SIGD Reconnects with Renowned Faculty Member Eva Pfeil

Dr. Eva Pfeil

Above, left to right: Eva Pfeil, Randy Bartlett, John Landry, Glen Boyd, and Hugh Mims at Design Interaction, 1980


This past February, students and faculty from Auburn’s School of Industrial and Graphic Design (SIGD) had the chance to connect with Dr. Eva Pfeil, the renowned faculty member who helped to establish the industrial design program’s foundations course. Several SIGD faculty members, including program chair Shea Tillman and interim school head Chris Arnold, called Pfeil to help her celebrate her 100th birthday.

In addition to that phone call, Tillman also sent Pfeil a video to show her what the program’s facilities look like today. In the video tour of the building, he walks her through industrial design studios full of students busy at work. Students were able to wish her happy birthday and Professor Randy Bartlett, who studied with Pfeil as a student at Auburn, thanked her for the knowledge she had shared with him and stated that her influence in the program lives on.

A native of Dresden, Germany, Pfeil attended HfG-Ulm, the famed German design school, with her colleague Walter Schaer. After World War II, she left Europe to work in Tehran with her architect husband. When Schaer was hired to teach at Auburn in 1960, he recommended that the program hire Pfeil as well, and she went on to teach industrial design at Auburn from roughly 1962 to 1988. Pfeil established Auburn’s annual Design Interaction symposium, bringing industry professionals to interact with students on campus, and she and Schaer worked together to reshape the industrial design program and incorporate more systematic approaches.

With understated and thoughtful professionalism, she helped to develop Auburn’s program into one of the top programs in the world, and her contributions are especially relevant as the school celebrates Women’s History Month throughout the month of March. Tillman says that Pfeil was excited to speak with SIGD faculty and was interested to hear about the changes that have occurred over the years. “It was truly a privilege for us to talk to her,” Tillman stated. “While computers and technology have changed the tools of the profession, we were able to show her that the design foundations education she initiated in our program has endured.”