September 10, 2019

Summer Exploratory Experience in Design (SEED) Wraps Up

Summer Exploratory Experience in Design (SEED) Wraps Up

The Sasaki Foundation believes design has the power to address the most urgent challenges facing us, from social equity to environmental resilience — and that the power of design belongs to all of us. As part of this belief and understanding, the Foundation seeks to support professional organizations and initiatives that play a part in creating a pipeline of diverse, talented and passionate practitioners who infuse new ideas and disrupt established patterns in the industry.

Sketching field trip, Chase Mills campus. “I really enjoyed the sketching and it allowed me to see how I good I actually am.” – Christopher Nguyen, SEED student



This summer, the Foundation held the second annual Summer Exploratory Experience in Design (SEED) program, a six-week paid internship for students from various Greater Boston high schools that was structured holistically around introducing young students to the world of design. The program is an intensive deep-dive into collaborative project work, working alongside Sasaki designers Meredith McCarthy, Justin Kollar, Diane Athaide, Chanwoo Kim, Emily Parris, Breeze Outlaw, and Ponnapa Prakkamakul who served as teachers and mentors to students throughout the program by sharing their expertise in their practice.

Mentors also provided feedback to students on their group projects, which was to design a pop-up parklet centered around voter registration.  A parklet is a sidewalk extension that provides more space and amenities for people using the street. Usually, parklets are installed in one or several parking spaces and offer a place to stop, to sit, and to rest while taking in the activities of the street.

Students participated in design charrettes, worked with computer programs such as SketchUp, practice hand-sketching techniques, went on sketching field trips to Perkins School for the Blind and on our own Chase Mills Campus, participated in interviews with CEO James Miner and Sasaki principals Christine Dunn, Michael Grove, Chris Sgarzi, Mary Anne Ocampo and Kate Tooke, and so much more over the course of their six weeks here in the Incubator at Sasaki.

Students presented their parklet projects, once mid-way through the program and once at the conclusion of the program, to an engaged audience made up of folks from Sasaki, American Student Assistance (ASA), and Incubator at Sasaki tenants. Their parklets were extremely impressive; from their overall designs to the functionality and aesthetics of their parklets, students fully grasped the design challenge presented to them this summer. Students not only delivered impressive projects, but more importantly learned how to tackle a design project from start to finish while practicing an interdisciplinary approach to design, similar to how Sasaki’s global practice operates.

This year’s SEED program was in partnership with American Student Assistance, who for over 60 years has focused on helping students pursue a college degree by partnering with hundreds of colleges and universities to help students and alumni manage their student loans and maintain financial wellness. With ASA’s mission of helping students know themselves, know their options, and make informed decisions to achieve their education and career goals, the Foundation’s partnership with ASA was instrumental in making the impact we desired. 

“The program was fun and I enjoyed learning about the design process.  When I started I thought I wanted to be an engineer and this opened my ideas to more parts of design fields” said Kale Mack, one of our SEED students.

Final Presentation, SEEDlings and American Student Assistance.


Our goal is to collectively build a culture of equity in the design field by showing young students alternative career paths to industries they may never have known. We believe we did just that this summer, and are optimistic about the impact this program will have for years to come, including the aspiration of scaling the program to reach more students.


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