Currently, Kimberlee is the Director of Undergraduate Studies and an Assistant Professor of Industrial Design at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she authors and teaches courses for Senior- and Graduate-level thesis work. She also co-teaches the Clinical Immersion Program, a six-week summer program designed to provide intensive exposure to the clinical environment to conduct user-centered research focusing on observation and needs assessment.


Kimberlee serves as Project Director for the MAD Lab, an interdisciplinary research and development lab geared towards the design of commercially relevant and viable solutions to varying medical problems and opportunities. Additionally, she advises members of the UR*lab and ORBITlab, two auxiliary medical labs focusing on urologic and ophthalmic needs. All labs are housed within the UIC Innovation Center with ongoing support from the College of Medicine.


Prior to starting 5by5, Kimberlee navigated through the corporate, freelance, and consultancy environments before deciding on a career in academia.  She has developed and patented a wide range of products, from packaging to toys, for brands such as Hefty, H20 GO!, and goDog.

Education and Affiliations

She has her BFA in Industrial Design from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and her MFA in Industrial Design from the University of Illinois at Chicago.  She is an active member of the Industrial Designer's Society of America (IDSA), and serves as faculty advisor to the UIC Student Chapter.




5by5 design lab is a product development studio, started in 2016 by Kimberlee Wilkens, an industrial designer and educator.  She has been working with companies from around the world, as well as pursuing self-generated work, to focus on the exploration and implementation of design to strengthen and clarify one’s message.