The Final Word

Ted Shin, chair of MSU Denver’s Industrial Design Department, discusses his former life.

Publish Date: October 23, 2015

Ted Shin
Ted Shin is the chair of MSU Denver’s Industrial Design
Department. Photo: Michael Richmond

Remember the flip-style cell phone that was wildly popular in the early 2000s? Ever wondered who designed it? Meet Ted Shin, associate professor and chair of MSU Denver’s Industrial Design Department. Before joining the faculty in 2006, Shin was a product designer at Samsung Electronics, where he created groundbreaking products including the first camera phone and the first phone with a full keypad for texting. Samsung chose him (from among 700 top employees) as one of just 12 future design leaders. Since arriving at MSU Denver, he has taught nearly 80 percent of the University’s industrial design courses.

How did working at Samsung make you a better professor?

It helped me understand the true value of education.
What do you like best about working at MSU Denver? MSU Denver is an institution of opportunity and diversity. I like knowing I’m one of many people at MSU Denver who help our students secure their future.

How would you describe your approach to teaching and working with students?

I call myself a guide, not a teacher. I can show students the many different ways I took to solve a problem, but I try not to force students to go in a direction I took. I tell students if they want to be the
best, they have to work harder than everyone else.

How are the program and its students contributing to the local and national economies?

Internships are required and many students do those internships at local businesses. Roughly one-third of the internships – and growing – turn into full-time employment. We also have many graduates working on both coasts as professional designers.

Why is industrial design an important field?

We create a direct interaction between technology, product and function with people. Any activity that makes improvement we call design.

Which changes to the Industrial Design program make you proudest?

Creating new courses, streamlining the curriculum and keeping our great faculty. Everyone is working together to improve. My role is to build on the previous chair’s [Ken Phillips] great foundation. I’ve visited many strong design programs, and I know we are just as good and will be among the best. We’re also the only design program in Colorado accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design.

What does the move to the soon-to-be-built Aerospace and Engineering Sciences Building mean for the program and future students?

We’ll be working daily with other disciplines – something few other design programs do.