The UK College of Design is pleased to announce that Jonathan Mills has been named the Director of the new Department of Product Design. Mills comes to Kentucky from the University of Utah, where he was an Assistant Professor and the program’s Social Impact Coordinator as well as a University Sustainability Teaching Scholar.
“To have someone of Jon’s experience, innovative drive and diplomatic character usher in the era of our new Product Design program will ensure a vibrant initiation to the College, University and Kentucky as a whole,” said Dean Mitzi Vernon. “His cross-disciplinary compass to design aligns well with our mission as we plan for our move to the Reynolds Building.”
Recently approved by the UK Board of Trustees, the Department of Product Design will take its first cohort of students in Fall 2020.
Mills, who will begin at the College on July 1, taught in the Industrial + Interaction Design program at Syracuse University, serving as the Program Coordinator before making the move to Utah. With a primary focus on design research methods and studio instruction, his teaching focuses on understanding complex ecosystems and identifying strategies for positive impact through place-based design intervention.
As one of the principle drivers for the College of Design, community servicehas also been an active part of Mills’ pedagogy. His recent projects with community partners include: examining sustainability in the outdoor industry, design opportunities in the global public health context, designing for environmental quality issues, and a grant-funded investigation of virtual reality for design research.
Mills also teaches physical product development methods including design visualization, prototyping, and human factors considerations. He is well-versed in design curriculum development and creating a robust, supportive, and equitable studio culture. His personal research interests include the links between drawing, cognition, and conversation as well as developing new frameworks and methods for design research and communication. Mills holds a BS in Industrial Design and an MS in Architecture from Virginia Tech’s College of Architecture and Urban Studies.
Jon comes to Kentucky with his partner, Janie Mills, a licensed architect and design manager for Holder Construction, and who specializes in aviation projects across the United States.