Designing to Make It at Vandy
David Rosen, President, O’More College of Design

There is cool, forward-thinking stuff happening at Vanderbilt. The newest initiative (that I know about) is maker space. What Vanderbilt proposes is an example of thinking outside the Ivy-covered box.

This new maker space, or spaces, became the subject of a full day workshop on December 11. The event proposed to examine the intersection of making and innovation and entrepreneurship. It did more than that. Topics ranged from what areas and technologies the spaces will include, how those spaces will intersect with Middle Tennessee, how they will change Vanderbilt, how they will be managed, and how success will be defined. To discuss these ideas, Vanderbilt drew together its faculty, staff and students; along with faculty and staff from Georgia Tech and Rice, both of which have wonderful maker spaces; local maker heroes like Ryan Schemmel from Fort Houston; many representatives from industry and state and local government; and the president of O’More College of Design.

Currently, Vanderbilt Engineering has a small general making space for its students called Design Studio and another specialized space for the Society of Automotive Engineers’ competition. It has a much larger space to support the research of faculty, staff and graduate students. The new spaces will provide much more room for students to experiment, learn and create.
For the Design, Build and Test (DEBUT) Maker Space, Vanderbilt will repurpose 4,000 square feet for dry making, add 3,000 square feet of wet space, and link it all with a new 10,000 square foot Innovation Center. Vanderbilt is also considering an off-campus facility for Nashville makers and Vanderbilt makers to meet up and mash up.
The Vandy folks know that making includes 3-D printing of anything from DNA to vehicles, so what the spaces should include in order to have greatest impact was a question that floated around all day. One suggested that you could experiment with 3-D printing a house (a technology that exists), but you would never be able to get your project out of the shop.

Rosen Speaking

I was on a panel at the very end of the workshop, which included Yiaway Yeh, former mayor of Palo Alto, head of Innovation for Nashville, and Google Fiber Expansion Lead; Reggie Mudd, Director of the state’s Business Development Division for the North Middle Tennessee; and Jen Cole, Executive Director of Nashville’s Arts Commission. We talked about the environment for action, actions underway and others we could take. I was asked to speak about the Industrial Design program, which is a perfect partner and complement to Vanderbilt’s Engineering program.

O’More was there because design is an important component of making. Design works by putting ideas into a material form, testing them and improving them. Design learning uses experience and is fundamental to O’More’s programs of fashion, interiors, and graphics. The spaces that Vanderbilt is creating, along with those that are starting to pop up around Nashville, are also central to new programs that O’More hopes to launch, especially Industrial Design. There was a lot of enthusiasm in the room for what O’More is doing and for the new program. Big things are happening at Vandy and in Nashville. O’More is proud to be part of them!

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