Cedarville Commits to Design Thinking

by Marketing — Cedarville, Ohio

Cedarville University continues its efforts to offer students the most competitive and up-to-date degree options by introducing the industrial and innovative design program, with classes beginning in the fall of 2010. To offer this unique program, the University has joined forces with the International Center for Creativity (ICC), located in Columbus, Ohio.

This truly collaborative endeavor offers students an opportunity to benefit from Cedarville’s strong arts program while gaining invaluable research and practical experience at the off-campus studio classrooms of the ICC. Not only is the program timely, but it is also the only one of its kind in Christian higher education.

Companies today recognize the benefits of “design thinking” and cultural adaptability. They also want “better talent, faster,” according to Jim Orr, founder and CEO of the ICC. “The computer-aided design movement created a perception that designers had to sit in front of computers all day,” he explained, “and the industry was losing its innovative base of creativity.” By working together, Cedarville and the ICC believe they have created a program that meets a need for innovative industrial design. 

A Unique Approach 

“Almost everything we handle and use on a daily basis is purposefully designed,” said Terry Chamberlain, associate professor of art at Cedarville. “And with the emphasis on ergonomics and the green factor, products are changing every day. Industry is in need of forward-thinking designers.”

The ICC approached Cedarville with the program six years ago. Having recognized a need for highly motivated, serious professionals, the ICC wanted students with integrity, creative abilities, and strong communications skills and who could think on their feet. And Cedarville students fit the bill.

“Our initial concept was to create a stand-alone certificate, associate, and/or continuing education-type program to complement the corporate and professional designer workshop division of our company,” said Orr. “But in conversation with some of the key leadership, it became clear that Cedarville might be interested in this new and innovative curriculum and approach.”

Still, in deciding to work with the ICC, the University needed to be sure that all instructors had affirmed its doctrinal statement. Students will fulfill Cedarville’s spiritual requirements, including obtaining a Bible minor and committing to regular church involvement. The five-year vetting process between Cedarville and the ICC made sure the two organizations were compatible, not only spiritually but also in their goals and values.

Thinking Outside the Box

After five years of collaborating, the ICC curriculum, which was created by designers and for designers, was adapted to fit Cedarville’s requirements and goals. Students will spend their first two years at the University, where they will take a core set of art classes and liberal arts requirements. Cedarville appreciates ICC’s freehand approach to design as compared to the tendency by most other programs to favor digital software. In the very beginning of the ICC concept, the leadership team felt this was leading to a crisis in design as technology replaced the heart and soul of artistic expression, which ultimately led to the professional workshops, instructional materials, and this reinvention of the industrial design degree.

“This program,” said Jim Stevenson, chief marketing officer for the ICC, “puts balance back into the relationship of visual thinking, hand-rendering, and a digital production approach, which allows students to create work that is special and not just another product of the same software everyone else uses.”

For their last two years of study, qualified students will advance to “craft-centric” immersion at the ICC campus in Columbus, where they will refine their skills, research their field, and gain practical experience. The ICC’s relationships with major corporations will give students real-world feedback and exposure to leaders in the industry.

Another unique aspect of the IID program is that it will be taught in a modular fashion, which provides intensive and concentrated focus on specific areas. This means that instead of jumping from one subject to the next, the student will spend three to four consecutive weeks on a particular focus before advancing to the next level of expertise.

Students can choose from four specific tracks within the IID program: consumer product design, transportation design, interior space design, or architectural and exterior space design. Each area offers numerous branches of career potential. And since students will have experience in all four areas, they will be even more versatile as they seek employment and build a portfolio of relevant work and research.

“Best of all, visual design is a global language,” Chamberlain said. “Our graduates will be able to look for a job anywhere in the world.”

To learn more about the IID program at Cedarville University, visit www.cedarville.edu/industrialdesign.