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For industrial design students at New York's Pratt Institute, there's a lot more at stake than just a degree.
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Brooklyn's Pratt Institute might be well known for its engineering and arts courses, but for students in its industrial design program, it's about more than making something pretty and earning a degree. The ethos of the curriculum includes "trying to solve problems of poverty, hunger, energy, health, and other troubling issues of the disadvantaged world population by design." Indeed, that philosophy was on full display at this year's graduate student showcase.

Gallery: Pratt graduate showcase | 10 Photos

The assistant chairperson of industrial design at Pratt, Scott A. Lundberg, told Engadget that while the first year in the Pratt program is about the instructors telling the students what's important in terms of process and skills, the third year is about the students showing what's important to them. The projects on display certainly spanned a variety of interests and concerns, from eco-friendly packaging for food carts to a modular kitchen for wheelchair-bound cooks. And while some thesis designs were a bit whimsical and outlandish -- like a dress with built-in fans to cool down women suffering from hot flashes -- others took more-subdued approaches to solving issues. Check out our gallery to see a few of the projects looking to tackle health and transportation issues via thoughtful industrial design.

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Kris runs Engadget's awesome product database with an iron fist. She's also written stuff for Anime Insider and Anime News Network, as well as a lengthy stint editing Pokémon things for The Pokémon Company. She still plays the games and seriously can't believe there are 807 Pokémon now.

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