“No one has inspired me to the extent you have or made me challenge my own thinking as you and the MPS program have. I am a better person because of your teaching.” – Student
I teach at the Shintaro Akatsu School of Design (SASD) at the University of Bridgeport as the Chairman of the MPS program in Design Management. Design management is a young discipline, developed in England about 30 years ago. SASD’s is a dynamic, international program – one of a handful in the U.S. and the only one between New York and Boston.
We are in close proximity to and relationships with Fairfield County’s concentration of Fortune 500 corporate bases.
The thesis The thesis is a critical component of the Master of Professional Studies in Design Management degree. Coming at the end of the program, it demonstrates the thorough understanding of the principles of Design Management as they are applied to a self-selected problem. These are a selection of thesis topics completed, some of which also show posters prepared for a University-wide graduate research competition:
Branch360: A Sustainable Solution for Amputees and Prosthetic Clinics The status quo in prosthetic design is defined by an attempt to purely emulate anatomical function and aesthetic. This represents a missed opportunity: why emulate life when one can enhance it? By applying the principles of design thinking and human-centered design, we developed a prosthetic device that enables the user to accomplish daily tasks more efficiently than any other product on the market. Our solution provides a new model for how prosthetics can be designed, sold, and repurposed in a socially, fiscally, and environmentally sustainable way. This supports a meaningful share of the medical appliance field and makes prosthetics far more available to these customers.
Bridge the Gap Rethink current restoration efforts of Connecticut’s tidal salt marshes so coastal residents will be more receptive of them. Due to man-made and natural events, the salt marshes that protect Connecticut’s coastline have been severely damaged. Salt marshes protect Connecticut’s shoreline from storms and provide an irreplaceable ecosystem for the state’s entire length between New York and Rhode Island. The Connecticut state government in collaboration with shoreline organizations have developed plans to create processes to begin restoring the coastal salt marshes. Some of these proposals are considered unsightly by shoreline residents and their communities. Without their support, restoring salt marshes will be a far more difficult process. Our thesis will propose solutions that educate communities to the vital need for salt marshes both directly and regionally, to present solutions that they will accept, and to propose ways of assessing the solutions for their efficacy once they have been implemented.
Optimizing and Enhancing the Individual’s Role in the Recycling System Through Design Thinking As an effort to increase recycling in the United States, local governments adopted the single stream recycling system, in which different recycling materials are mixed during its initial collection. Although this resulted in an increase in the volume of recyclables deposited by individuals, it has also exponentially increased the cost to separate these recyclables to be sold for reuse. In order to reduce related costs of this recycling effort, it is fundamental to uncover the optimal function of the individual in this system. By using Design Thinking, this thesis will map out the current single stream recycling system to propose proactive ways individuals can contribute to streamlining it and to equip them with tools to make their participation more convenient.
UB Innovation Center To fulfill University needs by planning the restoration of an historical home by retrofitting the building to improve energy and environmental performance as a “smart building.” The building will become an academically important innovation center and will have an app developed for the University community that connects students to social and educational activities scheduled in the building, on campus, and in the city of Bridgeport. The University of Bridgeport owns eight historic homes, several of which have been renovated into hubs for activity for students an faculty. A few others remain vacant and unimproved. We considered each vacant building carefully and chose 82 Marina Park Street, formerly Darien Hall, a dormitory for law students. One reason is its 9-foor arched ceilings in the basement, making this an eminently usable fourth floor.
Saudi Interior Design Circle: A Complete Model to Start a Community for Interior Designers in Saudi Arabia The purpose of this thesis is to find out the best solution to join students, educators, professionals, and suppliers in the interior design field as well as to increase the perceived value of interior design in Saudi Arabia. The application of this thesis follows the Design Thinking methodology to achieve the best working solution. This thesis will empathize with users in order to define the clear problem. The thesis explores functional ideas and their implementation with a prototype of the solution. This thesis will give recommendations to test user outcomes to check the quality of the solution.
Smart STEAM: Redesigning the Student Experience The demand for innovative employees is growing every year, particularly for individuals equipped with high technical skills. In order for American children to be prepared to enter the workforce on a competitive level, children must have access to an integrated curriculum. The STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) model introduces students to various integrated subjects to increase their critical thinking skills. In an effort to foster student engagement and increase student achievement, access to STEAM models should be adopted nationwide to enhance the learning process. Creating a website that provides tips, training, and instruction for students, teachers, and facilitators, while supporting implementation, will further that goal.
Students in the Design Management program work with clients on real problems each semester. The client presents business problems they face and the students address them – and other issues they uncover in their human-centered research – collaboratively in teams of three or four. The outcome is a comprehensive report with problems, solutions, and methods for implementing the recommended solutions. Our clients have included:
- AmeriCares, Stamford CT
- The City of Bridgeport Office of Planning and Economic Development, CT
- Bridgeport YMCA, CT
- Half Full Brewery, Stamford CT
- Hope for Haiti, Stamford CT
- Kubtec Digital X-Ray, Stratford CT
- MetroCrops, Bridgeport CT
- The Pelham Community Rowing Association, Pelham NY
- Stamford Innovation Center, Stamford CT
- Sun Products, Trumbull CT
- UrbanGlass, Brooklyn NY
We have bi-weekly Design Management guest lecturers. Their expertise and broad business perspectives add immeasurably to our understanding of what is possible and who our colleagues and constituents are. Guests include dozens of entrepreneurs and design strategists including:
- Robert Beleson, Chief Marketing Officer, Playboy Enterprises
- Ken Coulson, CEO, FutureBright, A Sustainability Holding Company
- Amy Cueva, Founding Partner, MadPow
- Spencer Curry, CEO, FreshFarm Aquaponics
- Adam Dotson, Ironwood Capital, Entrepreneur and Investment Consultant
- Gary van Duersen, Industrial Design Consultant
- Jay Ford, CFO, Splash Management Group
- Peter Gordon, CEO, LiteWater
- Jonathan Gouthier, Chief Creative Director, WITH Creative
- Amy Graver, Creative Director, Elements
- Ryan Johnson, CFO, Lovesac, Inc.
- Robert Kahn, Founding Partner, FutureBrand/McCann-Erickson
- Adam Kaplan, Adam Kaplan Creative/Brand Trainer
- Deb Kline, Creative Director, Group Four
- Zachary Kubin, VP Marketing, Sled
- Bob Kunkel, President, Alternative Marine Technologies
- Jerry Kuyper, Identity and Branding Maven
- Andrew Lathrop, Creative Director, Consultant
- David Lickstein, R&D Design Manager, Skin Products, Unilever
- Cheryl Miller, Contributing Editor, Print Magazine
- Jerid O’Connell, CEO, Fuel for Humanity
- Bahador Pazoki, Creative Director, Primacy
- Daniel Pelavin, Graphic Designers and Illustrator
- Robert Pietrzyk, Lead Design Strategist, Global Marketing, Unilever
- Carly Price, Partner, IDEO
- Brent Robertson, Partner, Fathom
- Dr Perry Robinson, VC Entrepreneur
- Ashley Schofield, Partner and Creative Director, Cline Davis & Mann
- Charles Silverman, Partner and CEO, Indigo6
- Laurel Syah, Head of Creative at The Shop at eBay Enterprise
- Adam Thatcher, Executive Director, Grace Farms, New Canaan
- Matt Wilber, CFO, Barteca Restaurant Group