Auburn University’s Futures Studio offers industrial design students an impactful real-world experience


AUBURN, Ala., November 21, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — About 220 miles south of the “prettiest village on the plains,” a group of talented and dedicated Auburn University students work hard to expand the reach of their university while gaining valuable experience that will propel them in their careers after graduation.

Auburn University students like Natalie Rathkopf and Andrew Helmly, seated, enjoy a unique experience at the Futures Studio at the College of Architecture, Design and Construction in Mobile, Alabama, working side-by-side with instructors like Randy Bartlett, at left, and Zack Kohrman, on various projects for several different clients.

Mobile, Alabama studio of the future– a satellite facility where industrial design students can learn the skills they will use as professionals – is a special place where experiential learning is at its zenith and Auburn Tigers combine creativity, classroom learning and artistic instincts to solve real world problems. Whether it’s designing a better product, helping to streamline an operation, providing businesses with additional resources, or developing innovative new ways to get things done, Auburn Futures Studio students are at the forefront of college satellite learning.

With clients and partners such as the Alabama Contemporary Art Center, the City of MobileRogers & Willard Inc. and the Auburn University Shellfish Lab, Futures Studio students work hand in hand with partners to collaborate on projects of all kinds.

“It’s an honor to be a part of it, because we get to participate with real people and help local businesses in the area,” said Luke Dixon, junior in industrial design. “I feel like I’m doing work that’s going to be used and enjoyed by people who are just as excited as we are about what we do. This real experience of understanding the client, rather than your teachers, and the material is just a step beyond what most programs should and could be.”

A program of the School of Industrial and Graphic Design in Auburn College of Architecture, Design and Construction, Futures Studio operates under the vision of the “Study Beyond” mantra. Students alternate time between Auburn campuses and Mobilework and live together Mobile for weeks during the semester.

The Education and Outreach Program is open to third-year undergraduate students, as well as graduate students, and provides a professional work environment and the opportunity to work with companies to complete a variety of projects and of tasks.

“We have a really close relationship with our customers and we’re gaining a lot more real-world experience,” said Annie Bach, a junior industrial design major. “I think the way our projects are structured is really less of an assignment and more of a project for our clients, which is what we’ll be doing in real life. We’re not just trying to do the work to get a good grade, we’re let’s try to make it really good because it’s going to be something real.”

Over the past few years, Futures Studio students have helped complete projects for clients like the City of Mobile and Carnival Cruise Line, as well as companies located in birmingham and as long as Mississippi and Pensacola, Florida.

Variety is a central theme in the studio’s range of projects, with students working on everything from diaper bags, waste disposal devices and deer feeders to commercial signage, a steel natural gas fireplace made and Mardi Gras fleet.

Student work is focused on improving and streamlining product design to increase efficiency and maximize quality. The studio space includes a breakout room and workshop on the top floor of the former Mobile Press-Register building, providing students with a unique and creative atmosphere in which to work.

“Futures Studio provides a study abroad experience without having to travel overseas,” said Zack Kohrman, lecturer in industrial design and director of the Futures Studio site. “Instead of being a teacher-student situation, it’s more of a project manager-project teammates, and it’s a very different dynamic because we approach relevant projects in such a way that we deliver new results and give an experience you can’t get out of the traditional classroom.Communication, ideation, making – it’s all covered and it’s all in the wallet.

The studio offers students a non-traditional setup different from the traditional classroom setting, one they will experience first-hand in the workplace after graduation.

“It’s an adventure,” said Randy Bartlet, Founding Director of Futures Studio and Emeritus CADC Professor. “Study Beyond is an opportunity to get off campus, and it’s really about students. When our students graduate, they don’t just have a degree, they have the kind of experience and portfolio they need. will need to succeed in their careers.”

Auburn University is a nationally ranked land-grant institution recognized for its commitment to world-class scholarship, interdisciplinary research with an elite Carnegie R1 classification, life-changing outreach with the Commitment designation Carnegie Community and an unparalleled undergraduate teaching experience. Auburn is home to more than 30,000 students, and its faculty and research partners collaborate to develop and deliver meaningful advances in scholarship, science, and technology that meet pressing regional, national, and global needs. Auburn commitment to active student engagement, career success, and public/private partnership drives a growing reputation for outreach and outreach that has broad economic, health, and societal impact.

(PRNewsfoto/Auburn University)

(PRNewsfoto/Auburn University)



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