A major strength of the SMC IxD program has been the student based cohort model. Each Fall a new group of students come together to begin a two year journey through the IxD program. In the beginning students know little about each other, the faculty, or the staff. Slowly, over time, a community takes shape. From each cohort emerges a unique personality based on shared values.
These communities don't form spontaneously. There is an intentionality, aided by a supporting structure to help grow connections. The program hosts kick-off events, workshops, and promotes teamwork in classes. All of this is meant to aid in building a solid collaborative base. Last year, when the world went into lockdown I became concerned. A program of people focused on creating meaningful connections between humans, technology, and design were suddenly staring at each other on screens unsure of how to move forward.
My initial unease turned into hope as I observed our students' interactions evolve. Creative fun and play was expressed through weekly virtual movie nights.
Students initiated Zoom coffee chats between Juniors and Seniors, to talk about work and more importantly to check in on one another. I observed genuine kindness and patience between teammates during class projects. Students made time and space for each other to care for themselves, friends, and family. There was also a continual ability for students to ask for help and communicate their true needs. There were and are deeply personal challenges, and students continued to really see and hear each other, and let each other know they weren’t alone.
Lockdown did not stifle the IxD community. These students explored different ways to work together during classes, used new tools to connect with each other, and to build their relationships and support systems. Most important of all, they used the wisdom of their feelings to guide them in redefining the values of their community during this difficult time. I have deep gratitude for their example. It brings me hope to observe and work with these designers who prioritize the values of kindness, patience, and self-care. The Class of 2021 are the future designers and leaders that are tasked with the hard work of creating a more compassionate and inclusive world for all of us. I can say with confidence, they are ready.
Faculty Lead, SMC
B.S. Interaction Design program
Acting as feeder into the IxD program, the Graphic Design program was due for a curriculum update. In collaboration with current instructors in the Graphic Design program as well as those full-time professionals working in the industry, these workshops aimed to harness the institutional and professional knowledge of those working in both academia and industry.
Amanda is a designer and researcher with a special love for novel problem spaces, human-centered design, and scalable solutions backed by both qualitative and quantitative data. Most importantly, she graduated from the first IxD cohort. She talked about her professional experience working as a design researcher for CRE Digital Product Design at JP Morgan Chase.
This design challenge asked students: How can the Call of Duty companion app create social features to keep players engaged with the game and each other? More details in Industry Collaborations.
Design Club rebranded itself to appeal to a larger range of design students, not just those in the Interaction Design program. Under the leadership of Di Xu, Miguel Bryan-Juteau, and Dave Giammarco, the club hosted speakers, encouraged students to take part in weekly design challenges, and boosted a sense of community during a 100% virtual school year.
Adobe invited seven different design programs to participate, both private and public. IxD seniors Sara Pope, Gaby Castro, and Porfirio Moreno earned third place! See details below.
Last semester the IxD program launched the beta of the IxD Mentorship Program with the Senior class. Students connected with their individually assigned mentor at different touchpoints to present resumes and portfolios to get feedback and support. Mentors were designers from the companies IDEO, Hulu, Apple, Microsoft, Lyft, Riot Games, Activision, JP Morgan & Chase, and SAP.
In this fun, interactive workshop, brand strategist and entrepreneur Robyn Young took students through a step by step process to define their personal brand and leveraging their point of view to build interest and momentum. Students learned how to:
• Connect their personal & professional experiences to find purpose
• Determine what they stand for to craft their unique point of view
• Position their brand to the right audience and problems they care about. • Create a catchy personal brand title for LinkedIn
World Usability Day is an international movement sponsored by the HCI International Conference to encourage designers to the raise the standards of ‘common practice’. SMC IxD junior Jennifer Morehead won First Place for her Teachers Assistant Bot prototype that helps engage and motivate students in online classes. View her project here: worldusabilityday.org/design-challenge.
The SMC Center for Media & Design welcomed Jeff Gordon as the IxD Project Manager! Some of Jeff's roles include marketing the IxD program, running our Info sessions, creating new industry and educational partnerships, and overseeing the health and growth of the program.
At this event, IxD seniors were given the opportunity to network with their peers’ mentors. Through three 15-minute conversations, students developed relationships and asked detailed questions about the industries that most interest them: technology, banking, entertainment, and product invention.
