Aura Escobar is making strides in the industrial design world since graduating from Columbus College of Art & Design in May 2017. After spending six months post-graduation working in artificial intelligence for a Kansas City-based startup specializing in open source voice assistance, the recent grad is back in Columbus putting her experience to good use as junior design researcher at Stratos Innovation Group, a company that provides research and design strategy to organizations in the healthcare, retail, and finance industries.
Noting the influence of rigorous course study at CCAD and strong mentorship from professors, Escobar said her academic background prepared her with the in-practice knowledge necessary to be in a field she loves.
With a particular interest in design research — a revelation she came to while taking both Design Methodologies and Human Factors courses at CCAD, Escobar’s current work involves being in the field to understand user behaviors, emotions, and requirements. That knowledge allows her to then provide strategic insight for the design process, including for product development, services, and go-to-market strategy.
She said industrial design’s importance to society is a sign of the times, playing a significant role in understanding people and how they interact with the world around them.
Beyond a focus on products, the concept of design research has the potential to extend to other areas of society at a service level, like politics and social change, areas where understanding human behavior can help design laws and address important needs, Escobar added.
Thinking about her own role in the future of industrial design, she eventually sees herself focusing on the social stream.
“I feel a lot of organizations that have those capabilities don’t necessarily have the time or budget to spend really understanding the needs to design for a better society,” she said. “In the long term, I do see myself going into the social innovation stream — designing for social change and using my skills to do so.”