Cross-Disciplinary Team Wins The Learn by Doing Scholar Award

Javier de la Fuente (Associate Professor of Industrial Technology and Packaging), Irene Carbonell (Lecturer of Industrial Technology and Packaging), and Mary LaPorte (Professor Emeritus of Art and Design) were honored last week during convocation with the Learn by Doing Scholar Award for Completed Research. Only two Learn by Doing Scholarships are given each year: a $2,000 award for completed research, and $1,000 award for proposed or in-progress research. Each is granted in recognition of faculty who directly contribute to the instructive understanding and practice of Learn by Doing.

Professors de la Fuente, Carbonell, and LaPorte were recognized for their work on a four-year collaborative pedagogical research project entitled “Design Thinking as a Framework for Teaching Packaging Innovation,” which employs a design-thinking, project-based learning approach to improve the creativity and innovation of their students.

The faculty members devised a framework to advise and coach cross-disciplinary teams of graphic design students and packaging students. The resulting student work has been widely recognized at national and international design competitions, earning a total of 33 accolades from independent industry judging panels—an average of four awards per cross-disciplinary course collaboration.

As a result, during this four-year period, Cal Poly won a total of seven awards at the WorldStar Student Design Competition, the most awards of any American university. Cal Poly also became the first university in the world to place two top winners at this global competition.

The faculty members’ work has additionally resulted in a peer-reviewed article published early this year in the Journal of Applied Packaging Research, led to a conference paper at the International Association of Packaging Research Institutes (IAPRI) Symposium 2019, and prompted conference presentations in the Netherlands and the U.S. Their research is expected to influence students, colleagues, and the packaging profession at large.