MICA's new product design program shows how art school is becoming entrepreneurial - Technical.ly Baltimore


Jun. 30, 2017 12:48 pm

MICA’s new product design program shows how art school is becoming entrepreneurial

The program, which debuts this fall, will be chaired by Leslie Speer. It'll be housed in the new Dolphin Design Center.

Leslie Speer will chair MICA's new product design program.

(Courtesy photo)

Along with training artists, MICA is showing more desire to educate students in creating business opportunities with their work.

That’s evident in community facing events, as the Station North arts college now runs a startup competition, and is helping students get space at OpenWorks makerspace.

The push is also turning up in class.

A newly created program debuting on the course schedule this fall will offer a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in product design. The program will be chaired by Leslie Speer, who previously taught at San Jose University and California College of the Arts. She also worked as a designer with DuPont, Philips and Oracle/Sun Microsystems, among others.

In an interview, Speer said product design is distinct from other artistic disciplines because of its focus on “who is going to be using that product.”

At the same time, the integration of new technology is transforming the discipline, she said. Along with a new major, MICA is looking to provide tools that will assist in those efforts. The program will be housed at the Dolphin Design Center, which will have labs that provide the tech tools for prototyping and fabrication, as well as space to collaborate. It also opens this fall.

A rendering of MICA's Dolphin Design Center (Courtesy photo)

A rendering of MICA’s Dolphin Design Center (Courtesy photo)

Along with the technology in those products, the program’s introduction reflects how creative businesses are changing. It debuts at a time when a new wave of product designers are becoming less services-oriented, and more integrated into a company’s overall team, Speer said.


“I think there’s an opportunity to create a product designer as the creative entrepreneur,” she said.

She believes design can play a role in social change. She’s applied design methodology to create economic programs that help farmers and artisans in countries like Mexico, Costa Rica, China and Cameroon.

Given MICA’s place in the city, Speer is looking to engage the community in Baltimore when she arrives from California later this summer.

“MICA is clearly a really strong force in Baltimore and really participates a lot in the development of the creative side of the city,” she said. “I’m really excited to come to Baltimore.”

  • Matt Marchand

    Baltimore is lucky to have someone as kick ass as Leslie Speer.


To keep growing, these bwtech@UMBC incubator grads didn’t move far

These 8 startups are finalists in MICA’s 2018 venture competition

After JHU helped create buzz, the mosquito emoji is coming this summer



How Think|Stack and Year Up are cultivating local tech talent



Full Stack Web Developer

Apply Now
Baltimore, MD


Project Manager

Apply Now
Baltimore, MD


Technology Director

Apply Now

Bluefield Innovations thinks this JHU cancer research could become a new Baltimore company

Old Goucher coworking space opens design bookstore

Inside Johns Hopkins’ plans to galvanize more student entrepreneurs



Let these free workshops help your business really take off

Baltimore, MD


Senior UX Strategist

Apply Now


Marketing Associate

Apply Now
Owings Mills

BurnAlong Inc

Pay Per Click and Digital Marketing Manager

Apply Now

Sign-up for regular updates from Technical.ly

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!