Walter Zesk

Associate Professor

JWU Faculty Since 2015

Professor Walter Zesk

Contact Info


Walter Zesk’s research and professional practice straddle the border between design and engineering, primarily focusing on using emerging technologies to develop parametric product systems.

As a graduate student, he collaborated on an investigation into automated folding that grew into a new business, Seeyond. In addition, Zesk is co-founder of Conform Lab, which provides consulting in design automation and direct manufacturing technologies.

Prior to joining JWU in 2015, he taught at RISD and the Boston Architecture College.


  • 2025 Massachusetts Institute of Technology Doctorate of Computation in Architecture
  • 2017 Tufts Gordon Institute of Engineering Masters of Engineering Management, selected Distinguished Student by classmates and faculty
  • 2009 Rhode Island School of Design, Graduate School of Architecture Masters of Architecture
  • 2008 Brown University, Sheridan Teaching Center Sheridan Teaching Certificate Program. The Sheridan Center focuses on the development of reflective teaching at the collegiate level.
  • 2008 Santa Fe Institute Awarded a six week Fellowship to the Complex Systems Summer School, a series of interdisciplinary workshops and research projects focused on the dynamics of complex social and physical systems.
  • 2003 Wesleyan University Bachelors of Arts in Studio Art and Philosophy with Honors

At one point, most designers were thinking about physical products. Now there’s a huge emphasis on designing experiences for users ... So students are constantly challenged to think about products in a more modern and inclusive way.

Teaching Interests

Design Process

Complex System Design

Computational Design

Scholarly Interests

Felting - a process and structure for the information age: Investigating and proposing new extensible manufacturing processes and low cost materials for rapid prototyping.

Parametric Kirigami: Research resulting in patenting the Seeyond architectural construction system.

Spatial Patterns of Residential Segregation: co-authored paper proposing a new way to simulate urban dynamics and emergent segregation in cities. published by the Geoinfo conference in 2008

Sea Level Rise Solution Map: In collaboration with Bruce Campbell, I proposed designing a database that mapped flooding mitigation strategies onto risk assessment maps providing universal access to best practices, tailored to specific contexts. The project was a finalist for the RI Foundation Innovation Grant.


  • IDES1010 Introduction to 3D Design This class is a hands-on introduction to designing in form and space. Students investigate form, perception and descriptive language across a variety of mediums. Students experiment with measurement techniques (manual and digital) and practice using projected drawing documentation. Offered at Providence 3 Semester Credits
  • IDES1030 Direct Modeling Direct modeling introduces students to Computer Aided Design (CAD). Students study the current landscape of CAD technologies and how different software tools match up with common design problems. The class then focuses on one common direct modeling software to teach the basics of 2D drafting, 3D modeling and output workflows. Offered at Providence 3 Semester Credits
  • IDES2020 Studio - Iteration This course focuses on iteration and prototyping, the core of an investigative design process. Students experience a variety of prototyping techniques and learn of their application. Students develop a series of design proposals, using the critical ideation cycle: 1) Ideate, 2) Prototype and 3) Evaluate. Offered at Providence 3 Semester Credits
  • IDES2040 Materials and Processes This course develops a practical understanding of physical, digital and virtual materials and material conversion processes used in product development. Students investigate material properties through research, simulation and prototyping. Students use basic statics calculations to quantify material properties and make performance predictions. In short design projects, students incorporate their understanding of material properties and material conversion processes into their use of Computer Assisted Design tools. Offered at Providence 3 Semester Credits
  • IDES2060 Studio - Form Finding This course explores the relationships connecting form, aesthetics, human factors and material optimization. Methods of form finding are introduced through a series of design proposals. Each project emphasizes varying connections and priorities. Offered at Providence 3 Semester Credits
  • IDES3010 System Design This course introduces system thinking and system design techniques. Students practice interpreting, visualizing and analyzing products, organizations, and experiences as systems. Practices include diagramming, modeling and simulating. Students examine products in both micro and macro systems. Offered at Providence 3 Semester Credits


  • Geoinfo, “Spatial Patterns of Residential Segregation,” 2008.

Honors And Awards

  • Neocon, Gold Medal/Best of NeoCon, 2013
  • Neocon, Gold Medal/Best of NeoCon, 2011
  • Neocon, Inovation Award/Best of NeoCon, 2011