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CAAD leverages global competitions to enhance learning and promote regional talent
For students of the College of Architecture, Art and Design (CAAD) at American University of Sharjah (AUS), receiving global recognition for assignment work is just part of the design education experience. Across the college’s five undergraduate majors, students are encouraged to regularly participate in local, regional and international competitions, competing with undergraduate peers and industry professionals, achieving remarkable results.
This academic year alone, students of CAAD received honors from local, regional and international competitions such as The Christo and Jeanne-Claude Award, Total Design Commission Award 2020 by ADMAF, Global Undergraduate Awards, Type Directors Club, and most recently, Core77 Design Awards. CAAD alumni achieve widespread career success and have also garnered major awards and recognition, including Ahmed al-Ali and Farid Esmaeil of X-Architects, who received the prestigious Agha Khan Award for Architecture in 2019.
Dr. Anijo Mathew, Head of the Department Art and Design at CAAD, said design competitions serve as a mechanism to promote regional talent and concepts, bring CAAD more relevance on the global stage, and motivate students to push beyond the boundaries of design.
“At CAAD, these wins prove to the students and faculty that their work is of the highest standards. It shows others that it is possible to step out of the regional context and win on a global stage,” said Dr. Mathew.
“Students benefit from submitting to such competitions in many ways—people who see the work begin to recognize the school and the student. Jury members who review each project, as well as casual viewers, are all potential future employers or collaborators,” he added.
This month, a group of 14 visual communication students were awarded the Core77 Design Awards’ Student Notable Award for their creative work on the Reel Palestine Film Festival campaign, selected from among hundreds of global submissions. The students worked under the supervision of Associate Professor Hala Rabeea Al-Ani, herself an award-winning designer and teacher, and graduate of CAAD.
“As a designer, I always seek opportunities to participate in competitions to expand my network and grant my work the chance to be assessed by leaders in the field and receive feedback that could play a role in the development of the work. For students, global competitions allow them to challenge themselves, raise their awareness of global trends, and connect them with leaders in the industry,” said Al-Ani.
Two of the Core77 Design Award winners, Habiba Darwish and Rana Kassem, said the opportunity exceeded their expectations for their second year of design studies at CAAD.
“Winning two prestigious international awards, being recognized by an international design magazine and having my work exhibited abroad were all accomplishments I never expected to happen during my first semester after Foundations Year. I never expected my work to reach New York. This just goes to show that these chances can come at any time, but you just have to be ready to dive in!” said Darwish.
“I think it also sets an example for us and for everyone younger that you don’t need to reach a specific point in your design education journey to start producing good work, or be recognized for your work. Once I learned that, it truly enhanced my drive to continue to improve and challenge myself,” added Kassem.
The students’ Reel Palestine campaign design is now in the running for the Core77 Design Awards 2020 Community Choice Award, which will be voted for by the global design community between now and July 7, 2020. Members of the public can place their votes here.