BY CHRIS HUSSEY
When Tom Bishop, co-ordinator of the bachelor of design program, met with the applied research department in the summer of 2015, he didn’t really know anything about the research being done at Conestoga College. So, when he learned about what kind of projects the college was doing, he saw an opportunity.
“I found myself thinking, ‘This is amazing. We have to tell this story,’” he said.
About a semester and a half later that idea had evolved far beyond what anyone ever imagined.
Bishop has overseen the students in his program take the lead this year on designing a publication which will showcase the research and work being done at Conestoga College. This publication will come in the form of a magazine, named Archive, and will be published annually. The name combines the acronym A.R.C., which stands for applied research at Conestoga, and the word hive, which is intended to portray Conestoga as a “hive” of activity.
Greg Robertson, director of the applied research and innovation department, said Bishop’s observation really made him realize that the department needed a way to communicate their message to the broader community.
“We realized we definitely needed a lot of help to make that story more successful,” he said.
In order to do so, Bishop suggested that the students in his program collaborate with the department to produce a magazine, similar to what other post-secondary institutions do. Robertson loved the idea and the two started the process of bringing it to life.
From there, it was a matter of designing and shaping what it would look like. That’s where the design students came in. Bishop and his colleagues in the program actually incorporated this project into some of the courses students were in. They brought together the first- and second-year students to work in teams to create a design for the magazine. The instructors were available throughout the process to give direction and provide support, but for the most part, it was the students doing the actual work.
After they had developed their designs, the seven teams pitched these mock-ups to judges outside of the program. These judges eventually settled on a design, and Joschka Sawatzky, a second-year student in the program who was part of the winning team, said a big part of their success was thinking outside of the box.
“We had this opportunity to be involved and say, ‘no, we’re going to put a creative spin on this and do things that may not have been seen as much in other academic journals,’” he said.
It’s easy to see that creativity present itself in their design. Sawatzky and his team members took the imagery of a beehive and used it as a visual theme to connect to the name of the magazine.
They used a lot of hexagons and similar shapes to do this, and they also used a lot of design elements like photography and typography.
Steven Curtis, also a second-year student and Sawatzky’s teammate, said it meant a lot to him and his classmates that the applied research department was willing to work with them, especially considering how their program is still new.
“The fact that they trusted us with this is nothing short of incredible,” Curtis said.
This semester, faculty took the project out of the program itself and made it into a co-curricular opportunity. To provide an incentive for students and recognize those who worked on it outside of class time, the program reached out to the Student Life department to get them recognized on the Co-Curricular Record (CCR). The CCR is a document that is similar to a transcript, but is intended to officially document involvement outside the classroom.
Now, in the students’ second term, the goal is to turn that design into a printed publication. Bishop said the challenge they have faced is generating the actual content for the magazine, as they need writers to produce those articles and information. To deal with this, Bishop reached out to Bernard Gauthier, co-ordinator of the bachelor of public relations program, to possibly collaborate with them as well. However, Bishop said putting all the content together and figuring out the logistics might mean the magazine might not get published until next year.
“We’re on a fairly tight timeline, that’s the challenge,” he said.
While pulling it together in time this year might be difficult, there are certainly no shortages of interesting research being done at the college. Some of these research projects include a solution for electronic waste recycling, an automated manufacturing system and an engineering project that provides an ergonomic solution for a manufacturing company, to name a few. The department itself focuses on research activities in the college community and refining the various centres of excellence at Conestoga.
Clearly, there is lots of research happening at Conestoga, but the future of the magazine remains uncertain. Bishop said despite this, putting the magazine together was a terrific learning experience for the students and is something that would really benefit the college.
“I think we have an opportunity here that I would hate to slip by,” he said.