Industrial arts represents the study and practice of technical design including furniture, automobiles and toys. Industrial artists serve many purposes in society and cultivate technological advancement through careers in automobile design and computer-aided drafting. The demand for people skilled in the industrial arts transformed over the years and includes a need for individuals skilled in a particular area, such as appliance design.
Industrial arts began as early as prehistoric times when human beings first developed tools, according to the Journal of Technology Education. Formal instruction for industrial arts arose during the late 1800s and consisted of manual training for trades in manufacturing. Industrial arts education became popular in the 1900s as an alternative for students seeking to learn a trade. Known as vocational school, the purpose of industrial arts classes included teaching students specific skills such as automobile repair or furniture design. Today, the meaning of industrial arts encompasses a wide variety of technical specialties.
The purpose of industrial arts incorporates societal factors such as technology with personal career development. A student trained in an industrial art contributes to the advancement of society regardless of whether the career is in manufacturing or design. For example, a graduate of an industrial arts program with a focus on machinery learns advanced safety techniques and methods of streamlining manufacturing. A design student creates new and advanced packaging for toys, which reduces waste.
Careers in industrial arts have taken on a new meaning since the inception of the field. Early on, industrial arts meant learning the required training for a craft comprised of manual labor. For example, a student taking industrial arts classes in furniture design in the mid-1900s learned how to use the proper tools to create a standard piece of furniture designed by a corporation. A career in industrial arts in modern times offers the student a chance to be the one to design the furniture.
Other careers in industrial arts have evolved with technology such as computer-aided drafting and video production.
The meaning behind the demand for people trained in industrial arts changes with the needs of the employing corporations. For example, the demand for industrial artists during the 1940s included people adept at shortwave radio design for use in World War II, according to the Encyclopedia of Chicago.
Economic changes and increased commercialism raise the overall demand for skilled industrial artists. Talented designers offer companies an edge over the competition and provide society with the desired technologically advanced products. For example, appliance companies always have a demand for new industrial artists able to provide distinct and innovative designs, such as the recently popular stainless steel finish.
Industrial arts provides benefits to a wide assortment of people. Students lacking the skill or desire to study math and science obtain a career in industrial arts by learning a trade such as mechanics. People proficient in math and science study and put the knowledge to use by designing new products. Others go on to teach an industrial art such as woodworking.
Rebecca DeLuccia-Reinstein has been a freelance writer since 2004. She is a native New Yorker based in Pennsylvania. Her writing includes books, manuals, training guides and articles published as a ghostwriter and she has covered topics such as education, sales, art and psychology. She received a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the State University of New York at Albany.