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University of Southern California Student Priorities

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The University of Southern California (USC) is a private, not-for-profit, nonsectarian, research university located in Los Angeles, California. USC was founded in 1880, making it California's oldest private research university. The university has a "very high" level of research activity, receiving $691 million in sponsored research between 2014 and 2015.

USC is home to many centers of innovation, including the USC Stevens Institute for Innovation, the USC Lloyd Grief Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, the USC Viterbi Student Innovation Institute, the USC Annenberg Digital Innovation Lab, and more. With the inception of the latest USC Jimmy Iovine & Young Academy, USC is pushing the boundary of innovation in the arts, business, and technology industries. We hope this can extend to all the other USC schools as well.

Project Pitch Podcast

I decided to create a podcast with my pitch, and turn the visual pitch experience into a musical and aural one. You can listen to it here on SoundCloud.

Student Priorities

Focus #1 - Create a product thinking major, minor, or course for students to learn more.

USC has so many resources in innovation, design, engineering, business, and entrepreneurship, but it lacks a centralized program of thought for students interested in pursuing product design or product development as a whole. Product design should not be limited to mechanical engineering design principles. In fact, I think that product design has a much more anthropological aspect that we tend to forget about. The mixture of understanding how to design for a user and what to design for a user would make a Product Design major, minor, or at least a new course at USC highly beneficial to students.
This program could be modeled after existing Product Design courses in the US, such as Stanford’s, but take a more business and human-centric approach to the process of product conception. Maybe it could even be called Product Conception.
I expect the major path to draw knowledge from the following schools at USC, and to provide students with the relative skills mentioned below:

  • Roski School of Art
    • Visual design, 3D modeling, art theory for aesthetic product design
  • Annenberg School of Communication
    • How we perceive products in the media and what cultural backstory influences their success. The role of communication in influencing a product’s development.
  • Viterbi School of Engineering
    • Engineering and CS fundamentals for structural systems design and essential software architecture principles, object-oriented design
  • Dornsife College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences
    • Anthropology lessons and insights on human reasoning and human value
    • Cognitive science to understand human cognition and reasoning
  • Marshall School of Business
    • How to design a product for the market and assess feasibility
  • Lloyd Grief Center for Entrpreneurial Studies
    • Understanding what makes a product successful entrepreneurially
  • USC School of Architecture
    • Maybe some indication of product through architecture
  • Visual arts components
    • USC School of Cinematic Arts
    • USC Thornton School of Music
    • USC Kaufman School of Dance
    • What makes art or the entertainment industries essential to product design and vice versa?

I’m sure we could incorporate more schools, and have this major be as interdisciplinary as possible. It’s important to emphasize Human-centric design and how the typical user in each industry is different and has different values.

Focus #2 - Improve USC spring admit and transfer student university integration.

From speaking with fellow classmates who are either spring admit students or transfer students, their one comment on how USC can improve often resolves to their own welcoming experience (or lack thereof). Fall admitted students go through a series of activities and special welcoming events that best integrate them into the student body and onto campus. The later admitted students however experience prejudice as to their time of admission, and are not readily provided for or accommodated in onboarding to USC.

We should create a series of USC student-led mini-families or “pods” with new students from all over the university meeting other new students and visiting LA together or relying on each other for advice. These could be organized each semester for transfer students that come in the fall and spring, and will definitely accommodate spring admits in the spring. Being able to bond with other students in similar situations as themselves can already alleviate the pressure of entering college alone and with the challenge of making new friends.

Focus #3 - Foster better entertainment entrepreneurship activities

USC has so many entertainment industry resources, but lacks in entertainment entrepreneurship. The introduction of the new SCA Entertainment Industry minor, and the existence of the Business Administration (Cinematic Arts) major here at USC are stepping stones in the right direction (also the Game Entrepreneurism minor in SCA), but there lacks similar resources in the USC Thornton School of Music and the USC Kaufman School of Dance.

I’ve reached out to initiate a partnership between USC and The Black List, a prominent script database exclusively open to industry members and screenwriters.

I will continue to better understand what types of student organizations or industry partnership or events could help USC entertainment students become more entrepreneurially active.

Focus #4 - Organize another TEDx USC experience that highlights our school’s strengths and partners with local startups.

We need to organize another TEDx event for USC that brings the best of USC’s schools and students and introduces them to the brilliant industry members leading change in our local LA startups, companies, and research centers. By bridging the gap between academia and industry, we could hopefully inspire students to invest in thinking about the application of their studies to the future of our industry and workforce.

I’m excited to start working on this and to start interacting with University officials to better understand how we can organize our existing resources into a more relevant and coherent major for product-focused individuals in various disciplines.

Related Links

University of Southern California Page

University of Southern California Student Priorities Page

Laura Gouillon