February 19, 2019
KCAI Introduces New Product Design Major
This fall, incoming students at the Kansas City Art Institute (KCAI) will have a new academic major to pursue, Product Design. The college’s fourteenth major comes at a pivotal time in Kansas City, which is known for its burgeoning start-up community with a growing need for designers.
Students in the new, innovative program will earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Product Design. The curriculum will focus on creative responses to current design challenges and will regularly adapt to address the most pressing and relevant global issues. Courses will provide training in both digital and hands-on techniques for design and prototyping, preparing students to be well-versed in all facets of the product design process. KCAI houses some of the most advanced technology for rapid prototyping at the state-of-the-art fabrication lab, the David T. Beals III Studios for Art & Technology. The Beals Studios was opened in the fall of 2016 and has twice hosted the Make 48 competition, a national two-day invent-a-thon for some of the nation’s top rising product designers.
“Our new Product Design major will live in a place that has a long and deep tradition of ‘making’ – we have the experience, the studios, and the tools. You dream it, and we’ll show you how to make it, bringing your ideas to life. From a conceptual sketch to the finished prototype, at KCAI we teach how to take your creation into the real world.” said KCAI Nerman Family President Tony Jones.
At the core of KCAI’s Product Design program is the Design Incubator Hub, a launch pad and collaboration space that provides designers with resources such as industry mentors and equipment to help transform ideas into successful products and businesses. Students will have access to mentorships and internships at some of Kansas City’s internationally recognized companies such as Cerner, Garmin and Dimensional Innovations.
According to Kendell Warner, Cerner User Experience Lead, companies like Cerner are continually searching for creative problem solvers that come to the table ready to engage with users and understand their true goals. “KCAI’s Product Design program encompasses many facets of Design Thinking, empathy gathering, iterative prototyping and business acumen that works extremely well for the type of work we do. It’s a great program to have in our own backyard and we’re excited to partner with KCAI as they grow the curriculum.”
A new collaboration between KCAI and the Bloch School of Management Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Missouri- Kansas City will infuse the curriculum with entrepreneurial-focused business classes that will give students the tools they need to grow their ideas into sustainable products and business ventures. KCAI and UMKC also have a partnership that will offer KCAI students an opportunity to earn a minor in Art & Design Entrepreneurship beginning in the fall of 2019.
“Our collaboration with KCAI acknowledges the fact that a designer with business and entrepreneurship skills has a higher likelihood of success in the 21st-century economy. Through the program, students will learn to not only be a great designer but also how to launch and position their products and services in the market,” said Andy Heise, assistant director of Regnier Institute.
According to the program’s architect, Acting Product Design Chair Chris Chapin, the launch of this program is in response to the needs of businesses and new advances in design. “The strong entrepreneurial thread throughout the program, The Design Incubator Hub and mentorships with innovative companies will bridge our studio work and real-world practice, empowering students to make their ideas a reality. This major elevates KCAI as an important contributor to the product design community in Kansas City and around the world,” said Chapin.
KCAI is actively recruiting students for Fall 2019. Students who enter the first-year Foundation program in Fall 2019 will be the inaugural class to enroll in Product Design in Fall 2020. Transfer students who are interested in the Product Design major can transfer in Fall 2020. For more information visit kcai.edu/product-design/
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