The art-science axis has been a persistent theme in the professional life of Emeritus Professor of Design Joseph Ballay, the 2023 Founders Medal recipient. An international advocate for the importance of design in everyday life, Joe has spent more than six decades developing his interdisciplinary vision of design as a fundamental human activity. Every aspect of Joe’s academic and professional career is motivated by the idea that design rises on a foundation built of many creative, problem-solving traditions from the arts, science, technology and humanities.
Joe stepped out into the world and onto the path of becoming a design leader as a 1960 Carnegie Tech bachelor of science graduate. He went on to earn an industrial design bachelor of fine arts degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and then joined the faculty of the University of Cincinnati. Ultimately, his journey would lead him back to Carnegie Mellon University where he would immerse himself in a unique graduate program composed of equal parts graphic design, cognitive psychology and computer science. In 1970, Joe assumed the helm of the new College of Fine Arts Department of Design, ultimately developing and elevating it to the status of school within the college, which it still holds today. In the mid-1980s, he helped to establish the college’s Center for Art and Technology, further solidifying its success.