Our Interaction Design student Sofia Lewandowski spent one year abroad at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit finishing her master’s studies in Interaction Design. Here is her review:
At College for Creative Studies (CCS) in Detroit, I spent two semesters (fall and winter) in the Interaction Design major, while attending classes and working on my Master’s thesis “Inclusion for Autonomous Transportation”. College for Creative Studies provided great conditions for me to work on my thesis, do necessary research and develop interaction designs. My supervisor, Paul Pangaro, Chair of Interaction Design at my host University, set up weekly thesis reviews. He was available anytime upon request and organized advisory meetings with external and independent advisors from industry and other department chairs and universities.
In Detroit I was able to find many opportunities to network. I attended automotive conferences. I talked to representatives at Rehabilitation Center and VA Hospital for my thesis research. I regularly attended VR meet-ups and other events. Paul Pangaro and the College in Detroit were supportive in helping to find new contacts and in allowing to attend events that were beneficial for my education.
The classes I attended were recommended by international officers Katherine Campbell and Francisco Lopez but I could design my schedule completely by myself. I added one more class from a different major that I personally was very interested in.
Quality of the host institution:
College for Creative Studies is known for high student performance. The College provided me with enough sources to be productive and motivated. I improved my individual skills in coding, designing interfaces and using research methods. The College staff was very knowledgeable and supportive. During the first “International orientation week” organized by CCS, I was introduced to the College culture, the city itself and the safety rules on and off campus. Peer mentors were assigned to international students and were always available for any questions and concerns. The school sent out weekly emails about different activities and events. Ryan Harrison from the housing department provided an on-campus housing for me on my early request. The place called Scott at Brush where I lived during my exchange year was very convenient in the midtown area of Detroit. The CCS shuttle service that runs between campuses and on campus housings transports students safely.
Contacts within the host institution, inclusion in the organization:
At CCS I got to know my peer mentors, fellow students, instructors, department chairs, international officers and other institution representatives. I was able to participate in classes, events and felt free to give feedback by the end of the semester. I was fully integrated into the CCS life and enjoyed.
Recommendations for the future exchange students:
I am happy that I had a chance to be a part of the CCS in Detroit, one of the UNESCO Cities of Design. I received a lot of support during that time from my home and host university. The stay at CCS was a unique experience for me. The motor-city offers a lot of opportunities to explore and discover. I suggest to start early enough with the application process. It takes some time to manage the bureaucracy and go through the application process. I recommend to live on campus and not off campus. It is very safe and convenient. You won’t have to worry about night travels after lectures since the free shuttle service transportation runs between the university and on-campus housings 24/7. The campus security makes sure that the students stay safe. I recommend to take not more than five classes each semester. They will already make you very busy. It feels like having five little, individual projects that have to be submitted and presented weekly.
If you are thinking about writing a thesis at CCS, begin your research about the topic you want to work on as early as possible. At CCS, they start working on their Master’s theses already in the third semester as one of the five other classes for 6 credits out of 15. Be self-motivated. Ask for help and advice but explore the opportunities on campus and outside of the campus a lot on your own. The university approved my desire to attend many thesis-related events that I found by myself. They will support your commitment.
Please see my portfolio to evaluate the projects I was working on at CCS: sofialewandowski.com
Text: Sofia Lewandowski Photography: CCS Detroit