SIGD Faculty Offer Design Workshop at IISc

CPDM Workshop Students

The workshop was held on August 5 and 6 in Bangalore, India

“Basic design principles can solve a lot of problems.”

Graphic design professors Wei Wang and David Smith traveled to Bangalore this August, offering graduate students a workshop on research presentation skills titled “Build Effective Presentations through Visual Storytelling” as part of CADC’s ongoing collaboration with the Indian Institute of Science (IISc).

The workshop, which spanned four sessions across two days, featured lectures followed by brainstorming and groupwork and ended with presentations. Forty-eight students from the Center for Product Design and Manufacturing (CPDM) at IISc attended both days as part of their fall semester orientation. They worked in small groups on 12 different projects chosen by vote from a total of 48 proposals.

Wang’s approach to presentations emphasizes visual storytelling, a method that asks presenters who their audience is, why they are addressing that audience, and how their information can be communicated in an interesting and engaging way. Visual storytelling also allows students to learn basic visual design principles to help refine their presentations and create organized and appealing experiences for their audiences.

Professor Wang has received many compliments on his own presentations over the years and got the idea for a workshop following his last visit to IISc. He says he was impressed by the students’ work but suspected the storytelling and visual appeal of the projects could be improved. Then, at a conference in Washington, DC, Wang’s ideas were confirmed when he noticed a lack of impressive presentations “across the board.”

“Presentations are valuable tools,” he says. “You think, ‘How do I communicate with my audience? How do I create participation and engagement?’ Presentations are critical to that.”

Led by an emphasis on collaboration, the workshop was a great success. Both professors feel that letting students apply what they learned from others’ projects to their own was a great advantage.

Though he was unsure what the results would be, professor Smith was happy with how well the workshop turned out. “I was pleasantly surprised at how eager the students were and how receptive they were,” he says. “Every one of those presentations was improved.” In fact, the professors were getting messages from IISc faculty praising students’ improvements the very next day.

Knowing faculty were seeing improvements so soon was especially rewarding for professor Wang. “Whatever you do, you want to make a difference,” he says. “You hope the impact will continue.”

Wang and Smith attribute the workshop’s success to the hard work and enthusiasm of IISc’s students, who are among India’s brightest, and appreciate getting to work with great faculty, including Dibakar Sen, a professor at CPDM and the Department of Mechanical Engineering. Both professors look forward to seeing CADC’s partnership with IISc continue and are excited the universities will learn from each other, both academically and culturally.

To learn more about IISc and CPDM, check out their websites at and

Related people:
Wei Wang, David Smith