SCAD aTVfest 2016 kicks off in Atlanta

February
5
2016
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aTVfest — SCAD Atlanta’s international celebration of creativity and innovation in television and media production — opened yesterday with star-studded panels and screenings.

To start things off, film and television professor Tobias Yoshimura announced SCADFILM, a specialized training program for the growing community of filmmakers in Atlanta. He compared it to “aTVfest all year long,” and the news was well received by the many enthusiastic film and TV students in attendance. 

SCADshow hosted a presentation by the Writers Guild Foundation titled “Scribble to Screen: Inside the Writers Room of ‘Futurama’” with co-creator David X. Cohen and writers Eric Horsted, Ken Keeler and Patric Verrone. Right down the street, SCAD Atlanta offered panels on costume design and postproduction, each with industry insiders sharing their knowledge.

In the afternoon, fashion maven Miss J Alexander discussed all things reality television and runway. The SCAD Digital Media Center hosted “How to Build a Video Network from Scratch” (Hint: It’s not easy!), while an episode of “Devious Maids” was screened at SCADshow.

Midday events continued with a presentation by (n+1) designstudio on branded content in live sports and the uplifting HBO documentary “Mavis!” chronicling the life of legendary singer Mavis Staples.

The midseason premiere of longtime hit series “Grey’s Anatomy” preceded a sneak peek at highly anticipated series “The Path.” Stars from both shows participated in lively discussions and Q&A sessions.

aTVfest will continue throughout the weekend with panels, a student showcase and much more. Must-see screenings include “The Walking Dead,” “Gotham,” “The Mindy Project,” “Banshee,” “Bates Motel” and “Family Guy.”

For times, locations and more details on the festival, check the aTVfest schedule, and come back to SCADworks for more coverage behind the screen!

December 2015: A whole month celebrating SCAD!

December
21
2015
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Happy SCAD Month! Yes, you read that correctly. The Atlanta City Council has proclaimed December 2015 SCAD Month in honor of SCAD Atlanta’s tenth anniversary, and in recognition of the dedication of President Paula Wallace and the university’s students, faculty and staff.

Since SCAD Atlanta opened in 2005, it has flourished with the addition of tremendous resources, including the historic Ivy Hall Writing Center, a restored and revitalized 19th century structure; the recently expanded Digital Media Center that was created within the former WXIA-TV building; and the new SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion and Film, the first of its kind in the southern United States.

The Atlanta City Council’s proclamation reads:

“Yet the learning experience reaches beyond SCAD students. All Atlantans from every walk of life look forward to SCAD’s next meaningful contribution to our city: artwork that SCAD will commission, acquire, curate and install at the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium.”

But that’s not all! More congratulations are in hand for President Wallace who, as a former Atlanta Public School teacher and native of the city, was awarded the Phoenix Award by Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. The Phoenix is the highest citizen award the mayor can give, and acknowledges President Wallace’s commitment to Atlanta’s artistic, cultural and educational development.

SCAD student helps document a piece of Atlanta history

December
1
2015
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Since 1956, Manuel’s Tavern has been a popular hangout for multiple generations of Atlantans –—with decades’ worth of photographs, art, maps, and bumper stickers on its walls to prove it. When a developer recently purchased Manuel’s and announced plans to renovate the dive bar’s interior, patrons feared the artifacts would be lost forever.

Enter Ruth Dusseault, a long-time Manuel’s customer and a lecturer at Georgia State University. She hatched a plan to document the bar’s interior through an online research project called Unpacking Manuel’s Tavern. After recruiting a voluntary team from SCAD, Emory, University of Georgia and Georgia Tech, they set out to photograph the entire bar and create an online 3-D virtual tour where visitors can learn all about the 59-year-old watering hole.

Given SCAD’s extensive expertise in historic preservation and photography, Dusseault reached out to Michael O’Brien, SCAD Atlanta’s associate chair of photography. O’Brien in turn recommended SCAD student Hastings Huggins, who received a B.F.A. in photography in 2012 and is currently pursuing his M.F.A. in photography.

Hastings was responsible for lighting the Unpacking Manuel’s Tavern project. Here, Hastings chats about the tribulations, triumphs, and idiosyncrasies of the work.

