Raja Schaar, IDSA - Statement of Candidacy

2018 Election

It is an honor to be nominated for Education Director on IDSA’s Board of Directors. I consider myself a life-long educator and life-long learner. I believe my experience and ideas will resonate with educators and students at all stages of their ID careers.

I have taught at the high school level, developed ID summer camps, taught at an elite governor’s school, community workshops and museums. I have had the privilege of teaching ID at the university level since 2004 as a part-time and full-time lecturer, machine shop manager and now tenure-track assistant professor. As a university educator I have taught at all levels—from foundation programs to PhD advising—developing and coordinating undergraduate and graduate curriculum for future industrial designers, architects and biomedical engineers at Georgia Tech and Drexel University. I have a strong commitment to interdisciplinary collaboration and I firmly believe that design is at the center of innovation.

IDSA has a strong reputation as an organization with a tangible commitment to education through student chapters, local chapter outreach, District Design Conferences and Student Merit Awards. I am excited for the opportunity to be a part of that mission at an influential level. While issues related to curriculum development, student/industry engagement, professional preparation and networking must continue to be a part of the larger conversation, we also need to be inclusive of our evolving field and community. As education director, I want to make sure that we have targeted discussions that address the following four areas:

  • Diversity and Inclusion. Addressing particularly industry representation by women and underrepresented minorities who frequently feel excluded from the wider design community, I would like to work with the Board and chapters to examine ways IDSA might address retention through outreach, mentorship and industry/campus engagement.
  • K-12 Outreach. How might professional chapters and student chapters make ID more visible to their local K-12 communities? Let’s examine and enact methods and strategies to promote ID earlier in the K-12 pipeline. If we treat design and problem solving as a basic literacy, we can nurture skilled thinkers and makers to grow our profession. Schools are already attempting this through STEM education, but we need to be sure that design is part of the equation.
  • Ethics. As the discipline of ID evolves and new technologies get more exciting, we need to reexamine our commitment to the ethical implications of our profession. How do we engage students, faculty and professionals in meaningful critical thinking about design’s impact on the environment and society that goes beyond greenwashing? How does this manifest in curriculum and continuing education?
  • Academic Journal. Assemble an exploratory committee to investigate the creation of a peer-reviewed academic journal of industrial design as a repository of ID research, scholarship, case studies and best practices. The committee would look into feasibility, format, funding and standards.