Ch-Ch-Changes! New Year, New Numbers, New Locations and more

Image by Juan Posada

Image by Juan Posada

Welcome to ArtCenter 2019! We hope you are rested and ready to tackle the Spring Term. As usual, elves have been busy working over break improving our campus, so some things may seem a little different. Here’s a rundown of the changes. We also want to take a minute to remind you of a few safety matters as we start the new year.

Room numbers at Hillside have changed!

The entire building has been renumbered. Don’t panic—Security personnel will be equipped with new building maps, you can download and print one yourself here, and there are big maps at the north and south entrances. And most people and things are in the same locations. The Bridge, pictured above, is in the same place and remains un-numbered.

Other Hillside Changes

  • The Hillside Micromarket will be opening its doors really soon, hopefully before the end of the month, which will allow 24-hour access to food, similar to the Micromarkets at South Campus.
  • The entire Accounting department decamped from Hillside and moved to the 1111 building. You can find them on the Level 4. This includes the Cashier and Payroll.
  • Purchasing will be moving from Hillside to the 1111 building, probably later this month. The mail room and receiving will remain at Hillside.
  • The Hillside 3d Rapid Prototyping room relocated to what is now Room 208, wherever that is. Kidding. Check your new maps.
  • The College is getting a new Kongsburg table that will go into what is now Room 241, which you can locate using the new building map. It will be up and running as soon as shop staff are fully trained on how to operate it.
  • The Faculty Lounge will also be relocated before the end of the month into what is now Room 212, the old Provost’s office (check your maps).
  • The second Hillside Film Stage that was adjacent to the Faculty/Staff parking lot was also relocated over the break and is now in Room 182. There was no old Room 182, so this should not be confusing.

1111 building changes

We still have the same number of floors, but we are now referring to them as levels. We know change is difficult, but this will be much easier than getting used to the new room numbers at Hillside.

  • Construction is ongoing on Level Three so there are still some classes that will be meeting in temporary classrooms on Level Two.
  • The Accounting department moved into their new digs on Level Four, Suite 410. Head south when you get off the elevator to find them.
  • The Security Office that was temporarily located on Level Two has returned to its permanent spot on Level Four, Suite 406.
  • Human Resources is still in their temporary space at the north end of Level Four, but hopes to be returning to their suite on the southside by the end of the month.

1111 building stairs

Did you know you can take the stairs instead of waiting for elevators at the 1111 building? Stairs from the parking levels to the lobby are now open and can be used. You can also use stairs to move from floor to floor throughout the building. Please note, because there is now an internal staircase from the lobby to the second level, the outside stairwell from the ground to Level Two can only be used to exit the building.

Safety Reminders

On January 1, 2019, ArtCenter officially became a tobacco- and smoke-free campus. No smoking, no vaping, no cigarettes, no e-cigarettes, no cigars, no pipes, no cannabis, no hookahs, no chewing tobacco. This means anywhere on campus. No smoker polls, no smoking spots. We are initiating this policy to address the overall health and wellness of our community and its environment. We aren’t telling any of you to quit using tobacco products, however, we do expect you to follow the policy while on campus.

Go here to read the official policy. We have also included information and resources for those interested in quitting.

You will need your stinking badges

All members of the ArtCenter community must wear visible College identification while on campus. That includes faculty, staff and students. Security may stop and question anyone who is not displaying an ArtCenter ID. No one wants to wear badges, but this is really for the safety of all of us. Security has lanyards and holders available for anyone who needs them. If you forget your ID, just check in with Security when you arrive on campus.

Safety App

ArtCenter has developed an app that you can download from the App Store or Google Play (search for ArtCenter). The Safety App allows you to chat directly with Security personnel, report a problem, review campus emergency plans and much more. Get it and start practicing some safety on campus!

Have we mentioned that room numbers have changed at Hillside?

If you know of changes we missed, or have a tip for Campus News, send a note to anna.macaulay@artcenter.edu.

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Meet the Fall 2018 Student Leadership Award winner: Illustration’s Michelle Kim

MichelleKim-cms_large

“Useless and hopeless.”

