SCAD: Designing the future for students from India
- Savannah College of Art and Design is a private, non-profit, accredited university founded in 1978. It offers more than 100 academic degree programs across its locations in Atlanta and Savannah, Georgia, U.S.A; Lacoste, France; and online via SCADnow.
Students interested in pursuing creative careers may be surprised by the options offered by SCAD. The college enrols approximately 15,000 undergraduate and graduate students from more than 100 countries. As students from India prepare for careers that require embracing diverse cultural, economic and social structures, SCAD has become an increasingly appealing destination. For Winter 2022, SCAD has over 400 registered students from India. Over a five-year period, from Fall 2016 to Fall 2021, total enrolment of students from India increased 38%. (Undergraduate enrolment of students from India increased 30%, while graduate enrolment of students from India increased 45% over that same period.)
The innovative SCAD curriculum engages professional-level technology and advanced learning resources. The university affords students opportunities for internships, professional certifications and real-world assignments with corporate partners through SCADpro, the university’s renowned research lab and prototype generator.
Among its programs of study, SCAD offers undergraduate and graduate-level degree programs in advertising, illustration, film and television, immersive reality, performing arts, interactive design and game development, and design for sustainability. One area of significant growth is the SCAD School of Design, which includes degree programs in industrial design, user experience (UX) design, service design and design management.
Tom Hardy, Design management professor, SCAD
Design management professor Tom Hardy exemplifies the caliber of exemplary SCAD faculty. Before coming to SCAD in 2011, Hardy spent 22 years at IBM as an award-winning industrial designer, design manager and Corporate IBM Design Program Director.
“SCAD faculty are a combination of career academics mixed with industry professionals who have international experience across multiple major organisations,” Hardy says. “Our chair of design management, John Denham, worked at Procter & Gamble and Conagra Brands. Professor Christine Fish designed for Fossil Watches and lived in Berlin. Industrial design professor Hari Nair worked with Whirlpool Corporation for over ten years, including as VP Whirlpool India and Director, Global Consumer Design Asia. SCAD faculty are sensitive to the international student experience and cultivate an international mindset in the classroom.”
In 2020, the prestigious Red Dot Design Rankings placed SCAD as the No. 1 University in the U.S. for the fourth consecutive year. Essential career preparation has resulted in a superior alumni employment rate. In a recent study, 99% of SCAD graduates were employed, pursuing further education, or both within 10 months of graduation. SCAD provides students and alumni with ongoing career support through personal coaching, alumni programs, the SCADamp professional presentation studio and more.
Hardy further states, “Our students have a tremendous track record of getting great jobs with top drawer companies. The big design management consultancies, like McKinsey, Bain, and Ernst & Young, all understand that thinking like a designer to solve problems adds value to their business strategy. Companies such as IBM and Google employ our students upon graduation in the UX field, in research and strategy. We have a significant group of SCAD alumni working across key brands. Some of them come back to SCAD as design alumni mentors.”
Akshay Manjunath from Bangalore is a SCAD alum and alumni mentor. Akshay earned his bachelor’s degree from Sri Venkateswara College in 2014, and decided to study internationally to create his ideal future. He arrived at SCAD Savannah in 2017 to work towards his master’s degree in industrial engineering. He soon saw the power of the SCAD design management program — and decided to earn both master’s degrees simultaneously.
Akshay Manjunath says, “I saw the potential in design management to develop strategies in problem-solving. In simple terms, design management is the management of the design process through well-informed decisions that define the direction of the outcome. SCAD’s emphasis on collaboration means that as a design management student, I worked with textile designers, themed entertainment designers, actors, UX designers, and animators all together on a single project. To reflect on my projects at SCAD says a lot about the work I do professionally today.” At SCAD, Akshay worked on a SCADpro project conducting research and providing design recommendations for the design of a low-cost modular firepit for Walmart. In 2019, he completed his industrial design M.A. and his Design Management M.A. degrees simultaneously. After working for Ford Credit, Akshay now works as Design Researcher for Walmart, helping create a better work experience for the global giant’s 2.3 million employees.
Akshay says, “For students from India who are considering SCAD, I would say whether you are new to design or an experienced designer, if you get an opportunity to attend SCAD, go for it. When you put in the effort, there is every opportunity to shine. SCAD offers all the resources you need. Even after graduation when you enter the job market, SCAD offers essential assistance and support. SCAD is more like a family — always there to help.”
Professional service designer Shreya Dhawan earned her bachelor’s degree in industrial design at Symbiosis Institute of Design in Pune, before coming to SCAD Savannah in 2015 to earn her M.F.A. in service design, with a thesis focussed on “curating organisational culture change in service-transformed organizations.” She now works as a service designer in Atlanta, Georgia, at Harmonic Design Inc. where she created the company’s internship program and has been managing the same with upwards of 100 applicants this year.
“At SCAD I was able to really learn the challenges clients face, and how to deliver the solutions they’re looking for,” Shreya says. At SCAD, Shreya worked on SCADpro projects for Philips Healthcare and Delta Airlines. “Those were valuable experiences for me, where I acquired skills that I have been able to translate from the academic environment to the real world.”
“One thing about my service design degree from SCAD is that I see how I can apply it to mapping my life. If there’s an outcome that I’m trying to achieve a number of years down the line, I can work backwards from there and design it for myself.”
For Shreya, Akshay and an increasing number of students from India, designing successful lives means attending SCAD.
To learn more about the related course, sign-up for SCAD upcoming webinar “An Inside Look at SCAD’s School of Design” on Thursday, January 13, 2022, 6:30 p.m. onwards.