Ingenious - Winter 2018 17 There is a large container with Sofia Tapia’s name on it sitting up on a tall shelf in the School of Industrial Design’s first year lab. Inside, you’ll find a ruler, some sketching paper, a fresh pack of pens, and a palm-sized cardstock figure of the human form with moveable joints. While this collection of odds and ends could be considered the tools of a beginner in their field, this is by no means the beginning for this first year Industrial Design student. In May of 2017, while still in high school, Tapia earned a gold medal in the Architecture, Technology and Design category at the Skills Ontario Competition in Toronto. Skills Ontario is Canada’s largest skilled trade and technology competition, offering a unique opportunity for students to showcase their talent at the provincial level, with top performers moving on to compete at the Skills Canada National competition. “To be honest, I wasn’t expecting to win gold,” she says. “My teacher and I were sitting together in the conference room as they were announcing the winner. When they said my name, both my teacher and I screamed in excitement. It was truly an unforgettable experience.” A Skills Ontario Scholarship followed shortly thereafter. Tapia’s scholarship application included reference letters from two teachers and a local artist she volunteered with. There are many people in her corner, championing her successes. Carleton University is the latest on that list. “When researching universities, I noticed that most industrial design programs were offered by designated art and design schools. I was really interested in the fact that Carleton’s design students are asked to take courses in physics, math, economics, psychology, and history - apart from design related courses,” she says. “I was drawn to Skills Ontario Scholarship Winner Drawn to Industrial Design at Carleton Carleton’s program because of its interdisciplinarity, and its understanding that design is not all about aesthetic.” Two months into her first semester, Tapia has gotten to know her professors, fellow classmates, and students in upper years. These are some of the benefits of a small program, which has made her transition to university much easier, she says. “It’s amazing to be surrounded by such talented and creative people who share the same interests as me.” Tapia is also looking forward to the experiential learning components of her program, citing both the Skills Ontario Competition and Skills Canada Competition (she went on to place bronze at the latter) as examples of the opportunities that hands-on projects provide. She is already thinking ahead to her fourth year internship that will introduce her to the workforce, “expand and perfect her abilities”, and could potentially land her a job. Even further along, Tapia hopes her future career will benefit society through innovation and creative thinking. “I’m really interested in sustainable design and using our natural resources intelligently,” she says. “To design for the future, we must consider environmental factors and find solutions to issues like climate change, pollution, and energy generation.” In the meantime, she’ll continue to explore the possibilities offered through the School. “Although it is definitely academically demanding, Carleton’s Industrial Design program ensures that everything I learn will help me grow and broaden my skills. It prepares me for what comes next.” Before choosing Carleton, first year Industrial Design student Sofia Tapia was awarded a gold medal at the Skills Ontario Competition for the category of Architecture, Technology and Design. Photos: Ainslie Coghill