On Thursday, August 9, Mayor Martin J. Walsh, together with the City’s Education Cabinet, the Timothy Smith Network (TSN), and the Boston Public Library, announced the launch of the Boston Design Academy (BDA), a city-sponsored pilot designed to prepare Boston youth for careers in Boston’s growing design economy. The programs began earlier this summer and will publicly launch at the Boston Public Library on Thursday, August 9.
“I’m excited to announce an initiative that will provide our future leaders, innovators, and engineers with the tools to explore and create through STEAM learning,” said Mayor Walsh. “Our students are familiarizing themselves with the most advanced technology available, and with the help of many of our committed partners, students will be prepared to enter the workforce with the experience and skills needed to succeed.”
Developed in collaboration with TSN as a lead partner, its affiliate Mbadika, and with the engagement of area industry leaders such as Microsoft, MassRobotics and Autodesk, Inc., the Boston Design Academy is an immersive six-week summer program for 25 students from TechBoston Academy. Over the course of the six weeks, BDA students will focus on product design and development while exploring STEAM-science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics-subject matter. Design experts from a variety of professions work with students and provide feedback on their designs.
“For the last several years, the City, BPS and schools around the city have worked to redesign the high school learning experience in ways that make it more rigorous, take learning into community settings and allow students to learn about the things most aligned with their passions,” said Boston’s Chief of Education, Rahn Dorsey. “The Boston Design Academy pilot is an example of the types of programming that we would like to see featured in future high school curricula and that we believe will increase post-secondary and career readiness among Boston students.”
“The Boston Design Academy is offering education and training in the design field that is not readily available or accessible to youth,” said Milton Irving, Executive Director of Timothy Smith Network. “By working with experienced professionals and tools of the trade, we are preparing them to enter the future of work.”
On a typical day, students are presented with a design challenge and asked to use product design methods and tools to solve the challenge. Each BDA student is assigned a Microsoft Surface Pro laptop with the latest professional design software, including Autodesk Fusion 360 and SketchBook, among others. At each step of the way, students integrate STEAM concepts and principles, and have the opportunity to visit local tech hotspots, including Microsoft’s newly opened Garage, in order to complete their real-world design projects.
BDA is hosted at the Teen Central and historical archive spaces of the Boston Public Library’s Central Library in Copley Square. BPL’s modern Teen Central offers a media lounge, digital makerspace, diner-style seating, space for quiet study, and a large, diverse collections of books and more, and is a unique space for young people to learn in. Its central location also allows students daily opportunities learning from professionals who work in the area.
“Boston Public Library is thrilled to host the Boston Design Academy program in Teen Central this summer; this challenging and fun curriculum will equip youth with highly desired skills that may lead to further study and exciting career possibilities in the technology and design fields,” said David Leonard, Boston Public Library President. “It is great to see this new project emerge from our longstanding relationship with the Timothy Smith Network. We hope this is the first of many new partnership opportunities with BDA and the City of Boston’s Education Department’s ‘City as a Classroom initiative.'”
“Boston Design Academy equips students to apply academic learning to solve authentic challenges. Our next step as a school is to build on this experience to deepen classroom learning and connections to STEM careers,” said TechBoston Academy Headmaster Keith Love. “We want to thank the Education Cabinet and BDA partners.”
Another key City as a Classroom endeavor is the Autodesk Teacher Design Fellow initiatives. The program, which is now in its second year, has sponsored 30 three-week educator externships for teachers. The 2018 cohort, consisting of teachers from Brighton High and Excel High, will be presenting at the Boston Design Academy along with BDA students at the Central LibraryMcKim building lower level A conference room on August 9 at 11:00 a.m.