That’s how graduating Illustration student Michelle Kim felt prior to entering ArtCenter

On Saturday, December 15, Michelle will be graduating with a degree in Illustration, a minor in Social Innovation and she will be receiving the coveted Student Leadership Award. This award fulfills ArtCenter’s vision of educating artists and designers who are not only leaders within their professional fields but also leaders in their communities. She has come a long way from feeling “useless and hopeless.”

Each term, the College reaches out to the campus population for nominations from peers, faculty and staff. All nominations are considered by a committee of faculty, staff and students and they select the student who most demonstrates leadership through their participation in ArtCenter’s campus life, community outreach, student organizations and department initiatives. The selection committee is often faced with a difficult task of choosing between exceptional students who are both high academic achievers and valuable contributors to the College community. This term proved to be excruciatingly difficult when the committee was presented with multiple nominees who each probably would have received the award had they not all been nominated for the same term. The top three were especially strong contenders.

Michelle, who topped this competitive field of nominees, received nominations from students, faculty, staff and alumni. It is worth noting that the College does not solicit nominations for this award from alumni so the alumni nominators had to take initiative to participate in this process, and many did simply because of the impact Michelle’s leadership had on their lives while at ArtCenter.

Michelle’s extracurricular resume is impressive, and it’s no wonder she networked with so many of the College’s community members: she served as Director of Student Solutions and then President for ACSG (ArtCenter’s student government), where she spearheaded the Student Employment Project that established greater transparency, accountability and appropriate compensation for student workers, welcomed in hundreds of new students through orientation programs, and hosted the College’s first Leadership Awards Dinner; she co-led TEDxACCD 2017, which included successfully pitching the College’s Board of Trustees for funding support; she served as a student board member for Full Circle, the College’s philanthropic membership community; she was asked to serve on the Provost Selection Committee and was an active participant and key member of the group; she was an active member of the ArtCenter Business Club student group, organizing company visits in San Francisco and Los Angeles; she founded the ArtCenter Freestyle Dance Society, offering students a time and place for fun and active stress relief; she participated in a number of Designmatters, Study Abroad and Sponsored Project classes; she created an open source empathic toolkit for artists and designers to use when conversing with complex users, in her case she was able to utilize it to engage with homeless individuals in Pasadena; she participated on an internship panel discussion, represented the College at a NAKFI (National Academies Keck Futures Initiative) conference and served as a teaching assistant for Expressive Type.

Whew!

In addition to her remarkable list of accomplishments, Michelle’s nominators noted her particular brand of leadership. “She cares tremendously for everyone and her passion for designing a more thoughtful world is never forgotten,” noted one student.

A staff member was personally “impressed by her warmth and charisma.”

She was described as demonstrating “a continues effort to be selfless, caring, kind, compassionate, comforting and inspiring” by an alum and as someone who “jumps into the unknown with willingness and a sense of humility that allows room for others,” by a faculty member.

Michelle relates that she was driven by fear of her past failures but found what she describes as her ‘golden egg’ (her passion for adapting, collaborating and creating positive long-lasting impact) by joining a community, ArtCenter, that valued her for her skill sets and didn’t judge her on her past failures.

“In the end, I wanted to help others realize that they are valued. That our skills in the classroom are powerful outside. That we can make a difference. That we aren’t useless and hopeless. And that we all have a golden egg.”

Vincent Zhang
Product Design’s Vincent Zhang is perhaps the ying to Michelle’s yang. His resume reads very similarly—he is a student board member of Full Circle, he served as President of ACSG and Director of Social Media and Marketing, he co-lead TEDxACCD 2017, he was President of the ArtCenter Branding Atelier student club, he participated in Design Storms, he was an orientation leader for multiple terms and he worked as a teaching assistant. He garnered nominations from students, faculty and staff.

He was lauded not only as a leader, but as a mentor and was credited with creating the growing infrastructure of ACSG, inspiring others to take leadership roles at the College.

