Seidenberg represents at CERN Design Factory

In the STEM world, there are few places that will make people gasp with awe. CERN is one of them, and during one special week in December, several Seidenberg staff and faculty were there.

CERN is one of the world’s largest and most respected centers for scientific research. It’s also home to a Design Factory, which this year was the host of International Design Factory Week, an annual meeting of Design Factories around the globe to collaborate, bond, and have a good time with other members of the network.

Why were we there?

Pace University recently opened our very own entrant into the Design Factory Global Network (DGFN) – the NYC Design Factory. The purpose of these factories is to build a space within a community where members can research, collaborate, give and get feedback, and ultimately develop excellent ideas and products that solve problems. They do so using a methodology called Design Thinking, a non-traditional way of working that we hope to bring into the mainstream through NYC Design Factory and across the greater Seidenberg and Pace community.

But back to CERN. Delegates from Seidenberg included Dean Jonathan Hill, Professor Stacey Sarris, and Program Manager Olga Bogomolova. They flew out to Geneva, Switzerland, over the weekend preceding the Dec 12th kickoff.

Checking out CERN

So what did our envoys think? “CERN was the perfect backdrop for a collaborative Design Factory global event given that CERN is proof that anything is possible and that’s what Design Factory is about!” said Professor Stacey Sarris.

“CERN is this amazing, dynamic place with thousands of scientists – most of them physicists with some computer scientists sprinkled in – who are working on some of the largest physics problems in the world today. You can’t not be inspired spending a day there among the world’s top science minds,” Dean Jonathan Hill said.

Minds blown at the LHC and birthplace of the internet

Do you want to collaborate?

45 people from 15 countries attended the event. Olga explained the benefits of having an annual get together. “We all have strengths and areas of focus, so when we get together we can exchange ideas and best practices and brainstorm ways of working together. Because we are so different, we can leverage our differences to create a wholesome experience for our students.

There are 16 universities or institutions around the world that think similarly and practice design thinking, project based learning; we have a similar way of thinking and doing things. By getting to know each other, you learn that if you want to work with an institution in Australia, Korea, China, Columbia, and so on, I can just send someone from that country’s design factory a message and say ‘I have an idea, do you want to collaborate?’

Just knowing that even if you don’t know someone in the country there is an institution of people that think the same way as you… it breaks down barriers. The week is great because we get to meet each other as human beings, which helps us work together.”

Top secret

International Design Factory Week has several goals. The first one is to meet and get to know one another. People were spending 10-16 hours per day with each other, so that wasn’t difficult! The second goal was to come up with a project for everybody to work on together. “There’s so many of us, covering the whole world and different timezones. Coming up with a project to leverage the whole network sounds difficult, but we did it,” said Olga. “It’s top secret.”

Top secret? Yeah, right – we found your Mannequin Challenge video, DFGN! We know what you really got up to! Just kidding – but watch their amazing video below!

NYC Design Factory opens at Pace University

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It’s finally here! The NYC Design Factory is the twelfth in the ever-growing network of Design Factories around the globe. On Friday, September 30, 2016, we launched our brand new factory with a huge number of guests who came to celebrate with us.

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Pace Provost Uday Sukhatme attended the Design Factory launch

Among those in attendance were Pace University Provost, Dr. Uday Sukhatme, Assemblywoman Deborah Glick, and very special guest Kalevi “Eetu” Ekman, the founder of the first Design Factory at Aalto University in Finland.

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Dean Jonathan Hill gave his welcome remarks at the start of the event

Despite the event’s 8am kickoff, we had an amazing turnout. After spending some time enjoying breakfast pastries and getting to know one another, the program started with introductory remarks from Seidenberg School Dean, Dr. Jonathan Hill.

“I did not know it was possible to empower students like this,” Dr. Hill commented while describing his passion for Design Factory.

Dr. Hill then introduced Provost Sukhatme, who said a few words of congratulations. “I think this is the beginning of good things to come,” said Provost Sukhatme. “Pace students have innovation in their interdisciplinary work. The Design Factory concept falls right into the Pace Path.”

Olga Bogomolova and Eetu Ekman
Program Manager and “Fixer” Olga Bogomolova with Design Factory creator Eetu Ekman

Design Factory creator Eetu Ekman then took the stage and gave a keynote on the incredible ideas behind Design Factory and some of the amazing results that this unique way of product development has yielded. He welcomed the NYC Design Factory to the Design Factory Global Network family.

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Assemblywoman Deborah Glick and Vanessa Herman from Pace Government Relations

Dean Hill then welcomed Assemblywoman Deborah Glick, who acknowledged that “Pace is a great university in the heart of a world class city. [Design Factory] is bringing people together from across the globe. It is changing the way people conceptualize designing products.”

The final big welcome was given by our good friend Viltsu Lyytikäinen from Aalto, and then it was party time! In true Design Factory fashion, the ribbon-cutting was done not with a ribbon nor a pair of scissors, but with a teamwork challenge that pit our guests against one another! Teams were challenged to fill large empty beanbag sacks (stitched together by our amazing student graphic artist Belle Krupcheck) with thousands of tiny ‘beans’ in order to create fully functional
beanbag chairs. Provost Sukhatme got in on the action, as did Dean Hill, Eetu Ekman, and Assemblywoman Glick. It was a great introduction how Design Factory eschews the norm mere moments after the launch.

Jonathan Hill and Stacey Sarris
Dean Jonathan Hill and UX expert Stacey Sarris celebrate the launch

Guests were then welcome to celebrate with party poppers and small glasses of a pink sparkling substance. Some made the most of the beanbag filling that had managed to get absolutely everywhere during the challenge and made for a snowy scene.

Following the launch was a two hour workshop called Identifying the Next Big Thing.

Design Factory workshop Identifying the Next Big Thing
Design Factory workshop Identifying the Next Big Thing

The workshop aimed to teach participants different methods of identifying opportunities. They can be opportunities for new R&D (research and development) projects, new research, theses, personal projects and much more. Participants learned new brainstorming methods, how to identify opportunities for projects, how to improve their communication skills, how to improve working under a time constraint, and – of course – they got to collaborate with our awesome Finnish guests from Aalto Design Factory!

Participants were divided into teams and had to quickly come up with a new product idea using the Design Thinking method. After the workshop, each team had to do a 30 second pitch (some of which was broadcast over Facebook live!)

Provost Sukhatme
NYC Design Factory: Provost approved

As always, plenty of pizza arrived in time for lunch and helped finish off a fantastic start to one of our biggest and best projects: New York Design Factory.

Thank you to all who came to the Seidenberg School here at Pace University today. We especially want to thank our partners in the Design Factory Global Network who helped us get to where we are today, as well as members of the Pace community and beyond who provided unending support.

A special thanks to our special guests who video linked in all the way from Aalto Design Factory in Finland – it was great having you here!

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Our Finnish friends joined via video from Aalto Design Factory in Finland

Among other Design Factory Global Network guests were faculty and students from Nexus Design Factory, Philadelphia University, and our dear friends from Porto Design Factory, Porto Polytechnic Institute, Rector Rosario Gambôa and fire starter Rui Coutinho. We were so touched that so many of you traveled around the world to celebrate with us in person.

We hope you found the day enlightening and enjoyable, and we can’t wait to see you all again at the NYC Design Factory!