Archive for June, 2021

Environmental Design student profile

Audrey Liang

Bachelor of Design


Audrey Liang portrait

Audrey Liang, a international and transfer student will be graduating from the Environmental Design program on June 11th.

Audrey had always had an interest in art and design from a very young age but never considered pursuing her hobby as a career. Her path to design started in high school with an introduction to architecture, and before long went to business school for two years until she changed her major to design. Audrey’s career path was a process of trial and error.

What influenced your decision to major in Environmental Design?

Environmental Design program at OCAD U is different from most traditional Architecture schools. The program has a deeper focus on design, theory, and concept rather than heavy on mathematics.

Audrey Liang, Illustration

What did you most enjoy about your program?

I enjoyed the learning process as well the opportunity to interact with my peers and professors—I appreciated seeing how the quality of our work improved over the years.

Can you tell us a bit about your thesis idea and how you decided on it?

My thesis topic is on the redesign of Urban Cemetery. The topic was decided upon through observation. I noticed that in Canada, a lot of residential houses are built beside or nearby a cemetery, thus it attracted me to research on the topic.

Audrey Liang, Illustration

What kind of books do you enjoy reading?
I enjoy reading comedy books, but during the pandemic I found myself reading finance and psychology books.

What are your next steps after graduating?

I am looking for an opportunity to join an architecture/design firm in Canada. I would like to gain some real-life experience before I apply to graduate school.

What will you miss the most about OCAD University?

I will miss the studio days as well the opportunity of working on projects with my classmate in the open studio space.

Is there anything else you want to share with us, any final thoughts?

School is one of those times that you will have the opportunity to explore your passion. Your program of study does not define your career path, but it does reflect your interest. OCAD U is one of those schools that values multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary research.


06 2021

Industrial Design student profile:

Sydney Cooling-Sturges

Bachelor of Design



Portrait of Sydney Cooling Sturges

Sydney Cooling-Sturges is graduating this year from the Industrial Design program. Sydney has been part of the Learning Zone Team since 2018 and I can personally say that we will miss her positive attitude and her enthusiasm.

Growing up, Sydney has always had a strong interest in art & design, building Parisian towns in her living room with her mega blocks. Before Sydney realized that she could have a career in art & design, she wanted to work in a butterfly conservatory, become a veterinarian and even considered in becoming an architect, but not with the idea of making buildings – but making the things within the building. Sydney knew that she was going to get to a creative career eventually.

Sydney’s approach to design is to make people happy. She enjoys new challenges which is why she pivoted away from making things, to creating digital solutions. At the beginning of every project Sydney never knows if the output of the design is going to be a soft good, hard object or digital object. For Sydney, problem solving and creating good solutions are the key point to creating an end product. Sydney’s thesis project, Better by Bumble was a recipient of the ACIDO Rocket Design 2021: SHEPPID Health & Wellness Award.

What influenced your decision to major in Industrial Design?

Just luck. I was in a wood shop class in High School and a classmate of mine was telling me that her dad was an Industrial Designer. She was going to school for engineering and said that Industrial designers and engineers are “best friends” in the industry. She was not interested in designing things but wanted to understand how to make the things, but encouraged that I should go for Industrial Design.

That really influenced my decision to major in Industrial Design, the more I read about it and learned that it was a real career, I new that it was the right direction for me. It was nice having someone in my life that heard what I liked doing and what I did not like doing and knew that there was a career out there that aligned with my interests before I even knew that Industrial Design as a career.

Sydney Cooling-Sturges Blūm design

What did you enjoy most about your program?

My program does a good job introducing its students to the community and had us designing with the community really early on in the program.

In my 2nd year, I was doing design work in Regent Park with members of the Regent Park Sewing Studio. We would meet with the community members every week, that was incredibly fun—having those creative opportunities

I was able to do design all over the city and in another country, that’s what I really enjoyed about my program—it reminds you that you design for people and provides real-life scenarios.

You can find some of Sydney’s program engagements below:

Teamed up with Regent Park Sewing Studio

Design Abroad: Costa Rica (2019)

Design For Health – Participatory Design

Where are you most productive? Tell us a bit about your creative space. Has it changed since COVID?

My productive space had changed dramatically. When COVID started I moved back to my house with my parents. I worked from my bedroom and completely rearranged the space, setting up 2 little lockers from IKEA filled with all my design tools. I had everything colour coded. I added a huge piece of wood on top of the lockers and that was my desk.

Now it’s changed, I live with my partner, we rent a small house north of Peterborough. My creative space is in the living room filled with plants, it’s open and super bright – I have close to 40 plants in the room. I sit on a pink fuzzy armchair and do most of my work there.

Sydney's plants
Can you tell us a bit about your thesis idea and how you decided on it?

Better by Bumble: A Digital Learning Platform for Sexual and Reproductive Health

My thesis topic is on reproductive and sexual health for young adults. Initially I wanted to focus on patient centred care because of my personal experience navigating the patient care system. The more research I did on the topic the more I realized how broad this thesis topic was. I was shying away from doing my thesis on reproductive health because I was nervous that it was predictable or that I was too close to the topic. Eventually, it naturally kind of flowed that way; I was thinking about what health problems that young people like me face the most and unsurprisingly it was sexually transmitted infections and diseases and that falls under an umbrella of sexual health and reproductive health.

I designed a reproductive and sexual health hub where you can learn about reproductive sexual health. This is situated in Bumble, the dating app because I wanted to access people before they would most likely contact a STD or STI and also reach people that may have missed out on sex education.

Sydney Cooling-Sturges thesis project

It’s about receiving the right information at the right time. I got super interested in micro-credentials when working as a user experience ambassador at e-campus, an e-learning resource for post-secondary schools of Ontario. Micro-credentials is an up-and-coming area certifying that you know something about a topic, it’s super cool to match people together who have taken an micro-certification in sex education and understand reproductive health – people can be healthier and suffer less.

What kind of books do you enjoy reading?

I enjoy non-fiction especially books about the science of food and nature and public figures, especially figures like Michelle Obama.

What are your next steps after graduating?

My partner and I are fixing up our house, trying to make it nice. I definitely want to apply to junior design positions and working on my portfolio. I also plan on taking another course through BrainStation in interface design, I have become interested in coding. I think that a lot of solutions to problems are digital.

What will you miss the most about OCAD University?

I like being there. There is a fun energy about the school. Going up to the 5th floor where all the design students are and being in that open studio space where everyone is doing their work, all the hustle and bustling – there is so much energy. I’ll miss being in the space and all the faces. I feel that it had been cut really short for me. My last class was a Monday night, March 10th 2020, a different vibe. I wish I had known it was the last time things would be that way. I would have spent a couple of hours more in the space.

Is there anything else you want to share with us, any final thoughts?

Thank you for hiring me when I was in second year.  I was living on my own in an unsafe place, because it was what I could afford and had not fully adjusted to OCAD. Had I not worked at the Learning Zone, I don’t think I would have had the bond that I had at OCAD today and would not have gotten the nearly many of opportunities—it really turned things around for me. I feel like it was meant to be and I owe you and Marta a lot for letting me work in the Learning Zone and seeing that I was a good student that added value to the space.


06 2021

Use of this service is governed by the IT Acceptable Use and Web Technologies policies.
Privacy Notice: It is possible for your name, e-mail address, and/or student/staff/faculty UserID to be publicly revealed if you choose to use OCAD University Blogs.