Unlocking Careers and the Potential to Impact Yellowstone for Years to Come

University of Utah professors and students with Tara. From right: Elpitha Tsoutsounakis, Erika Fasoli, Zachary Kay, Steven Calhoun, Tara Knight, Cord Bowen.
Unlocking Careers and the Potential to Impact Yellowstone for Years to Come
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Throughout our series, Doing Good with Design Education featuring the University of Utah, we’ve looked at how the school’s holistic approach to design process comes to life in its Field Studios, where students work with a real world partner in the environmental space to find ways digital (and physical) experiences can create positive change for them. This year, the students have worked with Yellowstone National Park, and using Adobe XD they’ve prototyped some truly amazing experiences that ‘have legs’ in the real world (more on that further down).

Whether it’s Stephen Calhoun’s Yellowstone Forever Learning Portal, or Erica Fasoli and Zachary Kay’s The Wild Spectrum, the students and many of their classmates have already leveraged these projects to access full-time work opportunities as they approach graduation. Zachary is working for a company that makes orthopedic devices, designing artificial knees and hips; Stephen has found work with Overstock.com as a digital product designer; and Erica is heading into a position at Adobe as an experience designer. They’ve been able to show that, even as undergrads, they are fully capable of entering the professional product design world.

All three also have a burning desire to use design to create meaningful positive change in the world, at work and through their own personal projects, and they credit the Field Studio program for teaching them they can have an impact this way.

With his project, the Yellowstone Forever Learning Portal, Steven was able to showcase both his professional-grade skills and his passion for designing experiences that create positive change.

“I think the best part about it all is knowing that we are doing good work. It’s not just doing good work for a good cause, but we’re being recognized for doing things people wouldn’t expect college students to be doing, especially at an undergrad level,” said Steven. “It’s empowering to have these opportunities, and to see them through to the end product.”

Working with Yellowstone to transform their projects into products

The students’ work with Yellowstone will have lasting impact, too. Already, the students have been speaking with the park’s foundation about ways to transform their school projects into real solutions that can make a difference in how people experience, protect, and support Yellowstone. Elpitha’s mission to engender a love of the environment and a sense of responsibility to protect it has no doubt been successful. Her students are already well on their way to creating real life change using digital design.

“I was so impressed with Stephen, Erica and Zac—each of them conveyed a heartfelt intention to instill meaning and purpose in all that they create, whether that be in academic, career, or personal projects,” said Tara Knight, Adobe’s strategic development manager.

“And when it comes to producing beautiful prototypes, of course I was thrilled to hear they all love using XD, and are excited about the future design possibilities as we grow the feature set!” she added.

Both Erica and Zachary say creating The Wild Spectrum helped them find a passion, and a purpose, in their design practices.

 

It’s wonderful to see the power of Adobe XD in action, to help people create products that strive to make the world a better place, adds Tara. But it’s particularly satisfying to see XD enable learning, providing a platform for students to explore their own design process and, indeed, change and evolve themselves as human-centered designers.

“When I came to college, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. I chose sociology and environmental studies, originally, because I wanted to have an impact on people. And, I lost my way a little bit in that. I knew I wanted to help people, but I didn’t know how,” reflects Erica.

“I think, with this Yellowstone project, I’ve got to pair my background with design, and finally have that opportunity to say, ‘This is what I’m passionate about, and this is what I love to do.’ Going forward, I am going to continue to do that, and utilize design to help people and make an impact, and truly bring it all together,” she adds.

If you missed any of our collection or articles, Doing Good with Design Education in partnership with the University of Utah, check out parts 1-4 below.

To learn more about how Adobe Creative Cloud can empower students to think creatively and turn their classroom ideas into college and career opportunities, visit the Creative Cloud for Education homepage.

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