- A place for future designers, tech experts, engineers and business minds striving for the extraordinary.
- Powered by a global faculty and unrivalled facilities to work and study in.
- Set in Sri Lanka’s latest innovation catalyst space ‘Colombo Innovation Tower' as part of an exceptional community of industry players, investors and future employers.
“The future of learning is interdisciplinary: the professional of tomorrow can no longer be unidimensional or a master of one thing—they need to have a combination of super-skills that allow them to navigate through diverse situations, adapt, problem-solve and create solutions. This means it’s time to disrupt the education system; it’s time we better prepare young people with the know-how they actually need to respond to the realities that await them. And this is what AOD’s groundbreaking new approach to university education is about.” — Dr. (Hon DCL) Linda Speldewinde, Founder and Chairperson of Design Corp Group of Companies/AOD
AOD presents a brave new pedagogy uniting tomorrow’s most wanted know-how; one where the idea of ‘knowledge’ is approached without age-old boundaries; an education that creates multidimensional thinkers instead of linear conventionalists. Making a massive shift in the study experiences available to students, AOD has announced that fashion and design education will now be offered parallel to studies in technology and engineering, as well as business and innovation. Four distinct schools centering each core discipline are in place at AOD, as ‘School of Design’, ‘School of Fashion’, School of Technology’ and Engineering’, as well as ‘School of Business and Innovation’. These four schools will offer a series of degree programmes that match up to the demands of the future, going from UI and UX Interaction Design and 3D Product Design, to radical combinations like General Engineering & Multidisciplinary Innovation, and Business Management and Design. This presents a fantastic opportunity to students interested in pursuing technology, engineering and business, as they can now access this education in a much more relevant and modern context, at an inspiring setting that incorporates creative thinking. For designers, AOD becomes a powerful entryway into the future creative sector as drivers of design thinking and big ideas for all services, products and industries.
Converging the future forces
Why integrate design, business, engineering and tech? Because these powerful forces will be shaping the future as major influencers of all industries. Facilitating young people interested in these sectors to study and work together during their education is one sure way to create synergy and collaboration between some of tomorrow’s most important workforces.
Forbes, the Harvard Business Review, Bloomberg, The World Economic Forum, BusinessWeek, The Guardian...all these global authorities have repeatedly discussed the significance of design to how we experience products, services, and even life itself.
Design—how things and systems work in relation to their users; and ‘design thinking’—the thought methodology followed in designing solutions, are frequenting the most valuable human attributes in the near future. AOD’s new focus on business innovation, engineering and technological education derives from the clear understanding that design thinking has a role to play in all these areas of study. This means that AOD’s tech studies offering gives students the ability to apply design thinking to make technology that is more user-friendly than ever before. Meanwhile the engineering studies offering from AOD takes the process of making to a whole new level of consumer relevance. The business studies offered at AOD will allow students to approach the enterprising through the lens of design thinking led innovation.
What does a design, tech and business interdisciplinary education look like?
Many traditional universities already have these four faculties; but, the uniqueness here is the interdisciplinary ecosystem which will allow the links between these disciplines to bringing them together. At AOD, the interdisciplinary learning experiences converging tech, design, engineering and business will offer partly open curricula, with the ability to tap into knowledge and practices in all three areas. This means that a business and innovation major will be able to access knowledge in accessory design to set up a retail business, while also having an understanding on tech applications that will help them streamline processes, production and even design; or an interior designer will be able to experiment with the idea of building a business model for 3D printing low cost housing options for underdeveloped communities.
“Enabling students to learn from multiple disciplines is a crucial step towards helping them address the real big problems facing society. This is particularly important since we cannot predict what the future problems might be. The future professionals need to be able to improvise, problem solve and create new solutions drawing from a diverse set of experiences and knowledge.”
AOD’s new interdisciplinary education approach will also facilitate deeper frameworks for collaboration. A design brain may never be able to collaborate with a business brain unless they understand the opportunities and boundaries of each realm. Therefore, even for students who want to focus on one area of study, this multi-dimensional education builds a solid standing ground to have wider understandings that encourage collaboration between people of different disciplines.
A new generation of hybrid professionals
AOD’s vision for the unusual professionals who will graduate through this new approach, is that they will have a real understanding of our ability to augment the human experience for a better quality of life. Their ability to envision the previously unimagined; their competence in using technology to enable unprecedented levels of speed, reach and accessibility; and their ability to create ethical, profitable and sustainable models of business for these ideas, is what will set this group apart from their predecessors. AOD foresees the graduates of their new approach to education to become radical thinkers and design doers, part tech natives and part business makers—all at the same time.
Whether they are a designer, a software architect, a design engineer, technologist or an IT expert, they will have an understanding of the commercial and social applications of creativity. They will also know how tech has a fundamental influence in shaping the way they approach design and business, along with its opportunities, limitations and applications. A new view into commercial systems, good practices, professional etiquette and responsibilities that derive from the unique wisdom of the South Asian region and progressive global practices will also be instilled in them as the essential foundations leading to do work that positively impacts others’ lives.
“This means designers who can influence the future of mobility; technology makers who can resolve health and nutrition issues; business makers who can democratise energy.”
AOD’s new chapter begins somewhere incredibly inspiring. Implementing the new approach to education with the interdisciplinary mix of programmes, AOD has announced that it will move to reside at the soon-to-be-launched Colombo Innovation Tower (CIT). With the CIT being South Asia’s latest catalyst space for design led innovation, it is only apt that Sri Lanka’s leading design influencer is operating at its centre. As the design nucleus of the Colombo Innovation Tower, AOD will be surrounded by brands and businesses like the Dutch circular design authority CIRCO, Fashion for Good, SLINTEC, HNB wealth management, to name a few. In addition to this, a hundred odd independent creators, tech experts and entrepreneurs will be in and out of the CIT space on a daily basis, creating a true melting pot of ideas, inspiration and opportunities for collaboration. Furthermore, as part of this potent ecosystem, AOD students will be constantly surrounded by future employers and potential investors, multiplying their opportunities for growth. At CIT, AOD’s Interdisciplinary learning projects and collaborative methods will give its students innovation incubator opportunities, a tech enabled makers’ laboratory and the Center for Creative Enterprise dedicated to professional development
“Innovation is not limited to one discipline; it harmonises links between different disciplines. So, as a vision for Sri Lanka and the South Asian region—it’s about being open, being interdisciplinary and a drive for a cultural understanding of what it means to be human.” –Prof. Steven Kyffin, Pro Vice-chancellor (Business and Enterprise), Northumbria University UK
“The blurring lines between disciplines working together has lead to ‘design’ becoming a connector between sectors like tech and other industries… creativity and technology are among the nine industries selected as the most important economic forces to the Netherlands, and we believe they have a similar significance for Sri Lanka and South Asia too.” –Bart Ahsmann, Managing Director, CLICKNL Netherlands
“The role of design is no longer limited to creating a specific product or a specific service; it’s about taking the whole environment into account, to bring in system development with all kinds of stakeholders; where you bring everyone to the table and come up with new solutions.” –Lucie Huiskens, CLICKNL project leader of Design Innovation Sri Lanka, Netherlands
“The AOD perspective is that ‘design’ is a lot bigger than designing a product—a single thing you can hold—but, that it is a mindset and way of working that can be applied to many things from services to organisations, to really have an impact on how people work.” –Paulien Strijland, CEO and Cofounder of Design for Good, Netherlands