Tom Weis is an Assistant Professor in the Industrial Design department at the Rhode Island School of Design. Weis works with a team of faculty to guide graduate students through their year-long thesis projects. His undergraduate courses include such topics as advanced prototyping, gun violence prevention, aquaponics and global security issues. His work has been featured in such places as the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum, Time magazine’s Best Inventions of 2010 and Mass General Hospital’s Russell MD Museum of History and Innovation. Since 2015, Weis has explored how design and creativity might work to reduce nuclear threats. He has presented at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, The International Atomic Energy Agency and has led collaborative workshops between design students and cadets at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and with teams at Sandia National Laboratories. Weis initiated a Global Security Fellowship at RISD funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Tom has kept a home in coastal Maine since the late 1990’s when he moved there to pursue an apprenticeship building traditional wooden boats.
What is your area of expertise?
Are you interested in mentoring high school or college students, or both?
How did you become interested in this area?
I have always had a love for making things since a very early age. Industrial Design was a great way for me to combine that passion with the needs of others.
What was your career path to get here?
I started in a more traditional craft background. Building wooden boats, furniture, cabinetry and restoring old New England homes. I combined those skills with my undergrad degree in sculpture. My love for well made functional objects led me to grad school at the Rhode Island School of Design and I have been working professionally in that area since.
Why should the public care?
The public should care specifically about the issue of nuclear threats because there are few things that could dramatically effect the global population in such a short period of time. These weapons are a reflection of power structures and history that is ready to be re-written by a new generation that values peace and human rights.
What is a current issue or trend that concerns you?