Students at University of Utah Bring Ideas to Life with Adobe Creative Cloud

by Karen McCavitt

posted on 05-01-2019

When students are encouraged to dream big, they can change the world. That idea is a driving force at the University of Utah, where all students and faculty across disciplines are provided personal access to Adobe Creative Cloud on all the devices they use both on campus and off.

Ruth Watkins, President, University of Utah.

President Ruth Watkins explains the approach, “We tell the world that we are Imagine U. We want students to imagine what they want to accomplish and then make it happen. Adobe Creative Cloud provides a personal learning and creative experimentation space that helps our students develop their ideas and take steps toward turning those ideas into reality.”

The university uses Adobe to infuse digital literacy and visual communication skills into a variety of programs, not just in creative fields but in disciplines such as engineering and business. The tools are helping to prepare students for careers in a rapidly changing world dominated by technology. Designers get real-world practice with digital projects in the Multi-Disciplinary Design Program. Engineers develop their communication skills and deliver professional presentations in Engineering LEAP seminars—a two-semester course helping new students make a successful transition to college. And budding entrepreneurs bring their ideas to life at the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute.

An incubator for tomorrow’s leaders

Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute.

The Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute is an interdisciplinary division of the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah, where undergraduate and graduate students from all fields of study are welcome to participate. The institute gives students everything they need to transform their ideas into full-fledged business plans—office space, access to CEOs and venture capitalists, innovation and prototyping facilities, and professional tools such as Adobe Creative Cloud.

“We really focus on the student experience—empowering students to pursue what’s important to them,” says Troy D’Ambrosio, Executive Director of the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute. “That means giving them the space to experiment and the tools to build essential skills.”

Former Lassonde participant Mark Pittman is among the many students who gained valuable experience at the institute. Today, he’s CEO of Blyncsy, a data intelligence startup working to make our commutes easier and our cities smarter.

The idea arose when Pittman, then a graduate student, found himself idling at an empty intersection, waiting for a traffic light to turn green. His frustration turned into curiosity about how traffic systems work and, after talking with city traffic engineers, he became determined to improve the status quo—and the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute provided the resources to help him achieve his goals.

Visual storytelling 101

University of Utah graduate and Blyncsy founder, Mark Pittman.

Storytelling was one crucial skill Pittman had to develop as he pitched his idea to investors. After all, it’s not easy to explain how data might make construction zones safer or help cities drive economic development. The key was to tell a highly visual story in a pitch deck, a website, and marketing materials—and for that, Pittman used Adobe Creative Cloud apps, including Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop.

“The most challenging part for us was putting our initial funding and pitch decks together,” says Pittman. “We spent a lot of time with Adobe Creative Cloud visualizing the story for ourselves and sketching out the next generation of products, so we could explain our vision to investors and potential clients.”

As Blyncsy grows, the team continues to use these apps to simplify complex concepts and show the value of its technology. That’s been pivotal in helping Blyncsy obtain seed funding and attract its first clients, from the University of Utah to the Sundance Film Festival.

Tomorrow’s leaders need tomorrow’s technology

Around 500 student teams passed through the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute last year, using Adobe Creative Cloud apps to put a professional sheen on their startup ventures. Twenty percent of them started earning revenue, and several surpassed US$100,000 annually. Blyncsy itself hit the million-dollar mark in yearly revenue. That success is mirrored across campus in a wide range of programs, each of them infusing digital literacy into the curriculum and preparing students for careers in a future dominated by technology.

“Adobe Creative Cloud apps are critical in helping students get their businesses off the ground,” says D’Ambrosio. “The fact that they can access apps anywhere, at home or on campus, through their Creative Cloud accounts means that they can move forward with ideas quickly.”

That’s a big part of how University of Utah is helping students succeed beyond the classroom and in their future careers—building digital literacy across disciplines by giving them the tools to excel in whatever fields they pursue, whether it’s business, engineering, design, or liberal arts.

The University of Utah and the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute use Adobe Creative Cloud apps to deliver an exceptional student experience. Read more here. Learn more about fostering digital literacy here.

Topics: Creativity, digital literacy,

Products: Photoshop, Illustrator, Creative Cloud