A Trends Perspective for Designing the Future

May 8th, 2014

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From Concept to Prototype – GradID influences change!

February 8th, 2013

In the fall term of 2010, the 4th term students were tasked to envision an improved Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV) for the American Red Cross (ARC).  Given an implementation timeline of 5 years in the future, our students proposed solutions that converged on the following 7 strategic priorities:

-       Clarify the ARC’s positive role in the mind of the public through the ERV

-       Remove barriers in order to increase and improve the interaction between the client and the volunteer

-       Improve ergonomics of the ERV and its systems for the volunteer experience

-       Increase the ERV’s role in promoting prevention and preparedness

-       Reduced ERV operational cost

-       Increase flexibility of ERV platform to respond to probable and likely threats and adapt to future conditions

-       Optimize the supply chain and life cycle of food

Fast forward 2 years.  January 2013.  The American Red Cross is testing two new prototype ERVs that will eventually replace the 300+ fleet nationwide.  The new designs were heavily influenced by the work that was done by our students and the American Red Cross will be showcasing the new prototype at Art Center in March.

Check out the ARC press release!  (http://www.redcross.org/news/article/Red-Cross-Introduces-New-Emergency-Response-Vehicles)

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M2 Studio, Spring 2013 – Headgear for Emergency Rescue

February 1st, 2013

The second term studio class at GradID is dedicated to a tactical design project that emphasizes the development of a proof-of-concept prototype.  Students will go through a rigorous process of contextual research, problem identification, experimentation, iterative concept development, design development, leading to a final presentation of solutions and implementation opportunities.  This year, the students are tasked to design a headgear/helmet system that optimally supports the performance and needs of search and rescue (SAR) and ski patrol professionals working in cold weather conditions.

Technology is changing the way people interact in the mountains – we are demanding more information than ever before.  With Oakley’s recently release of its Airwave goggles, Oakley now joins Scott, Briko, and many others in providing new ways of information consumption for the avid outdoor recreationalists.  Preliminary research shows that there may be an opportunity to leverage the industry’s capabilities to positively impact the work environment of the emergency care and safety service providers, and thus enhance the winter outdoor experience.

Search and Rescue in the SnowSearch and Rescue in the DesertSearch and Rescue Training

(Photos courtesy of Vic Macias Photography and Atalaya Search and Rescue Team)

Led by faculty members Andy Ogden, Krystina Castella, Nathan Allen, Pascual Wawoe, Stan Kong, James Chu, Dice Yamaguchi, and guest lecturer Greg Marting of Giro Helmets, students will be directed toward creating a sustainable competitive advantage in the industry by showcasing the potential of how the headgear/helmet category might evolve with the advent of wearable computing technologies.

The project’s final deliverable will require the students to pull from the teachings of multiple GradID classes: Visualization, 3D Development, Materials and Methods, and M2 Studio.

Check back soon for project updates!

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M3 Studio Summer 2012

August 17th, 2012


In the Summer each year 3rd term students in GradID take on 3 projects over the term- each time changing teammates and taking on a strategic challenge in competition with other teams. Each project is typically just 4- 5 weeks long, challenges students to develop a new business model based idea and concludes with side by side presentations and the assumption that only one team will be identified as the most worthy to be awarded a next phase of work.

This summer the 3rd and final project included a new dimension. Joerg Arras, formerly Sales Manager for VISI/ONE GmbH sponsored the project efforts and challenged the Grad ID teams to envision the future of the car shopping and buying experience over the next ten years. In addition to providing funds that would support monetary awards for the winning team Joerg generously shared his time and energy, interacting with the students and providing feedback, as they developed their ideas. On Thursday August 16th the teams presented their Ideas to Joerg and department faculty ….and after great deliberation they selected a winner.

Congratulations to the winning presenters:

Team: LADS:
Anastasia Hanan
Leslie Oliver Karpas
David Day Lee
Simon Tien

Each of the students in the M3 class also cast their vote for the peer that they felt was worthy of being recognized for “best performance” as a designer and teammate over the term.

By popular vote, the winner of “best performance” was David Day Lee

Congratulations to everyone for all of the hard work and a great term of learning.

