Designers play a vital role in innovation. They turn emerging technologies into something that makes sense to the user and becomes part of everyday life. They also provide answers to the challenges raised by such advanced technology. They devise new usage scenarios, explore innovative forms of expression and ensure that novel ideas fit in with the users’ social and cultural environment. This challenge requires that the designer be able to conduct research within interdisciplinary teams, in partnership with scientific laboratories, companies and users.
Since 2014, the ECAL/University of Art and Design Lausanne and the EPFL/Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne have offered the opportunity to train for such challenges through the Master of Advanced Studies in Design Research for Digital Innovation. Only 3–5 candidates are admitted each year for this two-year course. Admission is linked to obtaining a paid assistant position at the EPFL+ECAL Lab, the unit which acts as a bridge across the two institutions. The curriculum includes advanced courses combining theory and practical projects in such areas as augmented reality, digital information and architecture, disruptive innovation and analysis of user experience. More importantly, it allows developing a major research project called upon to become an actual application.
Candidates have the benefit of the EPFL+ECAL Lab technical platform, as well as of support from the teams of experts located in the ECAL building. They are registered as EPFL students, giving them access to the infrastructure of a campus with more than 300 laboratories.