by Heidie Raine
Cedarville leaders are always on the lookout to grow the University’s academic footprint with the latest in-demand programs to train students to become cutting-edge leaders in emerging career fields. From industrial and innovative design to the developing PA program, cyber operations, information technology management, and interactive web design, and more, Cedarville develops programs to prepare today's students for roles of Gospel influence in tomorrow's rising industries.
Cedarville University’s industrial and innovative design major is training its graduates to serve as industry leaders in the professional design field. The growing list of graduate success stories is sure to inspire the next generation of future innovators to soar.
The industrial and innovative design (IID) major came into being at Cedarville more than 12 years ago through a partnership with the Columbus, Ohio-based International Center for Creativity (ICC), but the discussions and customization of this program began almost 20 years ago.
CREATIVE EDUCATION FOR CREATIVES
After selling their marketing firm in 2001, ICC co-founders Tom Balliett and Jim Stevenson were searching for a new venture while each doing corporate consulting work in graphic design, industrial design, web design, and marketing.
“It all came back to education and how broken it was for creatives,” Stevenson said. “Our thought was, if we can turn what we do — transforming brands and products — into a curriculum, we’ll be filling the need that our clients keep expressing.”
Shortly thereafter, Stevenson interacted with Daniel Estes, Distinguished Professor of Old Testament at Cedarville, at a church music rehearsal. Estes communicated Cedarville’s desire to pursue more creative professional programs, and this conversation paved the way for Cedarville’s partnership with the ICC.
Beginning in fall 2010, Cedarville welcomed its first class of IID students to the world’s only evangelical Christian industrial design program, piloting a unique structure that continues to thrive today. Students complete their first two years of study on Cedarville’s campus, and they transition to the ICC studios for the last two years of their program.
“Without the diligent work of so many, including Prof. Terry Chamberlain [Associate Professor Emeritus of Fine Art], Dr. Steve Winteregg [former Associate Academic Vice President for the College of Arts and Sciences], and Dr. Duane Wood [former Academic Vice President], this program would have never seen the light of day.”
The first IID class, three internal transfer juniors coming from business, engineering, andstudio art, met in the Jeremiah House on Cedarville’s campus — the ICC’s first headquarters and home of former Cedarville President James T. Jeremiah, a leader noted for innovative problem-solving.
“That first class was the perfect display of what industrial design is: the intersection of business, engineering, and art,” Stevenson added.
“We often hear the phrase ‘Jack of all trades,’” Joe Gerber ’22, an IID major from Ellendale, Delaware, said. “Our instructors help us build our ’toolbelts,’ as we call them, with skills like writing, presenting, designing and sketching, marketing, rendering, and many more.”
DEVELOPING INNOVATION LEADERS
As the IID major has matured, it’s provided students with further opportunities to exercise their innovation and design skills, which culminate in senior capstone projects.
Seth Killian ’17 channeled his love for motorcycles into his senior capstone project by producing a custom set of tools to fit the British-made Birmingham Small Arms (BSA) motorcycles, for which the market previously lacked a sufficient tool set. His company, Iron and Hide Customs, was born out of the semester-long project.
After graduation, IID students use their projects, skills, and focused expertise to launch into industry, landing some of the market’s top competitive positions. Over 85% of ICC graduates are employed in design-related fields.
“We have graduates working at Wolverine Boots, Nike, Air Jordan, Reebok, Books Running, Crocs, Hunter Fans, Shark Ninja, Petco, Bose, Chick-Fil-A Corporate — the list goes on and on,” Stevenson explained.
An easy-to-build tree fort for parents with few building skills became 2017 graduate Drew Brandt’s capstone project. That design was the key to him landing his current post creating outdoor play equipment for KidKraft in Dallas, Texas.
Julia Shaffer ’19 accepted a position as an associate industrial designer at Hunter Fans, one of the leading companies in the domestic lighting and fan industry, in January 2020. Her designs have routinely hit the market since.
TTI Electronics, a Fort Worth-based corporation that owns companies such as Dirt Devil Vacuums and RYOBI tools, also hires many of Cedarville’s IID graduates. Major car manufacturers such as Honda and Ford have also hired Cedarville’s IID alumni.
“My lifelong dream has been to build rollercoasters,” Gerber shared. “I came into Cedarville as a mechanical engineering major, but realized I needed more creativity to explore my love for themed entertainment design.”
Gerber’s senior capstone project will propose a design for a Magic School Bus-themed thrill ride, which he hopes will highlight his skills for immersive and engaging attraction design.
REFLECTING THE CREATOR
In addition to design experience, Gerber has also developed more independence in his faith and deeper friendships because of the move to Columbus.
“It was very difficult to leave the main campus, but as seniors, we are so grateful for where we are,” he explained. “My classmates are my family, and we learned to encourage each other in our spiritual walks and come alongside one another when school was demanding. This program prepares you for the real world in every aspect.”
Jay Kinsinger, ICC instructor and Associate Professor of Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering at Cedarville, echoes the idea of spiritual growth and the IID major being uniquely tied.
“It’s an opportunity to demonstrate a reflection of God’s creativity,” Kinsinger explained. “This is an outlet for us to worship God. I think of Exodus 31 where God fills these craftsmen with His spirit so they can make beautiful things out of all these mediums.”
As the IID major looks to what the future may bring, advanced professional education and technology advancements are at the top of the list.
“Our new Master of Arts in Innovation offers new opportunities for professionals in the field to develop and grow and become industry leaders,” Stevenson explained. “We emphasize creative problem-solving, solution development, and entrepreneurship.”
This program is ideally suited for professionals who want to solve problems using innovative and creative processes and methods.
The undergraduate major has also moved to incorporate more technology in its design process, ushering in 3D printing, digital rendering, iPad sketches, and other digital tools. The ICC is currently developing a virtual reality lab, which is set to launch this school year.
One of the biggest transformations occurred in 2020 when the ICC moved from its home in Powell, Ohio — just north of Columbus — to Lakehurst in Dublin, Ohio.
“The world continues to transform, and in the innovation business, we always want to be on the front end of adapting to the next new thing,” Stevenson said.
The ICC is a Columbus, Ohio-based firm that delivers “creativity” consultation for companies, artists, and individuals, and partners with Cedarville University to deliver a cutting-edge, IID major.
Heidie Raine ’23 is an English major at Cedarville University.
MASTER OF ARTS IN INNOVATION FOR CREATIVE LEADERS
With innovation/creativity as the No. 1 soft skill employers look for in today’s future hires, thinking outside the box, over the hedge, and into the metaverse is no longer just the realm of artists and artisans. The business world is changing, and innovative minds are leading the way.
In view of this shifting landscape, Cedarville has launched its newest graduate program, the Master of Arts in innovation degree. This completely online program, offered as a partnership between the School of Business and the International Center for Creativity, will equip problem-solving professionals with the mindset to drive change and the knowledge to confidently guide change.
This 33–36 credit hour program includes core classes in managing and leading organizations, strategic marketing planning, design thinking principles, and business modeling and new venture creation.
For more information about the Master of Arts in innovation, visit cedarville.edu/MAinnovation or contact The Graduate School at Cedarville at 937-766-8000.