Center for Design Innovation Names Jennings Director
Dr. Pamela L. Jennings has been named director of the Center for Design Innovation (CDI) effective October 1.
The CDI is a multi-campus center of the UNC system that has a partnership with Winston-Salem State University (WSSU), the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA) and Forsyth Technical Community College (FTCC). CDI's primary goal is to be a catalyst in the economic transformation of the state’s Piedmont Triad area through design-focused activity based on advanced digital technologies.
"We are extremely delighted to have Dr. Pamela L. Jennings join us as director of CDI and as a member of the faculty at WSSU and UNCSA," said Corey Walker, dean of the College of Arts, Sciences, Business and Education at WSSU. "A distinguished scholar, artist, and innovator, Dr. Jennings brings an impressive body of work from academe, industry and public service to CDI. She has a bold and expansive vision for the Center and the proven ability and leadership to realize its potential in advancing the economic development of the Winston-Salem community."
"Dr. Jennings' ability to bring creativity and technology together as well as her experience in bridging research and application is noteworthy, particularly in light of Forsyth Tech's role with CDI in developing creative and highly-skilled digital design technicians in architecture, industrial design, animation and other yet-to-be defined fields," added Rachel Desmarais, vice president of planning and information services at FTCC. "She should be a great asset to all of the partners in CDI."
Known for its unique intersection of creative design and technology and its innovative approach to collaborative processes, CDI works across disciplines, institutions, and economic sectors to push the boundaries of existing knowledge and practice and to spin innovative ideas into new educational content, products, and services that create jobs.
"Pamela's experience as both innovator and entrepreneur will serve her well in the role of leader at CDI. Those strengths, along with her creative mind and artistic sensibilities make her a terrific addition to the Center," said David Nelson, UNCSA provost.
According to Daniel Yohannes, associate director of innovation and commercialization services for Wake Forest Innovations and Chair of the CDI Advisory Board, Jennings brings an internationally recognized presence to the role of CDI director and her appointment will build on the foundation set by Dr. Carol Strohecker, the founding director of the CDI.
"With extensive experience in community engagement, as well as in art, design, digital media and information technology, and in the non-profit sector and fundraising, her body of work demonstrates a high level of energy, scholarship and commitment to building an inclusive and cooperative community," said Yohannes.
"It is clear that she has the background, vision and energy we need at CDI," said Scott Betz, CDI collaborator, past interim director and co-chair of the director search committee.
Jennings is a former National Science Foundation program officer in the Computer Information Science and Engineering directorate. She led the NSF CreativeIT and co-managed the Human Centered Computing research funding programs. In this role, she focused on the development of pathways to integrate creative cognition, design theories and creative practices in the fine, performing and applied arts with science and technology research. While at the NSF, Jennings along with senior administrators from the National Endowment for the Arts organized the first-ever joint workshop between the two agencies in support of art, science, and technology research and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) education. As a research director at the Banff New Media Institute, Jennings led the Advance Research Technology lab. Building from its core technologies in 3D visualization along with an international staff, she transitioned the research focus to rapid prototyping and computational design. She also served as the founding director of the Shapiro Center for Research and Collaboration at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. There she led faculty and administrative colleagues through projects on developing external partnerships, sponsored research policies, and faculty development.
Through a first of its kind joint professorship at Carnegie Mellon University between the School of Art and the Human Computer Interaction Institute, Jennings explored the synergies between digital media, interaction design, and design of complex systems, software programming and embedded computing. Jennings received several grants from the National Science Foundation to support her research and network building efforts in the art, science and technology community. She received an NSF Small Business Innovative Research phase 1 grant to support the commercialization of technologies developed through research at CMU that has led to her business startup, CONSTRUKTS, Inc. CONSTRUKTS is a smart hands-on learning platform that takes games for learning out of the computer screen and places them back into the hands. The platform connects learning activities played with physical blocks to real-time computer interactive games designed to strengthen spatial thinking skills for ages eight to eighty.
Jennings earned her Ph.D. in human centered systems design and digital media at the University of Plymouth, UK and her M.B.A. at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business. She also holds an M.F.A. in computer art from the School of Visual Arts in New York, an M.A. in studio art from the International Center of Photography/New York University program, and a B.A. in psychology from Oberlin College.
CENTER FOR DESIGN INNOVATION
CDI was established in 2005 as a multi-campus research center of the UNC system, the result of a partnership between Winston-Salem State, UNC School of the Arts, and Forsyth Technical Community College. The Center has been operating since 2007 at a temporary site in Winston Tower. Construction is currently underway for the CDI's new facility located at the southern end of the Wake Forest Innovation Quarter in Winston-Salem.
CDI collaborates among partnering organizations with strong and unwavering commitment to the arts, excellence in healthcare research and technology, and opportunities for specialized and advanced education.
In the current studio, CDI staff and collaborators have been initializing research and design projects with associated courses, workshops, seminars, and public events. Collaborators, working across disciplines, institutions, and economic sectors, push the boundaries of existing knowledge and practice and spin innovative ideas into new educational content, products, and services that create jobs.
For more information, visit www.centerfordesigninnovation.org.