Teaching at UPAEP
Universidad Popular Autónoma del Estado de Puebla (UPAEP) is ranked in the Top 5 Private universities in Mexico. The university is known for its basketball and soccer teams, and student groups are active in theater, dance, chorus, speech and debate, photography, and animation. Total university enrollment in 2000/01 was 7,000. UPAEP has an exchange program for students, faculty, and curricula with Oklahoma State University. The UPAEP website.
In 1995, Several faculty and students from UCO were invited to participate in a conference, The Social Role of the Graphic Designer, in Puebla. Later, I was asked to join the faculty as a Visiting Professor. I taught a graduate course, Design Systems, in the summers of 2000 and 2001. It was an intensive course in which student teams developed a name, logo, route map, station signage, promotion pieces, and website for a new subway system in Puebla. I hired a former student to translate my materials into Spanish and I prepared the lecture outlines in Spanish. However, a few weeks before leaving, the design program director informed me that they wanted me to teach the course in English. Great. Turns out that the grad students have to take the TOEFL exam and he wanted them to practice speaking and writing English. I did have a couple students who were not fluent in English - other students and I would translate for them. The course was a seminar format. I prepped all the assignments, info, and course syllabus into a somewhat lengthy booklet. It helped both the students and I stay on track.
It was a wonderful experience. I would spend several days before and after the course enjoying Puebla and Mexico City.
Course information and syllabus
The course, Design Systems, allows the graduate student to apply knowledge and skills to a major comprehensive project. This project includes the assessment of a design problem, development of a name, logo design, map design, environmental graphic design, advertising design, web page design, and effective presentation skills.
Design Systems will help students to:
Grow as decision makers, creative problem solvers, and persuasive communicators.
Better understand the systems used in creative problem solving.
Enhance their inherent sense of design through problem seeking, and problem solving.
Help open their minds to think in new ways.
Encourage greater attention to detail.
Analyze effectiveness of graphic design.
Practice clear communication of message intent and content.
Improve confidence in speaking, writing, and understanding American English.
Develop composition and typography skills.
Make effective oral presentations of their work.
To help create fluent thinkers and develop leaders that can transform our society.
Jim Watson, Emeritus Professor of Design at the University of Central Oklahoma, teaches History of Graphic Design at the University of Oklahoma and at Oklahoma State University. He has taught design for 30 years and is active in the Oklahoma design community and is a founder of the Oklahoma chapter of the AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Arts). Link to Jim Watson's resume.
The grade for this course will be based on critiques of student work, class participation, meeting deadlines, and attitude towards design.
The course grade is an average of these grades:
10% Worksheet 1: the name
10% Worksheet 2: the logo
10% Worksheet 3: the route map
10% Worksheet 4: the poster and slogan
10% Worksheet 5: the website home page
20% Oral presentation
30% Final presentation board
Grading point explanations
0 is earned if nothing is turned in by deadline
3-5 is earned for work that is below average
6 is work that is average
7-9 is earned for work that is above average
10 is excellent, with no room for improvement
Earning a 9 or 10
Excellent students attend class regularly and on time, turn in work on time, conduct thorough research, manage time efficiently, participate in class discussions and critiques, do more than is asked for in projects, show a strong inherent sense of design, and do not settle for 'good enough'.
Responsibility for learning
Teachers can only provide information and motivation. The responsibility for learning and understanding is entirely up to the student. You determine what you get out of any course. Make up your mind to grow, set high standards for yourself, and push yourself to excel.
Great designers are active, progressive, and assertive participants in their personal and community environments. Class participation is volunteering information, suggestions, and opinions during class discussions and critiques. Be confident to speak up about what you think.
An objective of this course is to develop successful professional graphic designers. To best meet that objective, each worksheet and project must be turned in by the deadline (the beginning of class, unless specified otherwise).
Attendance will not be taken, but missing a class will reflect in the quality of the design project by limiting input into the project from the instructor and the other students.
The project: A mass transit system for Puebla
As Puebla grows and there is more concern about traffic, air pollution, and the efficient movement of large numbers of people; the city of Puebla will consider the development of a mass transit system including surface rail or subway routes. Design Systems will develop this rapid transit system and the specific components listed below.
