September 02, 2015

EXP2 Capstone Videos: Stories from our second class.

As a way of sharing learnings from their year, our students and videographer friends at Northbound Pictures produced brief Capstone Videos. These nine videos were on display at EXPO, but, amidst the inspired conversations and great company, may have been overlooked.

Now, we’d like to point you directly to them and the remarkable stories they tell about our second cohort of students. Click through the videos below to see what can happen when individuals rise to the challenge of designing their own education. Or, you can click right here and head straight to our Vimeo channel.

With a background in aerospace engineering, Jonathan entered Ei with an interest to lend his technical skills to the education sphere. To best engage this new space, he found community among education leaders from California to New York and Alabama to Chicago. Bolstered by this community, he was led to a spring term at Design Tech High School in Millbrae, CA, where he used design thinking to empower youth with skills to handle 21st century challenges. In his third and final term, he joined NuVu Studio in Cambridge, MA, to work as an engineering and design coach for their design studio.

Zak joined Ei with the hope of applying his background in business to create meaningful solutions. This hope found its application under the tutelage of serial entrepreneur and Ei connector Phil Tadros, as he gave Zak the opportunity to help launch Aquanaut Brewing Company in Chicago. For term two, he travelled to join a product design startup in San Francisco called Fellow where he witnessed the challenges faced during the manufacturing process. Then, for his third and final term, he racked up flight miles by traveling to Hong Kong to work with Cocoon, gaining insights into one of the most essential processes of any startup: funding. The year taught him that building things that matter is all about strong teams, great products, key resources and, all the while, an unwavering belief in what you’re building.

Stephanie began her year at Ei with the goal of finding direction in her career, which led to a series of unique professional experiences. She spent the fall in Chicago with a hostel management company called Holiday Jones, partnering with a company that lives by themes very close to her heart: travel and hospitality. For her winter term, she escaped the cold Midwest and collaborated with the founders of First Seating to lead workshops where teams can share meaningful conversations – all while eating delicious food. For her third and final term, she joined Equity Commonwealth, a commercial real estate startup, where she was challenged by a new industry and environment. Through all of these experiences she has learned to design a life of intention; realizing that her most valuable contributions come from being true to her strengths.

Olenka’s desire to explore the power of place brought her to Ei. She was seeking to learn how to create environments and experiences that delight and refresh. During first term, she was invited to co-design a space for Leo Burnett’s multicultural ad agency, Lapiz. The corporate skyscraper that houses Lapiz couldn’t have been more different than the wide open West where she’d find herself next. For term two, she travelled to West Texas to work at an outdoor hotel called El Cosmico, where she learned how story and ethos of a landscape can be integrated into a space’s design. A happy medium between city and desert was struck third term, as she found herself collaborating with the design team behind The Bunkhouse Group – a hotel management and consulting group known for unlocking the beauty and wonder of a place – in Austin, TX.

Melanie ditched the well-worn path of business school to explore a new stage of her career with Ei, which fell graciously at the intersection of education and design. Using the first term to help develop Ei’s systems and strategies, she pitched Chicago Ideas Week and Stanford d.School. She also partnered with our connectors at gravitytank to create the initial prototypes for Ei’s first product offering, Leap Kit. During her spring and summer terms, she fully immersed herself in projects with Dalberg Impact Group based in New York. Those projects led her to Asia twice – collaborating on sustainable development initiatives in Vietnam and on a microfinance project with the World Bank in Bangalore, India. For the previous six years, Melanie had studied design and learning, but this year was all about living it.

In her previous life, Nicole worked as a scientist and a poet. She joined Ei to see how these two worlds could merge, specifically by utilizing technology to tell stories. First term had her conducting research and interviewing staff at a creative agency in Geneva, IL, called Rule29. The result of her work was presented in the form of a publication on workplace culture. Second term had her in the thick of Dev Bootcamp’s 18-week intensive software training program, where she dedicated upwards of 12 hours a day learning how to code. For her third and final term she wanted to use her new coding skills to document Chicago's socioeconomic and racial divides by examining the route the Red Line cuts through the city. In her former life as a writer, she had complete control over the building blocks used. This year, she learned to build stories out of bits and pieces, be they film clips or data sets.

After working for six years as a teacher in Tokyo, Lance was looking to segue back into life in the West. Ei served as his vehicle for this transition. For the first term he found solace in the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest, working as a content strategist with Cause+Affect in Vancouver, BC. Then, he sought to enrich his portfolio through collaboration with leading digital creative agency SapientNitro in Chicago. For his final term, he left America again; this time taking on a communications role for a Japanese project design team working in Milan, Italy, called Peace Kitchen. Lance used the year with Ei to reestablish his place in the world, realizing that it’s something he can carry with him wherever he goes.

After a career as a scientific researcher, Chevy Williams sought to utilize a year with Ei as a bridge from academia to business. She began her year learning to code at the Chicago campus for software development school Dev Bootcamp. The challenges of learning a new language, all while maintaining consulting work, proved to be too much and so she pivoted her pursuits. Design collaboration opportunities led her to work with Starting Bloc, a fellowship that engages and supports leaders of change in business and education in Los Angeles, and frog design, a leading global product design firm in Austin. The year didn’t always serve her what she wanted, but it provided her with what she needed to acquire new skills, build out her community of support, and clarity in seeing the next stage of her journey.

Heralding from Logan, UT, Toph grew up in a creative family. His year began with an interest in the intersection of creativity and business, but, in the process, he learned about design. During his first term in Chicago, he worked as communications specialist with EPIC, a nonprofit that connects creative professionals with non-profits to solve challenges. Wanting to gain a wider breadth of experience, he boarded a plane for Madrid where he joined Soulsight as a design strategist. The work saw him contributing to projects for clients like IKEA, and had him do so entirely in the Spanish language. For his final term, he returned to Chicago to work as a UX designer and content strategist for renowned advertising agency Ogilvy and Mather.

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