OCAD U Designers Join General Motors at Canadian Technical Centre in Oshawa

Four students standing in front of a red GM car
Thursday, October 11, 2018

Building upon a growing partnership between OCAD University and General Motors of Canada, two recent graduates and one student have recently been recruited through the University’s Digital Futures program to work at GM’s Canadian Technical Centre (CTC) in Oshawa. Joining the GM team are Ryan Mason (BDes 2018) in the role of Visual Media Specialist – 3D Digital, Samaa Ahmed (MDes 2018) in the role of Design Thinking Facilitator/Trainer, and Digital Futures Master’s student Jad Rabbaa (MDes 2019) as Visual Media Specialist – Design.

These successful students are the latest in a growing relationship shared between GM and the university over the past two years. Working closely with the Faculty of Design, Research & Innovation and the Centre for Emerging Artists & Designers, GM’s CTC has become a highly involved industry partner across several initiatives; engaging with a broad variety of OCAD U’s departments, students and alum.

"Early expectations were that the relationship between GM and OCAD U would evolve slowly. OCAD U has been thrilled with the accelerated pace of the partnership, as GM’s CTC group has become a “cool” employer for  design students. This is possible due to GM’s quick understanding of how design can help them be more innovative. An understanding cultivated through direct engagement with our talented students,"  said Dori Tunstall, Dean of the Faculty of Design.

In 2017, GM recruited Industrial Design students Nash Escalada (BDes 2019) and Simran Dadlani (BDes 2019) to contribute as Creative Specialists within their Innovation & Advanced Technical Work team to imagine the future of mobility.

"Apart from the excitement of being my first official design job, I found it extremely valuable to work alongside engineers as we navigated our differences to create an entirely new approach to projects that has carried on into my own practice. One of my favourite projects was designing the initial 'unboxing experience' for a product that will be launched in 2019! It was thrilling to be able to take a peep behind the curtain and learn about the incredible ideas GM has in the works for the future of mobility," said Simran Dadlani. "As a young design student, any opportunity to share your knowledge and way of thinking with people outside the design bubble is extremely exciting because it makes you realize, you are valuable!"

As participants in the 2018 OCAD U Design Career Fair, GM connected in depth with students and alumni; reviewing portfolios and sharing conversations with top creative talents. This past May, representatives from the CTC visited GradEx 103 for an exclusive tour of graduating student work. After meeting many students from several disciplines, GM followed up after GradEx, inviting two Industrial Design graduates, Curtis Dwyer (BDes 2018) and Dane Carlsen (BDes 2018), to present their thesis projects to staff. In August 2018, Digital Futures grads Nadine Lessio (MDes 2018) and Ryan Mason (BDes 2018) also travelled to Oshawa to showcase their major projects in an exhibition hosted at the CTC.

As GM Canada continues to advance their work in directing the future of mobility, OCAD U and GM will continue to build upon this growing partnership providing students and alum with opportunities to apply their education, creative and technical skills within Canada’s premiere automotive company.

“The 5W’s (Who, What, Where, When, Why) and How are often considered fundamental questions in problem solving. As engineers, we are very good at figuring out WHAT scientific principles apply and HOW to develop practical solutions. But we can sometimes lose track of who we are trying to help, or what problem we are truly supposed to fix. That’s where our meeting with Sara Diamond, from OCAD U helped us change our way of thinking," said Terry Ostan, Senior Manager GM Canada CTC Innovation and Advanced Technology. "Art and Design professionals are very good at asking WHY are we fixing this, and WHO is going to use this. Diversifying our team with artists and designers has given us a new perspective! They are showing us that users should be in the middle of the design process. Collaborations with OCAD U during GRAD-Ex, career day, and the project exhibitions at our tech centre in Oshawa, have enabled us to add talented members to our innovation team. This is an exciting time for GM as we redefine mobility with electric, autonomous, connected and ride-sharing vehicles to create a world with zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion; we are glad to have OCAD U as a partner on this journey.”