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Beijing University of Technology to race at Formula e 2012!

June 4th, 2012

Following a trip taken to Beijing, China two years ago by gradID faculty to talk about collaborative inititatives between the colleges, students from Beijing University of Technology, College of Art & Design will travel to Pasadena at the end of the summer term to race in the annual gradID Formula e event. This video shows the Beijing University of Technology students in a recent practice with their machines.

Formula E 2012 Racing Season Is Off!

May 26th, 2012

The annual Formula E racing season for 2012 has begun. Last week the M3 class began by reviewing the rules, processes, best practices and getting some hands on experience with some of the cars from the archive.

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Spring Studio Stool Project

May 17th, 2012

“Know thyself to know others, for heart beats like heart.” -Chinese Proverb

One of the core philosophies of the Grad ID program is to practice human-centered design. Through research and observation, students practice the art of discovering insights into human behavior. This term, M2 Grad ID students were tasked to understand the human needs present within an educational environment by first understanding their own behavior in order to design a stool (a simple seat without back or arms) intended for use in the Grad ID classrooms. Each of the student designs is a candidate for being produced to outfit a Grad ID classroom.

Guided by faculty members Andy Ogden, Stan Kong, Dice Yamaguchi, and Wook Kim, the students labored through 14 weeks of iterative design and after having gone through a tremendous amount of learning, not only about furniture but also about the design process, the students were able to manufacture amazing prototypes that represented their vision regarding the future of design education at Grad ID.

The final design of the Grad ID stool has yet to be determined but in holding true to the evolutionary design process, the Summer term of 2012 will be dedicated to experimenting with the prototypes to further refine the designs. Stay tuned to find out what kind of stool will be used to educate the industrial designers of tomorrow!

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Story and Narrative

May 14th, 2012

Your tired "Hero's Journey" is not the only story to tell princess.

Foundation Studies in a school like Art Center teaches us how we make sense of the world through what we see and create. And some hand skills, too. I have been lucky to be a foundation teacher for twenty five years, and the experience continues to be a philosophical eye-opener and a useful base on which to structure a worldview.

About five years ago the Grad ID chair asked me to teach a class on story structure and how it can assist in designing presentations. The proposition was exciting then, but now I realize that story has become a conceptual thread that runs through everything else I teach.

Art Center did not embrace the concept of narrative ten years ago. At that time the word “concept” was the ultimate validating word, and narrative was not considered a deep enough subject to be conceptual. We now live at a time when narrative has often replaced concept as a way of elevating the prosaic to higher realms of expression. We don’t yet agree on what story is, though.

A story, taken structurally, can be a formula as simple as a character, a problem, and a solution. “Hey, remember that dork who sat next to you in tenth grade Biology? He runs Teledyne now,” is a story. I suspect Facebook repeats this kind of story every hour.

But we also use the word story to simply imply linkage between one action and another. When we relate something in sequence, we assume that there must be a reason for one action to follow another, unless we are watching a David Lynch film. This is our most everyday approach to narrative—the projection of cause and effect on to the random chaos of our lives.

Stories are easy to remember, they seem to explain things to us and they entertain us. But, on a grander scale, some kinds of stories seem hard-wired into our culture to provide a template for action. Joseph Campbell’s Hero With A Thousand Faces codifed the meme of The Hero’s Journey for the last few decades, and his disciple Chris Vogler has convinced thousands of readers that The Hero’s Journey is the only story there is to tell. It isn’t. A three year old girl who loves pink and dreams of being a princess is living an aspirational story, but one shares that shares very little with Theseus, Neo or Frodo.

And this is what the story structure class is concerned with. There are a limited number of narrative models that an audience is preprogrammed to follow with ease because we have heard them so often. In my class I use seven—Rags to Riches, Journey and Return, Tragedy, Comedy, Rebirth, Overcoming the Monster and The Quest (otherwise known as The Hero’s Journey). As tools for persuading an audience these story types are more compelling than concepts, partly because the emotional content works side by side with cerebral content. We remember information by storing it in narrative form. Truthiness is always a story.

