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Forecasting First Semester @ SCD

Updated: May 28, 2019

Forecasting my first semester as Associate Director of Programs for the Siebel Center for Design.


Dialog about planned upcoming classes and talking about super fun big picture possibilities

Day One


Meeting with the Director on day one I would like to propose and discuss the following categories for types of programs that can be offered at SCD:

SCD Experience

SCD Invent

SCD Entrepreneur

SCD Gather

SCD Invite

These categories would be a starting point for shaping discussions around forming the new programs at Siebel Center. As it states on the SCD website, the Siebel Center for Design will embody the University of Illinois’ institutional commitment to world-class education and discovery with societal purpose and relevance, as we (SCD) engage the world—to act, to lead, to change.


SCD Experience

This would be the core program and the entry into design thinking at SCD. These would be classes and workshops that students would sign up for. Learning to act, lead and change the world, will require learning how to engage design thinking in wayfinding and problem solving. This will require people experiencing design thinking through teaching, learning and making.


SCD Invent

Invention and product innovation will require students who have acquired some of the skills offered at SCD to propose ideas, projects and teams that they want to develop in SCD’s student led, trans-disciplinary environment. These would be projects that students and faculty would propose to SCD. The focus would be on projects with societal purpose and relevance.


SCD Entrepreneur

This would be the incubator arm of SCD for undergraduate students and where we can help students with proposals and applications to places like Y-Incubator, Resolution Project’s Social Venture Challenge’s and Future Founders in Chicago. These would be student teams and projects that SCD supports and helps connect and promote to change the world through the launch of new companies, products and organizations.


SCD Gather

Part of SCD’s published mission is to facilitate collaboration and learning across disciplines, realities, and cultures, through diverse experiences bold in problem framing, rich in design thinking, and uninhibited in risk taking. SCD Gather would facilitate that mission in two ways. First, by offering professional development opportunities to its internal stakeholders to travel to conferences like SXSW and SIGGRAPH. And second, to host conferences on campus with events like Think Tank, TEDx and Design Thinking USA Conference.


SCD Invite

This would be to develop a Designer in Residence program. Potential candidates could include Zaha Hadid, Adam Kallish, Tarek Atrissi, Joe Davis, Neri Oxman. This creates the potential to develop annual classes and workshops that are developed around each designers personal practice.

Week One


I would be excited to meet my fellow Associate Directors in Marketing and Operations + Experience. Of this inaugural team of Associate Directors, I would ask questions like, "What is our common ground?", "What focus areas or themes do you see as key for this first semester?", "What classes or workshops do we already have planned?", "What do you see as the strategic direction for the Siebel Center?".


Fun Stuff

Building on the strong engagement strategies already happening across campus for SCD, I would want to discuss some other fun future possibilities like, forming a student team to compete in next year's Great Cardboard Boat Regatta at SIU in Carbondale, advertising SCD around campus by flying a school of SCD branded helium inflated shark drones into different student buildings, or, until the building is complete, purchasing a pop up camper to do mobile 3d printing and scanning demos around campus. The SCD Winnebago!


Hopefully we will need bigger Post Its to map our discussions!

If we really get cookin' we may me able to turn our Post Its into wearable items!

30 Days


In my first 30 days on the job I want to meet with 30 people from as many constituent groups and future partners as possible. Examples of the people I am interested in developing relationships with include the Directors of the Nesbitt Center, Women’s Resources Center, La Casa Cultural Latina, LGBT Resource Center, Spurlock Museum, Sidney Lu Center and the Technology Entrepreneur Center. I would also like to meet with student groups such as Action Robotics Club, ACM Game Builders and the Sustainable Student Farm. These meetings will help me to establish key relationships with partners that will last long after the Siebel Center construction is finished and the building is officially open.


After 30 days and 30 people I will need more than one Idea Box

Semester One.100 Days.


At the end of the first 100 days I would like to be able to present a draft to the leadership team that lays out the first programs and themes that can begin with the opening of the Siebel Center Building in spring 2020. Ideally, the Siebel Center for Design will do the following three things. Number one, the programs should help students change their field of study by fueling innovation in their major with new skills learned at SCD or through an epiphany had in one of our workshops where they find their purpose and change their major. Number two, the programs and workshops should encourage students to manifest their ideas, work meaningfully in groups and help launch new ideas, products, companies and organizations. And three, most importantly, the programs should help students discover their voice and passion through making things and manifesting their ideas.

Potential Focus Areas and Themes


Given the promotion of social innovation being one of the main initiatives for SCD this past semester and the #slashstudent campaigns that started last year at SCD, I would propose that several other focus areas are needed on campus:


Micro-Aggressions On Campus


This idea came to me while working with a female engineering student last semester in one of my drawing classes. She had overheard statements like, “She only got in because she’s a girl” and, “I wish I was a woman so I could get a job. In response, she developed a series of posters aimed at raising awareness about these micro aggressions in her major of mechanical engineering.


SCD would work with interested parties to develop a series of awareness campaigns, workshops and events that help shed light and change peoples' perceptions about their own behaviors. The campaigns would focus on different micro aggressions each month and help to change student perspectives' and have a positive impact on long-term behavior. Potential partners for this could include student groups and cultural centers like Women in Engineering, Asian American Cultural Center, Nesbitt Center, Women’s Resources Center, La Casa Cultural Latina and the LGBT Resource Center.


Becca Maxedon | Micro Aggression awareness poster

Sustainability campaigns, and workshops.

Potential workshops, awareness campaigns and classes around themes such as reduction of single use plastics, increased use of renewable energy and sustainable life choices to reduce a student's carbon footprint. Potential partners could be Sustainable Student Farm and the Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment.


Other potential Focus Areas could include: Comics + empathy, first generation college students, athletes stories, improving public schools in Champaign-Urbana, immigration, international student stories, health in college, new school mascot, alumni now, mental health + depression, race + representation, and water shortages


Potential Partners and Collaborations


Initially partners would be student groups on campus, cultural houses on campus, maker centers like the Sidney Lu Center, Fab Lab, Technology Entrepreneurship Center, and Enterprise Works at Research Park. Once SCD becomes established on campus I could see forming partnerships in the local community with organizations such as Urbana and Champaign schools, Executive Club of Champaign County and Carle.


When I worked at the Savannah College of Art and Design I team-taught a course titled Creative Thinking Strategies. We collaborated with SCADPro to develop a 5-week long project focused on repurposing materials into new designed objects. We partnered with Rob Walker to be the juror for our exhibition and hosted an end of semester celebration! Projects like this bring students from across campus and from all fields of study to explore ideas and master skills through action—immersing, designing, making, and doing.


Hardframe Backpack: Made from a mens shirt, a spatula, a walker frame, a womens belt

Design Team: Fashion Design, Photography, Industrial Design

The Juror. Rob Walker, design author of such books as: Significant Objects, Buying In, and Letters from New Orleans

Second semester at SCD...


Executive Education.


Because I don't know everything, I would like to gain more experience by seeking executive education. This is not something that should happen in the first semester, but I am interested in attending the d-School at Stanford by enrolling in their d.leadership course. I am also interested in gaining more experience and education through earning a Design Thinking Certificate from IDEO U to keep renewing my ideas and approaches for the SCD team and learning community.


Thank you for taking the time to read through this blog and I look forward to speaking with the committee.

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