Joe Ballay

BCG Senior Advisor

Joe is a nationally known industrial designer and former senior faculty member in the School of Design at Carnegie Mellon University. As the head of the school, he was instrumental in orienting CMU’s design programs toward the integration of high technology with traditional graphic and industrial design. Throughout his career, he has been concerned that people have satisfying, aesthetically pleasing experiences with technology, especially as it influences ever more of our everyday lives.

At MAYA, Joe was one of the principal developers of Workscape, an interface metaphor for a software product that collects, stores, retrieves, and works with large numbers of diverse documents. He has also helped to guide the design of products in the domains of consumer electronics, interactive television, military logistics, fire protection, and computer peripherals. In 2012, Joe and co-authors Pete Lucas and Mickey McManus published Trillions: Thriving in the Emerging Information Ecology (Wiley). Trillions explores the emerging value at the intersection of design, technology, and business at the dawn of the pervasive computing age. It is designed to help us thrive in a world where trillions of computing devices will create extraordinary opportunities—in business, technology, and quality of life—and significant challenges.

Recently, Joe and his wife Sue founded the Ballay Family Fund through the Pittsburgh Foundation to advance innovation in education at all levels.


MFA Design, Carnegie Mellon University
BFA Industrial Design, University of Illinois
BS Industrial Management, Carnegie Tech

Places I’ve Lived

Western Pennsylvania, from a used-to-be mill town named Ambridge
Cincinnati, OH
Pittsburgh, PA
Atlanta, GA

Quote That Inspires Me

“The ultimate effect of shielding men (people) from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools.”
-Herbert Spencer

Books I Love

Very eclectic. I really enjoy the history of science and technology because it maintains my perspective on humankind’s eternal struggle to understand how the world works. But then I also read murder mysteries as sort of mental chewing gum.
I also read a lot of maps — because they tell stories spatially rather than linearly.

Earliest Memory of Using Something High-Tech

Shortly after the Second World War, I recorded voices with my uncle — on his brand new wire recorder.

First Thing I Built

When I was a kid I built a LOT of things, mostly model airplanes, but furniture, and devices too. This was probably the most important part of my education. I still have some of the stuff.

Speaking Engagements

Joe Ballay Visits Syracuse @ Design Symposium
Oct 31 2012

MAYA co-founder and principal Joe Ballay will speak on design issues from the new book Trillions at the Syracuse University Department of Industrial and Interaction Design, in addition to guest-teaching courses in Drawing and Form, October 30 – November 1.

IDSA International Conference: An Alternative Future for Industrial Design Education
Aug 15 2012

MAYA co-founder and principal Joe Ballay will participate in a panel called “Beyond the Traditional Structure: One Concept for an Alternative Future for Industrial Design Education,” at the Industrial Designers Society of America international conference in Boston on August 15, 2012. Joe and his co-panelists will share one proposal for a new approach for research universities. It is intended to start conversations, elicit opinions and motivate others through ongoing post-event discussions.


MAYA Principals Win Carnegie Science Award
Feb 03 2013

Congratulations to MAYA’s Pete Lucas, Joe Ballay, and Mickey McManus, winners of the 2013 Carnegie Science Award in the Science Communicator category. The award will be presented on May 3, 2013 at the Carnegie Music Hall in Oakland.

Book from MAYA leaders offers vision of future
Nov 09 2012

The Pittsburgh Business Times spoke with Trillions co-authors about how companies can prepare for the future of computing.

Ballay Family Fund Takes Part in Pilot
Oct 28 2012

The Ballay Family Fund, launched last year by MAYA founder Joe Ballay and his wife Sue Ballay, is part of a pilot for the Pittsburgh Foundation’s new initiative, the Center for Philanthropy. The Ballay Family Fund supports innovation in public school education with the goal of promoting and realizing education reform.


Feb 03 2009
Inventors: Luebke, Charles (Sussex, WI); Sabo, Russ (Sewickley, PA); Sabram, William (Lynn, MA), Ballay; Joseph (Atlanta, GA), McManus; Michael (Oakdale, PA)
Oct 21 2008
Inventors: Ballay; Joseph (Pittsburgh, PA), McManus; Michael (Oakdale, PA)
Jan 01 2003
Inventors: Joseph Ballay, Peter Lucas, Jeffrey Senn, Noah Guyot
Nov 01 2000
Inventors: Joseph Ballay, Peter Lucas, Jeffrey Senn, Noah Guyot
Sep 01 1998
Inventors: Joseph Ballay, Peter Lucas, Hugo Cheng
Jun 01 1998
Inventors: Hugo Cheng, Joseph Ballay, Peter Lucas
Jun 01 1998
Inventors: George Matisz, Ernets Matisz, Joseph Ballay
Jan 01 1997
Inventors: George Matisz, Ernest Matisz, Joseph Ballay
Jan 01 1972
Inventors: John McKnight, Joseph Ballay, Lawrence Fabbro, James Alexander
Dec 01 1971
Inventors: Joseph Ballay, William Wakefield, Lawrence Fabbro, James Alexander, Jr.