Professor Spotlight: Jennifer Astwood

Audrey Tchaa-

 

Jennifer Astwood, an industrial design program director and professor, has been working hard on a collaboration project with the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) in Moscow, Russia. Her story has caught the attention of many in Menomonie, and now it’s being shared here at the University of WisconsinStout.

 

Astwood has been teaching industrial design at UWStout for 11 years and started working with NUST over two years ago. “Industrial design is producing all designed objects; furniture, lighting, cars, you name it,” said Astwood. When the project first started a year and a half ago, she said that they began their work with lighting. They decided to do things a little differently and started working on a wearable design, and then began designing clothes and accessories with sensors that will illuminate the person wearing them.

 

“The theme is conspicuity; clothes or accessories that have sensors to light you up. The idea is the ability to be seen using wearables. For example, let’s say a child was walking out at night and there is a moving car or bike coming its way. The sensor can detect from a certain number of yards where the car is, and once it’s close enough, it will illuminate the child. Once that happens, the car can see the child walking,” explained Astwood. Recently, she and her fellow Russian colleagues have been working on creating garments that involve stitching plastic onto fabric.

 

Astwood has worked with scholars Yaroslava Barmenkova (who has worked at NUST’s fabrication laboratory or fab lab and now currently works with transportation in Moscow), Vladimir Kuznetsov (head of NUST’s Fab Lab) and Azmat Tavitov (a NUST instructor). “The key about our partnership with Russia is that we’re exposed to different things. We are being exposed to new procedures during the design process, and it’s truly an exchange of ideas and procedures during the entire project,” said Astwood. Not only does Astwood exchange ideas with these Russian scholars, but other faculty and students from UWStout as well.

 

“There is a two-week [international] experience in industrial design that students get to experience in Russia. It’s a workshop where students get a taste of what industrial design is really about,” said Astwood.

 

Astwood will be going abroad this summer to Russia to continue to work on this project. “We always have this bad perception of Russia due to our history with them, and I find that having students coming abroad with me [helps them] have a global perspective and see Russia in a different light,” said Astwood, “This has been a recurring project, and I hope it never ends.”

All students are invited to come study abroad with her. If you want more information, contact her by email or go to the Office of International Education in Harvey Hall, room 70.