Course helps Design 214 students build a career

The most effective learning opportunities often incorporate problem-solving that students will face in their careers, which is what made this year's design challenge so valuable for Design 214 students.

Students from all six comprehensive high schools are enrolled in Design 214, taught by Jeff Bott, a Buffalo Grove division head, and Patrick McGing, a Project Lead the Way instructor, as part of the Architectural and Engineering career pathway in Northwest Suburban High School District 214.

Bott explains that the class evolved from students seeking a deeper dive into architecture and design than previous course iterations offered.

Typically, Design 214 students have designed a home to be built the next year by Practical Architecture Construction students. When the pandemic disrupted that cycle, the class adjusted its sights and focused on designing educational spaces - more specifically, offering redesign plans for Elk Grove High School's suite of nurse, counselor and student success offices.

Redesigning existing space, Bott explains, gave students a challenge significantly different from designing a new space on a blank tablet. This time, students were tasked with updating and refreshing the space - perhaps utilizing space more efficiently - while retaining the everyday utility needed by staff.

Ken Roiland and Marta McCullough, director and assistant director of D214 Operations, helped provide guidelines for student work.

Along the way, students received additional professional guidance from Chicago commercial firms KI Furniture and National Office Furniture. Representatives from both companies offered ideas about furniture, flooring, accessory and lighting options. These contacts, Bott says, also serve to broaden students' perspectives on career options.

"These professionals help students see all the options," Bott said. "They explain to students that, 'Hey, you may have gotten into this because of an interest in design, but there are all kinds of other related careers. Sales people. Marketing managers. You work for this company, and you could choose from all of these different jobs, all under the umbrella of design.'"

Every designer, marketing manager and salesperson needs a client - a role filled this time by Elk Grove Principal Paul Kelly, who recently received 20-minute presentations from each of three teams from Design 214. Each presentation utilized design software, creativity and knowledge gained over the year.

While no definite plans have been made to implement the Elk Grove remodeling, this learning experience gives the school options and tomorrow's designers a wealth of applied experience.

"It's an incredible experience when students have the opportunity to go in depth on a possible career path, work with industry professionals, all while also designing a space that could directly impact themselves and their peers," said McGing.

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