(Toronto—November 9, 2011) OCAD University announced today it has appointed British designer, technologist and entrepreneur Tom Barker as Chair of its Digital Futures Initiative (DFI) beginning in January 2012.
Barker has worked for 20 years in the built environment, in digital art, architecture and industrial design. Barker's philosophy is based on collaborative continuous learning and embraces innovation, digital space, technology and sustainability. He also has a focus on fusing methods and skills from different disciplines in academia, industry and art.
"Barker's professional practice in architecture, innovation, technology development and design, combined with his demonstrated academic leadership, research excellence and business savvy will guide the continued advancement of our Digital Futures Initiative," said Dr. Sara Diamond, OCAD University President. "We look forward to his joining our excellent team of DFI teaching staff and the contributions he'll bring to our new Digital Futures undergraduate and graduate programs and research initiatives."
Barker will be joined by his partner Marie O'Mahony, who has been appointed as a Professor in OCAD U's Faculty of Design. O'Mahony specializes in the impact of technology on textiles and its application in fashion, design and architecture, including explorations of tradition, the machine and the handmade to achieve performance with material aesthetic qualities. Sustainability, smart materials and systems, cyborgs, biomimicry and hybrid materials are areas of particular research that O'Mahony is developing through her books and a TechnoTextile Library. Industry collaboration is vitally important in all of her work.
Mdes(Eng) RCA MSt(Cantab) BSc(Hons) DIC FRSA FRCA
Design Fellow Royal Commission of 1851
Prior to joining OCAD University, Tom Barker was appointed as the pan-faculty professor of Architecture, Innovation and Design in the faculty of Design, Architecture and Building at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS). Barker is currently the director of the research Centre for Contemporary Design Practices, the head of the UrbanAid research group, and runs a masters program in Sustainability, Design and Creative Enterprise. His work in academia has run in parallel to that of his practice, formalizing in 2002 with a Course Master appointment to the Architectural Association, followed by a professorship at the Royal College of Art (RCA) in 2005, and a visiting Fellowship at Melbourne's RMIT University in 2007.
Barker has extensive applied experience of business and intellectual property creation, fund raising, innovation development and commercialisation. His current academic research breaks down into three core themes: Design Enterprise - urban creative industries; Urban Digital Media - digital-physical space hybrids; NextGen - next generation affordable housing.
Along with his peers at the RCA, Barker's work contributed to the top UK university ranking for art and design for the 2008 government Research Assessment Exercise (RAE). His submissions included: the SmartSlab digital interactive display system for architectural use with over 15 patents; a hydraulic, composite Graz Austria Opera stage set with Zaha Hadid; Masterplanning software toolbox for JTC Government client in Singapore to help create a new creative industries masterplan; and intelligent low energy lighting with Richard Rogers Architects using advanced sensors and materials, and inspired by deep sea creatures.
As a designer / technologist / entrepreneur, Barker is well known for his organisational and leadership skills in building up academic design and commercial consortia to undertake challenging initiatives, his fund raising ability, and also his extensive commercial links - including Sony Playstation, Bank of America, Proctor & Gamble, Unilever, 3 Mobile, O2 Mobile, B&Q, BenQ, Targetti Lighting, Dyson, McLaren, Sharp Solar, Lend Lease, Arup, and Siemens.
Barker's public profile includes appearances on CNN (USA), Channel 4 (UK), ABC TV and radio (Australia), along with over 100 newspaper and magazine articles.
BA, PostGradDip (Edinburgh)
Prior to joining OCAD University's faculty, Marie O'Mahony was appointed as Professor of Advanced Textiles at University Technology Sydney (UTS) and Visiting Professor at University of the Arts, London. Her role at UTS is divided between research and teaching in the fashion and textile department and across the design school. Her activities included setting up a new Masters course, creating a TechnoTextiles Library, supervision of PhD and Research Masters students, writing books, book chapters, papers and academic journals. A core priority is building links with industry, such as a fashion project on recycling with Rip Curl sportswear, and new uniforms with integrated technology for Telstra, Australia's main telco provider. She also is a member of the Australian Government's Textile, Clothing and Footwear Innovation Council (TCFIIC).
Prior to taking up the position at UTS O'Mahony was based in London and worked worldwide as a textile and technology consultant for fifteen years. She has worked as an advisor to a wide range of clients on new materials: providing reports on emerging technologies for specific market sectors; problem solving and finding the right materials, manufacturers or technologies for products or applications; organising brainstorming events and symposiums. She is also an author and curator. Books include Cyborg: The Man-Machine (2002) and SportsTech: Revolutionary Fabrics, Fashion and Design (2002) and Techno Textiles 2: Revolutionary Fabrics for Fashion and Design (2007), all published by Thames and Hudson with the forthcoming Advanced Textiles: Design for Wellness and Health scheduled for publication in 2011. Exhibitions curated include Cyborg for the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, The Fabric of Fashion, an international touring exhibition for the British Council and TechnoThreads for Science Gallery, Trinity College, Dublin. Clients include Zaha M. Hadid, Seymour Powell, Ove Arup and Partners, NIKE and Hussein Chalayan.
