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Wed 4 Mar 2009 04:00 AM

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Masters of design

In design, innovation is often sparked by confronting the unfamiliar. VCUQatar’s graduates make design the core of a business’ differentiation strategy.

In design, innovation is often sparked by confronting the unfamiliar. VCUQatar’s graduates make design the core of a business’ differentiation strategy.

The power of design runs far deeper than aesthetics. Chris Bangle, BMW's design chief, once said that the "definition semanticists use for ‘design' is meaning. Where there is meaning, there is design."

Put another way, behind every design is a process - a thought process. And that process transcends design itself. If you are mapping out a sales strategy, streamlining a manufacturing operation, or crafting a new system for innovating - if you work in the world of business - you are engaged in the practice of design.

For design, like business, is all about solving problems. Every design process confronts a time problem, a material problem, and a function problem.

And there are problems that spill over into the wider world of sales and marketing: What's the first point of customer contact? Where is the product sold? And what does the design do for the brand? The implications are clear: Design matters - to all of us. And that is why it is critical to any business' strategic direction.

In today's conservative economic environment, where most entrepreneurs are hunkering down and playing it safe, the constant round of new challenges is to design a new system or product that keeps everybody fresh.

Businesses have to make sure what customers discover on the shelves is different - more stylish, more current, and better-designed - than what they were finding in the marketplace.

Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar provides the platform for fresh heroes and heroines to design new ways of working, competing, learning, leading and innovating.Located in the heart of a region with an extraordinarily vibrant and diverse cultural heritage, VCUQatar plays a central role in the contemporary business and cultural life of Qataris and Middle Easterners.

Today's designers frequently cross disciplines, from architecture to graphic arts to industrial design to film to animation. Rules of design are constantly being redefined and reconfigured. VCUQatar seeks to mirror this real world of design.

The University's multicultural environment cultivates creative expression through individual growth for students during their studies.

Through the many gallery exhibitions, international conferences, lecture series, field studies, world-class fashion shows and workshops with visiting delegates presented each year to the community, VCUQatar allows students to embrace the entire design world and reframe it in a new way while establishing for itself an enviable reputation as a university of excellence with a distinct identity.

In May 2008, VCUQatar celebrated its seventh class of 39 graduates. The University currently has about 209 students - 108 Qatari and 101 international students representing 29 nationalities.

VCUQatar has an alumni network of 182 graduates working in various positions in the government and ministries in Qatar and in the private sector.

Many of them have also gone on to successfully establish their own businesses thereby contributing to the development of the SME culture Qatar is keen to promote.

This reiterates that what's changing in Qatar today is how the country's design and engineering schools are creating programs that bring together engineering, business and design students to facilitate the innovation process.

VCUQatar's goal is not just to have a lasting impact but to pave the path for students to actually turn their academic experiences into increased business and increased profitability, one that will take them far on the road to innovation.

For more information on the academic programs, international conferences and events please visit www.qatar.vcu.edu or email vcuqmarketing@qatar.vcu.edu.

RELATED LINKS:Getting clever, Etisalat Academy... The can-do organization, Higher learning, Leaders for a complex world

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