NorthaveRmGoProFilm from Ruth Dusseault on Vimeo.

SCAD: Can you take us through the shooting process?

Huggins: The technology we used was a GigaPan system, a mounted camera that can articulate up and down, left and right, and every axis in between for a nice, fluid pan.

We had tracks set up that were parallel to the wall that we were documenting. The tracks had a dolly and tripod with this GigaPan system set on top. We would march the tripod and dolly along every 32 inches left to right, and at each stop, we would take as many as 22 images from the very top of the wall where it met the ceiling.

SCAD: What was the biggest challenge?

Huggins: There were six rooms, and every room has characteristics that made things a bit challenging. One room wasn’t perfectly flat. It had ramps for access and metal railings that were fixed into the floor that couldn’t be moved.

Another challenge was the fact that a lot of what we were photographing gave off reflections that would obfuscate the images. We had PVC pipes that we’d throw some black material over and just raise as high as we could to block whatever the GigaPan system was catching as it marched along. That was probably the most frustrating and awkward part of the process.

SCAD: What were some of the most interesting pieces of memorabilia you photographed?

Huggins: One work of art on the wall – a beautiful, impressionistic painting of a woman’s figure – could easily be in a museum. We asked the bar owner’s son about it, and he said it was from a customer who was an accomplished painter [Dean Chapman] but couldn’t pay his tab. So he paid with this piece of work, a painting of his wife who also frequented Manuel’s.

SCAD: Any other fun stories?

Huggins: Well, at one point I was standing in the bar area and I looked up and saw this mobile. I said, “Doesn’t that look just like a Calder mobile?” A guy behind the bar said, “It is.” Then I said, “Yeah, right. If that’s a Calder, you would have had an appraiser in here and probably would have gotten some sort of…” The guy finished the sentence for me: “A six-figure appraisal? That’s exactly what we got.”

They had this Calder mobile hanging in the bar and it was filthy – covered in tar from cigarette smoke! I said, “Well at least clean it!” And he said, “Oh no, if we clean that thing, we won’t hear the end of it.”

Photo by Hastings Huggins.

A design solution for Atlanta bridges and traffic-weary drivers

July
15
2015
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Along with landmarks like Centennial Olympic Park, Atlanta is synonymous with traffic. Long lines of vehicles — 300,000 per day — winding through Interstate 75/85 are staples in the city’s landscape. So are the concrete bridges that traverse these five miles of highway. What if these exchanges could delight and inspire drivers? What if, rather than ignoring them, commuters looked forward to passing under the structures for a momentary reprieve from their slow-moving circumstances? That is the reaction architecture students from the Savannah College of Art and Design were going for when they crafted the winning concept for the annual American Institute of Architects National Conference Student Legacy Charette design competition.

In a nod to the host city of their 2015 convention, the AIA asked students to lend their ingenuity to the Atlanta Bridgescape Competition, the city's initiative to beautify the I-75/85 corridor, known as the Connector. Their task was to transform the area between Folk Art Park and the Peachtree Street Bridge, which passes over the Connector. The only requirement was that their “capping mechanism” engage pedestrians and drivers.

The contest's six-hour time limit left SCAD graduate Bradley Green (B.F.A., architecture, 2015) and his team just enough time to present sketches and a site plan for a cap that could be a solution for any city focused on urban renewal.

Our undulating designs allowed room for commissioned art, worked to collect rainwater in bioswales and used wind turbines to collect wind energy that would also create a visual display of light underneath the bridge. — Bradley Green

Inspired by the roundabout in Folk Art Park, the designers envisioned a collection of earthen mounds to create greenspace for pedestrian traffic on top of the cap. Some mounds would be constructed as verticle tunnels, either hallow — to allow light to spill through onto vehicles below — or equipped to host multiple genres of artwork to be enjoyed by those passing on top of and beneath the bridge.

Creating a spectacle – to be constructed so as not to endanger drivers – was only one part of the SCAD team's intention. The other objective was to promote interaction with community groups who could provide the art, and even among drivers and pedestrians who could see one another through the hallow mounds. It’s Green’s way of bringing the tight-knit feel of his hometown of North Augusta, South Carolina to the big city. "As an architect, I’m doing a lot more than creating a building; I’m creating a long-standing relationship with the area I’m building in," Green said.

