emphasis on societal impact and valorization, we strongly encourage our Master’s students to choose graduation projects in which they combine fundamental research with practical application. Many of our IDE Master’s graduation projects are carried out with and for corporations. Because of the high degree of personalization this programme allows for, the range of graduation projects is huge.

Examples of HTR thesis topics  

  • Research and design of a ‘Bright Light Therapy’ application for in-home treatment of burn-out patients, in collaboration with Philips
  • Design of conceptual interactive playsets for the public outdoor environment, in collaboration with Playnetic
  • Development of a robotics expansion pack for the modular construction materials of Infento Rides
  • Research on the influence of design on the diffusion of technology
  • Researching how prefab sheds produced by a construction company are actually used by buyers, in order to improve the firm’s customer orientation  
  • Development of food packaging designed to help obesity patients eat smaller amounts at more regular intervals

Because of the focus on people in the HTR track, the possibilities are almost endless.

What are my career prospects if I complete this IDE track?

Demand for industrial design engineers is growing

On completing the Master’s programme Industrial Design Engineering you will receive a Master of Science degree. Your specialization is not mentioned on your diploma. We’ve designed the programme in such way that you will meet all the requirements of a qualified Industrial Design Engineer, regardless of the track you take. This means you will be equipped to enter any area of industrial design engineering – not just the area of your Master’s specialization.

Demand for industrial design engineers is growing, as innovation and smart design gain importance in the development of our society. The strength you will have gained at the UT in technology and engineering will only make you more employable.

IDE job examples

IDE graduates go on to fulfil a range of jobs: industrial designer, product designer, product engineer, design engineer, design manager, product manager, interaction designer, researcher, usability consultant, design-centred researcher, strategic designer, brand manager, new product development project leader, and design-brand consultant.

HTR job examples

Given the deeply human perspective you will develop in the Human Technology Relations track, you will be able to get a job in which user people’s needs and wants really matters. There are many job opportunities for HTR specialists in a wide range of markets, from healthcare and education to mobility, construction, packaging, branding or the tech industry.

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