SMU Names Fall 2019 Designer-in-Residence for Master of Arts in Design and Innovation Program

Jennifer Abernathy is the director of Innovation Research and Design at Health Care Services Corp. She brings experience in product development, design thinking, brand strategy, and user and trend research to her new role.

SMU Abernathy

Jennifer Abernathy has been announced as the Fall 2019 Designer-in-Residence for the Master of Arts in Design and Innovation (MADI) program at Southern Methodist University.

Dallas-based Abernathy is the director of Innovation Research and Design at Health Care Services Corp., part of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. She brings expertise in product development, design thinking, brand strategy, and user and trend research to her new role, according to a statement.

At Health Care Services Corp., Abernathy oversees a cross-functional design team including graphic design, design research, data science, business analytics, project management, communications, and client consulting. 

Her team at the C1 Innovation Lab partners with Blue Cross’ biggest clients to develop user-centered solutions for customer-specific challenges through rapid design sprints. A design sprint is a time-constrained, five-phase process using design thinking with the intent of reducing risk while bringing a new product, service, or feature to the market.

“We’re excited for Jennifer to join our program as designer-in-residence and look forward to her sharing her vast background and expertise with design in major corporate settings with our MADI students and community,” Jessica Burnham, director of the MADI program, said in a statement. “I’m eager to learn from her experiences and point-of-view about design and its applications in an ever-changing world of innovation.”

SMU program based on human-centered design 

A multidisciplinary degree, the MADI program is based on the concept of human-centered design as an approach to problem-solving. The approach is said to be important in fields ranging from engineering and business to the arts, advertising, and the social sciences.

The program appoints one designer-in-residence each semester to join and enrich the program both inside and outside of the classroom.

The designer-in-residence’s duties include ongoing and consistent critiques of a MADI class, assisting students with professional development, creating and conducting workshops or seminars, and developing new curriculum, according to a statement. 

Abernathy received her bachelor of science degree in Industrial Design from the Georgia Institute of Technology, a Master of Business Administration from Emory University, and is pursuing a M.A. in Interior Design from Savannah College of Art and Design. She also earned a certificate in Innovation of Products & Services from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 

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