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“Breaking” minds open

May 28, 2014

Last week, a cohort of 17-24 year old non-traditional design students converged at Concordia University for Project Breaker Pitch Day. The group had spent the last two weeks focused on addressing the question: “What is the future of stuff?” The design challenge engaged manufacturing professionals, entrepreneurs, educators, designers and students. As a team, students researched local manufacturing issues, designed and tested the viability and social impact of business opportunities they identified.

As the young designers were gathering in Portland, they stopped by Context Partners’ Alberta Street office to learn about our Community Centered Design (CCD) process and see what goes on in our studio. Charlie Brown, our CEO, and I walked the group through a crash course in CCD 101. After a few hours of seriously thoughtful questions the session eventually led to at least one “aha” moment for a career decision. Thanks to the inquisitive minds of the participants, we had more than a few “ahas” of our own.

We felt inspired to host the breakers because industry immersion in the Community Centered Design field was not available when we were in college. The nonprofit Project Breaker was founded by TED Fellow and education innovator Juliette LaMontagne in part to get students engaged with design thinking and set up to succeed in new careers in the future. Project Breaker’s Portland-based “The Future of Stuff” Design Challenge was sponsored by PIE (Wieden+Kennedy’s startup lab) and Concordia University, in partnership with The Construct Foundation.

Hope these guys come back again soon! For more about the Project Breaker Portland sessions, check out Kirsten Golden’s post on PIE’s blog.

“Breaking” minds open

Wil Kristin

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