SFCS By Design 2023: SFCS Students & Seniors: Studies for the Future of Senior Living

June 6, 2023

“SFCS Students & Seniors: Studies for the Future of Senior Living” is a fan favorite at the By Design conference and the 2023 student group did not disappoint. Curtis Jennings, Principal at SFCS, opened the session by reflecting on the achievements of the SFCS partnership with the Virginia Tech Studio for Senior Living, why SFCS has continued to partner, how it has impacted both the firm’s future and the next generation’s. 

The collaboration was inspired by Jennings’ father, Rudy Jennings, who passed away in 2009 after dedicating his career of 39 years to designing innovations for older adults. Since the program’s inception: 

SFCS’ sponsorship of the VT Studio for Senior Living connects industrial design students with residents at Warm Hearth Village in Blacksburg, Va., to learn their needs and then develop innovations or processes to address them.

Martha Sullivan, Associate Professor of Practice and the Chair of the Industrial Design Program at Virginia Tech, emphasized that the program set Virginia Tech on a trajectory of designing for health care and medical equipment.

 “Interacting with your regional universities and community colleges has an impact on what you’re going to see in the future of your profession. It’s also going to impact our clients, their knowledge, and it changes what kind of consumer they are,” said Sullivan.

 This year’s designs included: 

Students are the biggest source of “Untapped Potential,” said SFCS Managing Principal Melissa Pritchard, highlighting the conference theme. “All of you should be pursuing partnerships just like these …. Good design is not only feasible; it’s usable, it’s desirable, and it's ethical, as Professor Sullivan stated earlier.”

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