March 29, 2017

Indianapolis elementary students to experience industrial design

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Purdue University’s Department of Art and Design is partnering with one Indianapolis elementary school to help young students better understand design and art, and a recently announced grant will help extend the innovative concept to other schools across the state.

Associate professor Tong Jin Kim, in the Patti and Rusty Rueff School of Visual and Performing Arts, will host a daylong workshop featuring 3-D printing Tuesday (April 4) at Sunnyside Elementary School in Indianapolis’ Lawrence Township.

Industrial design is more than how an object appears but also how it works. Industrial design students have gone on to design furniture, water faucets, appliances, shoes and electronics. Purdue’s Industrial Design Department has received a grant from IN-MaC, Indiana’s Next Generation Manufacturing Competitiveness Center, to bring labs to other schools across Indiana.

Kim, who teaches industrial design, hopes to give school children insight into possible careers in design and art. He also wants to innovate the way children are taught to be more creative by using technology-based design tools.

“I want to teach kids design,” Kim said. “Kids don’t really get to learn about design until they enter a college; they don’t really get to see how this could be an occupation. Design is about making the technology accessible to consumers and finding new applications for technology, which opens doors for the students and also provides the ways we think differently.”

Kim and the industrial design program within the Rueff School of Visual and Performing Arts work with Ruckus Makerspace, a business incubator on Massachusetts Avenue in Indianapolis. Ruckus serves as a co-working space for designers and artists to access resources to design and prototype, while providing space to produce products. The startup features 30 residents or artists using technology to make useful objects like jewelry or candles. They built a design technology lab called Wonder Lab to make design and technology-based design tools more accessible for residents and community members.

“We have a lot of traditional art tools in our schools, but they don’t really have an opportunity and access to work with technology-based tools,” Kim said. “If students can learn how to build products with both of these tools they can be a lot more creative. The kids then don’t have to limit their creativity based on the tools we have.”

Kim will give up to 140 Sunnyside students a hands-on experience in 3-D printing to spur their career imagination.

“How do we find new applications for technology and commercialize it?” he asked. “We have to change the mindset at an early age – not only the kids but the teachers and the parents so all have a better idea what design is about. “Design leadership is about design thinking followed by action.”

He will offer an education session to the teachers and parents at the Wonder Lab in Ruckus to help innovate the way we teach the kids. The workshop is also being sponsored by Design Bank Indy, a group emphasizing entrepreneurship and design.

Learning to use art in different ways is also a classic liberal arts approach, Kim said. “For example, science fiction is more about story-telling of tomorrow’s world than it is about advances in technology. We need to design for human desires in the things we do, build the future based on our imaginations and not just for facts.”

The Patti and Rusty Rueff School of Visual and Performing Arts is part of the College of Liberal Arts.

The grant will allow Kim to build a small Wonder Lab at Sunnyside and up to 15 more this year around the state. “Bringing the design discipline together with manufacturing faculty from the College of Engineering and the Purdue Polytechnic Institute realizes a key element of the original IN-MaC proposal to the state of Indiana: creating interdisciplinary teams to address manufacturing challenges in a systematic, holistic manner,” said Ronald Steuterman, managing director for IN-MaC. 

Writer: Amy Patterson Neubert, 765-494-9723, 

Source: Tong Jin Kim, 765-496-6880, 

Note to Journalists: Kim will be working with the students and available for interviews from 9 a.m.-3 p.m., April 4, at Sunnyside Elementary, 6345 Sunnyside Rd., Indianapolis.

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