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6th annual Formula E challenge

August 16th, 2011

At the end of every summer term for the last 6 years, teams of Grad ID students have been running on the sidewalks of Art Center’s campus chasing Radio Controlled cars propelled by 16 feet of rubber band.

That scene is the culmination of a term long project in which the students go on a journey through the phases of conceiving of and then developing unique race vehicles that go far beyond the typical theory, visualization, model making and presentation activities that make up most of a design education experience – to developing, producing, testing, integrating technical systems and deploying an invention that actually has to work- in a high visibility forum!
Each year the lessons to be learned in the process challenge the character of everyone involved.

This years Formula E Race event broke new ground for Art Center and our students found new ways to direct the energy in their rubber band powered cars.

Grad ID faculty Stan Kong reached out to a number of students at Pasadena City College, where he also teaches, to connect them with Formula E. Ultimately, eight PCC students and 14 Grad ID students formed seven different teams to not only design and build Formula E racecars, but to raise money for six local non-profits.

Two of the student teams selected Kidspace Museum as their charity, taught workshops to classes of young students to build their own rubber-band racers and held a “jr. class” race that opened this year’s event.

Actor/ Emmy award winning host Matt Gallant ( American Inventor, The Planet’s funniest Animals) brought his quick wit to MC our event. Each team had 3 attempts to record their best time in 3 driving events and there were some great racing moments between the top performing teams.
At the end of the day the Carbon 3.0 team took the Best in Show award after wins and new records for the Sinclair Hill Climb and Ashtray Drag race events. Team Flying Squirrel also set a new course record for the figure 8 course and Team Confidential won the Eckles Design and Build Award.

Several hundred people from the Pasadena community including kids and their parents were on campus. The executive directors of the Giesen trust, the Armory Center for the Arts, Kidspace Museum, Sidestreet Projects, representatives from Southern California Public Radio KPCC and Levitt Pavilion were also in attendance.
A distinguished panel of alums, professional designers and guests, including Pasadena City College president Dr. Mark Rocha, reviewed the team designs to elect a winner for the event’s beauty contest: the Eckles design and build award.

Our teams did an outstanding job with their projects, built good will with their promotion and fundraising efforts for local charities and learned about the importance of creating designs that go beyond theory to actually perform and create value for others.

We’ve been getting messages from many that attended that it was one of the most engaging and fun activities they’ve ever experienced. Many of our distinguished group of judges has expressed the same.
We are already thinking about how we can make next year’s event even better!

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Reinventing the ERV

February 22nd, 2011

Fall 2011
In the latest chapter of Design for Disaster, the ongoing education partnership between the American Red Cross and Art Center College of Design, 4th semester Graduate Industrial Design students and 5th semester undergraduate transportation design students took on the challenge of imagining an improved Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV).

GradID faculty member Katherine Bennett led initial research efforts which included site visits for the students to get first hand experience with Red Cross relief efforts, chapter facilities, and visits to special vehicle coach builders.

Instructors Gaylord Eckles and Marek Djordjevic led their Mobility Design students to take a blue sky approach and consider inventing a new special platform made exclusively for the American Red Cross’s needs. As part of their coursework each student developed a finished 1/5 scale physical model, numerous illustrations, and scale package drawings.

At the same time Steve Montgomery and Andy Ogden led Graduate Industrial Design students to employ a systems thinking approach that identified all of the stakeholders related to a useful solution and each of their values for a successful solution. After engaging in a futures study with adjunct professor Lloyd Walker and developing a system model for the opportunity space, the students developed and recommended strategic priorities to Red Cross Leadership for prioritization.
With buy-in from Red Cross National Response fleet director Lauren Twohig and her team the students then developed proposals for practical solutions that could be implemented in the next 5 years with platforms and features that will be available in the market.
Overall the student proposals sought to enhance the image of hope that the ERV vehicles importantly express today and to decrease the cost of the vehicles while improving performance so as to increase the scale of the fleet overall in effort to meet the primary objective of being able to respond to large scale disasters more rapidly. (Speed to scale)
Several solutions included plans for augmenting the current food supply and delivery chain with a freeze dried food solution that could substantially reduce cost and improve the interactions of volunteers with clients (disaster victims), by offering meal choices and variety, reducing food bulk and weight, time required to prepare food, and wasted /spoiled food.

