Meet Constanza Miranda!
To Constanza Miranda, the world has always been her 'research lab'! But she briefly touched down at NC State to earn her Ph.D. in Design, as well as participating in the Certificate of Accomplishment in Teaching (CoAT) program.
Originally from Santiago de Chile, Miranda's studies in graphic and industrial design began in the Design School at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, including a minor in Business Administration. While in school, she also did internships all over Europe, and Germany in particular. Working with in communities unlike her own, brought her out of her 'comfort zone' and opened the world to her in a different way.
Miranda returned to Chile and taught for several years in the Design and Engineering School. Her courses included: Design for Social Innovation Studio and Engineering Challenges both of which focused on resolving social problems through design and with the communities involved. Because of her travel experiences, Miranda saw a need to include complex, human-driven issues as part of design. She believes that ". . . the transdisciplinary area of design-anthropology has become increasingly relevant for innovation and the work on social issues. Not just because it provides the methods, but it provides an ethical framework to understand communities that are not your own." She also says that it requires a designer to find alternate ways to complete projects.
Once she arrived at NC State, Miranda discovered the CoAT program through one of her classmates. Since she was a professor in Chile, as well as an instructor while a graduate student at NC State, she was familiar with the educational system. But Miranda had the drive to ". . . train ourselves in better tools to encompass an educational way that can be more replicable and effective for students." The CoAT program provided that focus for her!
With her multidisciplinary background -- she also co-majored in Anthropology -- Miranda was amazed by the conversations that arose in the CoAT workshops. She says that designers have more visual/gaming materials and activities as part of their teaching repertoire. But her engineering and science colleagues had a different perspective on teaching. She thinks that ". . . those conversations really help pollinate each other's educating experiences."
Miranda believes that ". . . education is the key for equality and empowerment. . ." and that her experience with the CoAT program gave her "a more formal grounding" for her teaching endeavors. She looks forward to being a better teacher in the future. And although she might be critical of teaching environments, she says that she is now able to critique in a more informed way.
In the meantime, Miranda has moved on as a visiting researcher at Stanford University's Center for Design Research. And it probably comes as no surprise that she's actually in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, collecting data on educational backgrounds and understanding the way students from different backgrounds negotiate in team discussions!
But the world is still Constanza Miranda's research lab -- even in her down time! She loves to travel and hike, but she prefers 'the road less traveled'. So far, Miranda has backpacked throughout most of Latin America, and two summers ago, she spent three months in West Africa, hitchhiking and riding local buses! When she graduated from NC State, she and an Argentinean friend took a cross-country road trip when she left for her new research endeavors in California. What next? Miranda will do a 15-day hike in the Chilean Patagonia this summer! Vaya con Dios!
For more information about design-anthropology research culture, click HERE to see Miranda's design blog.
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