Center for Design Innovation in Winston-Salem hires new director

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — The Center for Design Innovation completed today a yearlong search for its new director with the hiring of Pamela Jennings, effective Oct. 1, according to the Winston-Salem Journal.

Jennings replaces Carol Strohecker, the center’s founding director, who resigned in August 2013 after seven years to become vice provost for academic affairs at Rhode Island School of Design.

The center was established in 2005 as a multi-campus research center of the UNC system, the result of a partnership between Winston-Salem State, UNC School of the Arts and Forsyth Technical Community College. The center has been operating since 2007 at a temporary site in Winston Tower.

Jennings most recently served as a professor of Art and Human Computer Interaction at Carnegie Mellon University.

Jennings becomes the center’s director, and a faculty member at WSSU and UNCSA. She was not available for comment.

Jennings brings “an impressive body of work from academe, industry and public service to the center,” Corey Walker, dean of the College of Arts, Sciences, Business and Education at WSSU, said in a statement.

“She has a bold and expansive vision for the center and the proven ability and leadership to realize its potential in advancing the economic development of the Winston-Salem community.”

Jennings is a former National Science Foundation program officer in the Computer Information Science and Engineering directorate. She led the foundation’s CreativeIT and co-managed the Human Centered Computing research funding programs.

Through a joint professorship at Carnegie Mellon between the School of Art and the Human Computer Interaction Institute, Jennings explored the synergies between digital media, interaction design, and design of complex systems, software programming and embedded computing.

Rachel Desmarais, vice president of planning and information services at Forsyth Tech, said Jennings will offer the center a blend of understanding creativity and technology with experience in research and application.

The hiring of Jennings is the latest development for the center, which is preparing to move into its headquarters.

The center broke ground in February 2012 on an $8 million building that local officials hope will serve as a physical and symbolic anchor for the southern part of downtown Winston-Salem and the South district of Wake Forest Innovation Quarter. Construction on the second phase began in November.

The 27,000-square-foot building at 450 Design Ave. also will serve as a test – and an opportunity – for determining how well creative and design fields work as engines in a knowledge-based economy.

The center specializes in two areas: motion-capture techniques and rapid prototyping.

Motion-capture techniques support animation for films, video games and mobile applications, as well as improvements in health care related to physical and occupational therapy. The techniques can provide analyses of moving or flexible machinery and movements of people engaging in activities such as dance and sports.

Rapid-prototyping techniques support the design and development of furnishings, textiles, medical devices and other industrial products through a quick-design cycle that includes 3D modeling.

The goal is having 200 to 300 people using the facility on a daily basis once it’s fully operational.

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