A student nominating him said “Vincent helps you discover your own potential. He inspires and gives hope. He transforms flaws into strengths.”

A student who worked on TEDx with him described his leadership—“he bravely led with a vision that he wanted it to be a place where folks could experiment, fail and contribute. It felt messy at times but it was a beautiful organic process.”

“Vincent is one of those exceptional student body members whose contributions, energy and passion for design have made ArtCenter a more inspiring and enjoyable place for faculty, students and staff alike,” said a faculty nominator.

Alvin Oei
The third in this trio of spectacular Student Leadership nominees, Alvin Oei, perhaps holds the record for most words written about or by a student while at ArtCenter. Early in his ArtCenter tenure, he was profiled in ArtCenter News (then called the Dotted Line), here and again here. He was the subject of a student story here. He described his personal journey for ArtCenter’s Storyboard here and in a video here. And, he wrote about his trip to Dubai to present a Designmatters project here. His litany of accomplishments include founding and developing the ArtReach student club, starting student chapters of TEA (Themed Entertainment Association) and IIDA (Internation Interior Design Association) at ArtCenter, spearheading “The Healing Tree” Designmatters project that is often cited by other students as a “life-changing” experience and that won numerous awards (Core 77 Social Impact Student Notable award, Denhart Family Sustainability Prize, Bronze Spark Award and a grant from Sappi). He served as a teaching assistant and he participated in a Study Abroad project in Berlin.

“To me, being a leader isn’t about running these organizations or clubs though, it’s actually about switching off the design persona and turning on the human one,” said Alvin. “It’s about taking a step back and knowing that those around us have emotions, come from different places and sometimes just need a reminder that they are amazing.”

Faculty members, in summing up their reasons for nominating Alvin, quoted the ArtCenter News story, “Be passionate about what you do. Be thorough and thoughtful doing it. Be a leader. Make something. Make a difference. These are core Art Center values and Environmental Design student Alvin Oei embodies all of them.”

“Alvin unknowingly evolves sparks into flames when it comes to inspiring others to do not just what is right, but what is needed in society today, through the skills we’re learning in the classroom,” said one student nominator.

A staff member described a panel discussion that he pulled together on his own, “It was perfection. He had top guns in the themed entertainment world present. The house was full. Students and guests lingered for over an hour after the presentation to meet with their creative heroes on stage. It was truly a perfect panel.”

ArtCenter is going to miss Michelle, Vincent and Alvin tremendously—we can’t wait to see what they accomplish out in the world because we know they are going to make a difference.

We would be remiss if we didn’t recognize the contributions of this term’s other Student Leadership Award nominees. Alynn Tergevorkian was nominated for her contributions to the College as the Environmental Design representative to student government. A student nominator noted, “Alynn’s humble and considerate leadership style taught me that leaders do not necessarily have to always be in the spotlight.” “Time and time again, Alynn steps up to be of servce to her department and the larger ArtCenter community,” said a staff member nominator.

Benin Marshall was recognized for his efforts to create community among marginalized brown and black students of color; Michelle Gong’s contributions to the community as a teaching assistant, orientation leader and student worker, garnered her a nomination; and Austin Nelson was credited with being a mentor to other students.

ArtCenter thanks and congratulates all the nominees for their commitment and dedication to making the College a more compassionate, transformative and life-changing environment for all of us.

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Woolsey fire claims home and studio of Grad Art faculty member Lita Albuquerque

Kent Twitchell’s “Lita Albuquerque Monument” on the 101 freeway. Photo by @robertdoran_

Kent Twitchell’s “Lita Albuquerque Monument” on the 101 freeway. Photo by @robertdoran_

Grad Art students have rallied around longtime core faculty, artist Lita Albuquerque, who suffered immeasurable loss when the Woolsey fire destroyed her home and studio. According to The Art NewspaperAlbuquerque, who has called Malibu home for almost 30 years, was away on November 9 when the fire raced up the canyon, giving her pregnant daughter only enough time to grab the family dog before fleeing the flames. By the time she was allowed to return, Albuquerque found only rubble and dust where nine buildings had once stood. Lost were paintings, drawings, five decades of diaries, her pigment collection and her expansive library. “It’s so bad that it’s OK,” Albuquerque told The Art Newspaper. “We have our lives and the dog.”

