Faculty Spotlight: Professor Shu-Wen Tzeng

Auburn Industrial Design

Shu-Wen Tzeng has been teaching in the Industrial Design program in Auburn’s School of Industrial and Graphic Design (SIGD) since 2008. She was promoted from Associate Professor to Professor this fall.

Tzeng holds a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Design from National Cheng Kung University, Taiwan, and a Master of Industrial Design (MID) from Auburn. She worked as an industrial designer for BenQ Group’s Darfon Electronics Corporation for almost ten years, creating input devices such as computer keyboards, remote controls, personal digital assistants (PDAs) and MP3 players. After four years as a designer, Tzeng was promoted to design manager and oversaw the product design team, packaging design and marketing communication. “My experience as a design manager really advanced my skills for design, marketing and people management,” she explained. “That made teaching a good fit for me after 10 years of design practice.”

Tzeng currently teaches 3D Design Principles foundation design studio for second-year students, Exhibit and Packaging Design and Materials and Technology for third-year students and Design Theories for the graduate students in the MID program. While Tzeng enjoys teaching a wide range of students, her favorite class is Exhibit and Packaging Design Studio. “It is heavily focused on visual communication, which allows students to learn the graphical aspects of product design beyond form and function,” she said.

Tzeng’s research interests include product design, human factors, ergonomics and interaction design, but recently she has focused her research on user-product interaction through different communication vehicles. She is part of a multidisciplinary team of faculty from the College of Architecture, Design and Construction (CADC) who are addressing the need to increase safety and accessibility for older Americans who want to stay in their own homes. With funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, she and CADC faculty members Justin Miller of Architecture and Wes Collins of Building Science are working to create a mobile app called ADAPT that can walk a user through design solutions for individual rooms of a residence.

Having now taught at Auburn for 15 years, Tzeng has seen many changes in SIGD, but the biggest may be the gender ratio in the school. When she began teaching at Auburn, an average studio had only two or three female students out of a class of 15, and for almost ten years she was the only female faculty member. Now she has several female colleagues on the faculty and the gender ratio in classes is much more balanced, with this past semester’s Summer Op program evenly distributed by gender. She says the growth of UI/UX and the use of visual and graphic design in the product design process have also been major changes in the program, and while she continues to teach traditional form-oriented product design, she is including more digital components and interaction design as the field of industrial design continues to evolve.