New IDEA School of Design Diploma Launching Fall 2023

The two-year Interaction Design Diploma will be offered at the Lonsdale Campus

Bridget Stringer-Holden (she/her) // News Editor
Chelle Lussi // Illustrator

The new two-year Interaction Design Diploma will be offered as part of Capilano University’s IDEA School of Design. In-person classes will be held at the Lonsdale campus, and the diploma will include a work-integrated learning experience and a final capstone project.

This program has been designed to fill a gap expressed by the industry — a shortage of designers for the tech sector. Ramin Shadmehr, Dean of the Faculty of Fine and Applied Arts, explained how the idea of user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) design isn’t new, but it’s becoming increasingly important in app design and development.

Shadmehr also pointed out how the newness of the program is actually beneficial because it is providing up to date UI/UX training and is based on current industry standards and practices.

“Any organization that deals with their stakeholders through a digital platform can definitely hire these graduates because if you’re designing an app, if you’re designing a website — even if you’re designing a digital magazine — you need a UI/UX designer to do it for you,” said Shadmehr, mentioning that UI/UX isn’t only for website, it can also include things like the Tesla car dashboards or Apple CarPlay.

Two years is also the optimal length, according to Christina Lee Kim Koon, an instructor and co-coordinator in the IDEA School of Design. Lee Kim Koon is excited about the opportunity to teach this subject because there’s a small portion of it within the bachelor, but the two-year diploma will really allow for a deep dive into the field.

Most programs that currently exist are either four-year degrees, or boot camp style programs that only last eight to 12 weeks.

“We’ve found from industry feedback that they want students that have more time and more training at school before they apply for jobs but we know for students that it’s quite expensive and hard to commit to,” said Lee Kim Koon. “Creating the two-year diploma was our way of balancing student preference versus industry preference, so that students come out with a good foundation but also can get through school pretty quickly compared to a four-year degree.”

The diploma has been in the works for almost two years, and is now launching in the Fall 2023 semester. It started with a concept paper, developed by the faculty, which then passed through the curriculum committee at Senate, and then was approved by the Board of Governors. Shadmehr was thankful that no revisions were required, meaning that once the concept paper was approved, the faculty could start conducting research and consulting stakeholders.

One of the priorities in the creation of the diploma was ensuring graduates are able to easily transfer into the third year of the Bachelor of Design without taking additional courses. The diploma fulfills the Cap Core and elective requirements that Bachelor of Design students would take in their first two years, making for a seamless transfer — even if students want to take some time off to work before coming back to school. There will still be an approval process — an assessment of the applicant’s portfolio and an interview — but it will be streamlined because the students already met the initial admission requirements.

While applicants are required to submit a portfolio, this is more to evaluate their compatibility with the program and doesn’t have to be a design portfolio. Shadmehr stressed that interest and passion is key, and that a portfolio can include painting, illustrations or anything else to illustrate the applicant’s artistic background.

“We are not approaching it in a way to say if you’re good enough for the program, we like to also assess to see if the program is a right fit for you,” said Shadmehr. He’s happy to meet with incoming applicants, in-person or online, to chat about the program. “We want to make sure [students] know what they are signing up for, and we are happy to answer any question they have,” he said.

The diploma is set up in a cohort, like the Bachelor of Design. “It really allows students to connect with their peers and build those relationships, but also get one-on-one instructor time, which isn’t often experienced in the university setting,” said Lee Kim Koon.

Applications for the Fall 2023 cohort are open until June 6, 2023, however, both Shadmehr and Lee Kim Koon suggest applying as soon as possible as there is only room for about 25 students. About half the positions are filled so far, and Shadmehr mentioned that he expects seats to be full by the end of April or early May.

More information about the Interaction Design Diploma is available on the CapU website

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