Awarded by Made in the Future, senior Miguel Bryan Juteau was paired with graphic design legend Michael Bierut for a year of mentorship.
Embracing an equity mindset, this first-ever regional IxD information session focused specifically on outreach to underserved populations and equity. This session included both counselors and students from around community colleges in southern California in programs such as Umoja/Black Collegians, Latino Center/Adelante, Puente, EOPS/CARE, CalWORKs, Veterans, Dreamer Programs, Pico Promise, Guardian Scholars, Disabled Students, and Upward Bound.
This winter, IxD students Di Xu, Irene Rivera, and Miguel Bryan Juteau updated the industry partner page. This updated website showcases the program’s history of Industry partnerships, including mini-sites from collaborations with Activision, Red Bull, Bird, and Hulu.
Antonia has been leading teams across cultures and continents for over twenty years at companies that include Apple, Pandora, and Riot Games. Specifically, her work focuses on Diversity & Inclusion, Learning & Development, and Mindfulness Facilitation within larger organizations. For IxD students, Antonia led a co-creative workshop that provided students with the tools to thrive personally and professionally.
This new articulation agreement, the first since the launch of the IxD program, helps guide PCC students who may want to transfer classes when applying to the program.
This design challenge asked students: How might Beyond 12 use its digital coaching platform to mobilize community college students to redesign their institutions so they are more accessible, affordable, inclusive, and relevant? See details below.
This design challenge asked students: NASA has recently identified an emergent landform—MS DOS Island. How might we design a new civilization on this island? Students worked with Ian Fenty from NASA JPL and Geoff Moore from Begin. See details below.
In the past, the IxD admissions process included early and regular admissions deadline dates. This year, the program had a one-time deadline date of March 1. This change to a single date reinforces an equitable process for the growing number of students applying to the IxD program.
IxD professor Luke Johnson presented his paper Community College + Industry Collaborations: Designing Meaningful Partnerships To Identify Diverse Talent at this year’s national Community College Baccalaureate Association conference. This paper focuses on how tech can address the final hurdle of hiring students from different educational, socioeconomic, and cultural backgrounds.
SMC Job Development Advisor Ann-Marie Leahy and IxD teamed up to develop a Career Resources Hub beta website.
After receiving acceptances for Design for Sustainability at Savannah College of Art & Design, Design for Social Impact at Paris College of Art, and Interaction Design at Harbour.Space University, Genevieve chose to pursue a Masters of Integrated Innovation for Products & Services (MIIPS) at Carnegie Mellon University on a university-granted fellowship. She moves to Pittsburgh in August.
Miguel Lucas, Zoe Torrealba Marin, Irene Rivera, and P.J. Rodriguez were accepted into Stanford’s d.school University Innovation Fellowship program. Fellows connect with a global student network, which has trained 2,399 students at 270 schools around the world. More importantly, they learn to examine their campus entrepreneurship ecosystems to find the best places where they can make a difference and formulate action plans to implement their ideas when they come back to Santa Monica College.
This year’s IxD Grad Show follows a unique format. IxD graduating seniors will present their work as part of a webinar and live Q&A (June 7, 8, 9, 10 from 7-8 PM). These presentations reflect a culmination of work produced by students during their time in the IxD program. On Friday, June 11 from 5-6 PM, the IxD program will host a Grad Show Celebration to formally honor the class of 2021.
The pandemic dramatically increased food insecurity among vulnerable communities. Loss of employment and income increased demand for charitable meal delivery, while the closure of in-person schools and daycares cut children off from a once-reliable food source. In a two-week design sprint involving teams from 10+ design schools, Adobe posed a challenge: Design a mobile phone app that empowers a specific audience to help improve part of the chain of food collection and distribution. Two SMC teams earned spots in the top 10 (among 35 designs) in this highly competitive, nationwide contest.
Call of Duty is one of the world’s most popular video games. Despite this popularity, less than 2% of players download the Call of Duty companion app. IxD seniors worked with Call of Duty’s publisher Activision to figure out, “How can the Call of Duty companion app create social features to keep players engaged with the game and each other?” Over the course of 16 weeks, students conducted research interviews, concept development, and prototypes tests to present final projects to Activision’s COD Companion App design team.