Thanks to the SCAD team and the finalists of the National Bridgescape Competition, traffic won’t always be the only thing by which we remember Atlanta’s roadways.

Inside the preservation story of Atlanta's Ivy Hall

May
20
2015
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In honor of Preservation Month, we celebrate Savannah College of Art and Design's Ivy Hall. On May 21, 1917, the Great Fire of Atlanta spared one of the South’s rare examples of Queen Anne-style architecture, the Edward C. Peters House, or Ivy Hall after the Peters family symbol. Flanked at the time by a long dirt road, now the busy thoroughfare of Ponce de Leon Avenue, Ivy Hall landed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1971. In 2000, as The Mansion Restaurant, Ivy Hall barely survived another devastating blaze. It took more than fate to intervene and save the house a third time.

“We worked seven years on the process and we were glad to see SCAD come in on a white horse to really save the building,” said Boyd Coons, executive director of the Atlanta Preservation Center. "We stopped the destruction, but we needed SCAD to come in and be the steward of this.”

As Atlantans and tourists may recall, the once grand manor resembled a haunted house until SCAD received it as a donation in 2007. After undertaking an award-winning restoration that involved interior design and historic preservation students, the university reopened Ivy Hall in 2008 as home to SCAD Atlanta’s writing program.

That’s good preservation because it’s not just making a house a museum, it has a sustaining purpose. That kind of use and adaptive reuse is what’s really important. - Boyd Coons

Ivy Hall hosts writing classes and connects students and the public to renowned writers like New York Times best-selling author Augusten Burroughs, Camille Paglia, Pearl Cleage and Cinda Williams Chima. In this way, Ivy Hall’s importance has come full circle.

Another pivotal author, Margaret Mitchell, is said to have based Gone with the Wind’s character Rhett Butler on Richard Peters, father to Edward Peters who built Ivy Hall in 1883. His home lives on as a center for aspiring writers. Quite a journey for what was once considered one of Atlanta's most endangered places.

Randi Zuckerberg uncomplicates social innovation

April
28
2015
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Randi Zuckerberg is a busy woman. She’s the former director of market development for Facebook, the founder and CEO of boutique marketing firm and production company Zuckerberg Media, an author and, in her words, the Zuckerberg “who graduated from Harvard.” Also a sought-after speaker, Zuckerberg recently visited Savannah College of Art and Design in Atlanta. Keeping with the spirit of her online community and book Dot Complicated, Zuckerberg helped the audience at SCADShow decipher future trends in technology and social media. Interspersed with a technological ballad sung to the tune of Under the Sea and a nursery rhyme with lines like, “Eeny, meeny, miny, mode teach a toddler how to code,” Zuckerberg shared a list of trends we can’t ignore. Here are five takeaways from her talk What’s Next in Social Innovation and How We Interact with the 21st Century Consumer.

Entreployees rule
The maker movement has spawned the rise of the “entreployee,” people who work full-time for a business while launching one of their own. Many employers welcome this because they’re looking for creative people and problem solvers, which should make artists and designers optimistic about their career prospects. But be warned: changing employment trends mean changing hiring practices and your next interview might take place via Snapchat.

Social media is not optional
Social media is not a fad and smart companies are taking it seriously. There’s still unlimited potential for social media to revolutionize the business-to-consumer relationship. One example is the 1888 Hotel in Sydney, Australia where travelers with 10,000 Instagram followers stay free — yes, free.

Learn and learn from technology
From silly to serious, technology is achieving the unthinkable. 3D printers create everything from fashion accessories to prosthetics. Smart contact lenses will make it easier for diabetics to test their glucose levels. Online (and often free) educational tools mean people never have to stop learning and can learn just about anywhere. Fun toys and games can hook kids on science and engineering. We can learn a great deal from technology about how to think bigger in our respective professions.

