Cornell Forms New Interdisciplinary Collaboration to Teach Students Digital Design

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“Design is inherently interdisciplinary,” said J. Meejin Yoon, Gale, and Ira Drukier Dean of the Cornell Architecture Art Planning (AAP) school, on the department’s blog last month. In this spirit, Cornell AAP and Cornell Tech announced a collaborative, interdisciplinary program for digital design solutions. The partnership includes the new MS Matter Design Computation (MDC) program for graduate students and undergraduate architecture students at AAP NYC, as well as Cornell Tech students in computer science, business, engineering, law, and health technology. The school has previously hosted courses such as Design Topic Research Studio: Matter Design Computation; Special Topics in Visual Representation: Coding for Design; and Product Studio.

Professors from a variety of disciplines lead the classes, and students are encouraged to create new digital design product solutions in response to demands from their teachers and businesses. “Our undergraduate and graduate students bring the ability to synthesize a complex set of relationships, develop a plan, and follow it in a meaningful way,” said Jenny Sabin, Arthur L. and Isabel B. Wiesenberger of Cornell and Associate Dean for Design Initiatives. “It’s not just about solving problems, it’s about generating problems.” And these problems are increasingly complex—Yoon added: “At a time when the challenges facing the built environment and society are multiscalar, complex and dynamic, collaborative initiatives between AAP and Cornell Tech will give our students the opportunity to engage with pressing questions about technology, human-centered design and the built environment with a broad perspective on the design challenges facing society today.

Andrea Simitch, Stephen H. Weiss Presidential Fellow and Chair of the Department of Architecture, describes the program as a natural extension of learning architecture. “Architecture pedagogy is by default a collaborative practice based on interactive dialogues,” she said on the Cornell AAP blog. The hope is that students will learn to collaborate, think beyond siled disciplines, and gain training to deliver functional, well-executed projects.


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