Several of the designs focused on loading and unloading of the vehicles employing modular storage systems with special emphasis on improved ergonomics.

One solution that was particularly well received by Red Cross executives took a breakthrough approach. All of the elements necessary to convert a common rental truck into a makeshift ERV were organized in a self contained kit that can fit on a single Industrial pallet. By following the wordless instructions molded into the ERV Kit volunteer responders can turn any rental truck into a valuable part of the response fleet. The kit can be pre-staged in various locations or air-shipped on demand to radically cut down on the time and cost to respond.

Happy Holidays!

December 17th, 2010

Photograph by Nina Viggi

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On Innovation

November 10th, 2010

One sometimes finds writers declaring the death of words they feel have become popular and overused. Often the execution is in concert with a complementary declaration of a proposed newer and better term. Wired magazine’s “wired and tired” list is just one example of writers pandering to a pop culture appetite for “new” and engaging in the regular practice of making perfectly useful terms and the concepts they symbolize suddenly unusable in a conversation.
Sometimes it appears to be a stunt and we can suspect that there is some interest on the writer’s part to acquire some power in the effort and associate their own brand with the successful adoption of a new pop term for an established audience. A kind of “hit record” if it works.
Sometimes the new term is truly improved and the old one truly inferior. As an example some people are now introducing the term “resilience” as a superior view of the concepts explained by the word “sustainability” – illuminating that sustainability implies an interest in maintaining a course and a constancy that is both unrealistic and undesirable.
The word Innovation has been put to death in the past few years by a number of trend driven authors that needed to hold an execution. Yet I have not found a term or phrase that has been offered in replacement that works very well.
I suspect the word Innovation became a popular target not only because people were tired of hearing it used gratuitously but also because it was used to mean too many things. Most often it is used interchangeably to mean invention or simply new. When this kind of variety of meaning happens there is an alternative action we can take to putting the confused terms to death. Instead we can engage in the practice of defining what we mean by such terms before we use them. If done well, I have found that the terms have useful continued life.
In the case of the word Innovation, I prefer a definition that I learned was unique to the business community and an important difference to most designer’s preferred use of the word. While designers use the word interchangeably to mean new- and synonymous with invention, knowledgeable business-persons consistently stipulate that something that is new or an invention doesn’t qualify as innovation unless it makes it to market with success.

Thanks De and Ning

May 26th, 2010

Grad ID wishes to thank De Liu and Ning Li for their generosity and guidance in introducing us to mainland china. De and Ning are recent graduates of gradID and two of the only Art Center grads from mainland China.

The trip provided us an introduction at five top design universities for us to learn, explore, lecture, and recruit top prospective students for the gradID program.

Our group consisted of Andy Ogden, Geoff Wardle, and Lloyd Walker with De and Ning acting as our liaisons, guides and teachers.

Our lectures to Chinese students included introductions to Art Center and gradID, advanced mobility issues, and overviews of strategic innovation.

China’s president recently declared industrial design to be a strategic target of development for the country and so there is a great interest in the topic throughout China. We saw incredible new facilities, talented students and a huge industrial capacity hungry for innovation talent.

Detailed reports to follow.

Thanks De and Ning for being our teachers! It was delightful to be your students.

Andy, Geoff, Lloyd

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Big Think Interview: Geoff Wardle

March 23rd, 2010

Big Think is an internet based, global forum that aims to present current and future thinking on a wide variety of subjects to its audience. I was recently invited to talk to Big Think about many aspects of the future of transportation including the likelihood of autonomous road vehicles, the case for alternative transportation solutions and what cities might be like to live in in 2050.

There are many great speakers on Big Think, so it is easy to get lost for hours when you visit their website!



