The Search for a Sustainable Regional Cycle Linking Education and Industry
Based on the founding principle of “leveraging and developing Akita’s traditions and culture”, the University has been developing local brands and promoting local industries in Akita Prefecture through practical projects. From the fiscal year 2019, we have conducted “ORAe Project”, aiming to build a new collaboration system between the University and industry that goes beyond individual projects.
This Project is a collective of woodworking businesses scattered throughout Akita Prefecture. It aims to be a platform that contributes to the development of the woodworking industry and to the nurturing of its future leaders. This Project will connect veteran and young businesses that have had little interaction with each other, and promote industry-academia collaboration through the participation of students, who will be the future leaders of the industry. We hope to build a new network of people and products unbound by the traditional woodworking industry, and to create a new industrial form.
As the first phase of this Project, we are seeking to establish a collaborative system that will give our former design students opportunities to join internships and further develop their careers, while also allowing current students to participate in real-world projects (introduced as design seminar classes), creating a regional cycle that links education and industry in Akita. We are developing a system that will allow young people who have studied in Akita to continue playing an active role here, firmly establishing the younger generation in a regional city with an increasingly aging and declining population.
In a situation where we are forced to adapt to rapid social changes due to the coronavirus pandemic, which shows no signs of being resolved, we need to adopt various innovative systems and new technologies. Aware of the advantages of having an art university in a regional city, we will propose a “way of being” for future organizations, groups, and other collective bodies.
Based on the rich forest resources and cycles of regeneration that have been nurtured since the Jomon Period, the traditional crafts that have utilized these resources, and the lifestyle products that have been created through a variety of production systems, we hope to build a more sustainable standard of living, and to lay the groundwork for post-pandemic industrial development through close collaboration between educational institutions and local communities in Akita.
Members of businesses participating in the “ORAe Project” brainstormed with young leaders (students) about the development of the wood industry in the next generation.
Development of new products for the “ORAe Project” was undertaken as a practical assignment in the second semester of the Creative Manufacturing Design major’s third-year seminar class.
The product models of five students were displayed at the “ORAe Project” exhibition in March 2021 and will be launched as soon as the production line is ready.