Who Designs the Future?

The first episode of the college’s latest public television series explores how a knack for design and creativity is essential to other fields, including science, math, engineering and technology.

by Elaine J. Lambert, special assistant to the president for creative development and public relations

Children who doodle on notebooks and imagine new gizmos and games while doing their schoolwork might grow up to be among tomorrow’s greatest innovators.

Imaginative youths and artistic types of all ages – who can learn to find answers to their creative challenges in academic coursework – will find kinship with students and faculty featured in the first episode of a new TV series produced by Pennsylvania College of Technology and WVIA Public Media.

“Working Class: Dream & Do” premiered on public television in northeastern Pennsylvania and the central Susquehanna valley in January. Since then, WVIA and other public broadcasting stations serving Pennsylvania and neighboring states have added the series to their programming schedules.

“Working Class” encourages viewers to make an impact in the world by pursuing careers that reflect personal talents and interests, while addressing real, 21st-century workforce needs. The series was inspired by the success of the 2015 Telly Award-winning documentary “Working Class: 100 Years of Hands-on Education.”

With education and encouragement, students with creative potetntial can turn daydreams into career goals.

The new series aims to increase public awareness of modern career fields while stressing the importance of education that combines academics, hands-on experiences and applied technologies. Foundations of mathematics, science, English and the humanities are emphasized throughout the series.

In episode one, viewers learn how designers use mathematics, language and modern technologies, including additive manufacturing (3-D printing), to enhance their work. They also gain appreciation for the diversity of careers related to design, helping to dispel myths suggesting there are few creative jobs in the “real” world.

Well-meaning adults often suggest back-up career plans for young artists, but with education and encouragement, students with creative potential can turn daydreams into career goals. All around the world, successful designers work among publishers and promoters, architects and builders, engineers and manufacturers. They are the dreamers and doers – designers and makers – that create consumer products and inspire innovation and technological advancement.

In a Penn College lab, a student polishes graphics for a class project. Photo by Cindy Davis Meixel.

In a Penn College lab, a student polishes graphics for a class project. Photo by Cindy Davis Meixel.

In addition to broadcasts via public television, episodes of  “Working Class” may be viewed online at http://workingclass.tv. The website also offers a producer’s blog, with regular postings relevant to education and workforce issues, and links to educator resources that can be used to plan lessons incorporating career themes into K-12 classes.

Inspiring teachers, parents and the general public to make positive connections between education and the world of work is the goal of the “Working Class” initiative. By encouraging students to connect classroom learning with practical career applications, the series promotes the importance of academics in helping every student gain the skills required to follow his/her personal interests and dreams.

“Working Class: Dream & Do” features Penn College faculty Thomas E. Ask, professor of industrial design; Rob Cooley, assistant professor of anthropology/environmental science; Brian A. Flynn, assistant professor of graphic design; J.D. Mather, assistant professor of engineering design technology; David A. Probst, assistant professor of engineering design technology; Lauren A. Rhodes, assistant professor of mathematics; Nicholas L. Stephenson, instructor of graphic design; Katherine A. Walker, assistant professor of engineering design technology; and Rob A. Wozniak, associate professor of architectural technology.

Also featured are student designers Zachary G. Bird and Matthew H. Gordon; Joe Schoenly, science educator and camp coordinator at the Da Vinci Science Center; Drew Seeling, teacher at Wellsboro Area High School; Andrea McDonough Varner, teacher at Williamsport Area High School; and Penny G. Lutz, director of The Gallery at Penn College.

Locations filmed for the first episode include Penn College and its Dunham Children’s Learning Center, Wellsboro Area High School, Bucknell University, Da Vinci Science Center, and GE Inspection Technologies.

The “Working Class” TV series producers invite comments – including recommendations for K-12 schools or other educational programs that could be featured on future episodes of the series – via Facebook and Twitter. Online challenges – such as the Purple Art Challenge for viewers of episode one – also offer opportunities for viewer interaction. ■

Purple Art Challenge

For Penn College Magazine readers

Penn College Magazine readers (and their students/children) are invited to participate in the Purple Art Challenge, which was inspired by drawings created by children from the Dunham Children’s Learning Center, who were filmed for “Working Class: Dream & Do.”

To join in the fun, submit a photo of original artwork created by you or your students/children that features the color purple. “Working Class” producers will display selected images on the http://workingclass.tv website.

  • STEP 1: Create an original piece of artwork that incorporates the color purple, or select a piece you have already completed.
  • STEP 2: Take a photo of your creation and post it on Facebook with the hashtag #PurpleArtChallenge, or post it to Twitter and include the handle @WorkingClass_TV and the hashtag #PurpleArtChallenge in your tweet.
  • STEP 3: Don’t forget to include your name and the title of your piece in your submission.
  • STEP 4: Tell your friends! Help share as many purple art images as possible on the Working Class TV website.

Fabric art by Dorothy J. Gerring is among “Purple Art Challenge” submissions.