A recent video, shot as part of our Faculty Portraits series, shows Albuquerque in her studio in happier times, surrounded by a lifetime’s collection of books and other treasured items.

Her children have started a Go Fund Me to raise funds to help her rebuild.

“Now the fire that’s raging is the love that I’m feeling from everyone, just pouring in,” Albuquerque told The Art Newspaper. “That part is beautiful.”

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Penchant for precise planning proves valuable for aspiring filmmaker

cero
ArtCenter’s history is rich with students, staff
and faculty who served their country through military service. The College’s reputation, culture and even the school’s site in Pasadena have been shaped by the veterans who have come through its doors since 1930 to take advantage of its intensive careers-focused programs that lead to bachelor and master degree

As Provost Karen Hofmann notes, “veterans are able to change course or strategy when projects demand it, and they bring a spirit of camaraderie and teamwork that elevates the energy and work ethic of the class to another level.”

Today, servicemen and servicewomen—whose discipline and desire to make a positive impact align closely with the College’s educational mission—continue to distinguish themselves as students and alumni.

On the eve of this Veterans Day, we caught up with one of our current crop of students transitioning from military life to a professional career. Cero Smith is pursuing a graduate degree in our Film Program.

Campus News: How did you hear about ArtCenter and what drew you here?

Cero Smith: I actually did my own research in trying to find a school that had a successful output of students into the working market. There were many choices but, this school had some of my favorite filmmakers attend here.

CN: Can you tell us a little about your non-military, pre-ArtCenter life?

CS: I’m originally from New Jersey but lived most of my life in New York. I like New York way more, so I say New York. I attended Ithaca College in upstate New York and earned a B.S. in Scriptwriting for Television and Radio.

CN: What motivated you to serve in the military?

CS: There was a time in my life, about two years before I enrolled, when I was very patriotic so I joined the United States Army in 2012, wanting to save as many lives as I could. I served for six years as a 68W (or, as they say in the Army, sixty-eight whiskey) Combat Medic Healthcare Specialist. [Editorial note: According to goarmy.com, The combat medic specialist is primarily responsible for providing emergency medical treatment at point of wounding on the battlefield, limited primary care, and health protection and evacuation from a point of injury or illness.]

CN: How has your military experience influence your student experience?

CS: My military experience taught me to be extremely organized—people have noticed I’m a very calculated director on set. To me, every position is a working cog—we can’t make a motion picture without everyone working together!

CN: What are the challenges (if any) of being a veteran student?

CS: The greatest challenge I have encountered is dealing with disorganization. In the military, everything is prepared in advance and very organized. Outside as a civilian student, I have often experienced a lack of unity and discovered people are looking for a command presence. Filmmaking is not something you can pursue alone—it can take anything from a squad to a battalion of people to get the job done—when you are not on the same page, it leaves room for error. In the military, there is no error so in these situations I find myself “quarterbacking” everyone, whether I’m directing or not.

And the GI bill presents its own challenges…

CN: What is your favorite place on campus?

CS: Room 120—the editing room where the powerful computer and programs help make a sound project happen!

CN: What is your current obsession?

CS: I’m currently obsessed with writing in my journal and avocados—I write all of the time and I love to bite into avocados whenever I can!  It’s such a healthy snack!

CN: Who do you admire and why?

CS: I don’t admire any one person really but, I really do admire anyone that has traversed a long tough life to make it to film school and has a great story to tell! I feel like a person’s harsh experiences aid in the emotion of telling stories and I just admire the fact that they never gave up.

CN: What will you be doing on Veterans Day this year?

CS: Veterans day…?  To be honest I don’t know… Everyone in my family is from the East Coast and I usually get together with them to BBQ and share stories with my nieces and nephews but, who knows.

We suggest someone should take advantage of Veterans Day discounts and freebies and take Cero out for some nourishment.

