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March 29, 2023 by

What is the ICC and why Columbus? 

If this article about the ICC caught your attention, I’m guessing you may have some pretty significant questions like, “Why do some of my friends disappear after two years?” Good question! Do you ever wonder where they go? Did they drop out? The rapture maybe? Good guesses, but the answer is probably the ICC. Okay, but what is the ICC? The ICC is where we learn a set of skills that combine business, engineering, and art principles that are all packaged into a degree called industrial design. At the ICC, they teach us to design anything from products to transportation or even packaging. The program walks us through the foundations of basic sketching skills all the way through the function, aesthetics, and the production of products. The ICC is a place where they teach us to see the world with new lenses and communicate visually as problem-solvers.  

The lobby area at the International Center for Creativity (ICC), located in Columbus.

That sounds pretty neat, right? But why is the ICC in Columbus? Why can’t you build an ICC in Cedarville? Well, at first, you may think it would be nice to have the industrial design degree available on campus, but I think you will quickly see the method behind their madness. Let me explain. The International Center of Creativity is located in Dublin, right outside of the bustling city of Columbus. Columbus is a hub for innovation. There are corporate headquarters such as Abercrombie & Fitch, Bath & Body Works, Wendy’s, Chipotle, Nationwide, Honda, and others. All of these big-name companies need industrial designers. Another benefit of being located in Columbus is the relationship that the ICC has established with local design firms, and a plethora of other connections. This provides students with opportunities to grow in professional development while they are still in school. If the ICC was located on Cedarville’s campus, then students would not be able to benefit from the professionals that come to the ICC to speak, sponsored class projects from local companies, and networking with local design firms in the area.

A group of eight Cedarville University Industrial Design students presenting a project at the Chick-Fil-A corporate office in Georgia.

Am I still a Cedarville student? 

You might be thinking, if I am leaving campus, no longer living in the residence halls, and not eating home cooking at Chuck’s every day, am I still considered a Cedarville student? The answer is yes. Even though you don’t eat at Chuck’s anymore, you are still considered a Cedarville student. You also still have all the benefits of being a Cedarville student. You will always be welcomed on campus, educated by a Christian worldview, and will eventually graduate with a Cedarville degree. At this point, I am picturing you having a hesitant and inquisitive expression across your face, mostly because when I was learning about Cedarville’s industrial design (ID) program this is the point when I paused and said… “OK, but what in the world would it look like for me to finish my degree in Columbus?” I may have had more questions than the stars that God told Abram to count in the sky. My goal is to answer some of my most burning questions from when I was considering Cedarville’s ID program. 

So, what is it like to be a student at the ICC? 

My favorite part of being an ICC student was the community that the studio provided. In my experience, the people at the ICC really became my second family. You live life closely with your classmates. We all took the same classes, at the same time, chatted over lunch, and spent late nights in the studio together. Some of my favorite memories at the ICC were after class and late into the night working on projects with my classmates. Most of the time we were getting quality work done, but there was still that small percentage of pure fun and utter chaos that gets released when you put a bunch of sleep deprived creatives in a room together. Those were some of my favorite memories in all my years in school. It was also not uncommon to find a group of us watching a movie together while working on an assignment or sitting in silence in the computer lab just enjoying each other’s presence. So much camaraderie is formed when you are “suffering” together on a challenging assignment, pulling those all-nighters, and celebrating each other’s achievements and growth. This was the culture of my class. I can’t promise it would be the same for you, but I absolutely loved it, and I hope you would too. 

What is the studio? (I.e., where will I be spending most of my time in Columbus?) 

I have been throwing around the term studio, but I would love to paint a picture of what that would be like for you at the ICC. By a definition, that I made up, a studio is where a bunch of creatives gather under one roof and do some really wild and outstanding stuff. That definition definitely fits the ICC well, but it is slightly more than that too. The studio at the ICC consists of the main space/chapel area, the workshop, VR lab, the junior classroom, the senior classroom, and the computer lab. It is the place that I and many others spent more time than we did in the places we were paying rent to sleep. It is a place where you can walk around and be inspired by your classmates’ work. For me, it was a home away from home, a place I loved being. 

Industrial Design student, Sarah Lacey, in front of a transparent board filled with Post-It Notes, presenting her senior capstone project.

What is adulting? 

Part of the benefit of going to the ICC and moving to Columbus is that it is a great soft entry to full-fledged adulting. This pre-adulting two-year introductory course to life includes finding your own apartment, making all of your own food, figuring out how to pay for your utilities, put in maintenance requests, having a class structure similar to a job, and so many other things that you need to learn for once you graduate and are on your own. Having graduated and now looking back, I see how beneficial it was to learn how to do all of these adulting tasks.  

I have heard Cedarville described as a greenhouse. It is a great, protected place to grow in your faith, in your education, and as a person. The disadvantage to this setting is that sometimes it can be a hard transition to the harsh environment outside. With the ICC, you have the support, structure, and benefits of the greenhouse, but are no longer dependent on it. 

What is the spiritual life like in Columbus? 

At the ICC, we do things slightly differently from main campus. On Monday mornings, we have something called Rally Point, where one of the students starts the week off by leading their classmates in a short devotional. This is a sweet time to listen to your peers and the ways that God has been teaching and growing them. In addition to our Monday mornings, we have chapel every Thursday. We are still able to tune into the daily chapels from main campus, but I know we all enjoyed coming together at the end of our week and having chapel live at the ICC.  

A group of industrial design students at the ICC's chapel session.

Chapel at the ICC 

If you were to ask me what the single most important aspect when considering moving to Columbus, it would be finding a local church to be involved in. This is yet another area in which I feel that the ICC prepared us well in giving us the tools to make educated decisions on finding a local church to call home. At the beginning of the year, they invite pastors from many of the local churches to come in, give a message for chapel, and share about their church. This helps you learn what to look for in a church, questions to ask, and it pushes you to take steps toward really owning your faith and pursuing what you find important in a church. When I first started “church shopping” here in Columbus, I found it very helpful to predetermine a limit on the number of churches I would try before deciding to call one home. Columbus is a big place, and you could probably live your two years there without going to the same church twice. This pushed me to dive deeper and more intentionally into their statements of faith and solidifying and applying the things I had learned in my Bible classes back on campus. Church life is kind of like design in a way, but hear me out before you call me a heretic. In design, you will only be as good as the effort you put in to get there. If you work really hard, it shows, and you will reap the benefits of it. In church life, you can show up to church on a Sunday morning, check it off your to-do list and feel like a good Christian very easily, but if that is your goal, you will not reap very much at all. While church attendance is by no means a salvation issue, it can contribute to your growth toward Jesus. If you prioritize getting plugged into your local church, establishing that church family, going to Bible studies, and having that community outside of the ICC, it will change your entire Columbus experience. Trust me on this one!

What would a typical weekend look like as an ICC Studen

I will start with some myth busting. It is true, we do have three-day weekends… every single week. And classes only go from 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday. Ah, the freedom, am I right? Well, kind of… industrial design is not for the faint of heart. It is a lot of work, and you will only be as good as the amount of work that you put in. These school hours and long weekends allowed me to put 16-plus hours in at the studio if needed, work a job after class, or if work was done, leave for a long weekend to go camping with my friends. 

Columbus is a beautiful, vibrant city to go to school in. I hope that you now have a small snapshot of what it would be like to study industrial design at the ICC in Columbus. There is plenty to explore in your free time, amazing relationships that form, and an education you can’t get anywhere else. What would you learn if you had two years to live in Columbus?

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