A partnership between UT Austin and jewelry designer Kendra Scott uses Autodesk tech to give students experiential learning opportunities.

A gem of experiential learning prepares the next generation of jewelry designers

A partnership between UT Austin and jewelry designer Kendra Scott uses Autodesk technology to bring students' designs to life

As a fashion designer, entrepreneur and educator, I know the importance of learning by doing. Sometimes, the only way to learn a new design tool is to dive right in and start using it. But nothing beats the rich experiential learning that comes from industry and software experts teaming up to help educators prepare the next generation of creative thinkers and professionals.

That’s why I’m excited about the unique partnership between the University of Texas at Austin and Austin-based jewelry designer Kendra Scott—and the Autodesk technology and support that brings my students’ designs to life.

In spring 2020, I launched the Kendra Scott Accessory Design Course to give all students across campus and those minoring in Entrepreneurship a hands-on experiential learning opportunity that walks them through the steps of designing a jewelry collection. Teams of students from majors as varied as dance and geology collaborate with design students and are taught by faculty from the Textile and Apparel Program and Kendra Scott leaders. A series of projects leads students through research, design, product development and merchandising for a jewelry collection suitable for the Kendra Scott brand, targeting the Generation Z demographic.

The best part? Each semester, Kendra Scott employees and the general public vote on the students’ designs, selecting one to be produced and sold in the Austin-headquartered company’s stores. Proceeds go to support the Kendra Scott Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership Institute at UT-Austin.

While we wait to announce the winning design from this semester, you can watch students present their hard work and creative visions in the fall semester 2022 virtual exhibition.

This is experiential learning at its finest, with students working across job functions and expertise and using Autodesk Fusion 360, a powerful design-and-make tool used by industry professionals, to render a 3D model of their jewelry. Most students have never worked with computer-aided design (CAD) software before enrolling in my class. So, Autodesk’s Jared Vanscoder stepped in to teach them terminology and workflows and offer support. Vanscoder told me that students’ innovative designs tested his many years of experience.

“I began to learn alongside them,” he says. “After just a 90-minute workshop covering the basics, I was blown away by how far they had come. Not only had they embraced the power of the platform to design beautiful creations, but they had 3D printed full-scale mock-ups.” 

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