Innovation is like a box of chocolates
With social and technological breakthroughs, you never know what you’re going to get. We have inventive educational toys, books and games. Then someone takes it too far and designs the iPotty. Fitbits are helpful, but does the world really need a scale that tweets the user’s weight? The same 3D printers that make shoes and iPhone cases can also make guns and bullets. Virtual reality can be used to help cure people of their phobias, but also to create first-person shooter games that, according to Zuckerburg, might be a little too realistic. Innovation inspires excitement, but also requires prudence.

Balance is best
The next great social innovation just might be unplugging. It is exactly what it sounds like: leaving technology behind for an afternoon or weekend. We can get ahead of this trend by enjoying the outdoors, wandering through a used bookstore, and talking to people without looking at our phone or taking a selfie. Not exactly the advice one would expect from a social media maven, but it's exactly why Zuckerberg is a breath of fresh air.

Catherine Ramsdell is the associate chair of liberal arts at SCAD Atlanta, and has been teaching writing and English courses at SCAD since 2000. She also writes for Popmatters.com, an online magazine of cultural criticism.

Loglines from aTVfest 2015

February
13
2015
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The star-studded line up of Savannah College of Art and Design’s third annual television festival sent #aTVfest trending. But true to the tag line – Go Behind the Screen - the buzz was as much about the people who make television as it was about the people on it. In addition to the actors, directors, producers, editors, show runners and programmers shared invaluable insights on the state of the industry. Below are some of the recurring themes that emerged from the panels and screenings.

Shows serving up the foreign and the familiar are surging.
Digital is the answer to two seemingly incongruous trends of shows getting simultaneously more personal and unfamiliar. The reason is, unlocked from the vise of linear TV, content is free to speak to narrower audiences. At the same time, the proliferation of content spawned by digital distribution has audiences wanting to go deeper into immersive worlds where they can escape the “noise” and get lost in a rare environment. It’s why Travel Channel greenlit coming of age adventure, "Boy to Man" and why "Game of Thrones" and "Downton Abbey" are favorites.

New technologies complicate workflow but are making content better.
Helping to feed the appetite for more immersive worlds on the small screen is the increasing affordability of visual effects for television. While permitting show creators endless creative freedom, the explosion of new technologies and formats can hamper show delivery and are transforming workflows. This is true of the most sophisticated formats, like Ultra HD, and the most pedestrian, like the refurbished cell phones being used to shoot a show for BET. What is a headache for post supervisors and editors, however, is a bonus for those entering the industry. Easy access to these tools for aspiring producers and editors, and their mastery of them before they get hired, will make it easier for them to land jobs, even while they're still students.

Cord cutters, ‘cord nevers’ and superfans are overthrowing business as usual.
To capture audiences who have never watched or rarely watch linear TV, networks are pulling out all the stops: giving pre-releases to Netflix and Amazon and producing original digital content alongside show content. It’s not just about finding audiences who aren’t watching TV, but about keeping the ones who are in front of the tube longer. So there are new tools in programmers arsenals, like pods of fresh content in the middle of commercials, deep teases, super teases, cliff hangers and marathon viewing. Then there’s the superfans, like "Scandal's" ‘gladiators.’ In the process of using their personal social networks to over share their enthusiasm for certain shows, these viewers become the ultimate brand ambassadors. In return, they expect direct access to the writers, actors and glam squads. More than ratings, social media and word of mouth are so crucial to a show’s success that some networks have added cast member social media classes to their marketing playbooks.

Authenticity is getting more authentic.
Technology like drones and HDR increasingly provide consumers an unrestricted and unfiltered view. Meanwhile, digital has heightened attention to diverse points of view. Both of these realties contribute to an appetite for real perspectives and an environment where TV can help you to truly connect instead of assimilate. So networks are moving away from creating situations to building shows around realities that already exist. This is easiest to see in unscripted programming like HGTV’s hit "Fixer Upper," which takes viewers into the marriage and renovation business of husband and wife team Chip and Joanna Gaines.

Livestream: aTVfest panel explores the future of television

February
7
2015
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On Saturday, February 7 at 11 a.m. EST, watch the aTVfest Television Roundtable live from Atlanta. TV journalists will offer their insight on the state of the industry, including why television is in a golden age, the impact of airing online versus broadcast and cable, their favorite TV shows and more. 

