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In National Survey, Employers Say UC Designer Is Textbook Example of Excellence

Craig Vogel, director of the Center of Design, Research and Innovation at the University of Cincinnati, is the “teacher’s teacher” in the eyes of employers across the nation. While giving top marks to UC’s design programs, these employers also singled out Craig on a short list of America’s best design professors – all in recognition of his teaching, writing and international consulting regarding how to make perfect products.

Date: 1/30/2006
By: Mary Reilly
Phone: (513) 556-1824
Photos By: Andrew Higley
UC ingot Craig Vogel of the University of Cincinnati’s top-ranked College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning (DAAP) keeps good company – Procter & Gamble, Whirlpool, Motorola, New Balance, Alcoa, Ford Motor Company, Lenovo, Lubrizol….

Craig, at center, with industrial design graduate students, Aarti Vasudevan, left, and Peter Chamberlain, right.

They are all firms that he’s helped, guiding them in the integration of top-selling style with technology such that form and function come together to fulfill consumers’ fantasies.

He does the same in his teaching role at UC, and that’s why he’s just been named to a short list of America’s Most Admired Industrial Design Educators 2006. That list appeared in the December 2005 issue of DesignIntelligence magazine, a design industry publication of the Design Futures Council. Every December, the magazine publishes the results of its annual survey of architecture, design and engineering employers regarding the nation’s best design programs. UC again made that list this past year with the nation’s

  • Number one undergraduate interior design program (for the 7th straight year)
  • Number one architecture program among the magazine’s Top Ten Most Innovative Architecture Programs
  • Number two in terms of overall quality of the architecture program
  • Number two industrial design program

In the rankings, UC beat out such East Coast rivals as Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Columbia and Cornell on the strengths of its Top Ten co-op program (ranked among the nation’s elite by U.S. News & World Report), the challenging curriculum at DAAP and the excellence of its design faculty.

For the first time this year, the 2006 blue-ribbon rankings also included a listing of the nation’s best design faculty. UC had four faculty members on that list – Craig Vogel, Tony Kawanari, Gerry Michaud and Dale Murray. Only one other school in the nation (Art Center in California) had as many.

In finding his name on DesignIntelligence’s short list, Craig is a little perplexed because he says, “I actually want my students to be imperfect. Neither the perfect student nor the perfect course…nor the perfect professor actually exists. The problems and challenges we take on in the classroom and industry are too complex. We often start with absolutely nothing but a very knotty problem. Then, the students and professionals I work with end up devising the most incredible solutions, often quite radically different from one another. There is no single ‘perfect’ solution. There are actually plenty of them!”

So, as a teacher with years of experience in terms of working with industry, Craig basically sees his role as one of asking questions from the vantage point of his experience in creating products that encompass consumers’ emotions, aesthetics, technology, quality and brand identity.

“I’ve worked with so many industries, collaborated with engineers and business professionals that I simply direct my questions toward all the ramifications that a student’s design idea might have. It’s not that I’m smarter than my students. In fact, I more than trust their capabilities. It’s just that I have insights that come from experience. So we team up to take risks together. In the classroom, we go from boring to thrilling in a single second,” he laughs.

If, 25 years from now, Craig’s students are looking back and ranking his teaching style and ability, what does he hope they remember? “That I helped them be more comfortable with being uncomfortable, more comfortable with asking hard questions, that I helped them become more of who they already were,” says Craig, adding, “That I helped them see all that they can do.”

Craig also hopes he prompts such “seeing” beyond the classroom doors too. He’s literally sought out around the world to guide both start-up firms and corporations through the process of product innovation. His two books – he’s co-authored The Design of Things to Come: How Ordinary People Create Extraordinary Products (Wharton School Publishing) and Creating Breakthrough Products: Innovation from Product Planning to Program Approval (Prentice Hall) – are the textbooks of business innovation and of business/design school collaborations.

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