Upper Canada College
Upper Canada College News
November 1, 2019

Design courses prepare students for real-world challenges

A team of seven UCC students attended the Machine Learning and Market for Intelligence Conference at the University of Toronto's Rotman School to learn about design and innovation. 

UCC’s robust design programming is extremely valuable in today’s ever-changing, technology-oriented landscape, says Paul Miskew, faculty chair of Upper School design department.

“We’re trying to prepare our students for the real world where there will be big, interdisciplinary problems that will need to leverage technology and use design thinking,” Miskew said.

In the International Baccalaureate (IB) Middle Years Programme, design courses require students to work on three major projects each year, each focused on a different aspect of design: coding, digital media and products. In Years 9 and 10, students choose one of the three streams as their focus, becoming experts in their chosen area. In Year 10, the course culminates with students in all three streams tackling the same design challenge from different angles.

“Technology is always changing, but the core skills we’re teaching in design courses are transferable,” Miskew said. ““For instance, they learn how to break down larger problems into a set of smaller problems that can be tackled individually. They also learn critical thinking and reasoning; to collaborate; to work in interdisciplinary teams; and to empathize.”

An interest in artificial intelligence and machine learning is a natural outgrowth of students’ exposure to design and technology. Recently, a team of seven UCC students parlayed that interest into a scholarship to an industry conference held at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School, called Machine Learning and the Market for Intelligence.

At the conference, says student Kevin Liu, “I learned about the many applications of AI targeted to solve societal problems, such as public healthcare, disaster relief and world hunger, applications that are not covered as extensively in the media, but arguably much more important.”

Notes Miskew, “We want to prepare the boys to be social entrepreneurs at heart, helping to create change.

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