Paige Saez here, Creative Director of Designlab, with an update about recent developments in the UX Academy community.

Since the launch of our first cohort of UX Academy students in August of 2015, we’ve made a number of product experience improvements. We continue to work non-stop on product features, building new courses and curriculum, and growing our fantastic online community of top-notch designers.

In amongst the many larger changes, we’ve also begun to focus on the smaller, more experientially significant process changes too. One of these small but significant changes is the names we give to our UX Academy cohorts. Previously, we were just listing them numerically: Cohort 1, Cohort 2, and so on. Well, numbers are convenient but they are also very unmemorable. And this is a design school after all, right?

Internally, we discussed a bunch of themes we could employ to name our cohorts moving forward. What about using Star Trek characters? Or maybe it should be a list of Pantone Colors? What about Famous Hamburgers? Funny and cute as these may seem, they were not quite the impression we wanted our students to have of the program. Instead of going with these themes, we took a step back and asked ourselves what would inspire us most as a team. We came up with the idea of naming cohorts after people that inspire us. Needless to say, everyone got excited about this one.

Our cohort names are drawn from the product designers, graphic designers, artists, architects, engineers, critics, and philosophers who have changed the world as we know it. These are the people who inspire us to think bigger, and we hope it will do the same for our students. We get the added benefit of introducing the community to people that inspire us the most when we launch each new cohort moving forward.

Buckminster Fuller

Our most recent intake is named after Buckminster “Bucky” Fuller (1895-1983, pictured above). He was an American architect, designer, and systems theorist who had a remarkable career. Here are 10 reasons why we’ve chosen to name our sixth UX Academy cohort after him:

  • He was enterprising: when Fuller found himself out of work and short on money, he took a job giving lectures and decorating the interior of Romany Marie’s cafe in New York in exchange for meals.

  • He thought big: Fuller tried to solved problems on a global, or even Universal, scale. His ideas about system efficiency and renewable energy were focused on sustainability and the survival of the human race, going so far as to design spherical airborne human habitats.

  • He was inventive and innovative: Fuller advanced design thinking through the concept of ephemeralization, which is (in brief) “doing more and more with less and less”. This foretold the path of twentieth century design (think of Dieter Rams’ “Less But Better”).

  • He journaled compulsively: Fuller kept a record of his education, experiences and ideas through a daily diary. His notes between 1915 and 1983 stack 270 feet (82m) high: it’s kept at Stanford University as the Fuller Collection.

  • He was progressive: Fuller produced important early work on renewable energy, was an environmental activist, and a participant at UN Habitat 1, the first UN meeting about human settlements.

  • He was productive: Fuller was granted 28 U.S. patents, wrote over twenty books, and received no fewer than 47 honorary doctorates in recognition of his work.

  • He was a free spirit: As a student, Fuller got kicked out of Harvard twice — first for partying too hard, and then for not paying enough attention.

  • He was resilient: his creative work helped him to bounce back from a period of depression that followed his young daughter’s death.

  • He was driven by a purpose: adversity gave him a profound sense of purpose — “to find what a single individual [could] contribute to changing the world and benefiting all humanity.”

  • He has a molecule named after him: buckminsterfullerene, a molecule discovered in 1985 was named after Fuller because it resembles his geodesic domes. (The class of similar molecules are called fullerenes.)

In the coming months we’ll post more profiles of the creative greats after whom we’ve named our cohorts. In the meantime, you can found out more about Bucky Fuller by reading his biography over at the Buckminster Fuller Institute.

Interested in changing careers or building valuable new skills? Check out UX Academy and apply before the next cohort. There are very limited available seats and a waiting list for each cohort. Apply now to UX Academy

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Paige Saez

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