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Faculty Spotlight

Faculty Spotlight: Jay Clewis

Jay Clewis is a lecturer of communication in the Academy's Master of Science in Integrated Design, Business and Technology program. An avid outdoorsman, the first of eight children in his family to go to college, Clewis guides students through the world of UX research and design methods at the Academy. Read on...

What is your research specialty?

User experience research and design

What kinds of projects are you working on right now?

Most of my time is currently devoted to teaching, but I also juggle a handful of consulting projects. This involves helping clients with organizational strategy, product design, experiential design, communication design, marketing strategy and tactics. One such company is a local startup here in Los Angeles called Utility Design that builds pedals to control online video players, hands-free, so you can learn faster and more efficiently (like playing guitar). They’re wonderful to work with and the growth potential of this company is only starting to be realized.

What drew you as an educator to the Academy?

While living on the East Coast and teaching at the Newhouse School in Syracuse, New York, my passion for teaching online grew and I began searching for additional online teaching opportunities in areas that aligned with my entrepreneurial interests and digital product design experience. The online master’s program at the Iovine and Young Academy was a perfect fit and fortunately, there was an opportunity to get involved right away.

What is an emerging technology or startup that excites you?

Autonomous driving technologies. While I love driving for the pleasure of it, driving is dangerous and drivers are distracted. I’m hopeful that autonomous vehicles will greatly reduce collisions and deaths resulting from them. The time recouped from operating a vehicle daily could be spent accomplishing more important tasks, reading, or de-stressing after a long day.

Is there a leader or mentor who inspires you?

Professor Kirk Ke Wang at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida, where I got my bachelor’s degree. He was my mentor in the Visual Arts program and is one of the most talented artists and teachers I’ve ever met. He’s had a tremendous influence on my career as a designer and educator. He’s a great listener and asks thoughtful questions, which are two characteristics I try to bring into everything that I do.

What advice would you give to seniors this year who will be entering the "real world"?

You’re immensely talented, creative and intelligent people. That’s what got you here. Moving forward, I would offer that you practice a positive mindset of abundance and opportunity. Be humble and grateful for what you have and what you can offer the world. Choose to be positive in everything you do and the opportunities, the best and most rewarding opportunities, will be there. 

Describe one thing most people don't know about you?

I am the youngest of eight children and the first person in my family to go to college.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing the next generation of entrepreneurs?

Entrepreneurs are curious and a bit rebellious by nature. That will serve them well. However, I see a lot of ideas that do not differentiate themselves enough from what already exists. Seeking to better understand who our target audience is and what they really want from us is key, so we can design better products, services, and organizations that meet those needs and have the potential for greater impact. 


If you could develop ANY class to teach what would it be?

There are several ideas that interest me, from growth hacking and marketing to research methods and interviewing. I’m working on a proposal for a class right now that takes a design thinking approach to building creative confidence in students and providing the tools they need to discover their purpose. The course aims to help students design a life they want on their own terms. I’m excited about it.

A recent book you've read that you'd recommend?

The Lean Product Playbook by Dan Olsen. I've reread this book multiple times and it's great for students in the Academy.

Favorite thing to do on the weekends?

Anything outside. Even better if it involves something active like biking, hiking, or paddling. I also love attending sporting events like football, soccer, basketball, and baseball. You name it, I’m in. Since I recently moved to Los Angeles there has been plenty to explore every weekend. I love it.

Thank you, Jay!