We are extremely happy to be able to continue awarding scholarships to those that wish to continue their education and reach goals that benefit the community around them. Twice a year, we read through hundreds of essays and applications from enthusiastic students finding their way through the world while doing the thing they love most. Passion is what we believe drives creativity and experiencing that as we meet these applicants through their writing is incredibly humbling.
After another tough year through the pandemic, we’ve only seen more enthusiasm in those pursuing a college degree. Every one of the students that applied can change the world piece by piece and after careful consideration we are excited to announce we have selected Kevin Truong as the recipient of Creative Safety Supply’s 2022 Scholarship!
Kevin is currently a sophomore attending the Rhode Island Institute of Design and is pursuing a degree in Industrial Design. During the design process, Kevin notes that it’s not all just about generating new ideas and building prototypes. In fact, he enjoys the communication process that starts it all. This means talking with real people, doing research, collecting data from surveys, etc. His most recent project combines the routine occurrence of making coffee every morning and giving those who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis the capability to participate in that common morning routine as well.
We are happy to publish Kevin’s essays in their entirety here:
1. What career path have you chosen? What made you choose this path? (300-500 words)
It’s 1 A.M. and I find myself in my studio sawing away at wood, metalworking to bend some aluminum, doing research on Rheumatoid Arthritis and I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. I’m Kevin Truong, a current sophomore at the Rhode Island School of Design and I’m on a path to become an Industrial Designer.
Industrial Design is innovative, mutable, and diverse which is why I find myself loving it. I often talk to my friends in other fields and they are confused about what exactly I do, it’s not as clear cut as a doctor or lawyer; it’s a field which involves constantly generating and experimenting with new ideas. Industrial design is problem solving for people and it all starts with communication. I conduct research, write up surveys, and learn about what people struggle with everyday; it’s about starting with empathy.
For my most recent project, my objective was to redesign a coffee maker for someone in their mid seventies who has rheumatoid arthritis. Through this process I reached out to four individuals, heard about their stories, their struggles, and how they move through this world with an autoimmune disorder especially in a time like COVID-19. With these real life experiences I become an idea generator. It’s empowering as I go through experiments, brewing ideas of how I can best help these individuals through their struggles as I make models of different mechanisms and think about how I can create the best possible coffee maker experience.
I find myself running around between the wood shop and metal shops in the studio as I’m sanding away materials playing with what form this coffee maker can take, learning not just about rheumatoid arthritis but myself as a craftsman as well. I then bring models to the people I interviewed to receive feedback and the process starts once again. It’s the thought that I can continuously improve as an individual and refine my work with every attempt that keeps me so invested within this process.
My final critique then comes up where I discussed the pitfalls and the many trials it took to get to my final design. I talked about how much research I put in the process, the many different individuals I talked to, and how thankful I was for everyone around me who helped me throughout the process. Though it was difficult at some points, it was a process filled with collaboration, love, and fun.
And so I wish to continue down this path to meet fellow amazing designers and individuals who I can help, not just through designing simple day to day products but systems and new technologies that can aid in different spaces whether it be workplaces, or classrooms.
The boundless potential of everything I can do through industrial design is what keeps me hooked to this field and makes me proud to say is my passion, not just for myself but for all the individuals I hope to help along the way.
2. How have you used creative thinking/problem solving to help you accomplish your academic or personal goals? (500-750 words)
Being creative to solve problems I feel is often seen as something so individual and I’d like to disagree with that sentiment. Creativity for me is remixing, translating and bashing together existing ideas to generate something new and innovative.
I remember vividly struggling through a project over this last semester for the Game Design club that both Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design runs (BRGD). In this club we’re tasked with creating a video game in a time limit of 40 hours and I work as a producer. During club meetings I’m bouncing between the art, programming, sound and design teams keeping everyone up to speed with how our game project is going. I find myself talking about jargon like repositories and core loops with the programming team then critiquing color and characters with artists and then right afterwards listening to some beautiful background music. It’s a role where I am constantly having to encounter problems logistically for myself but aiding and supporting other individuals with a variety of different tasks. This role is not to be confused with being a director, I’m not in this space to command different people nor micromanage every task people are doing. I’m just a producer to make sure that people are ok, to have a little empathy for everyone and make sure things are running smoothly. I act as sort of a translator between everyone involved. And being a sort of translator for different teams I find it’s so important to be able to help individuals find common ground.
Where these teams intersect though is where we seemed to find most of the solutions. During one of our later meetings our art team was struggling to figure out a style to make some obstacles in and surprisingly our solution came from the programming team. By discussing the limitations of what the programming team could do in such a short amount of time, the art team went from generating dozens of ideas that were all over the place to subtracting ideas into what would work best for all teams. I realized that in this collaborative process conversations between art and design teams often solve problems for programming and vice versa. It sounds almost counterintuitive that to solve a problem inside a box that you don’t just think outside of the box but you clash another box into it. It’s these intersections between fields where I find the most ‘creative problem solving’ being born.
And so taking these sorts of intersections to a larger scale, as a future industrial designer, I find myself currently creatively solving most of my issues by talking to people outside of my field. Talking to pre-med majors, engineers, anthropologists, even writers and clashing their knowledge with my own and challenging assumptions or processes that I already know. I find solutions to my day to day work through uncanny and crazy means. Using methodologies that I would have never thought of and accepting that creativity and problem solving often comes from being the person in the room that knows nothing. It’s the acknowledgement that I as an individual don’t have all the answers and sometimes even my own field that I work in doesn’t. Being the person in the room that accepts ignorance while communicating with everyone allows innovative ideas to be generated. It’s throwing everything together except the kitchen sink, then throwing in the kitchen sink, then the bedroom, then the attic, and eventually creating a mansion of beautiful creative and collaborative ideas. For me, creativity for not just academic studies but my dreams was never just by myself nor would I ever want it to be. It’s just too fun to collaborate and communicate with others to create beautiful solutions to problems I face in my day to day.
As the winner of Creative Safety Supply’s 2021 Spring Scholarship, Kevin will receive $1,000 toward continuing his education. We couldn’t be happier to assist his efforts in improving his community.
We would also like to extend our sincere gratitude to everyone who applied for this scholarship. and we invite everyone who did not win to apply for our future scholarships. We host two scholarship contests each year, and the deadline for our next scholarship award ends on July 15th. If you or someone you know is attending an institute of higher learning, have a look at our scholarship page which includes all of the information necessary to apply.
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