 

The making of a viral wedding video

January
5
2015
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Before the holidays, you may have shared, "Liked" or received Savannah College of Art and Design alum Tony Pombo’s (M.F.A., film and television, 2008) viral wedding video. His Atlanta-based production company Iris Films documented a husband (Steven) surprising his wife (Kelli) with an epic anniversary celebration, then watched the social media stratosphere explode with admiration. It’s proof that good work speaks for itself. With a season full of engagements complete, and eager brides gearing up to plan their nuptials, the timing couldn’t be better for Tony’s business. Here’s the story behind the video and his success as an entrepreneur. It’s not Tony's first viral video.

Thread: What do you think about all the attention your video has received? How did it get picked up by BuzzFeed and Cosmopolitan?

Tony Pombo: This video has been a whirlwind for me. It has gotten all kinds of exposure, which is fantastic. When completed, I sent it over to the husband in the video for review. He loved it and put it on his YouTube channel immediately. Slowly but surely, it got more and more hits and shares. Before we knew it, it was being picked up by all sorts of media outlets. Pretty exciting stuff.

T: How did this collaboration between you and the client unfold?

TP: It came about just as any other wedding video would go. He took a look at my work and really liked the look and feel that I have in my videos, so he reached out. This was months and months prior to the big day. We were in constant contact throughout and discussed all aspects of the shoot.

T: Tell us about directing the video and your production decisions: crew, cameras, audio, etc.

TP: We have filmed all sorts of weddings, from the fun and quirky, to million dollar extravaganzas. One of the key things I learned from my experience is that traveling light is the best way to go. I keep all of my essentials within arms reach, but the smaller the better. For this shoot, there were two videographers (myself and another), two cameras (Canon 5D Mark III and Mark II), and two lavaliere packs that I mic’d the husband and the rabbi with. The husband hired a coordinator to go over the logistics of people moving, arranging the band, keeping secrets, etc. I met with them to stay in the loop and it all went flawlessly.

T: What storytelling devices or techniques did you call upon?

TP: One of the biggest things was getting the story from the horse’s mouth as soon as we got there. That way, I wouldn’t need to waste a lot of time with slates telling us what was going on. We were able to hear it from the husband and hear the excitement and passion in his voice. Another thing was that he had originally planned for me to film his wife getting blindfolded and then follow them in a separate car back to the house. I suggested that we lead her into the backseat instead while I rode in the front so we could get a firsthand look and her initial reaction.

T: When it comes to a viral video, do you think it’s the content or the form that compels people to share it?

TP: It’s really a toss up, as it could be either or a combination of both. You never really know what is going to get picked up or not. Sometimes it’s just a feeling. For example, I had a feeling that this would be big the moment I heard the idea. I had another video go viral about a month before this one. It’s a personal video that I did where we revealed to my mom the gender of our baby. I knew that it would hit big just because of my mom’s reaction. I got calls from Yahoo and The Ellen Show and all sorts of places. It just goes to show that it could be something you just randomly shoot on your phone or a produced piece. It just happens.

T: Why did you get into the wedding business? Wedding videography seems to have evolved significantly.

TP: I was working as a creative director for a company after graduating from SCAD. I decided to shoot weddings on the weekends, as they were not a conflict of interest with my job and I could make some extra cash. I did my first few weddings for free to get an idea of how they are. I really liked it. They are extremely fast-paced and hectic at times, but I meet tons of really amazing people and contacts all the time, which have led to all sorts of other work. People seemed to like my take on weddings and I was getting more and more popular. Enough so that I was able to leave my job and focus on my business full-time. It has been a dream come true. And, yes, the wedding videography scene is not like it was 10-20 years ago. People get a chance to have an actual cinematic experience where they are the stars instead of their uncle with a handy cam capturing their day. It really is an awesome opportunity for the couples.

T: What are the benefits of using your film degree outside of the mainstream industry?

TP: I think it just helps to add a bit more validity to what I do. I am very proud of my MFA degree and I know that it gives me a bit of an advantage when being compared to others in my field.

T: As a professional storyteller, what advice do you give your clients on documenting their most important memories?

