Industry Partnerships Feature Strongly in Academy of Art University’s School of Industrial Design Curricula

Academy of Art University’s School of Industrial Design

At Academy of Art University, coursework is all about the real world. Students learn from practitioner faculty, working in today’s industry and for today’s top employers. Topics and techniques revolve around the latest practices with real-world applications, not just theoretical discussions. And internship and collaborative experiences with the biggest brands in the business set students up for amazing portfolio projects and opportunities to get the most of out their careers.

Industrial Design Students Gain Practical Experience with Premium Brands

Collaboration and hands-on learning complement coursework for students across all programs at Academy of Art University. This is best exemplified by real-world partnerships of actual companies with departments like the School of Industrial Design.

Through these, students get access to feedback from industry professionals, and are able to gain opportunity for networking at some of the biggest names in industrial and automotive design. Students also earn real-world experience as they work alongside professionals in the field to see concepts and teamwork in action, a fundamental requirement for eventual career success.

These practical exercises reflect how today’s work environments are structured, even in the shifting tide of hybrid workforces. That’s why every semester that students get to participate in a Corporate Sponsorship project is a semester filled with opportunities for skills enhancement and career preparation. Past projects have included collaboration with major automotive manufacturing brands including Subaru, Volvo, Volkswagen, and Jaguar.

Designing for Real-World Scenarios with Partner Programs at Academy of Art University

Students become key contributors to real-world projects during these classes. During the course, they are tasked with collaborating on concepts, crafting presentations, and pitching ideas. The best ideas then move on to storyboarding, modeling, and joint work with the partner representatives to bring the ideas to fruition.

What further sets this program apart is that collaborative work is encouraged not only among School of Industrial Design students, but even those from other departments, such as School of Interior Architecture & Design, Advertising, and Fashion. Antonio Borja, director of the School of Industrial Design, said of the experience that “it is very close to the way you are going to be working with teams in the industry…It’s exciting for me because I’m educating the people who are designing the future. ”

Tangible Results and Robust Portfolios as Outcomes for Students

Each year, Academy of Art University partners with an industry leading brand to provide students with access to real-world situations that combine hard skills from coursework with soft skills that are essential to career success. Prospective students from any background or area of interest are encouraged to apply to Academy of Art University, which recognizes the talent and potential in every student. While a new entrant may start their journey with little to no portfolio work in their chosen field, they’ll have more than their share of stories, experiences, and project work to show for their time as they approach graduation.

As recently as October 2021, students completed a project with Volkswagen Group of America to design a long-distance travel vehicle of the future. More than just some far-out renderings, the work required consideration of how a target market would define mobility in the context of the new product and how to create a concept that would achieve both consumer and corporate goals. The final project encompassed everything from color and typography on the branding side to infrastructure and biophilic design considerations.

This latest experience is just one in a long history of Corporate Sponsored Projects made accessible by Academy of Art University for its students. In 2019, students had opportunities to work on projects with General Motors and Subaru. For the General Motors project, students gained rare access to industry professionals who are leading the way in vehicle innovation and design. The project itself, designing a GM car for 2025, encompassed more than just aesthetics. Students considered how to improve the overall experience of driving a car, from ergonomics to tech displays.

Other examples of prior collaborations include a 2017 project with Volvo Car Corporation to conceptualize a self-driving truck and a 2015 experience working with Jaguar on 2030 interior design concepts.

Going Beyond the Classroom with Career Preparation at Academy of Art University

With so much access to actual work scenarios, projects, and business settings, Academy of Art University students are groomed for the real world by learning in the real world. Industry partnerships provide unprecedented access for students to actual professional environments. This experience translates directly from coursework to corporate work. Employers can take notice, too, of the background and achievements these candidates are entering the workforce with.

Many students take advantage of the networking opportunities that come from working with global corporations as part of the partnerships. Alumni have gone on to take positions at Adidas, Samsung, Jaguar, General Motors, and NASA. These emerging professionals are poised to become the next generation of industrial designers and innovators to revolutionize the products we use every day.

Academy of Art University has a storied history of providing industry-based curriculum learning to artists, designers and creatives. Students can choose from more than 120 accredited degree options, all taught by instructors who are experienced professionals in a course of study. Academy coursework is a hands-on experience that combines a solid foundation of core skills with the freedom for students to express themselves creatively. To learn more the School of Architecture at Academy of Art University, visit https://www.academyart.edu/academics/architecture/.

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