Freshman Friday: Design Jams and Future Work Skills

April 12, 2012

Every Friday, we’ll be highlighting some helpful information specifically for first-year students. Today we hear from a couple first-year students who participated in Immersion Excursions. You can view all the previous Freshman Friday posts here.

Yes, I realize we’re one day early here, but we didn’t want you to miss this!

Have you ever heard of a Design Jam? It’s a ~2 hour event where groups of students brainstorm and respond to a problem statement presented by an external company representative. There’s one coming up tomorrow (April 13th) with Ford Motor Company, focused on mobility:

The growing number of mega-cities in the developing world will require us to completely re-think personal transportation as congestion, parking and pollution increase. By 2015, it is projected that there will be at least 35 Mega Cities with populations greater than 10 million. No one company or industry will be able to solve the mobility issue alone; therefore collaboration, communication and common global frameworks are required. The challenge is to develop new business models to determine how Ford will be relevant in these mega-cities as personal vehicles are banned or become impractical.

Why should you attend this sort of event, you ask? Consider the Future Work Skills 2020 report, released by the Apollo Research Institute. The report lists 10 skills that will be vital for future success in the workforce, including novel and adaptive thinking, cross-cultural competency, transdisciplinarity, virtual collaboration, and design mindset. It’s a pretty good bet that you can start improving on those skills by attending the design jam. Taking advantage of these sorts of opportunities is important while you’re here in Ann Arbor — they’re one of the things that separates Michigan from other universities.

If you’re interested in participating, please email Jean Leverich, Program Director – Living Arts (


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