“I came to SCAD to help young designers create anything they put their minds to,” says professor of industrial design and user experience design Patricia Bell. “There is no limit to what students can accomplish if they have a good idea and the desire to see it through.”

Bell, who holds her Master of Sciences in mechanical engineering, returned to Savannah, her childhood home, in early 2021 to teach at SCAD. “I have always been an artist and see myself as a creative on a team of engineers,” she says. “At SCAD I can surround myself with creative individuals and give young designers the technical expertise to succeed.”

Before coming to SCAD, Bell worked for a decade as a government contractor designing tools to assist first responders coping with medical emergencies. “I developed advanced robotic technology that trains military personnel,” Bell says. “My goal was to help the army save lives and bring soldiers home safely.”

Bell’s work with the military helped her understand the relationship between designer and end user, and the pace at which the industry is changing. “I am going to encourage my students to fully dive into an issue that is meaningful to them,” she says. This academic year Bell will helm classes including Manufacturing and Assembly of Innovative Materials (IDUS 314), Prototyping Electronics for Designers (IACT), and Modeling Electronics for Designers (IACT 730). “We are going to spend ten weeks solving problems, understanding how to deliver for a targeted user, and creating a portfolio designed to build future success.”

Bell joins a user experience (UX) design program, originally developed in collaboration with Google, that prepares students to engineer experiences that are approachable and meaningful — involving everything from intelligent clothing to automobile interiors. “I want to help my UX students blur the lines between hardware and software,” Bell says. “They are going to create solutions that will outreach the digital realm.”

Bell will also teach in the industrial design program, where students acquire hands-on experience bringing their ideas to reality, advancing the university’s tradition of developing world-class designers.

“SCAD is focused on providing students with the skills to solve problems and the hands-on expertise companies are looking for in up-and-coming designers,” Bell explains.

In recent years, SCAD students have worked with some of the most recognizable brands in the world, including BMW, AT&T, Clayco, The Coca-Cola Company, Fisher-Price, Ford Motor Company, and Hewlett-Packard to invent practical solutions to real-world challenges.

“I want to help our students start their own businesses and R&D firms,” Bell says. “Our students will be able to leverage their ideas and create physical prototypes that will help launch and sustain their creative careers.”

Written by Robert Almand