IDEO is a global design agency headquartered in Palo Alto, CA. IDEO invited senior student teams from Santa Monica College to help solve a project for their client, Beyond 12. Beyond 12 is a nonprofit based in Oakland, CA. Their mission is to dramatically increase the number of low-income, first-generation, and historically underrepresented students who graduate from college. How might Beyond 12 use its digital coaching platform to mobilize community college students to redesign their institutions so they are more accessible, affordable, inclusive, and relevant?
Students in Project Management were given the monumental task: “How might we design a new civilization?” This new civilization was to take place on a fictional island, MS-Dos Island, created specifically for this class by NASA scientist Ian Fenty. The goal of this project was NOT to solve the problem, but for students to apply their evolving project management skills both creatively and strategically. Student students then presented their solutions to Ian as well as project management guru Geoff Moore (Begin) for review.
For her capstone project, senior Ami Kubota created a reel of student work. This video captures the breadth and depth of the projects made by the class of 2021 during their time in the IxD program.
As the Dean of Academic Affairs at Santa Monica College, Dr. Patricia Ramos assists the college by developing partnerships with business, industry, labor, NGO, and other educational institutions, in an effort to align SMC’s career technical education programs to the current and projected workforce needs of the Los Angeles region and the State of California. Her civic engagement spans over two decades. Dr. Ramos has served as an appointed official as a member of the Woman’s Commission and the L.A. County Workforce Development Board. She serves on educational and workforce committees at local, state, and national levels. Dr. Ramos holds a doctorate from the University of Southern California.
Nicole Rife Chan is invested in accessible design education as a medium for positive community impact. She serves as Faculty Lead of the Interaction Design B.S. and Graphic Design Program at Santa Monica College. Nicole held non-profit and corporate design roles involving media, print, and digital before earning her MFA in Media Design Practices at ArtCenter College of Design.
Maxim is a creative technologist and a design educator with experience in multimedia-rich Web applications, interactive installations, and generative computer graphics. He comes with a background in linguistics and audio-video design. His current work centers on new forms of media and emerging interfaces for human-computer interaction. Maxim holds an MFA in Design and Technology from Parsons School of Design in New York.
Luke Johnson is an employee engagement strategist and design educator whose portfolio includes work for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Nokia, and Riot Games. He collaborates with HR, internal comms, and executives to develop customized products to solve unique, internal problems. Luke holds an MFA in Media Design Practices from ArtCenter College of Design. He currently works as a professor in Graphic Design and Interaction Design at Santa Monica College.
Nicola Vruwink, MFA, is an artist, educator, and designer who is committed to mentoring future creatives. With an extensive background in private postsecondary education, Nicola is committed to making high-quality education more accessible and equitable. She has found her home in the California community college system. Her passion for design and design education fuels her teaching practice; currently, Nicola is full-time faculty in the Graphic Design program at Santa Monica College and maintains her own design studio Poni.
As a former community college transfer student and first-generation college graduate, Amanda Garcia is dedicated to advocating for a more equitable and inclusive learning environment that serves all students. Her primary goal as the CMD Counselor is to empower students by highlighting existing strengths, so they can feel confident entering the industry as their authentic selves. Amanda is currently pursuing a Doctorate in Educational Leadership at California Polytechnic University, Pomona.
Ann Marie came to SMC’s Career Services Center with a background in marketing project management. With several years’ experience hiring artists and designers to execute corporate visions, Ann Marie brings and shares her knowledge on how to stand out and get hired to the IxD Program Students.
Jeff Gordon comes to IxD with twenty-plus years of experience at Santa Monica College. He was a highly involved student leader at SMC before transferring to Cal State Northridge for his bachelor's degree in radio and television production. He later continued his studies at Loyola Marymount University for his master's degree in counseling. While at SMC he has served in a myriad of areas including classified staff in student services and as counseling faculty in Associated Students, Scholars, General Counseling and Transfer Services, Welcome Center, and Outreach and Recruitment. In his role as IxD project manager Jeff Gordon is focused on increasing the pool of talented applicants with students that come from a multitude of diverse backgrounds. At the center of his approach in working with IxD is a warm and welcoming environment that is inclusive and equitable for our students, faculty, and staff.
Dr. Julia G. Raz is a faculty member in the Communication and Media Studies Department at Santa Monica College. She earned a Ph.D. in communication from the University of Michigan and a B.A. in communication from UC San Diego, and her area of expertise is women in gaming culture. Dr. Raz has been teaching in higher education for the past decade. In 2017, she created the Media 4: Introduction to Video Game Studies course for SMC.