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Engines of Innovation

March 6th, 2010

Just listened to this Podcast of a conversation between Brian Eno and Steven Johnson, roughly organized around Johnson’s book, The Invention of Air, but talking about environments that support innovation, how ideas can be made, and what conditions are in place when this happens. Very interesting.
Eno and Johnson talk about how Londoners went from drinking wine and beer all day to drinking coffee and tea in the 1760s, and the explosion of coffee houses that provided gathering places for intellectual discussion. They pose the question of whether this fueled the innovations of the Enlightenment – hubs where different disciplines connect combined with an atmosphere of amateurism being characteristic of environments that foster innovation. Johnson compares this open sharing of ideas and cross-disciplinary exploration to the atmosphere in the Silicon Valley. Eno talks about the period in the 60s in England when art schools were where the interesting music was being made – the idea of crossing disciplinary boundaries being essential for creativity – comparing that to the early days of Silicon Valley, when folks coming from a wide variety of disciplines had a hand in creating the personal computer. The idea of randomness being important to innovation, and that when you have experts from only one field involved, that essential randomness is eliminated.

He also discusses platforms that inspire creativity, comparing the 45 rpm record to iPhone apps. Rock music being very easy to play, combined with the 45 rpm record being easy to record and distribute, plus a thirsty dissemination medium, radio, always looking for something new to play. Johnson and Eno compare this to the current open platform web environment, and especially the iPhone app platform.

Well worth a listen.
(Cross posted at http://bennettation.blogspot.com/2010/03/engines-of-innovation.html)

Art Center Futures

January 14th, 2010
brought to you by Livescribe

Last night Art Center College of Design‘s new president, Lorne Buchman, started a conversation within our community about future directions with a few guests from outside the college. This is a Livescribe recording of the panel discussion, delivered to a packed house of students, faculty, staff, and alumni. Panelists were Katherine Hayles, David Rice, Stephen Oliver, and Andrew Blauvelt.

The discussion was webcast, but I’m not sure they saved it in a form that is still accessible, so I’m posting the session here for those who are interested. For those of you unfamiliar with Livescribe recordings, the audio is linked to the written notes, and you can click anywhere on the notes to hear what was being said at that time. It’s a useful way to record a session as long as this one, because you can skip around.

Today we will have a day-long brainstorm on a number of topics: students & student life (life?! what life!! you mean there’s life outside of Art Center??!! ;-) ), curriculum & pedagogy, outside partnerships, governance & community (promises to be a hot topic, given the excitement of the past couple of years), and future trends & global context. If I have time (we start the term next Monday) I’ll report on that as well.

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The inventing and producing minds

October 10th, 2009

I once heard Alan Kay, a die hard inventor/ researcher, share a comment  that gets to the heart of one of the great challenges that mature organizations have when they are in pursuit of developing a continuously renewable innovation culture.  Alan and his very exploratory research team were being asked to direct a portion of their time and talents toward an immediate production effort that was under pressure to deliver specific results with a tight budget and schedule. Alan confidently explained to us why he would not ask his creative team to try and do both. He said,  ” You can’t produce while you are trying to invent and you can’t invent while you are trying to produce.” Although at that moment he was referring specifically to the different mindsets of individuals on his team- I think that the statement reflects essential challenges for the collective mindset and behavior of organizations.

As human beings we are in tune with the idea of putting out great effort and taking risks to establish a better state  for things we care about. The start-up enterprise is based on this ideal. We understand the heuristic of trial and error as an acceptable state of uncertainty, but with an expectation that eventually the struggle leads to a different state or a specific goal. Read more…

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The American Red Cross Education Partnership. M4 Studio -Strategic Design- Causal Loop workshop

October 10th, 2009

Adjunct professor Lloyd Walker held a two day workshop for Grad ID students in the M4 Studio on Thursday and Friday this week. Lloyd lectured and demonstrated his causal loop analysis method. The class worked through several models for the Red Cross project and initiated a `list of major ( high probability / high impact ) drivers for STEEP analysis.

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Mobilizing America’s Transportation Revolution

September 23rd, 2009

Fellow Designers,

We are pleased to share with you a PDF version of a white paper that we have just published. This paper, entitled Futurama 2.0 : Mobilizing America’s Transportation Revolution, calls for the creation of a highly motivated, multi-disciplinary group to create a brand new vision for the next 50 years of America’s entire transportation needs.

