MGC End-of-Year Off-Site Meeting: Delicious and Inspiring!

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MGC End-of-Year Off-Site Meeting: Delicious and Inspiring!

My colleagues are a group of people who are truly collaborative and fun to work with, and the end-of-year event hosted by MGC Dean David Mohney proved it to me yet again. Dean Mohney invited faculty and staff to his home for an off-site retreat in June. Upon our arrival, he asked each of us to pull a slip of paper out of a hat. Every piece contained an assignment to prepare a lunch dish, using a selection of ingredients he had purchased beforehand.

We teamed up in groups to perform related tasks, and he gave us ample time to prepare our culinary delights. It was a great team building exercise, a delicious lunch, and a beautifully designed table. (We are designers, of course.) We toasted to a great year of student accomplishments and personal successes, as well as to the MGC’s first year. After everyone had eaten their fill, we started planning for the 2016-2017 school year.

UCDA Design Education Summit Brings MGC National Exposure

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UCDA Design Education Summit Brings MGC National Exposure

After co-chairing the University & College Designers Association (UCDA) Design Education Summit at South Dakota State University last May, I knew we should bring the conference to Kean University this year and here’s why: First, it would allow us to promote the quality of the University’s facilities and design program to a national audience; second, it would give us the opportunity to endorse the new MGC and our faculty’s warm, family-like culture for RBSD students; and finally, we could demonstrate our proven leadership in design education.

So in May, nearly 100 design educators, practitioners, and students from across the nation descended upon Kean for two days to take part in the 2016 UCDA Design Education Summit. Attendees enthusiastically seized this annual opportunity to present selected peer-review papers and posters in front of a national audience. This year’s theme, “Nimble,” was inspired by MGC Distinguished Professor Robin Landa’s new book of the same title.

Motivated by three keynote speakers (Robin Landa, Mitch Paone, and Craig Welsh) and two days of presentations, attendees built professional relationships through networking events and were treated to a tour at Liberty Hall to wrap up the two-day program. The event had great reviews and more than a few attendees shared with me that they are envious of our beautifully designed Green Lane building, and the spinning Herman Miller Magis Spun chairs.

Student's Research Day Project Connects Wenzhou China Campus to NJ

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Student's Research Day Project Connects Wenzhou China Campus to NJ

One of my favorite projects to assign in my Identity and Info Design course is developing a new business idea that solves a social problem or satisfies a need in the market. This year, student Jennifer Abujawdeh conceptualized and developed her successful idea—a social media platform, which she called “RBSD—and presented it at Kean’s 2016 Student Research Day. 

Jennifer’s project solved students’ perpetual need for fast, timely feedback on their work. Since many students work late in the evening (while most professors are sleeping), RBSD+ provides a real-time, online forum for posting projects so other students and design professionals can review and contribute advice for improvement. The site also offers resources, categorized by specialty (software, typefaces, images, etc.) and information on internships and getting a design job.

Jennifer’s idea was well received by faculty and students who participated in Student Research Day. Dr. Sophie Howlett, Associate Vice President for Learning Support at Kean, commented that RBSD+ is a great tool for connecting with a broader student population at the University. In Fall 2016, I will introduce Jennifer’s platform to design students and faculty at Kean’s campus in Wenzhou, China, and promote it at Kean USA as a way to bridge the time differences and create collaboration between the campuses.

© 2016 Jennifer Abujawdeh

MGC Promotes Its Design Expertise to the AIA

MGC Promotes Its Design Expertise to the AIA

With the newly formed Michael Graves College (MGC) and School of Public Architecture come new and abundant opportunities to promote our design expertise to the broader community. Seizing the moment, MGC hosted a series of workshops on such topics as “Prefabricating the Future” by Professor of Architecture Craig Konyk and “Psychological, Aesthetic, and Phenomenological Aspects of Natural Elements in the Build Environment” by Interior Design professor, Saglinda Roberts, to promote our program and the work of our students to members of the American Institute of Architects (AIA). Presentations were held weekly from February through April, and participants received continuing education credits for attending.

I contributed to the series through a workshop titled: “Design and Promote Your Stand Out Brand,” excerpted from the personal branding chapters in my recently published book, Stand Out. In the session, attendees learned how to reflect on their own brand, and what they want it to become by answering questions about their personal vision, mission, and brand characteristics. Participants left the session with a completed creative brief, populated with responses they can use as a guide for creating their own brand identities.

Studio Red Bank Hosts Entrepreneur Competition; RBSD Student Wins!

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Studio Red Bank Hosts Entrepreneur Competition; RBSD Student Wins!

On a summer trip to help a friend move to Colorado, student Stephen Sepulveda found inspiration for a Portfolio project, “Views and Brews.” In Colorado, Stephen observed lots of great hiking and almost as many craft breweries. He combined the two into one business idea—a travel agency that provided hiking excursions of Colorado’s breathtaking scenery, coupled with tours and experiences at local breweries.

I worked with Stephen to develop his brand idea and identity, and Professor Ed Johnston worked with him in Mobile Design to create a user experience and a mobile app and video to communicate the concept. The project was so believable that Ed and I convinced Stephen to enter his project in StudioRedBank’s “We Love Making Ideas Fly” competition, which helps aspiring entrepreneurs to make their ideas a reality. (http://www.studioredbank.com).

In January 2016, Stephen’s idea was accepted into the competition, and in March, he learned he had won! We are extremely proud of you, Stephen, and we look forward to taking one of your Views and Brews tours!

Peachpit Press Releases My Book: "Stand Out"

There is nothing more flattering than your 8-year old son adding your book next to his beloved books on his bookshelf.

There is nothing more flattering than your 8-year old son adding your book next to his beloved books on his bookshelf.

Peachpit Press Releases My Book: "Stand Out" 

I am proud to have written “Stand Out” because it challenged me to articulate and map out an easy-to-understand formula that my students can utilize to develop their personal brand and portfolio projects, tasks that they (and, indeed, anyone who is selling themselves in today’s marketplace) often grapple with. I am thrilled with the team of RBSD students I selected to assist me with the project, not just for their design and production skills, but also for their wholehearted collaboration and commitment to the book. Their insights and feedback provided immeasurable value as I set out to articulate the right message in the right way to my target audience. I am especially proud of Margaret Grzymkowski (Spring 2015) whose whimsical illustrations added warmth and charm to the book, making it visually appealing and readable, and Stephen Sepulveda (Fall 2015) who took my initial cover designs and worksheet layouts and infused his magic to make them functional and aesthetically pleasing. I witnessed firsthand their transformation from learner to professional, under my intense instruction. My team of four students and two professionals became a well-oiled, highly functional machine that empowered each member to realize his and her own strengths and abilities. I was not just a witness to their growth; the experience made me a better professor.