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Public Programs’ Dana Walker-Juick nabs first place in photo competition

''Joan's Trinity" by Dana Walker-Juick

”Joan’s Trinity” by Dana Walker-Juick

Public Programs Managing Director Dana Walker-Juick received first place in LA Photo Curator’s Confronting Mortality online exhibition competition for her image, “Joan’s Trinity.”

“This photograph gives me the visceral sensation that someone has left the room,” writes Curator Jane Szabo, of Walker-Juick’s image. “I feel the emptiness, the quiet and the sadness. The profound effects of this picture work in two ways: first as a documentary photograph that tells the story of the emptying of a home, and secondly as a poetic narrative that speaks to the tentative aftereffects of a life lived.”

“As an artist, I’ve long been intrigued by the places people inhabit and I’m interested in how, as an outsider, I can use photography to create new insights into loved ones,” explained Dana. “To re-imagine them solely through their belongings… through the spaces they inhabit.”

The theme of this exhibit, “Confronting Mortality,” really spoke to me because it reflects concepts frequently explored in my work,” she reflected. “My series, “measured spaces: time suspended,” reflects aspects of this theme … this series seeks to capture the transient nature of life… to create an intimate portrait (real or imagined) of someone, whether a close family member or a stranger, through fragments of their memories.”

L.A. Photo Curator holds monthly photography competitions providing an opportunity for monthly winners to be reviewed by one or more of our contributing curators as well as help those in need by donating 20% of artist fees to the charity of the curator and first place winners choice.

As first place winner, Dana chose ArtCenter for Kids to receive the winning donation.

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Nostalgia overload—alumni flock to campus for weekend reunion

Photo: Juan Posada

Photo: Juan Posada

Approximately 500 alumni and guests descended on campus last weekend for the first ever Alumni Weekend. Starting Friday, alums toured the old Third Street Campus, enjoyed department receptions in the new Alumni Center, celebrated the openings of the Mullin Gallery and Heavin Studio, attended panel discussions and much more. The weekend culminated on Sunday with a celebration of the 70th year of our Transportation Design Department at the College’s annual Car Classic.

We thought it was a great success, but what did the alumni attendees think? We looked to social media to find out:

  • “Shoutout to ArtCenter Alumni Network for putting out an incredible opening night to this year’s alumni reunion. So honored to meet my idol couple, Bruce Heavin and Lynda Weinman from Lynda.com. Their story truly inspired the beginning of my entrepreneurship about 3 years ago. An Illustrator and a Teacher joined forces to start Lynda.com from renting a space in local elementary school with a few students to building over a billion-dollar business. Just wow! Their passion truly transformed the digital education for creative students, and their generous contribution to our community continues. Thank you, Lynda and Bruce! Such a great turn out with wonderful companies, delicious spread, and fun time!” Erna Hohertz (Instagram)
  • “It was so cool attending a couple of the ArtCenter College of Design Alumni events this weekend. I forgot how much I loved being on that campus surrounded by so many hard-working talented students and teachers. Studying photography there was one of the big highlights of my life so far. Truly a special place.” Aurelia D’Amore (Facebook)
  • “My wife and I had an incredibly inspiring weekend. We attended the ArtCenter College of Design Alumni Weekend event which included brunch on the Hillside Campus, the Awards Dinner and reception. Great networking, reconnecting, inspiration and hanging with the best of best.” Joseph Watson (Facebook)
  • “I’d say the ArtCenter reunion was a success! So great to reconnect with old friends and also make a few new ones. A special group of talented and dedicated individuals. Reminds me of what an exhilarating and life-altering experience it was. I’m grateful to be able to call myself an alumnus of the ArtCenter College of Design.” Terry Coolidge (Facebook)
  • “Really proud to be a part of Art Center and able to befriend many talented designers and artists. Great to be back home!” Sonny Chen (Instagram)
  • “Once upon a time, I earned my BFA in Photography from Art Center College of Design. Today I got to reconnect with some of the folks who were the greatest inspiration to me: our department chair, Tim Bradley (who always kindly tolerated the grief I gave him when I wanted to take graphic design classes instead of our regular electives, so big hearts to Tim), the LEGEND Roland Young and Fred Fehlau, Rebeca Mendez, Paul Bielenberg and Lynda Weinman. In our day to day life and work, it’s sometimes easy to forget the lineage we come from by living through and graduating from an institution like this, but connecting and reconnecting with my fellow alumni was a great reminder.” Michelle Chin (Instagram)

By all accounts, it appears everyone had a good time.

