How Academy of Art University’s School of Industrial Design Students Benefit from Strong Corporate Partnership Program


Academy of Art University, one of the nation’s largest leading art and design universities, has always emphasized a philosophy of engaging students with working creatives. Since 1929, Academy instructors have been chosen from active artists with successful careers in their industry niche. They are able to impart first-hand, relevant, and up-to-date knowledge and experience from their field that strictly academic pursuits cannot provide. 

Another innovative and career-shaping way Academy of Art University engages students with industry professionals is through the Corporate Partnership program. Through these important partnerships, Academy students are exposed to industry projects and challenges in their field of study with the opportunity to learn from major company designers and other representatives. 

Benefits of the Corporate Partnership Program
Through corporate partnerships with major companies such as Nike, NASA, General Motors, and Audi, Academy of Art University students enjoy lectures from guest speakers, hands-on workshops, project collaborations, and industry events. Through these interactive opportunities, students learn directly from industry professionals who are creating the products consumers will use in their everyday lives. 

Students forge relationships with real-world industry leaders in their field of study that become vital connections for future career steps. And industry representatives are able to expand their network of creativity through collaborative efforts with Academy design students in a host of industries. 

One industry representative had this to say about Academy students and his company’s recent collaborative partnership with the School of Industrial Design

“The car business is going through change. For the first time, we are looking to the young people of this world to really try and fathom out what’s going to happen. I was hugely impressed with the standard of work, the standard of creativity, from this fairly young department. You’re getting standards as good as anywhere I’ve ever seen.” –  Ian Callum, Global Design Director at Jaguar.


Corporate Partnership Highlight – Subaru 

In a recent corporate sponsorship collaborative project, 40 Academy students from different design programs were given just 98 days to reimagine a Subaru car for the year 2030. In this project, students were responsible for everything from conception to developing a design chosen by Subaru executives for further development. Their final presentations will include clay models, digital models, interior architecture models, color and finishes, user interface and experience components, and more.
In addition to this intense collaborative project, Subaru provided scholarships to the following Academy design students: 

  • Industrial Design: Max Benon
  • Web Design & New Media: Chin Hsieh Yen (Glave)
  • Graphic Design: Nor Mourad
  • Interior Architecture & Design: Eryn Powers


Other Examples of Important Corporate Partnerships
Subaru is only one of numerous corporate partnerships that have joined Academy students and industry representatives in creative collaborative endeavors or other ventures. Here are other notable projects. 


Sony joined with Academy of Art University in an exclusive partnership for a one-of-a-kind film festival, the Sony XPERIA Film Fest. Sony and Academy of Art University School of Communications & Media Technologies created and sponsored the festival, which featured short films of no more than five minutes in length, shot with the new XPERIA 1 smartphone. Cash prizes of up to $10,000 were awarded by Sony executives after both Sony and student judges reviewed all the entrants.


San Francisco Fire Department 

Academy students from the School of Motion Pictures & Television participated with real first responders from the San Francisco Fire Department to create a series of public service announcement videos. The series included a water rescue, a feature on female first responders, and the SFFD canine unit. This valuable experience working on a real-world film project allowed students to learn about different shooting and directing challenges, as well as working within a budget to complete a project.


San Leandro High School 

Academy of Art University’s School of Art Education has regularly placed student teachers at San Leandro High School since 2015. The collaboration has been an ongoing success story foboth Academy student teachers and the school. Academy students apply the methods for teaching art they learned at the school under the guidelines of the high school art director, including role-playing and creating adaptable lesson plans.



Creativity often leans heavily on innovative technologies, such as working with a film soundtrack and scoring its School of Music Production & Sound Design for Visual Media. Academy of Art University chooses Apple products, such as Logic Pro X, as the foundation for its curriculum in order to provide the most state-of-the-art technology currently being used by industry professionals.



Academy of Art University’s School of Industrial Design has enjoyed an eight-year relationship with NASA. Each year, the national space program sponsors a class at Academy of Art University so students can help figure out how to address the outstanding problems NASA faces with astronauts and space travel. One recent semester was focused on habitation or travel to Mars.


Academy of Art University Corporate Partnership Programs
While many of the examples shown here feature corporate partnerships with the School of Industrial Design, other departments utilize corporate partnerships as well. Each school’s partnerships look different, as they are adapted to meet the custom needs of their industry and students. But the goal remains the same: providing Academy students with a holistic, hands-on experience of working with major, successful industry representatives. 

Academy of Art University has enjoyed mutually successful corporate partnerships with such major companies as Ford, Kohler, Samsung, Fiat-Chrysler, Adidas, Jeep, Pininfarina, and Blizzard Entertainment. Each experience seeks to grow students’ skills and real-world knowledge by allowing them to work side-by-side with industry insiders who are designing and creating the products of tomorrow. 

Academy of Art University’s Corporate Partnership program provides a platform for various industry partners to mentor, collaborate with, and hire Academy students and alumni. Each semester, numerous industry representatives are hosted to participate in panels, present company projects, post career openings, sponsor collaborative projects, and stage recruiting sessions. 

These businesses have realized the value to be found in the rich diversity and creativity of the college’s student body and artistic programs. Check out the Subaru project’s progression here



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