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Supporting Academic Success

The Design Foundation offers two scholarships each year with funds generously donated by our community members and corporations. To date, the Design Foundation has distributed over $120,000 in scholarship tuition assistance to a diverse pool of talented design students. These scholarships allow the Design Foundation to assist students at the earliest stages of their design careers by providing much needed financial support. 


In addition to this financial support, each scholarship winner receives significant community recognition through the Industrial Designers Society of America's media channels and a profile in INNOVATION magazine.


Recipients of our scholarships go on to do great things within the design community and achieve great professional successes.

2023 Scholarship Recipients

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Aadithyan Mannarmannan
Gianninoto Graduate Scholarship Recipient
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Elmer Handojo
IDSA Design Foundation Undergraduate Scholarship Recipient
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$5,000 in tuition support!

2023 applications are closed

See all past recipients

Gianninoto Industrial Design
Graduate Scholarship
$5,000 USD for graduate course tuition fees in the completion of an industrial design degree.


This scholarship was established with a $25,000 contribution by the late Francesco Gianninoto, FIDSA (pictured), a US package designer who was a founder of the Package Design Council, and president of Gianninoto Associates from 1932 to 1983. One of his most famous designs was the “Elsie Daisy,” the Borden Cow. Gianninoto was an honorary professor at Western Connecticut State University, where he taught communication through design. 

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Industrial Design
Undergraduate Scholarship
$5,000 USD for undergraduate course tuition fees in the completion of an industrial design degree.



This scholarship is the Design Foundation's longest running program and consistently helps young design talent achieve academic excellence. 


Pictured: work by 2021 Undergraduate Scholarship recipient Seunghark Cho

2023 Scholarship Jury

Patrick Bowers, IDSA
ClayVon Lowe, IDSA
Emilie Williams, IDSA
Christopher Chudek, IDSA
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Isabel Prochner
Vincent Lin, IDSA
Andres Tellez



  1. Applicants must be in their final year of study in an undergraduate industrial design program and currently applying/accepted to graduate school, or a student currently enrolled in an industrial design graduate program in the United States.

  2. Applicants who are practicing professionals returning to graduate school are eligible to apply.

  3. Once an applicant has been awarded, a Gianninoto graduate scholarship, he/she/they is ineligible to apply again even if application criteria is met.


  1. Applicants must be enrolled as a full-time undergraduate student and pursuing an industrial design degree in the United States.

  2. Applicants must have at least one semester of undergraduate studies remaining prior to graduation; and must be earning a “B” or better cumulative GPA.

  3. Once an applicant has been awarded a Design Foundation undergraduate scholarship, he/she/they is ineligible to apply again even if they still meet the application criteria.

Submission Materials

Letter of Interest

A written statement introducing yourself and responding to the following prompts:

  • What is one example of exceptional design, and why do you consider it exceptional?

  • Describe a time when you got something wrong, and what you learned from the experience.

  • What would you like to design to make a positive impact for society?

  • How can you as a young aspiring designer contribute to increasing inclusivity and diversity in the field of industrial design?

Project Portfolio


Detailing up to three (3) individual projects. PDF format, not to exceed 15 pages in length. The portfolio should address and display competency in the following areas:

  • Clear articulation of opportunity statement and respective design solution.

  • Design approach and process effectively address opportunity statement

  • At least one project covers the entire design process

  • Work is forward-thinking and unique

  • Work addresses real-world challenges and advances the design profession

  • Student role in group work is clearly defined

  • Work is credited appropriately (i.e. sources for photos are cited)

Project Images


Three (3) individual images


  • Representing projects in the portfolio, e.g. one image per project

  • These images may be used online if your application is selected as the winner

Academic Transcript

  • Verifies GPA, course of study, etc.

  • Graduate students that have been accepted into a program but have not yet started coursework may submit a letter of acceptance.

Judging Criteria

Scope of Work

​The submitted portfolio of projects should demonstrate proficiency across multiple mediums, project categories and/or problem areas.


The student should display an in-depth understanding of the entire design process and design research from start to finish; this should be reflected within the body of their work.

Quality of Work


The submitted portfolio of projects should demonstrate a high-level of proficiency in industrial design skills such as: user research, ideation (sketching/rendering and prototyping), modeling (3D and physical), materials and/or manufacturing.


The final solutions or presentations of process or ideas should be aesthetically fitting and exhibit appropriate balance between form and function (Resources for photos are cited)

Quality of Thought


The student should demonstrate an in-depth and holistic understanding of a problem/opportunity scoping, design criteria and context.


The student is effective in making connections between their work and practice / academia and demonstrates thinking that contributes to advancing the design profession.

This critical analysis should be reflected (and communicated) in their research and process, and/or final solution(s). The work should be forward-thinking and unique.

Visual Communication

The submitted materials should be clearly organized, well-composed and visually compelling.


The work should be representative of a cohesive collection and communicate an intelligible narrative throughout.


The work should show attention to detail.


Work should demonstrate a creative and original approach, not simply relying on existing products or processes for inspiration.


"It is a great honor to win the Design Foundation scholarship. Receiving it is a great encouragement. In learning design, I have experienced pain and confusion ... However, when I received this Design Foundation Scholarship, I felt that my design ideas had been recognized. In the future, I will continue to study and strive to become a human-centered designer who can create value for society."
- Zeyu Tian, 2022 Design Foundation Undergraduate Scholarship recipient
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“I've always tried to design products that can change culture. The scholarship award gave me a lot of confidence. The gift from Design Foundation to me is not just a scholarship, but a tremendous amount of courage and motivation. I am ready to continue to create positive values with this dazzling community, IDSA"
- Jae Hyeok Lee, 2022 Design Foundation Gianninoto Graduate Scholarship Recipient
"The scholarship really helped me reduce the burden of high tuition. It also made me recognized by various design studios. In fact, I am currently talking to a few companies for potential internships and even full-time positions."
- Seunghark Cho, 2021 Design Foundation Undergraduate Scholarship recipient
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“Receiving this scholarship gave me incredibly valuable recognition that encourages me to be confident about my design voice. It sparked a deep desire within me to share my vision through design and continue developing pieces that connect with people and make them notice and question their behavior."
- Pedro Villar, 2021 Design Foundation Gianninoto Graduate Scholarship Recipient
"Winning the 2020 Design Foundation Undergraduate Scholarship is not only a recognition of my work but also a fuel for me to continue my career aspiration: designing objects that spread joyfulness to the world, little by little. It helped me to continue my education and pursue my design career."
- Mingyuan “Peggy” Li, 2020 Design Foundation Undergraduate Scholarship recipient
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“One of my larger, overarching goals is to become a strong female leader and authoritative voice in the field of industrial design and to continue to pave the way for and promote other women. Creating and encouraging a much more inclusive industry is extremely important. I plan on contributing to help the industry as a whole evolve and set a good example.”
- Nicole Nassif, 2019 Design Foundation Undergraduate Scholarship Recipient
“Being awarded the Design Foundation Undergraduate Scholarship solidified my decision to go back to school to further my education in design. It also validates that industrial design is not only something that I have found myself becoming increasingly passionate about, but a way for me to continually challenge my understanding and outlook of the world around me.”
- Natalie Quinnies, 2015 Design Foundation Undergraduate Scholarship recipient
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