Rhode Island School of Design Launches Design for Manufacturing Innovation Certificate Program

September 21, 2016

Rhode Island School of Design Executive Education (RISD EE) has launched a new Design for Manufacturing Innovation certificate program that begins this fall, coinciding with National Manufacturing Month during the month of October. The customized business development program is aimed at senior leaders and line managers in the manufacturing sector and designed to help companies innovate by integrating design strategy for stronger manufacturing growth and development in Rhode Island.

The nine-month program was developed by RISD EE in partnership with Commerce RI, the Rhode Island Manufacturers Association (RIMA) and Polaris MEP, in consultation with national manufacturers and designers, as part of a $3.3 million Commerce RI project with $2.9 million in federal funding to advance growth in RI's defense manufacturing sector. Expert RISD faculty will lead the program, working with participants to advance skills in strategy, innovation and diversification and facilitate understanding of how design thinking and design processes can accelerate company-wide solutions.

The Design for Manufacturing Innovation certificate courses are designed to unpack the concepts of strategic design thinking and innovation as they apply to the manufacturing environment. These concepts, combined with entrepreneurial applications, will help leaders in the manufacturing sector uncover new business development opportunities and management strategies for growth. Course topics include design thinking and design intelligence; innovation and strategic marketing; facilitation and problem solving; and concept visualization, 3D modeling and prototyping. The schedule is designed to be flexible to manufacturers' needs, with courses in the evenings and on weekends, both on RISD's campus and online.

"True innovation lies in collaboration, and as we collectively work towards developing the big ideas and big actions that will design the future, this grant offers an exciting opportunity to strengthen the partnership between education, government, and business in our state," noted RISD President Rosanne Somerson.

"Since RISD's founding in 1877, our core mission has linked art and design to industrial innovation and economic development. We continue to develop curricula - like our Continuing Education certificate program in Product Development + Manufacturing - to fulfill this mission within new economic contexts. We look forward to continuing to help advance our state's economy."

RISD EE's Design for Manufacturing Innovation certificate, along with other state initiatives, such as Polaris MEP's recent Manufacturing Innovation Challenge and Commerce RI's Center for Design and Manufacturing, are part of a $2.9 million grant awarded to Commerce RI by the U.S. Department of Defense, Office of Economic Adjustment. "The advantage this program will give to Rhode Island's manufacturing sector is invaluable," said Secretary of Commerce Stefan Pryor. "RISD is an iconic institution in the world of design, and manufacturing is a vitally important industry in Rhode Island's economy. This initiative gives us a unique opportunity to harness the power of each toward improving our state's capacity for innovation and for economic growth."

"This is an unprecedented opportunity for Rhode Island manufacturers. To catalyze manufacturing in RI, it is critical for manufacturers to focus on higher end skills development, especially regarding Design Thinking." said Christian Cowan, Center Director for Polaris MEP. "We are providing access to world-class experts from multiple disciplines to grow our manufacturing capabilities through industrial design, innovation and education."

Rhode Island is among several states identified as having strong manufacturing and manufacturing innovation capabilities, thanks to the assistance of the Rhode Island Congressional Delegation. The National Endowment for the Arts report, Valuing the Art of Industrial Design: A Profile of the Sector andIts Importance to Manufacturing, Technology, and Innovation ranks Rhode Island number one in industrial design establishments per capita and finds that "Rhode Island's primacy in industrial design services stems in part from the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) in Providence." The RISD EE certificate in Design for Manufacturing Innovation speaks to a set of national priorities for manufacturing in the U.S. by imbedding design thinking in industry practices such as workforce education, product diversification and materials research.

The Design for Manufacturing Innovation certificate is the first in RISD EE's planned series of Design for Innovation programs. With RISD EE's leadership in "design led innovation," the program framework is designed to be tailored to inform and support any sector. For further details on the Design for Manufacturing Innovation certificate content, schedule and application for future cohorts, visit: exed.risd.edu

About RISD Executive Education
RISD Executive Education is a global studio for inclusive design, interdisciplinary learning and real world innovation. Collaborating with partners to develop and deliver user-focused learning experiences, RISD EE employs a deep knowledge of the intersection between design, business and culture to anticipate, facilitate and accelerate innovation. Learn more at exed.risd.edu.

Funding is provided by Commerce RI through a DoD Office of Economic Adjustment grant.