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Sunstar art/science collaboration to shine light on Hillside Campus

Dqtrb8yUcAAFtlUSunstar, an art/science work by Liliane Lijn, artist, and John Vallerga, astrophysicist at UC Berkeley Space Science Lab, is a large-scale and far-reaching daytime installation sited on the historic 150’ Solar Tower on Mount Wilson. Using engineered glass prisms and specially designed code, a spray of diffracted sunlight is projected to specific locations, making the solar spectrum visible just at the meeting point of earth and sky in the form of a sparkling star. On loan to Mount Wilson Observatory, Sunstar will be beaming on selected locations participating in Pasadena’s AxS Festival: City as Wunderkammer, including ArtCenter’s Hillside Campus.

Sunstar will be shining its light on ArtCenter on the following schedule:

  • Friday, November 2—4:30 p.m. to sunset
  • Monday, November 5—2 p.m. to sunset
  • Tuesday, November 6—11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

An array of six prisms, Sunstar takes incoming sunlight and refracts it, bending the light and spreading it into a spectrum–all the colors of the rainbow. It is mounted near the top of the Observatory’s 150-foot Solar Telescope Tower. With motion controls, it can be remotely directed to project the spectrum to a specific point in the Los Angeles basin. An observer below will see an intense point of light in a single wavelength, shining like a brilliant jewel from the ridgeline of Mount Wilson, 5800 feet above in the San Gabriel Mountains. The prisms can be moved to change the color of light an observer sees, or the observer can walk in one direction or another to change the color. In this case, the observer is actually walking across a giant spectrum some 250 yards long. While still very bright, at the great distances involved, it is perfectly safe to look at a single wavelength of sunlight.

The A×S Festival is a regional celebration of art and science, based in Pasadena and surrounding communities. While often described as occupying opposite ends of the spectrum, art and science are instead understood to be powerful engines of contemporary culture. As a thematic pivoting point, A×S provides opportunities for discovering the fascinations, curiosities, and tensions ignited by pondering integrations of art and science.

A complete schedule of events and more about the AxS Festival can be found on its website, 2018 A×S Festival.

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Dot magazine: spooky cover edition

dotcoverJust in time for Halloween, the Fall 2018 issue of Dot magazine has landed on campus.

Raised and based in Southern California’s Antelope Valley, photographer and graphic designer Camillo Longo (BFA 12 Photography and Imaging) finds inspiration for his photos everywhere, from sprawling national parks and tattooed motorcyclists to moths whose wings look like paintings. He uses limited light to convey mystery and depth in his images. His “Escape” series pictured on the front and back covers of this issue depicts the fog and trees of the Angeles National Forest, where Longo became lost three years ago during a hike and contemplated his life. “I began seeking closure with myself, revisiting ghosts of my past to make peace,” he says. “I eventually escaped and made it out of the woods safely.”

Pick up a copy of Dot at the front desk of any campus building, in the library or CSE.

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Provost Karen Hofmann receives IDSA Education Award

Photo: Juan Posada

Photo: Juan Posada

Provost Karen Hofmann was presented with the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) Education Award during the organization’s annual International Design Conference in recognition of her significant and distinguished contributions to the field of industrial design education. The IDSA Education Award is presented to an IDSA member who has earned the respect and admiration of colleagues and students for teaching industrial design; and who has maintained an unwavering commitment to the values and principles of the industrial design profession.