The two of us have been collaborating for some years on advancing sustainable thinking for transportation design and the transportation industry. So, it was only natural for us to want to bring our concerns to the notice of America’s political and corporate leadership, who ultimately decide upon what policy, legislation and business models will shape the future. Without inspired policy, legislation and business models that create incentives for the private sector, there will be little progress in dealing with this nation’s (and the world’s) dire and unsustainable transportation landscape.

We also strongly advocate that design and systems thinking be part of the whole process. No one technology or solution will solve such a vastly complicated problem. Sophisticated, sustainable and ultra-efficient transportation solutions for the future will require multi-disciplinary teamwork and big picture thinking. Including the appropriate designers and their methodology right from the start will ensure innovative thinking and facilitation across the many disciplines. Just as important, the best designers will ensure that the solutions are as compelling and exciting to the end-users as they are viable for the enterprises and agencies that provide them.

You can also visit our website www.OnGoingTransportation.com where you can read more about what we are thinking. We hope that you will find the booklet inspiring. If you would like an original hard copy of the white paper, we would be happy to send you one – just e-mail either one of us. We would welcome your feedback and any thoughts you have on appropriate companies and organizations that can support or help fund this initiative.


David A. Muyres  and  Geoff Wardle

PS: This paper is partially based on material and a briefing prepared for the United States House of Representatives. The original document appears on the official House of Representatives site here.

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Big Bang Briefly (Ep. 01)

August 12th, 2009
Nice description of the Big Bang. 2 minute YouTube video on the last 14 billion years. Great example of Macroscope thinking and an elegant visualization of a very complex idea.

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The future of Air Traffic Control

June 2nd, 2009

Representatives of Nasa and the FAA JPDO ( Joint Programs Development Office ) joined program associate Pascal Pinck of Swiss based Brainstore for a visit to Grad ID to share information about their ongoing efforts for NEXTGEN and engaged in an MVIP Card Idea session with customized future scenario cards on May 28th. The first project of this Summer’s Grad ID M3 Strategy Class is asking 3 student teams to invent new business ideas that they would recommend to a group of investors in light of the disruptive technologies slated to roll-out across North America by 2025. The final Presentations for the project will be reviewed by a team of industry professionals and by the JPDO team remotely in several weeks- one team will be recognized as having the most attractive proposal for further development.

The American Red Cross Education Partnership Launches

May 14th, 2009

Today volunteers from the NYC and Los Angeles Chapters of the American Red Cross kicked off the project in Katherine Bennett’s Design Investigations class with an emotional energy and a level commitment that was very different than that of a typical sponsored project at the college. Numerous emergency vehicles were deployed to the campus. A response shelter was set up at the college and from the start, the students were immersed in the experiences of clients, staff and volunteers in a disaster response. For the Summer term, the Grad ID students will engage in becoming familiar with issues and in collecting secondary and primary research information regarding 5 key areas.

  1. Branding and Messaging
  2. Organization
  3. Volunteers
  4. Disaster Response
  5. New sources of Revenue
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Grad ID to partner with The American Red Cross

May 8th, 2009

For the summer of 2009 Katherine Bennett’s Design Investigation class will work on a project in partnership with the American Red Cross. The future of the Red Cross is the big topic. Students will engage in secondary and primary observational research regarding 5 key areas:

• Branding and Messaging • Organization • Volunteers • Disaster Response and • New sources of Revenue.

The project is the outcome of efforts started a year ago by NYC chapter volunteer Sean Hart who is also a graduate of Art Center College of Design. Members of the ARCGNY ( Manhatten) and ARCLA ( Los Angeles) worked in concert with education leadership at the college to define the program. The project is expected to cover a one year period – in three phases

Phase 1 Research and Analysis (Summer ’09)
Phase 2 Future study and Strategic Design (Fall ’09)
Phase 3 Design Development (Spring ’10)

mobilityVIP wins two IDEA awards!

May 10th, 2008
Mobility VIP has been recognized with two 2008 IDEA awards:
Silver in the category of Interactive Product Experiences
Bronze in the category of Ecodesign
This is the first occasion of IDEA awards being granted to an Art Center faculty project.
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Entered mVIP cards into IDEA awards 2008

March 4th, 2008

We submitted our mVIP cards and site into the Ecodesign , Research and Interactive categories of the IDSA design awards

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