2008 Presentation of proposals
2016 Construction of Phase 1 begins
2020 Introduction and promotion of system
2025 Phase 1 of system completed
2040 Phase 2 completed
Components of the project
Problem assessment: Mission statement, Statement of the design problems, Target markets: primary and secondary, Objectives of design solution
Name of transit system
Logo/identity for transit system
Route map and station locations
Signage: Station identification and Directional wayfinding
Poster with promotion slogan
Website home page
Presentations: Oral and visual
Introduction and assessment
Overview of the course and project
Discuss students: assess, goals
Definitions of terms
The problem solving process
Stating the problem
Determining the target markets
Discuss: naming the transit system
Identity design, and branding
Info & slides: symbols, logos
Name and logo concepts
Presentations: transit system name
Critique logo sketches
Info & slides: modern map
Map layout: routes and station locations
Critique logo comps
Route map/station locations
Identify station locations
Promotion and advertising
Principles of layout composition
Slogan and poster sketches
Presentations: poster sketches
Info & slides: web design
Website home page
Presentations: website home page
Prepare final presentation:
Write rationale text
Layout composition of board
Presentation of final project
Below: Some lecture notes and work in progress for class discussions.
Below: Student's final projects.
Below: The 2000 class of graduate students.
Presenting at the Encuadre International Design Conference
JoAnn Adams and Jim before Jim's presentation at the conference. Some of the UCO students.
Luis Limon, the head of the Graphic Design program, and a design student; UPAEP design faculty.
The workshop in the Conference Center.
Jim and student Bret escaping from the tour bus to explore the town of Cholula. The UCO group at dinner.
Watson with some of the faculty and students in Graphic Design.
The campus occupies several urban blocks in Puebla. The buildings form and face an interior courtyard. In the center is the Student Union.
The Union Cafe; Faculty offices in the design department.
The city of Puebla, full name - Puebla de los Ángeles or La Angelópolis, is the capital and largest city of the state of Puebla. With a metro population of about 4,000,000,it is the fourth most populous metropolitan area in Mexico and one of the largest in North America. Puebla is one of the oldest colonial cities on the North American continent. Founded on April 16, 1531, Puebla was the first city in central Mexico that was not built upon the ruins of a conquered Amerindian settlement. Its strategic location, half-way between the port of Veracruz and Mexico City, made it the second most important city during the colonial period. Mexico's army defeated French forces in Puebla on May 5, 1862 in the Battle of Puebla -celebrated in Mexico and the US as Cinco de Mayo. Puebla is famous for 3 things: Cinco de Mayo; Mole Poblano, a sauce of 20 ingredients including cinnamon, peppers, and chocolate; and blue and white Talavera ceramics, used in dinnerware, plant pots, churches and even street tiles. Puebla is the Sister City to Oklahoma City.
Above: the Best Western hotel where I stayed for the initial Conference and the first year of teaching. Below: the 2nd year of teaching, the Marriott Courtyard:
On the highway from Mexico City to Puebla. Mexico City and Puebla are 2-hour bus ride from each other. It takes about 30 minutes to get through Mexico City traffic, then its a nice ride over a mountain pass. In the background of the two bottom fotos is the volcano Popo.
Two closer views of the active volcano Popocatépetl or, Popo, as its affectionately called. It is the second highest peak in Mexico. Geologists are keeping an eye on its activity since it is in the mountains that separate Mexico City from Puebla - it is flanked by millions of people and a major eruption would likely be devastating to one or both metro areas. It had minor eruptions in 1947 and 2000.
Note: some of the pictures below were shot in 1996 and 2000 with an Instamatic type camera; these are scans of the slides so the color is not very true.
There is modern sculpture all over Mexico City and Puebla. These are around the Zocalo perimeter walkway.
While there are Starbucks all over Mexico City, the pervasive coffee chain in Puebla is The Italian Coffee Company (that's their name and all in English). There are 3 locations of The Italian Coffee Company around the Zocalo in Puebla - one on each of 3 blocks (the 4th block is the cathedral).
The Italian Coffee Company where I took a break. The view from my table. My drink, a caramel-something - I had two of them.
The cathedral on the Zocalo. The towers are the tallest in Mexico and the interior domes are patterned after St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City in Rome.
There was a jazz group playing by the restaurant umbrellas. I just sat and sat, enjoying the weather, the music, and the people. Examples of the wayfinding signage program in Puebla. The E on the sign is for 'Estacionamiento' - the Spanish word for 'parking'.
Mexican cities are full of cathedrals, churches, and chapels. Here are 3 different ones - the one on the right, Rosaria Chapel, is overwhelming covered in gold.
The largest employer in the state of Puebla is the mammoth Volkswagen plant that makes all the VW models sold in North America. I once toured the plant when they were assembling the Jetta. Watching the automated assembly lines was awesome - the technology and efficiency.
Trips to Puebla Mexico
1995 October 24-29: Puebla: Encuadre International Design Conference
2000 June: Puebla y Mexico City: Teaching Design Systems graduate studio course
2001 May 19-28: Puebla: Teaching Design Systems graduate studio course
2008 March 27 - April 1: Mexico City y Puebla: Accompanying UCO Dancers
The plaza in Cholula. Jamie, Director of Dance at UCO, serenaded at dinner. Jim, Jamie, Jill, Tina, and student at dinner.