Innovation, creativity cultivated by Design for America

Anna Giubileo, Staff Reporter

Case Western Reserve University offers an environment where students from a variety of backgrounds can become involved in creating and designing innovative projects. One organization which offers just that is CWRU’s chapter of Design For America.

The group works to solve issues and work for social change through various projects. In the past Design for America has worked with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to help make cars more accessible for people with disabilities and with various Cleveland businesses to help streamline their day-to-day business.

The group consists of students from a broad spectrum of majors from both CWRU and Cleveland Institute of Art.

Jasmine Lee, fourth-year student and current president, explained what she loves about the intermingling of the two schools. “We all have our own areas of strength. For example, engineers have the background to make the designs work, but art students are able to work on the project’s aesthetic presentation, and psychology students can make sure it connects on a personal basis to the people we’re trying to help,” she said. “It’s all about interdisciplinary design.”

This year, Design For America is focusing on partnering with several on-campus groups to improve campus life. The task force working with Kelvin Smith Library (KSL) is increasing awareness about the resources available, in an effort to get even more students to use KSL and its resources.

The sub-committee working with the Center for Post-Graduate Planning and Experiential Education and Counseling Services is creating posters to be hung up around residential halls and classrooms, informing the student body about the services they offer.

“We want to help make the student body’s experience on campus as good as possible, through designing posters and other methods of getting the word out about these the programs,” said Lee.

Outside of campus, Design for America is currently partnering with Rust Belt Riders in an effort to promote composting habits in Cleveland neighborhoods. Students in this sub-committee are creating a compost bin that will allow for a clean, easy to use compost experience that minimizes odor and mess.

“Our group is about championing the fact that students are designing in their free time,” explained Lee. One way the groups highlights this is by hosting the Design Showcase. This year’s event will occur on Dec. 7 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on the second floor of the Larry Sears and Sally Zlotnick Sears think[box].

It is an opportunity for students—those in Design for America as well as freelance innovators—to show off to the community their start-ups, team projects and creative endeavors.

“No matter where you are from or what year you are, you can make social impact outside of the classroom,” said Lee. Design for America creates an outlet for students who want to make a social impact.