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Accessible Design: A Look into the BYU Design Review

Christmas movies, skis, and iPhones—what do all of these popular products have in common? A good design. Design is a critical part of any product, and the BYU Design Review dives into everything that helps make design success happen.

The BYU Design Review was started in 2019 by Dr. Chris Mattson and Dr. John Salmon, professors in the Brigham Young University Mechanical Engineering department. The pair wanted to build the design culture at BYU and get people excited about product design.

Articles for the BYU Design Review take both traditional applications and contemporary examples of engineering design and present them in a simplified and engaging way.

They cover a broad range of topics, from the technical aspects of design success, such as the innovation behind the Fender Precision Bass Guitar and understanding the customer, to getting over humps in the creative process and successfully planning and designing your life.

“This is a place that's more approachable to learn new skills and improve design practice than academic journal articles; they're not the easiest things to read," said editor and doctoral candidate Chris Mabey. "We're trying to make it accessible for anyone to be able to improve their design work.”

Anyone is welcome to contribute to the BYU Design Review. It’s a valuable opportunity for exposure to an international audience and experience. In addition, the Design Review holds annual competitions to improve the design of common products. Previous winners have redesigned everyday items, like a birthday candle and a pair of scissors, for more optimal use.

Mabey got involved in writing articles for the Design Review when it first started, and now serves as its editor. Being a part of the design review has helped him in his studies as he pursues his doctorate degree and researches the social, environmental and economic impacts of products.

"As I continue to be involved, I gain new perspectives on design and how we can do that better, and then being able to turn that around and we can help teach that to other people,” Mabey said. “Being able to take what we learn and then turn it around so other people can learn about that too is really fulfilling for me."

The team also includes associate editors Kaytlin Collins and Samuel McKinnon, and intern Jeremiah Sanders. With support from the Weidman Center, The BYU Design Review has recently been able to add two new positions. Will Godfrey leads efforts to engage with the design community and recruit authors, and Spencer Stoltz works to grow the audience of The BYU Design Review.

"Before this year, we've just all been volunteering our time and so we’re more limited on what we put in,” Mabey said. “This is an exciting area for us to be able to not only provide experience to these students that get to be involved in these roles, but also expand our reach and continue our mission of building better design culture and providing that knowledge."

Although college students are the biggest audience, each article gets hundreds of views from a range of people across the world wanting to learn more about design.

"Everything we do as engineers is for people and designing things to help make people's lives better," Mabey said. "Even if we're not in a dedicated design role, there is design work going on and we need to be aware of how we can do that better."

Visit the Design Review website, Instagram, or Facebook to learn more and get involved with the BYU Design Review.