Monday, December 27, 2010

SCAD and Kids II® Partner to Create Innovative Design Solutions and Unique Learning Opportunities for Students

/PRNewswire/ -- Savannah College of Art and Design, the most comprehensive art and design university in the world, and Kids II, one of the world's fastest-growing baby product companies with headquarters in Atlanta, Ga., and offices on five continents, have formed a mutually beneficial partnership that provides fresh new product ideas for Kids II while giving SCAD students real-world, hands-on corporate design experience, better preparing them for post-college career opportunities.

"SCAD's mission is to prepare talented students for professional careers, and providing collaborative learning experiences with companies, nonprofits and other organizations is one of the best ways that students gain the necessary skills to make them valuable contributors from day one with employers," explained SCAD Professor Jesus Rojas, a team leader behind the SCAD and Kids II partnership.

This year, nearly 20 SCAD students -- all industrial design majors -- spent six months under the direction of Rojas and Kids II Vice President of Product Development Steve Burns developing toy and gear concepts for the company. Design criteria stated that the designs must be simple and intuitive, easy to use, have flexible use, promote infant development, reflect the essence of the existing Bright Starts™ brand, and meet global safety standards.

Students conducted market research, created more than 200 initial design concepts, and honed their ideas through collaborative meetings with Kids II's senior design team. Kids II ultimately selected two final design concepts, which the company is considering for further development and which could ultimately appear on store shelves in more than 65 countries.

"We've found that the SCAD student's thinking is bold and innovative," said Burns. "The concepts they delivered this year demonstrate a strong understanding of the market and how to advance Kids II's position as a leading provider of smart, high-quality infant products. SCAD graduates are definitely among the most inventive designers we've encountered -- which explains why we've consistently hired interns from the university for the past five years and more than half of our product designers are SCAD graduates."

Recognizing that design and education today are truly global, the partners decided to expand their relationship by providing the top 12 student designers with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: travel to Hong Kong to present their portfolios and design concepts to Kids II's Asian design team, including the Kika Design Studio. While in Hong Kong, the students also met with other leading design companies such as VTech, Rubbermaid, TTI and Philips, among others. Students networked, met international design teams, shared creative concepts through portfolio presentations, toured manufacturing facilities on Mainland China, and investigated job and internship opportunities on a truly international scale.

This unique learning opportunity helps explain why, over the past four years, an average of 8 out of 10 new SCAD alumni who responded to a survey were employed in their field or enrolled in graduate school within six months of graduation.

Jean Kee, a SCAD Bachelor of Fine Arts student from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, who participated in the collaborative learning partnership with Kids II, so impressed the company's design team with her concepts and professional demeanor that she barely had time to unpack from her trip to Hong Kong before she reported to the company's Atlanta office for the first day of her new internship.

"SCAD has helped me make my professional dreams a reality, and I'm truly grateful to both the university and Kids II for this amazing opportunity," said Kee. "From undertaking the Kids II sponsored project, to being able to go to Hong Kong, to being rewarded with an internship as well as the opportunity to have my design concept prototyped, I can proudly say that the experience as a whole has not only made me a more well-rounded designer, but also a stronger, more mature and much more knowledgeable individual."

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