School of Art, Media, and Technology

Meet the Awesome People in DT: Scott Pobiner

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The Design and Technology MFA program is full of energetic, unique individuals who work together to think, inspire, and create with technology. This series, by journalist Rachel Signer, provides a glimpse into some of the people in the DT division of the Art, Media, and Technology program who work that make DT such a great place to work and study. This one is about Professor Scott Pobiner, who is creating a consultancy to help corporations innovate better, as well as collaborating on a project that could potentially lead to curtains that know how to regulate your room temperature.

What is your main involvement in the Design and Technology program?

I’m in the Design Strategies division, where I teach courses in innovation, infusion, and adoption- -which is less about how to create innovation and more about how to understand them, why some fail and some succeed. In Design and technology I teach thesis. I’ve been teaching here since fall 2006.

What is your favorite thing about teaching at Parsons?

The barrage of amazing opportunites that come my way on a regular basis. Also, I do not have two students who are similar and I never expect to. They all have unique backgrounds and the challenge is meeting their diversity, and encouraging them to be unique and be honest with their interests and goals, and living up to their expectations that I guide them toward a successful thesis. I have to keep up with their incredible technical knowledge and they may now have that at the beginning but the energy here drives them to gain it, and drives them to create a professional community that is only now emerging. This place is beginning to be the embodiment of that, and it’s new. I’m excited every single time I walk in. I expect to see something different.

What do you like, and not like, about living in New York City?

New York City is not the kind of place where you decide what you like and don’t like. You accept the things that exist in urban environment and what are amplified in this one. Then you figure out what you want more of and what you want less of. But the noise is very difficult to deal with, and sometimes I can accept it but other times I want to scream. But for artists there is everything you want. And if you can’t find something to react to artistically here, you may do better in a quieter environment. New York isn’t for everyone.

What are you working on right now that is exciting to you?

One thing I’m working on is improving my innovation course and trying to bring together what I teach in SDS with what I teach in AMT. Outside that, I’m building a consultancy where I work with large organizations and companies about new ways of thinking about not only creating new things for their customers, and also why those things may or may not be successful. I’m working on partnerships with companies like Microsoft to create new opportunities with students here. I’d like to build a lab that creates platforms for students to develop work, and not just do career development but also find resources they couldn’t get elsewhere, and find out what’s good and bad about working with large corporations. And not a lot of design schools deal with that. The critical discourse alongside corporations is really important. I’m also part of the Association for Computer Machinery, and within that I participate in a special interest group known as CHI, Computer Human Interaction. I’m working with some colleagues at Georgia Tech on publishing some workshops we’re doing on soft-circuitry in textile development–making textiles into switchable surface. Like curtains that control the temperature in your room, for example. They’re working on the technology, the engineering. We’re interested in introducing them to emerging communities of practice. Fashion designers, for example, might be interested in these new technologies. It’s about encouraging practice across different disciplines, creating new associations.

What’s something unique about your background the influences how you work?

I’m an architect by training, and I went through a full five years of architectural study – then learned what a business model was, and started to look at the industry not just as something I wanted to do, but something I had to participate in. and I realized that the only outcome was to look at the industry in a different way, so I started to look at display technology in learning environments. I went to graduate school at Harvard and started focusing on computer programming, looking at the field of interactive media and design, and eventually moving toward how a display works in classrooms, how it affects us–which has led me to what I teach, which is not the product or design or method, but what the trajectories of those things are, and how we can use those trajectories to understand our own practice better.

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