Well, don’t hang out with them all the time. It's the start of the semester, and soon you'll be engrossed in a world of blue foam, Bondo, and marker fumes. You will be eating, sleeping, working, and partying with your fellow designers 24/7. (Maybe not sleeping with them exactly, but you get the idea.) It will be very easy to get caught up in the narrow focus of design education and to not look past it. But the great thing about the world is that there are a ton of smart, interesting, and engaging people who are not industrial designers—haven't even heard of one. And if you are going to work with and design for the rest of this world, you need to go out and meet some of them.
If you are going to work with and design for the rest of this world, you need to go out and meet some of them.
Observe how these different disciplines problem solve and develop new ideas. Architects, communication designers, painters, and photographers are extremely interesting (and have good parties), but their experience and points of view might be a bit close to home. Instead, have lunch with the person down the hall who is majoring in philosophy. Who knows—you may discover that all this interaction with other disciplines becomes your own personal "allegory of the cave." Talk to business, marketing, and finance majors, since you'll be working with them a lot in the future. (You have no idea, actually.) Find a friend who is a writer or literary major, and learn how they discuss ideas and communicate stories.
Play sports. Lots of them. Building prototypes and doing endless color studies is great for your design chops, but your body has other needs. Use the gym to build or repair, but then get out and have some fun away from the studio. Play soccer, Frisbee, rock climb, paddle a canoe, ski, snowboard, ride your bike, or run. It doesn't matter. Just make sure it's physical and outdoors. You've got to clear your head eagerly and often in order to have enough fitness to do inspired work when you're back at the studio. And the best part about sports? You play lots of them with other people. Who know other stuff.
Sam Montague teaches in the Industrial Design Program at Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston.