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The Academy’s signature Impact and Industry Lab program offers students unparalleled opportunities to work on real-world, high stakes challenges with renown organizations in the for-profit and non-profit sectors. Multidisciplinary and multigenerational student teams collaborate with faculty and industry mentors to research, design and develop solutions to problems facing individual organizations, entire industries, and society as a whole. The depth of work and creative problem-solving enabled by the Academy education has attracted the interest of industry leaders and corporate giants, and our student teams are high in demand as companies seek insight into the next generation of consumers and influencers.  

Collaborations to date include those with adidas, Samsung, Mattel, Volkswagen/Audi, Cigna, Adobe, Dell, TOMS Shoes, The Grammy Foundation, Fender Guitars, Los Angeles World Airports (LAX), Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Heal the Bay, Phase One Cancer Foundation, Viasat, the Ellison Institute for Transformative Medicine at USC, Harvard Business Publishing, and the American Heart Association. Project prompts have targeted areas such as human performance; the future of mobility; the future of play, health and well-being; feasibility and viability of global Wi-Fi; new models and incentives for social entrepreneurship; application of creative technologies in K-12 classrooms; ‘smart’ health environments; and advancing data collection and visualization in patient- and physician-facing technologies, including through machine and deep learning. 

The Industry and Impact Labs are available to all Academy undergraduate and graduate students by competitive application. The program provides students with powerful learning and professionalizing opportunities, and the ability to put theory into practice while creating positive impact. Additionally, the labs are a significant boost to students’ professional profile, and can provide pathways to high-level internships or jobs inside partner organizations.  

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The Audi logo
White house next to SXSL signage
Students standing infront of white wall
A group of students lined up in front of an art piece that says "Creators Unite"
3 students looking at laptop pensively
Harvard Business Publishing logo
Male speaking at conference

Evan Spiegel

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Troy Carter

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Suzy Ryoo

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Ben Horowitz

Headshot of smiling male

Robert Brunner

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Tatjana Dzambazova

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Scott Dadich

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Larry Jackson

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Jenna Meister

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Tara Flynn

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Luke Wood

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Viktoria Modesta

Academy students have direct access for learning, mentoring and feedback from leaders in industry and professional practice. Throughout their academic career at the Academy, students are provided with regular access to both new and legendary makers, creators and doers. Past speakers include co-founder of Andreessen Horowitz, Ben Horowitz; former Director of Industrial Design at Apple, partner at Pentagram, and founder of Ammunition Group Robert Brunner; music industry legends and Beats co-foundersJimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre; co-founder and CEO of Snap, Inc. Evan Spiegel; former Editor-in- Chief of WIRED and co-founder of Godfrey Dadich Partners Scott Dadich; Apple Music’s Head of Global Content Larry Jackson; former Managing Director of IoT Strategy at Intel and Global CTO for IBM Bridget Karlin; basketball great and philanthropist Steph Curry; and artist, philanthropist and entrepreneur will.i.am.

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The Academy offers two unique five-day immersive residential experiences through its Master of Science in Integrated Design, Business and Technology (MSIDBT). 

The Integrative Practices Residential (IPR) is a required, on-campus intensive for first-semester MSIDBT students. This fast-paced workshop focuses on the dynamics of team-based, collaborative problem solving, taking students through proven methods and tools for addressing issues that most often affect companies and their constituents. Students benefit from direct input and insights from industry experts, culminating in a live pitch to a panel of select professionals and faculty. 

Available to all graduate and undergraduate students, the Professional Practices Residential (PPR) places student teams on the ground and inside organizations in the U.S. and elsewhere to research areas in need of innovation. Through direct contact with company personnel, stakeholders and users, students apply the techniques of human-centered design to develop solutions to significant, even intractable real-world problems.  PPR partners have included the American Heart Association, IDEO, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA), Two Bit Circus, Los Angeles World Airports (LAX), and Verizon Media. 

A graduate smiling in front of the San Fransisco Google office
A group of students pose in front of a YAHOO sign

Academy Career Treks allow students to benefit from USC’s strategic location in Los Angeles, widely viewed as the creative and media capital of the world. Through curricular and co-curricular treks in and around the city, the program provides an unrivaled opportunity for students to learn in a living laboratory where technology, business, media and the visual arts are deeply intertwined. In addition, the university’s proximity to the city’s burgeoning Silicon Beach provides access to the world’s premiere technology companies from which students can learn and draw inspiration.

A group of students take a photo between two telephone booths in London
A class takes a photo in London while holding a USC IYA banner

Academy Domestic and InternationalStudy Tours take students beyond city limits to see creativity at work across the U.S. and around the world. Students travel together on trips to national and international hubs critical to the business of innovation, and experience life close-up inside firms, companies, and even whole innovation ecosystems. Whether it’s a behind-the-scenes look at the Tate Modern in London, a founder’s masterclass on the lifecycle of aSilicon Valley startup, or a deep dive into the design and manufacturing culture of Zhenzhen, China, these faculty-led trips encourage students to reflect on and respond to the many ways that creatives, technologists, and entrepreneurs apply the types of knowledge and skills taught at the Academy.

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Four speakers lecturing a class together

Designed to complement Academy coursework, RLMs provide critical learning opportunities in response to students’ evolving needs. Non-unit bearing and free to all Academy students, RLMs are diverse enough to address a wide variety of student interests, and flexible enough to deliver each subject in the most useful, relevant, and timely way.  

RLMs range in length from one to multi-day two-hour sessions, and can take on many different modes of learning to suit the material. Prior sessions have included master classes on specialized topics such as intellectual property, venture capital, machine learning, negotiation and deal-making, branding, and many more. 

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3 students holding giant check
Student presenting to group
Student holding giant check

Each year, the Academy offers its students the opportunity to compete for one of three $10,000 development prizes. The goal of the awards is to provide early-stage funding for the development of student-driven innovations and ideas.Finalists pitch their ideas to an audience of students, faculty, staff, industry experts and funders.

The Student Opportunity Fund provides Academy majors, undergraduate and graduate, with access to funding for career-focused projects and programs. Funds are awarded by competitive application and cover a broad range of areas of assistance toward individual career and development goals.

The Materials Fund exists to support Academy majors, undergraduate and graduate, with financial need related to their Academy in-class educational experiences. Current students who have a demonstrated financial need are eligible to apply to receive funding for materials, books, software or other essentials required for Academy coursework.

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