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Segal Innovation Open House Showcases Student Accomplishment

On March 10, Segal Design Institute hosted this quarter’s Design Innovation Open House in The Garage featuring student projects and portfolios. Undergraduate students pursuing Manufacturing & Design Engineering (MaDE) degrees as well as those participating in the Segal Design Certificate and extra-curricular organization Design for America (DFA) presented their work from the past quarter alongside graduate students in the Engineering Design & Innovation (EDI) master’s program.

The open house, first held in 2011, serves to showcase and celebrate student design work. For some students, the open house is also a final presentation for a class they are taking, and others are there to meet people in the field they are planning to enter; industry professionals are invited to attend the quarterly open houses to provide feedback and advice to the presenting students.

“We have [industry people] who are looking for interns, you have a few people who are retired from industry and are donors to the school,” said Jake Pollock, Project Design Coordinator for Segal, “There’s a lot of value in industry people being a presence for students so that they know these are companies that are interested in design and want to be a presence in their education.”

One of these industry attendees was Sam Kim from Rapid Displays, who is also a recent alum of Segal’s MaDE program and has participated in the open house himself many times as a student.

“It’s awesome to see a dedicated space for portfolio reviews where people can come walk around and mingle,” he said. “As a student, I felt very nervous having other people walking around, knowing that there are people judging and reviewing my portfolio, so I want to try to be nice and friendly [as I look at their projects].”

Projects ranged from pre-literacy children’s games to Baja car improvements and a redesign of Alice Millar and Parkes Hall, but all students and student groups shared the same enthusiasm for their projects, though not all of them are in it for the degree. A section of the Garage was filled with tables presenting the projects that students had created for Design for America, an extra-curricular design organization for majors and non-majors.

“It’s actually a really great opportunity for [non-majors] to try the design process without them having to be in a class and committing to a whole quarter of class work,” said Brandon Williams, a former Segal student and current Maker in Resident. After participating in DFA, many students choose to continue their design work by taking other Segal classes or pursuing the Segal Design Certificate, like sophomore economics major Cindy Wu.

“I was first on the business path of consulting,” she said, “but I really enjoyed the creativity part of design, where you have that impact [on the community], and the sense of working on a team as well.”

The open house, while meant to showcase the work of Segal, is also open to any student who wishes to present his or her work within the field of design, like undergraduate student Josh Kim who repeatedly attended the open house to present his costume design work, such as a life-size Iron Man suit made of foam, despite not being in an official class. To further encourage student involvement, the event was moved to the Garage from its original space in Ford in 2015 to achieve a more inclusive environment.

“[The Garage] is a much more flexible space. . . and we love having it a neutral space,” said Kim Hoffman, Associate Director of the Segal Design Institute. “In Ford, it’s our home, and not everybody comes there, and they feel like they’re going into the school of engineering if they come there, and we love that [the Garage] is this neutral space on campus that’s more accessible to everyone and open to everyone.”

The open house was followed by an hour dedicated to professional networking and was part of Segal’s two-day Design Expo, which continued Saturday morning, March 11, with a showcase of 60 freshman Design Thinking & Communication projects.

(Source: Northwestern Media)

(Source: Northwestern Media)

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