Working at the Center for Sustainable Design Studies in conjunction with my Industrial Design studies has been a fruitful experience. Skills such as project management, analytical research, presentation and intercommunicative skills, and professionalism will follow me throughout my career.
As a self-motivated individual, CSDS has given me a platform to make personal changes and hopefully set an example for positive future values across design communities. The knowledge I’ve derived from sustainable materials research has been highly beneficial to my design approach. That knowledge paired with the opportunity to collaborate and exchange ideas with other students and faculty from a variety of different backgrounds has opened me to a type of discussion conducive to better design and high levels of innovation.
I hope to continue with a level of proficiency and a sense of entrepreneurship well into my career. I believe the basis of any good creation lies somewhere between inspiration and research. I’m interested in designing beautiful forms and experiences that acknowledge their effect on the environment.
I’m an Undergraduate Industrial Design student, and my experience interning with CSDS has been an amazing supplement to my design education. As product designers, we develop our skills in consumer research, conceptualization, and design development. However, as students, sometimes we forget that a very key part in actualizing a concept is developing an understanding and knowledge about the materials we intend to use in our final designs. Working within CSDS I have had the fortune of being exposed to an inspiring educational experience about the impacts of materials and their production methods.
The concepts I have learned here about the dimensions of a “sustainable” product, research techniques, and techniques for research communication have become skills that have helped me add a level of depth and consideration to my own projects.
The knowledge and skill set that I’ve acquired here are attributes that can grow organically with me as time, trends, and my design philosophies fluctuate. I look forward to applying these skills in my future professional design career.
Working at CSDS was an immensely valuable experience and provided many opportunities for professional development. I would highly recommend this opportunity to creative, hard-working individuals who are interested in having exposure to real-world applications of environmental sustainability.
CSDS instilled project management skills that assist me today in overseeing successful program implementation and grant management. Additionally, I was able to enhance overall presentation skills, both within a technical and design aspect along with interpersonal communication. While working at CSDS, I enjoyed working on research projects; working with interdisciplinary teams towards a common goal, and the ability to learn new technical skills, including Adobe InDesign and Quantas for life cycle analysis of products. Additionally, working within the materials library afforded me the opportunity to develop an in depth knowledge of best practices in the construction and design world.
I am now the Green Program Coordinator of The Fortune Society where I create curriculum and oversee programmatic goals of workforce training programs for environmental remediation, green construction, and sustainable building operation and maintenance; monitor and implement organization’s overall sustainability initiatives within our Long Island City community and our West Harlem supportive housing facility.
Life cycle comes up in policy, especially in discussions about climate response and constrains of limited resources. The public health sector came up with something similar, called the ‘life course model’, which looks at human’s health trajectories as a cumulative process (similar to how a product’s environmental impact is cumulative in life cycle), and uses physical, social and biological factors to explain health outcomes. I’ve also come to realize that design and policy are parallel disciplines, because both address a human need or an issue at the fundamental level. This is something I think about all the time, partially because I’m always questioned on my transition from design to policy. I think CSDS was the catalyst for that transition, and the middle step from design to policy. I’m grateful for that, because I love what I do now.
After undergrad, I decided to continue on the path of ‘sustainability’ and pursued a Master’s in Urban Policy. I now specialize in climate change response in global cities, and until I get a full-time job doing international climate work, I’m an independent consultant. Right now, I’m working with a community development corporation on a public health grant that focuses on combating epidemic of chronic illness and obesity in low-income communities of Brooklyn.
I loved the people I worked with, and I enjoyed working on research and projects with these people while learning about new materials and methods. It helped a lot – when I’m asked to choose materials to create the items I am designing, not only do I have knowledge of how these materials are made and work, but I can offer sustainable alternatives when possible to do some small part in the larger picture of sustainable design. I loved working at CSDS, and I thought the experience was very invaluable! I only wish there was more I could do as a professional looking to extend sustainable design knowledge into my current employment.
Currently I work at RPG, Royal Promotion Group (rpg57.com). It’s a design and production firm specializing in retail displays for the cosmetics, skincare, and fashion industries.