Time passed quickly as CTA team-members facilitated an interactive workshop on the “Design Profession of the Future.” The topic was intentionally wide and malleable, much like the future of design promises to be. The team opted to use an un-conference format–one in which the floor is opened to the attendees to determine the course of the discussion in order to curate a highly interactive discussion with lots of engagement from the students. After briefly touching on a range of topics related to the future of the profession, we asked the attendees to write down topics and questions they would like to hear more about. The student proposals ranged from matters of natural disasters to maker-technology to sustainability. Then, with a show of hands from the students, discussion topics were narrowed down to the two they were most interested in: career paths and technology.
Our team was inspired by the students and enjoyed spending the next 90 minutes fielding questions and facilitating a robust dialogue in two smaller groups. The discussion on technology in design was moderated by CTA architect Blair Onyekanne as well as Daniel Verdin, owner of Rise Building Company. Onyekanne’s and Verdin’s insights and experience with maker-technology were invaluable and enlightening. Verdin’s design-process showed the students how utilizing technology can push design further than expected. While the students did raise concerns about knowing the latest technology to begin their career, the discussion held steady around the inspiration technology has been in their lives. From creating video game worlds to enhancing hand-rendered perspectives, the students’ passion to wield technology for design was evident.
On the other side of the room, James Foster, AIA, and Joshua McCalip, PE, hosted the career-path conversation. The discussion focused mainly on individualization and leadership. While these are not necessarily new ideas when it comes to careers and professions, their application to the future of the design profession was poignant. As the conversation turned to diversity and equity in the workplace, the students’ curiosity spilled over. They later took the chance to ask Onyekanne about her experience as a woman in the professional world and ask specific advice for navigating potentially uncomfortable situations. The conversation was great proof of the emerging generation’s engagement in their collective future.