NWACC receives $618K grant to expand package design programming

by Kim Souza ([email protected]) 1,262 views 

NorthWest Arkansas Community College (NWACC) in Bentonville received a $618,319 Advanced Technological Education (ATE) grant through the National Science Foundation (NSF) to expand the college’s programming around packaging design and product development.

“We are thrilled to receive this grant. This funding will allow NWACC to continue to innovate and expand its integrated design program’s interdisciplinary design thinking curriculum,” grant director Elysia Contreras Springer said. “Students will be further exposed to the program’s multiple degree tracks while gaining hands-on learning and industry-ready credentials.”

The grant will also allow NWACC to continue to grow its design industry partnerships by adding more industry leaders to the Integrated Design Advisory Board and creating a business and industry leadership team. That will help the college’s integrated design faculty better incorporate hands-on training with specialized equipment and provide students with relevant workforce skills.

The college said the funding would allow the addition of graphic design and engineering technology to its programming, including fine art, construction technology and computer-aided design. The new curriculum will include design thinking, prototyping, problem-solving, hands-on projects, and collaborations with industry professionals. Students will develop critical skills to support retail suppliers, start-ups, and other creative industries.

In addition to curriculum development, the grant funds will go toward purchasing specialized equipment for the Integrated Design Lab, expanding community workshops and classes and enhancing professional development opportunities in design thinking and sustainability for college and K-12 faculty.