“It is an absolute honor to be recognized by IDSA with the Education Award. Like others who received this recognition before me, it represents a passionate commitment in preparing the next generation of designers to create purposeful projects and meaningful careers,” Hofmann said. “It goes without saying, this award represents not only my work but the work of many at ArtCenter who contribute to innovative programming at the College: our students and faculty who continuously push the boundaries of design education as well as the staff and leadership who empower our creative community.

“It is also an honor to be counted among the three other women who have been past recipients of the IDSA Education Award—Leslie Speer, Lorraine Justice and Katherine McCoy—since they have served as role models for me to pursue education as a lifelong commitment,” Hofmann continued. “And I humbly extend my appreciation to Leslie, as well as ArtCenter faculty and fellow IDSA members Katherine Bennett and Babette Strousse for nominating me in the first place.”

ArtCenter President Lorne Buchman said, “I couldn’t be prouder of Karen and the incredible work she’s done at the College, both as Product Design chair and, now, as our new provost. She’s proven to be an agile and thoughtful leader; always with a focus on student preparation and success. Mazel tov, Karen!”

Each year, IDSA also recognizes exceptional student design talent through their Student Merit Awards program. Recent Product Design alumnus Charlie Hodges (BS 2018) and Graduate Industrial Design student Ryan Cunningham received Student Merit Awards in the undergraduate and graduate categories for the Western District. Coinciding with their award wins, Hodges presented an overview of his work during the IDSA/Eastman Innovation Lab Education Symposium and Cunningham has been asked to contribute an article to the winter issue of IDSA’s INNOVATION magazine.

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Foam core no more!

Photo by Juan Posada

Photo by Juan Posada

We are a campus of makers who make things and it is no secret that making things is messy—it creates waste and often involves the use of chemicals.

People and departments throughout the College have already been working separately to reduce waste and mitigate chemical hazards but Provost Karen Hofmann recently assembled a task force of students, faculty and staff to study the materials regularly used in our shops and classrooms with the goal of developing best practices to reduce waste and environmental toxins.

The team’s first target is the use of polystyrene (foam board, foam core or Fome-Cor) in the Laser Lab.
The Lab was redesigned and relocated in May 2017 with an eye toward improving all aspects of the space. Taking a holistic approach, Laser Lab Supervisor Kelly Moon recalls, “in the spirit of this goal, I began to research the materials we currently allow to be cut in the Laser Lab.”

Her research found that polystyrene is known to have the potential to release toxic emissions when heated at certain temperatures. Additionally, heating the material can potentially ignite the board’s paper surface and cause a fire. She also found that dozens of other schools prohibit foam board from being cut due to its potential for toxicity.

Moon brought her concerns to Director of Environmental Health and Safety Cynthia Quentin, as well Shops Manager Joe Kohnke and Director David Cawley. Provost Hofmann added Director of Sustainability Initiatives Heidrun Mumper-Drumm and Associate Director CMTEL Marshall Hamachi to the conversation and, with the addition of Product Design student Shu Ou, the Foamboard Working Group was launched.

As a result of the group’s research, ArtCenter is discontinuing use of all polystyrene related materials in the Laser Lab. In addition to alleviating health concerns, eliminating its use reduces waste since polystyrene cannot be recycled.

The task force identified nearly a dozen alternatives to the material that can be used and laser cut safely—all of which are recyclable and some that even cost less than polystyrene. These alternative materials are now available for purchase at the Shops.

Sample rings of alternative materials were created and distributed at the end of last term and graduating students were encouraged to create a “Material Smart Grad Show” by using recyclable materials, reducing waste, considering the environmental cost of transporting exhibits to and from the Convention Center and minimizing the use of foam core and other potentially toxic materials. The task force collected feedback, comments and suggestions from Grad Show participants and will use this information to inform their recommendations moving forward.

Please note, polystyrene is solely being eliminated from the Laser Lab, not banned from campus entirely, but students are encouraged to consider other, more sustainable materials when creating and mounting their projects.

Questions about the policy and alternative materials can be directed to David CawleyJoe Kohnke or Kelly Moon.

Any questions or concerns regarding environmental emissions, health or safety should be directed to Cynthia Quentin.

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