Thank you to WHSAD Junior Bryant Perez for this article, his first contribution to the WHSAD student reporting team. We look forward to future stories from Bryant.
SVA (School of Visual Arts) x AREAWARE x WHSAD Entrepreneurial Product Lab!, or “Incubator” for short, is a program that is new to WHSAD this year. The goal is to help juniors develop skills in designing, marketing, branding and much more. Incubator consists of instructors coming to the school once a week in order to guide the students to sketch and develop a product of their own making.
D’andra Gordon, one of the students currently participating in Incubator, described the first day of Incubator: “In our first meeting, we created a thumbnail of our own design and then we had to cut it in order to create a puzzle”
The students had to create a design in a thumbnail which had to be turned into a puzzle of a certain theme, which Aedan Schoen Thomas, another student who’s participating in Incubator, said to be “A Futuristic City.”
Francisco Sandoval proceeded to describe this “city of the future” design/puzzle by stating “one of the mentors told us that we should make a simple design, one that could be manufactured quickly and be easily marketed.” This shows students aren’t only learning how to design and create, but they are also given marketing tips.
How did the student’s end up in Incubator? Most of them were simply invited. As Diego Sernadas said, “I discovered the Incubator program by getting the actual invitation.” However, if a student didn’t get an invitation he or she could always talk to Mr. Geringer or Ms. Moos early in 11th grade in order to get him or herself a spot in Incubator.
Incubator takes place every Tuesday from 3:00-5:00 pm. According to Chandler McLaurin, another participating student of the Incubator program, “one meeting a week is great; especially since us high school students have many things to do such as homework, other activities, etc. Therefore, two hours a week for meeting and discussing ideas works better than having to go multiple times a week.”
The instructors are also another big part of Incubator since their professionalism is what guides the student to design and create their own products. What do the students think of the instructors? According to Aedan “the Instructors were cool, chill, optimistic, and very nice.” And Chandler followed up by stating that “the instructors are very well-rounded, educated on entrepreneurship, and very articulate about how they manage their own businesses and start their creations.” It certainly seems that the students like and respect their Instructors.
What are the expectations of the future in Incubator? Francisco said that he “seeks to learn and get experience out of the instructors who already have knowledge on designing and product making and then use that information for my future.” While Chandler said, “I’m looking forward to drawing and creating my own ideas, while also learning how to sell and market them.” It seems that the students intend to use the skills that they get from Incubator and apply them to the real world.
Instructors like Sinclair Smith, the founder of Incubator, said, “Our number one expectation and goal is to offer a view of how product development works and how designers move concepts to prototypes. Additionally, we want students to learn the process of imagining a business plan for a product, understanding how much the product will cost to produce, and exploring the different ways to bring the product to the market. Options include finding a manufacturer for the product or using tools like Kickstarter where you can crowd source financing for a product. Kickstarter is in the neighborhood, and they will be coming to work with us. Areaware is also on board; they are a product manufacturer, and they can offer perspective on how they manufacture products as well. The ultimate goal is to provide a path for student designers from point A to point C; all the way from the idea of a product to getting the product produced and into people’s hands at the store. So, we can all see that Incubator has a lot planned for its participants and it’s all full of information that can always be used outside in the “Real World”.
According to Ms. Moos, 11th grade architecture teacher, Incubator plays a role in the students’ lives since “it allows students to become aware of how professional investors design and develop a product; part of incubator also allows the students to have a chance to meet professionals in the designing industry.” This could totally give WHSAD students a head start in the marketing business!
Will Incubator continue next year? After I asked Jennifer Rittner, another mentor at Incubator, she replied with “My hope is that if it works well this year, it will continue next year. Based on this experience, we will improve on it.” The mentors clearly understand the revision process and so are planning to use the experience of this year in order to give the students next year an even better experience! Regarding the whole puzzle project, I also decided to ask Jennifer if the students would be making something different next year, which she replied with “I don’t know, but I hope that we do something different, but if we don’t and we end up doing another puzzle, we would change the theme so instead of city of the future we will go for something different instead; so basically a different kind of puzzle.”
If your currently a sophomore and would like to join next year, know that you will be doing something different than this current year!
Keep a look out for future posts regarding Incubator and the progress students are making with the help of their mentors and WHSAD teachers.