“In the Design and Technology program, we encourage students to step out of their design comfort zone, develop a cross-disciplinary foundation of knowledge, and remix their newly found tech and skills with what they love to bring innovation to their chosen
field. ” says Kyle Li, BFA Design and Technology (DT) program director and alumnus of the MFA DT program. According to Li, bringing together one’s passion with a user-centered design approach to technology makes Parsons’ students’ tech creations among
the most compelling and interactive in the ever-changing industry.
And the current industry is a key context in Li’s own pedagogy. One of his main priorities as program director is to blur the line dividing school assignments and career steps. For students who want to be independent game designers, Li accomplishes this
by establishing partnerships with major game publishers. For students who are interested in creative technology, he took advantages of the overwhelming demand for student innovation and create collaborative courses with “industry giants who are tired
of conventional thinking and want ambitious designers who can speak to young, and in many ways sophisticated, audiences.”
Partnerships like the one connecting The New School and PlayStation Network identify Parsons as a game publisher, enabling the university to showcase students’ demo games without releasing their rights to industry partners as traditionally occurs. Others
like General Electric, IBM, Bell Labs, Rakuten, and Panasonic, “our students were able to apply their core studies in solving real-world problems, while our partners were able to see the future of market through top emerging designers’ lens. It is
a win-win for all of us.”
Guided by an interest in toys, games, and design, Li himself took an unusual path to Parsons and today integrates his considerable professional and academic experiences into the BFA DT curriculum. While studying chemical engineering at a college in Taiwan,
where he was born, Li modeled for major Taiwanese fashion labels. His involvement in fashion ignited a desire to create, prompting him to turn from engineering to creative digital culture through study in the United States. Before arriving at Parsons
for his master’s in Design and Technology, Li studied digital design and art history and developed digital products for well-known clients like Nike and U2, and other international music labels.
Li claims that the MFA DT program changed his life: “My learning experience at Parsons was unlike any other. It completed me as a designer. The freedom, confidence, and support I gained encouraged me to explore how my design and technology could make
a difference in the world.” He was given an opportunity to help redesign a public middle school from the ground up with game design principles and media theories in mind. He later won the Best in Class: Innovation award and People’s Choice award from HASTAC and the White House for his work around
game and learning prior to his BFA DT directorship. None of these would happen if he did not go through the painstaking process of reinventing himself at MFA DT.
He hopes to impart the same inspiration to his students with up-to-date design curricula, two new program concentrations: Creative Technology and Game Design, a minor: Immersive Storytelling, and the latest technology addition: Motion Capture Studio.
“At Parsons, we are the embodiment of our design, art, and technology. These fields are changing every day; so is our curricula — and so are we.”