The Digital Futures Initiative at OCAD University
The launch of OCAD University's Digital Futures Initiative in May of 2007 was made possible through a transformative $2 million annual investment by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities that OCAD University leveraged with support from industrial partners and other provincial and federal ministries.
The Digital Futures Initiative supports student learners to become entrepreneurial and research leaders in a future world of ubiquitous digital technology and communication, as well as enabling them to master contemporary digital skills. Drawing on faculty from across the university and working in collaboration with a broad range of Canadian and international private and public sector partners, the Digital Futures Initiative (DFI) is a set of new cross-disciplinary programs, research, and innovation activities. Minors, a major, a suite of graduate programs and continuing education offerings are providing learning opportunities in digital art, media and design, and ICT, linking this knowledge to emerging technologies with applications in fields such as art/design and science, sustainability, health and wellness, accessibility, diversity, and global innovation and business development.
Key milestones have included:
- Enhancement and modernization of OCAD University's curriculum: minors, a major and a suite of graduate programs are now offered:
Digital Futures: Technology/Innovation/Design/Art (DF:TIDA) - BFA, BDes;
Master's in Inclusive Design (MDes); and
Digital Futures Graduate program (MA, MDes, MFA, Graduate Diploma);
- Hiring of six new faculty who are digital leaders and additional hiring of digital experts in other program areas;
- OCAD University has established has launched successful research and commercialization partnerships, leveraging funding from MTCU (including an additional 7.5 in capital funding) and MRI (9 million) to create the Institute for Digital Media Research and Innovation;
- Roll-out of Digital Infrastructure across the campus and integration of Digital Tools and teaching methods into all aspects of curriculum;
- Launch of the Centre for Innovation in Arts & Design Education (CIADE);
- The multi-institutional/multi-industry Inclusive Design Institute led by OCAD U's Inclusive Design Research Centre (IDRC) of 25 researchers;
- Launch of the Mobile Experience Innovation Centre (MEIC), a public-private not-for-profit consortium that brings together students and faculty from OCAD U and other universities and colleges with industry leaders in the quest for groundbreaking digital mobile applications.
- Acquisition of digital resources for teaching and learning
- Acceleration of online and blended learning.
Digital Futures: Technology/Innovation/Design/Art (DF:TIDA)
New Undergraduate Major at OCAD U
On October 25, 2011, OCAD University announced the newest additon to its undergraduate programs, Digital Futures: Technology/Innovation/Design/Art (DF:TIDA), for which students can now register to begin in September 2012.
DF:TIDA links digital technology and innovation with Design and Art studio practice. Students will graduate with either a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) or a Bachelor of Design (BDes), with a specialization in digital media and related technologies. Prospective students can apply for the program now through the Ontario Universities Application Centre for the 2012/13 academic year.
DF:TIDA students are able to specialize in one of five areas:
- Physical Computing
- Data Visualisation
- Inclusive Design
Students in the DF:TIDA program will acquire skills in computation, physical computing, data visualization, screen-based media, gaming, and business, and will be well-positioned to work across the digital media sector from either art, design or critical perspectives.
A compete program overview and course guide is available on the OCAD University website.
Graduate Program in Digital Futures
(Graduate Diploma and MA, MDes, MFA)
OCAD University's graduate program in Digital Futures is a unique, practice-based program for future innovators, leaders, and creators of digital media and new technologies. The program is situated within the Digital Futures Initiative (DFI) at OCAD University. Graduates of the program will contribute to the development and application of new knowledge in creative digital technology practices, content, and experiences, providing insights into human needs and desires in a technologically dependent world. Created in partnership with the Canadian Film Centre and University Waterloo at Stratford, the program provides unprecedented opportunities for networking and project development.
The Graduate Program in Digital Futures offers both a Graduate Diploma and Master's (MA, MFA or MDes). The Master's is a full-time practice-based program offered over five semesters. The Graduate Diploma is a course-based six-semester program offered on a part-time basis (with evening courses) in order to provide flexible study options for working professionals and practitioners.
A compete program overview is available on the OCAD University website.
OCAD University (OCAD U): 135 Years of Imagination
OCAD University (www.ocadu.ca) is Canada’s “University of the Imagination.” The University, founded in 1876, is dedicated to art and design education, practice and research and to knowledge and invention across a wide range of disciplines. OCAD University is building on its traditional, studio-based strengths, adding new approaches to learning that champion cross-disciplinary practice, collaboration and the integration of emerging technologies. In the Age of Imagination, OCAD University community members will be uniquely qualified to act as catalysts for the next advances in culture, technology and quality of life for all Canadians.
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