Monday, March 27

Creative Labs club connects design, coding in real-world projects


(Miriam Bribiesca/Photo Editor)

(Miriam Bribiesca/Photo Editor)


UCLA students showcased where cars get the most parking tickets in Westwood – at Lindbrook Drive and Westwood Boulevard.

The parking ticket data, along with other Los Angeles transportation patterns, were presented in an online, multicolored map by coders and designers in the club Creative Labs.

Now entering into its third quarter, the club provides more than 100 North and South Campus students with a platform to collaborate on quarter-long projects such as data visualization – projects that present data to answer questions – and digital analysis – projects that look for ways to improve technology like web design through research.

Creative Labs also offers peer-led workshops on topics like graphic design and web design, as well as speaker events with design and tech industry leaders such as the CEO of design firm Blind, Chris Do, which are open to all UCLA students. Creative Labs will announce its 2017 winter quarter projects on Friday and accept applications until Monday.

Second-year computer science student Mihir Mathur helped found Creative Labs in spring 2016 after noticing the disparity between the schoolwork and real-life experience of North and South Campus students. Many design students focus on abstract work at UCLA, resulting in a lack of tangible products for outside viewers to engage with, Mathur said.

Similarly, South Campus curriculum provides students with tools to make useful technology applications; however, some students lack the design skills to make their applications attractive and engaging, so no one uses them.

“The idea of Creative Labs was to bridge this gap,” Mathur said. “To bring together the best designers and developers … to make projects that are complete from design and development.”

As a result, the club undertook quarter-long collaborative projects with eight to 10 mixed North and South Campus members in each project group. Group members worked on mockups and prototypes in weekly meetings to create finished web and iOS designs.

The groups worked on both advanced and beginner projects to involve students of all skill levels, Mathur said. Mathur also led the advanced LA transportation project in the fall quarter, Visualizing LA.

At the end of the quarter, the project group had created an interactive website with insights into LA’s transportation, including the areas where the most traffic occurs and the most parking tickets occur.

Redesigning the Digital Newspaper, a different beginner project, researched online newspapers to create a web design for newspaper websites that would attract more online readers. The mockups they created featured easier to read fonts and a grid system for displaying articles.

“The first goal is to get people to learn from each other,” Mathur said. “I’ve seen a lot of people who were just very techy and focus on the back end of applications who are now interested in design and are passionate about experience and making beautiful projects.”

Ruth Shaffer, a third-year Design | Media Arts student and former Daily Bruin staffer, became involved with Creative Labs because she wanted to work with design concepts such as user experience design – how website users interact with applications or websites – or product design that her design program coursework did not cover, she said.

Shaffer was impressed with the achievements of each group, she said. She met engineers who were interested in designing and designers who were interested in coding, she said.

Creative Labs has also taken on external organization projects from groups like the Youth Movement Against Alzheimers, said Rishabh Aggarwal, a third-year computer science student. A team of both North and South Campus students designed the YMAA’s website and branding as part of Creative Labs’ goal of becoming a digital agency that attracts developer clients.

“Even though North Campus and South Campus people have different ideas, they both appreciate the fact that they have different ideas,” Aggarwal said.

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Nickolai is an assistant editor of the A&E section, overseeing the Lifestyle beat.


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