Product Design faculty member Liliana Becerra shares her experiences participating in the National Collegiate of Inventors and Innovators Alliance’s (NCIIA) first Sustainable Vision Teaching Lab held at Colorado State University for the Designmatters blog.
About a month ago, I was offered the opportunity to attend and participate in the first Sustainable Vision Teaching Lab hosted and organized by NCIIA (National Collegiate of Inventors and Innovators Alliance) at Colorado State University. I attended with my colleague Nathan Allen—we’re both Art Center faculty, I’m in Product Design and Nathan is Grad ID.
NCIIA is an alliance of faculty and students working to advance the teaching of invention and innovation in American higher education. This practice is highly and mostly rooted in focused innovations seeking to benefit under-resourced populations through scalable solutions. NCIIA has awarded several grants to Art Center in recent years supporting the creation and incubation of academic projects on design for social impact hosted by Designmatters, the social impact department of the College.
I had had the opportunity to meet some of the people from NCIIA when I attended “Open Minds,” the NCIIA annual conference in Washington, D.C., last March. I participated in a panel examining lessons learned from two of my recent classes, Creating Social Value Through Design held in Lake Atitlan, Guatemala and Safe Agua in Santiago, Chile. From my first interactions with NCIIA members, I quickly realized that most had an engineering background, and design professionals were rather underrepresented.
When I first arrived to the Sustainable Vision Teaching Lab in June, it was slightly intimidating and humbling to suddenly realize that I was part of a group who by profession call themselves inventors and innovators–after all, the word “innovation” has been overused and misinterpreted during the last decade, losing a lot of validity and excitement.