USC Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young Academy

Arts, Technology and the Business of Innovation

The degree is in disruption.

Announcing the USC Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young Academy for Arts, Technology and the Business of Innovation

With a visionary gift from music-industry leaders Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young, the University of Southern California is establishing a new academy to inspire innovative, entrepreneurial thought in business, design, marketing and the arts.

Conceived as a collaborative environment that brings multidisciplinary students, instructors and professional mentors together, the USC Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young Academy for Arts, Technology and the Business of Innovation will be a transformational presence on one of the nation’s most dynamic university campuses.

The focus is on invention and conceptual thinking, drawing on the talents and influences of leaders from across industries to empower the next generation of disruptive inventors and professional thought leaders across a multitude of global industries.

The program’s curricular focus is on three areas

The Academy aims to instill in its students an entirely new way of thinking.  To accomplish this, the program offers a highly select group of students an integrated, four-year course of study that provides in-depth learning in three essential areas:  art and design; engineering and computer science; and business and venture management.  Team-taught interdisciplinary courses have been developed and adapted specifically for the program, offering an unprecedented undergraduate education that empowers the imagination and hastens creative solutions.

Core Curriculum

Through the Academy’s core students learn to think seamlessly across multiple disciplines, and envision possibilities from every perspective. A series of interdependent courses helps students to gain understanding of the theories, concepts, vocabulary and ‘language’ common to each area, and to garner skills in their relevant applied technologies and techniques.

The Academy’s strong focus on the arts and arts-based practices is present at every level of the core. Aesthetics, critical discernment, and an understanding of global culture are considered core competencies for every Academy graduate, as is the ability to analyze and critique existing systems, services, or products. Courses on innovation look at the social and cultural changes that stem from disruption, and survey the growing roster of ideas that have forever altered business, industry, the arts, and the way we live. A broad look into the very nature of creativity and ideation also looks at audio/visual perception, and design as a universal language with unique, problem-solving capabilities.

Additionally, skills-based courses offer instruction in leading creative, analytical, and presentation software; techniques for rapid visualization and rendering; coding and programming; electronic prototyping; feasibility; marketplace assessment; making and manufacturing; financing; and more.

From the very first week, students are challenged to integrate all they are learning into creative practice, particularly through an interactive workshop series known as “The Innovator’s Forum.” In this setting, students meet, hear, and work with innovators from the arts, industry, business, and the public sphere in guided exercises geared toward building a variety of essential skills including: leadership; written, oral, and visual communication; critical thinking; problem solving; adaptability and agility; and building and working effectively in teams.

Curricular Emphases

In addition to the core, in years two and three students choose from a variety of curricular emphases that serve to tailor each student’s experience to his or her individual strengths or desired path. Current emphases include curated experiences in Visual Design, Audio Design, Venture Management, Technology, and Communication, but it is expected that this list will grow quickly to encompass a number of additional areas at USC.

Emphases may be used to enhance or strengthen existing skills with advanced knowledge or applications, or to add a new area of focus. Through academic guidance and advisement, students may also create unique emphases by selecting a course of study from across all of the Academy’s offerings, or from offerings in other schools or academic units at USC.

Advanced skills taught through the Academy’s emphases include: color theory and visual perception; 2-D graphic design, including typography, and motion graphics; 3-D design in both actual and virtual spaces; materials and media in design; rapid-prototyping; web and interactive design; computer graphics and animation; advanced coding; cloud architecture and applications; mobile applications; audio capture and manipulation; live sound design; digital audio theory; acoustics and audio perception; consumer behavior, marketing and branding; project and operations management; financing the startup; business strategies; and more.

The Garage Experience

In year four, the student experience focuses on the Garage, the Academy’s collaborative creative space.  In a unique environment that enhances creation with advanced design and prototyping technologies, students work in teams to realize their vision for the future.  Throughout the year, students work in close collaboration with top faculty at USC and industry mentors selected from among the leaders in each relevant field or area.  Aided by this expertise, students realize their ideas for new products, ventures, art forms, technologies, or services.

In March 2014, USC began construction of the Garage on the fourth floor of the Ronald Tutor Campus Center. The renderings below illustrate the planned facilities and dynamic workspaces the Academy will offer its first cohort in Fall 2014. Please note that the completed Garage may vary from these artist-produced designs.

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Abundant, diverse workspace is essential for assembling and articulating a multipart product. Every aspect of the Garage is designed to accelerate your process – from concept to output.

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Students have access to state-of-the-art rapid prototyping tools in the Garage. Production grade machines produce durable, thermoplastic prototypes with moving parts, while consumer grade machines are lightening-fast. Fused power 3-D modeling allows for complex forms at high resolution, and laser cutting enables a high quality surface finish to products.

colorful buttons

Year One: Thinking Across Disciplines

The first year immerses the student immediately in the Academy’s philosophy and way of working.  The Innovator’s Forum models the kind of thinking that the Academy seeks to instill in students, while courses in the history and impact of disruptive innovations guide students in making critical decisions about their future.  Other courses present unique integrations of the three core areas, and combine the instruction of essential design and software-based skills with rapid visualization of ideas.

collaboration at white board

Year Two: Applied Skills

The second year of study is designed to strengthen the student’s skill set and cross-disciplinary thinking.  Through advisement and input from faculty mentors, students identify the curricular  emphases they will pursue while remaining firmly anchored in the Academy’s core through courses in computer coding and programming.

white board, ladder

Year Three: From Concept to Creation

In year three the Academy’s core shifts to laying the necessary groundwork for the Garage.  In addition to continued work in the emphases, a yearlong course teaches students to move an idea from concept through to creation and implementation. Students will vet actual proposals for the Garage with faculty and outside mentors, and begin to build project teams.

open floorplan

Year Four: Developing a Prototype

The Garage.  As the Academy’s capstone requirement and the primary curricular focus for the senior year, the Garage is an intense and time-consuming experience for Academy students, and one that requires consistent dedication and commitment.  Aided by faculty and team mentors, Garage teams are expected to create, test, develop, and present completed projects.

Fusing technology, arts, and entrepreneurship to celebrate the essential and enduring qualities of the human spirit.

“The Academy’s core education will create a common, multi-lingual literacy and fluency across essential disciplines. This ‘big picture’ knowledge and skill will equip graduates with a leadership perspective that is unparalleled in an undergraduate degree, and that will be applicable to virtually any industry.”

—Erica Muhl, Inaugural Director of the USC Iovine Young Academy
and Dean of the USC Roski School of Fine Arts

Erica MuhlErica Muhl was appointed dean of the USC Roski School of Fine Arts, on May 1, 2013, after serving as interim dean since September 7, 2012. An accomplished composer, Muhl has received grants and awards from organizations such as the American Academy of Arts and Letters and National Endowment for the Arts, as well as the prestigious Whitaker Commissioning Prize. She has been awarded residencies and fellowships from, among others, Italy’s Civitella Ranieri Foundation, the Charles Ives Center for American Music, the Atlantic Center for the Arts, the American Academy in Rome, the Cultural Ministry of Venezuela, and the State of Saxony, Germany.