Young Minds with Bright Ideas

New Video Zooms in on Design for America Leadership Studio

Feb 3 2015 - 7:48am

“I now see there’s a solution to every problem.”

A new video is focusing on what happens when dozens of undergraduate students from 21 top higher education institutions in the country—from Cornell to Stanford—come together to tackle some of the world’s toughest challenges. The Design for America (DFA) Leadership Studio met at the Ford Motor Company Engineering Design Center at Northwestern University. 

"I think Design for America is an excellent way to bring design to schools—especially schools that don't have design programs but need to be able to understand the potential of design," says Mark Dziersk, FIDSA, and managing director of LUNAR.  He knows of what he speaks when it comes to guiding the next generation; Dziersk has served for 13 years as adjunct faculty at Northwestern’s master of product design and development management program.

DFA is a grassroots, 2,000-plus student-led network that began at Northwestern in 2008 and has spread across the nation to more than 20 universities including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Brown and Columbia. Members are encouraged to assess social challenges using a human-centered design process and work collaboratively to implement solutions.

The documentary shows students on a 24-hour design project to gain hands-on experience in human-centered design by working with people affected by breast cancer. Teams then presented their solutions at a pitch expo attended by business professionals and DFA staff and alumni.One team presented “Supported,” a clothing line that promotes empowerment and beauty in asymmetry. The line includes lingerie for breast cancer survivors and apparel for their friends and family members. DFA participants also trained a dozen local nonprofit groups in design thinking.