Hines Professors Receive VentureWell Grant for Sustainable Design
Course aims to equip students with system-level exploration and entrepreneurship
by Symone Daniels • November 2, 2022
Venture Well recently announced University of Houston Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture and Design assistant professor for UX/UI advanced design technology Min Kang and associate professor and co-director of Industrial Design Jeff Feng as recipients of the VentureWell Course and Program grant, part of the spring 2022 sustainable design grant cycle. Their proposal, Design for Sustainable Consumption in People's Daily Living: Exploration and Entrepreneurship, was awarded $26,500.
The proposal allows students to investigate critical unsustainable consumption issues in waste-producing industries and provides students with system-level sustainable design knowledge. Students have the opportunity to introduce solutions and inventions promoting zero-waste products and services with advanced technology.
Left to right: Jeff Feng and Min Kang
"The impact of natural resource scarcity on industries and human living has intensified in recent years across the globe," shared Feng. "Sustainability has become a major criterion in most, if not all, designs we do. In response to the strong demand for sustainable design in our society, as a long-term plan, we decided to develop a curriculum in Design for Sustainability to provide systematic design education and training to our students."
The curriculum focuses on cultivating students' minds of care and responsibility for natural resources, and better equips them with systematic thinking and methodologies to address the intertwined, complex unsustainable issues.
Designed to implement learning material focused on unstainable consumption in people's daily lives, the course explores design solutions with viable business opportunities. It encourages students to experiment with a systemic process leading to participants in the university's entrepreneur ecosystem. It also provides students with a system design education and a new UX design minor.
"The impact of natural resource scarcity on industries and human living has intensified in recent years across the globe," shared Feng. "Sustainability has become a major criterion in most, if not all, designs we do."
"We are building this course for students to study system-level solution design that can create sustainable problem-solving systems," said Kang.
Design for Sustainable Consumption in People's Daily Living: Exploration and Entrepreneurship targets upper-level undergraduate students in the industrial design program and the C.T. Bauer College of Business entrepreneurship class. The collaboration inspires and fosters students' creativity and entrepreneurship in sustainable design exploration and experimentation.
"Most of today's problems came from yesterday's solutions. The impactful 'sustainable design' comes from discovering and solving the problems within the context of the systems, not merely applying green materials to the products," said Kang. "We are building this course for students to study system-level solution design that can create sustainable problem-solving systems."
The course will officially begin in fall 2023 after the pilot class occurs earlier in the year. Consisting of ten to sixteen students forming three to five teams, students will learn sustainable design concepts and tools to map and measure sustainability through a series of lectures, workshops, and laboratory activities. The teams with the most state-of-the-art ideas will benefit from mentorship to form startups and participate in the entrepreneurship program.
Kang and Feng hope to forge a long-term innovation & entrepreneurship lab course focusing on sustainable design and entrepreneurship as part of the core topics.
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