Leaders in the architecture, design, and engineering professions can be assertive and provocative when talking about the future of the industry.

Leaders in the architecture, design, and engineering professions can be assertive and provocative when talking about the future of the industry.

Some complain and talk about how terrible architecture is as a business. Others muddle through it and keep their head above water. Still others turn ideas into new success models. Yes, some in the design professions do little but talk but there are others who exemplify that something else going on, something quite big. These leaders aren’t just talking about ideas, they’re putting their energy into actions, actions that will transform and delight the future of our design professions.

It is time to be as comfortable with change as we suggest our clients should be. It is time to sense the potential.

Last fall when we began to formulate our editorial plan for this issue of DesignIntelligence we decided to focus on innovation and on ideas that could bridge education and professional practice. We sense that architects, engineers, planners, and designers are emerging from education onto new playing fields where myriad non-traditional roles and responsibilities abound. Some of these roles are in fact revolutionary, crossing boundaries, leading construction companies, redefining integration, inventing sustainability models, developing new processes – new technologies, creating value propositions unimagined a decade ago.

Let’s face it. The future of the design professions cannot become better without stronger education. And education cannot become stronger without leadership, resources, and vision. In this issue of DI our mission is to bridge gaps between education and the future of professional practice.

One university that we have noted climbing higher in the top quartile grouping in our annual architecture school rankings is the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee (UWM); they have also been recently ranked as one of the most innovative programs in the United States in our annual survey. We called upon one of our Design Futures Council’s Senior Fellows, Neil Frankel, a UWM faculty member, to explore further the ideas transforming the design professions and explain just how one university is adapting to challenges. As you will see, Neil has some powerful data and ideas to put before us.

This is a perfect time to show examples of changes in education that are being developed, accepted, adapted, and embraced. Here we find engagement that embraces the future, the big ideas, the actualization, and the potential.