Kevin Chicas is a faculty member in the Communication and Media Studies Department and Business Department at Santa Monica College. He earned a master’s degree in media studies from the New School University in New York City, and a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of California, Berkeley. Guided by a culturally responsive pedagogy that emphasizes media literacy, critical thinking, and project-based learning, his work has primarily focused on closing academic equity gaps among Black American and Latinx students, and mentoring students pursuing media production and social media management careers.
Dr. Lea Hald is a professor in the Psychology Department at SMC. She has a doctorate in Psychology with a focus in Cognitive Science, a master’s degree, and a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. Her undergraduate teaching experience includes courses in research methods, statistics, cognitive science, cognitive neuroscience, and introduction to psychology. Her recent research focuses on applying embodied pedagogy to improve learning.
Dr. Luis M. Andrade is a Communication Studies professor in the Communication & Media Studies Department at SMC. He has a doctorate in Educational Leadership, a master’s degree in Communication Studies, and a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy from California State University-Fullerton. His experience includes teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in public speaking, argumentation, intercultural communication, directing forensics, and research methods. His research centers on educational equity, Latina/o student education, performance, rhetorical criticism, intercultural communication, and philosophy.
Alisa Olinova is a freelance creative consultant, art director, graphic designer, and illustrator— a professional creative person based in LA. She loves making things come alive through design. Formerly very nice, she has held every role from Design Intern to Design Director; working with 100+ organizations, many of them nonprofits, as well as teaching and speaking about design and social impact.
Richard Schuler is a Los Angeles-based product designer focused primarily on architectural lighting. His experience also includes work in furniture and consumer products. He has also had his hand in several creative efforts, including collaborating as an illustrator on the internet’s first hypertext novel, Sunshine 69, and the comic novella Dead in Desemboque, as well as a drummer for the post-rock swamp-boogie band, King Kong. Richard holds a Masters of Industrial Design from Rhode Island School of Design.
Brooklyn Brown is a digital product design leader, currently working for GitHub on tools that help open source maintainers have conversations with their developer communities. She holds a BFA in graphic design from Otis College of Art and Design and began her career at a small design studio working on brand identity and print publication projects. She transitioned to product design after finishing her MFA at ArtCenter College of Design’s Media Design Practices program. She has worked for a variety of tech companies in the last several years, from design consultancies to startups to Microsoft and now GitHub.
Shannon Herbert is a writer and professor in the English Department at SMC. Her dissertation research at The University of Chicago examined the relationship between fiction and the late Twentieth-century fetish for technologically-enhanced objectivity. Both her research and teaching employ feminist and decolonial practices to center the experiences of historically marginalized communities and perspectives.
A Los Angeles-based multidisciplinary Creative Director & Designer with an award-winning track record of delivering creative strategies and executing design solutions with the most iconic brands in the world: Nike, Adidas, YouTube, Warner Bros., Ford, and more. David is currently the Director of Product Design at Red Bull, responsible for leading a global creative design and research team creating the next evolution of consumer-facing digital products.
Guild Copeland is the Co-Founder of Sisu, an award-winning digital design studio based in LA. Guild handles all business development efforts and also serves as the strategic lead for Sisu’s clients, including Disney, DC Comics, American Express, Western Union, and the Grammys. He began his career in Washington, D.C., navigating the high seas of politics after graduating from Yale.
Santa Monica College alumna, Jill DaSilva, is the CEO and Founder of the UX Design agency, Digital Karma. Jill began programming when she was 8 years old and has been designing digital experiences since the early 2000s. Beyond her consulting work, Jill teaches and speaks globally about User Experience Design, is a mentor for UX Designers, is an official Adobe XD Instructor.
Sam is a graphic designer and information architect with 18 years of direct hands-on experience in graphic and mobile/web design practice. Sam has an MFA in Graphic Design from OTIS College of Art and Design and a bachelor of science in Biomedical Engineering. Crossing over to Graphic Design with a Mathematics and Engineering background has given Sam the ability to look at communication challenges from a unique perspective. Sam views graphic design as a multidisciplinary practice between “Art” and “System Engineering” plus “Linguistics” with the goal to establish a clear and universally understandable dialogue.