Vandy DFA DesignGreetings Everyone!!

DFA Vanderbilt is excited to provide updates on our development, projects, event highlights, and accomplishments of a highly successful inaugural year!  What began last year as a few students passionate about bringing design to a campus without a traditional design school has developed into a core studio of 20 undergraduate and graduate students and a ‘skills team’ of many other students from across Vanderbilt.  Moreover, faculty mentors from across the University including from Vanderbilt’s schools of engineering, education, business and medicine have demonstrated strong support for our passion and vision while our studio projects have allowed us to meet, connect and work with multiple community partners.

Our new studio leaders for next year are Matt Cooley, Kara Sherrer, Eunice Jun, Gerti Bernstein, Lucy Rahner, Nathan Chan, Clare Healy and Harvey Burrell.  Additionally, we are excited that leaders emeritus Ben Shapiro, Guy Kopsombut, Allyson Patterson, Haley Nesmith and Taylor Dickinson will continue to provide additional support on campus and in the Nashville community.

Vandy DFA Team

2012-2013 Event Highlights

  • DFA Vandy hosts SparkTruck
  • DFA Vandy participates in Nashville’s Parking Day
  • DFA pre-screens the film Extreme by Design
  • DFA Sustainability Team winner of Vanderbilt Green Fund, $15,000
  • DFA Vandy hosts Vanderbilt Innovation Center Design Workshop
  • DFA Vandy participates in Nashville’s Creator Workday
  • Future DFA leader Kara Sherrer featured in USA Today College
  • DFA leader Ben Shapiro presents at TEDx Furman on behalf of DFA
  • DFA Vandy featured in an international partnership with the University of Melbourne (Australia) on the Design of Learning Spaces.
  • DFA students help with DFA faculty advisor David Owen’s Massive Online Course (MOOC), Leading Strategic Innovation in Organizations.
  • DFA creates first 3D banner for the Vanderbilt Homecoming Banner Competition

 Vandy SparkTruck

2012-2013 Project List 

Sustainability on Campus (Continuing next year)

Members: Taylor Dickinson, Matt Cooley, Drew Martin, Julie Schnur, Nathan Chan

The Sustainability team observed numerous students and activities to identify an array of ‘problem areas’ pertaining to energy usage, recycling and overall sustainability on campus.  They were awarded $15,000 from the Vanderbilt Green Fund to implement some of their strategies next year at Vanderbilt.

Access to Instruments (Continuing next year)

Members: Ben Shapiro, Drew Martin, Matt Cooley, Lucy Rahner, Julie Schnur, Syndey Waitz-Kudla

Through multiple interviews, personal experiences, and user observation, the Access to Instruments team realized that despite Nashville’s tremendous music community and efforts to promote music in schools, many students do not have access to instruments and opportunities to practice and improve their skills. The team is currently working on a number of guitar prototypes to provide students with a portable and engaging way to practice music on the move, at home, or on school buses. The team is attempting to connect their design prototypes with learning theory and is partnering with Vanderbilt’s Peabody School of Education to develop novel ways to approach guitar and music learning.

Classroom Experience Team (Continuing next year)

Members: Allyson Patterson, Gerti Bernstein, Eunice Jun, Ruoquin Wang, Hui Liu, Wenjing Luo, Belinda Chen, Patricia Twilley

The Classroom Experience team focused on the physical learning environments of college students. They surveyed and observed many Vanderbilt students from all disciplines to analyze and prototype new ideas for physical classroom environments.

International Student Transition to Campus

Members: Xiao Wang, Joy Cheng, Hui Liu, Suzy Wang

This team, comprised of many international students, focused on international students’ transition to U.S. college campuses.  They identified that ordering food was an extremely difficult process for many international students entering college campuses and reimagined support systems to help these students better understand the process of ordering and buying food in the U.S.

Arts Education (Continuing next year)

Members: Guy Kopsombut, Kara Sherrer, Dana Zemel, Justine Ker

This team is exploring improved professional development programs for students interested in creative careers. Two arts education teams will continue work on connecting the strong Nashville arts community with arts education on the Vanderbilt campus.


Members: Haley Nesmith, Ashley Kimery, Eliz Ayaydin

The DFA Recycling team designed a new recycling container for Vanderbily residence halls to increase students’ recycling rates. Currently, they are working to secure funding to build and implement their designs on campus.

Vandy DFA Workshop 2

2012-2013 Key DFA Supporting Faculty

  • Professor David Owens
    • DFA Faculty Advisor, Professor for the Practice of Management and Innovation, Faculty Director, VU Accelerator-Summer Business Institute
  • Professor Doug Fisher
    • Associate Professor of Computer Science, and Associate Professor of Computer Engineering, Electrical Engineering & Computer Science
  • Professor Rogers Hall
    • Professor and Chair, Dept. of Teaching & Learning 
  • Pratim Sengupta
    • Assistant Professor, Dept. of Teaching & Learning, Director – Mind, Media & Matter Lab 
  • Karen Weikert
    • User Experience and Information Architect Strategist and Educator 
  • Elizabeth Lingo
    • Director, Creative Campus Initiative and the Curb Programs in Creative Enterprise and Public Leadership 
  • Andrea Jacobs
    • Oasis Center

Vandy DFA Workshop

More to come as we wrap up our year and prepare for what looks to be a fantastic year for DFA and DFA Vanderbilt in 2013-2014!

All the best,

DFA Vandy