TP: My biggest advice is just to be yourself. Every wedding is different because the people are different. And that is a great thing. Even people who are camera shy, that is totally fine. They just get lost in the moment of the day while spending it with their new spouse that they forget we are even there. I like to try and make it feel that I have known, not only the couple, but all of their friends and family for years. Like I am an old friend coming in to shoot their wedding for them. To be honest, this is one of my best secrets that people talk about when recommending me to others. Personality on the day is so crucial.

T: How did SCAD prepare you to form a successful production company?

TP: SCAD helped me the most by giving me a direction to follow in my life. When I graduated from my undergraduate university, I was still a bit lost on which path I wanted to go down. I was passionate but not the most confident in my work. SCAD helped me evolve and grow as a filmmaker and as an adult, which ultimately led to my business.

T: What insights would you share with film students or those looking to attend film school?

TP: Be open to new ideas and new people. This is such a collaborative industry where it is all about networking and being social. You are going to work with people that you might not necessarily have hung out with before attending film school, and more often than not, they will inspire you and help you grow as an artist.

T: What’s next for you and Iris?

TP: I am branching further into branding and creative, corporate work along with more fun and exciting weddings. I also want to get back to my film roots and create another short film or two in the near future. I just had my first little girl a few months back and she has become my full inspiration to tackle the world. 2015 is going to be great.

Where to look for the next big idea in design? The university.

December
17
2014
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Given, there’s a universal quality to “good design.” But how far does universal go? When it comes to solving for design dilemmas and implementing these solutions in city-specific ways, does good design really mean the same thing in New York, London, Paris? Across all continents? In the case of SCADpad®, World Architecture News answered “yes” when it handed Savannah College of Art and Design its first international award for the SCADpad micro-house community.

Attracting more than 1,300 entries from 72 countries, the WAN Awards are among the largest of their kind, and a barometer for what’s trending in architecture and urban design on a global scale. SCADpad emerged a winner from a long list of submissions from countries as far flung as Singapore and Sydney, Florence and Monterrey.

Why does SCADpad resonate internationally? It goes beyond the three prototypes, inspired by and named for Asia, Europe and North America.

SCAD is a global institution with a presence on three continents and a diverse student body that hails from more than 100 countries worldwide. A natural and regular outgrowth of its composition are projects that transcend international borders and push the limits of what’s being done in design.

That’s a good idea! We have been talking about this for years and here they did it. -WAN Award judge Mark Mimram, Marc Mimram Architects, Paris

Even when SCAD acts locally, as it did when it built SCADpad in its back yard (well, parking deck), its agenda is global. Underpinning that agenda is a belief that design can change the world, and the world view of aspiring designers who are informed by experiences in their home countries, like industrial design student Chung-Hsiang Wang (Taichung City, Taiwan) who created 3-D objects for SCADpad.

I've lived in Bombay and seen the space constraints, especially in the slum area. Micro-housing units could be a solution. - Sharika Menon, interior design student and SCADpad resident

Secondly, when design efficiently addresses a pressing social concern, especially one that is widely held, it sparks conversation. Globally, the urban population is expected to increase to 5 billion people over the next two decades. With half the world’s population already living in urban areas, this increase will squeeze the global housing inventory even more. Simultaneously, the parking garage has reentered the dialogue and presented new opportunities for architectural ingenuity. Think 1111 Lincoln Road in Miami.

SCAD aligned these trends, added a dose of expertise in adaptive reuse, and created a laboratory where 75 graduate and undergraduate students from 12 academic programs - including furniture and interactive design, architecture and design for sustainability - could apply their solutions for the urban housing shortage.

The resulting SCADpads may not have been created outside of the university setting. If urban design by its nature is transdisciplinary, then very seldom do the resources exist outside of a collaborative setting like the academic one to solve for the kind of pressing global issues that rarely see breakthrough solutions.

So, it appears, SCADpad was recognized by an international body as much for the final result as it was for the process behind its creation.

Though it was the only university-sponsored project among WAN’s 2014 urban design contenders, SCADpad is evidence that, just as the world depends on research universities for scientific breakthroughs, we can look to art and design universities to inspire and deliver viable concepts for our most pressing social challenges. We should follow WAN's lead and take a closer look inside these classrooms for the next big ideas.