DFA Virginia Tech is excited to wrap up our first year and prepare for wonderful opportunities to come. Some of this year’s highlights include working on four projects, holding a design thinking speaker series, hosting two design documentary sneak previews, and bringing Neighborland to Blacksburg (along with a few bake sales showcasing our culinary skills). In all these events, we have seen strong community and university support, and we are excited to announce a fantastic team taking over to guide DFA next year: Joe Bruzek – Sophomore Engineering; Kristina Danielyan – Junior Industrial Design; Ryan Myers- 3rd year Architecture; Michelle Pannone – 2nd year Architecture; Lars Rasmussen – Junior Engineering; and Julia Vasquez – 3rd year Architecture. We are also excited to announce architecture professor Chris Pritchett as a new faculty advisor.
Events Around Campus
Design Thinking Speaker Series: In the fall we had people from many different fields peak to our members about how they use design in their work. The speakers included Erin Putalik – Architecture; Larry Fenske – Industrial Design; Christian Matheis – Philosophy; and Thea Klein-Mayer – Environmental Science & DFA Fellow.
Documentary Sneak Previews: We had the opportunity to show the documentaries Extreme by Design and Designing and Thinking in the spring. Both documentaries are well worth viewing and a great way to get students from all over the university into one space. We also had a wonderful discussion with Extreme by Design director Ralph King who shared his passion for filmmaking and innovating.
Neighborland: In partnership with the Blacksburg Farmer’s Market and the Environmental Coalition, we held two Neighborland events for the town and the university. Neighborland lets community members voice their concerns and desires on a large sticker board. Response ranged from safer biking to a town Trader Joe’s.
Bake sales: Students love late night donuts and coffee.
Our Projects for the Year!
See[k] Blacksburg – Alternative transportation project:
See[k] is a continuation of our initial DFA project which is seeking to place informational signage around town telling people how long it takes to bike/walk to various landmarks. Working with the Town of Blacksburg, the team is hoping to place incorporate the signs into the town’s signage Master Plan and implement smart-phone content that will encourage people to stop using their cars to get around town.
Team Hunger – Community food access project (Fall 2012):
Working with Plenty!, a local food bank and community garden in the New River Valley, this team sought to increase healthy eating in the NRV. Floyd County is a local food desert and healthy choices are hard to come by. Even within the programs that do exist for the county, many people don’t know what to do with certain types of fresh produce. Team Hunger created season specific recipe cards that were sent out with the fresh produce that Plenty! delivered to its users to give them simple options for the food they received.
Team Refuse – Dining hall food waste project (Spring 2013):
Continuing on the food theme from Team Hunger, team Illiteracy worked with the Virginia Tech Dinning Services to aid students in properly recycling and composting their waste. Using a World War II propaganda style campaign to draw interest, the team created educational information about how to use the many different options for sustainable food use that the university offers but remain fairly unknown by much of the student body. The project included improved graphics and looked at where students get their information to try and find the best use of resources. The campaign has been incorporated into Dining Services’ future plans.
Team Literacy – Childhood literacy project:
Team literacy began the project researching the different forms of illiteracy in the NRV and how illiteracy is being addressed. Focusing on childhood illiteracy, the team worked with the YMCA’s afterschool tutoring program to develop a series of activities that encouraged the students to write about their own experiences and pair that writing with drawing and games. The team got to observe and participate in multiple mentoring sessions in the spring and enjoyed the user interaction with both the students and the mentors, and it was rewarding seeing the students ask to take the activities home to share and learn with their friends.
As DFA at Virginia Tech continues to grow, we look forward to bringing on more students with diverse skills and interests to continue the projects above and add new ones. We are also excited about the opportunities to increase communication across the university and with the town!