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Viasat Invests in UC San Diego’s Design Lab

Viasat gift helps researchers provide guidance to engineering organizations on ways to implement a ‘design thinking’ approach to drive global and societal impacts


The Design Lab at the University of California San Diego, under the direction of founder Don Norman, has received a $250,000 gift from global communications company, Viasat Inc. (NASDAQ: VSAT). The investment will support efforts at the Design Lab’s Center for Design-Driven Transformation (CDDT) to assist companies in using leading-edge design tools and perspectives to stay competitive in an ever-changing business landscape. Viasat was founded by Mark Dankberg and two UC San Diego alumni, Steve Hart and Mark Miller.

The CDDT is a collaboration between the Design Lab and UC San Diego’s Rady School of Management. Under the direction of Rady School Professor Michael W. Meyer with Design Lab Associate Director Michèle Morris, the CDDT is dedicated to studying and teaching how design and business intersect in order to help companies achieve transformative results.

Leadership at Viasat championed the gift, believing a company-wide focus on design and customer experience would stimulate new thinking and approaches to innovation. Viasat will receive research and education on how to implement human-centered design practices into its business processes, organizational structure and employee engagement to transition the company into a design-driven organization. Instruction will be provided through the Rady School’s Center for Executive Development, and mentorship by Rady School and Design Lab faculty. Simultaneously, the CDDT will gain valuable insight into the most effective strategies for leveraging the benefits of people-centric thinking and doing.

This intellectual partnership gives Viasat opportunities to challenge current engineering thinking as we strive to deliver products and services that both address highly-complex societal problems and advance customer experiences,” said Kristi Jaska, vice president of engineering at Viasat. “We appreciate UC San Diego’s commitment to the field of design and look forward to collaborating on customer experience guided by the principles of human-centered design.

Added Meyer, “With this generous gift, Viasat is recognizing the value that design thinking and design doing can bring to large, complex organizations in technically challenging industries. We are grateful for the opportunity to provide education and guidance to Viasat on integrating design principles and practices across all aspects of the company.”

“As Viasat and UC San Diego begin the next chapter of our longstanding relationship—one that has generated exceptional educational pathways for students, a more diverse pool of highly qualified employees for local industry and crucial cross-disciplinary research—we look forward to deploying design thinking as a critical tool for solving the complex problems of the future,” said Morris.

This gift from Viasat contributes to the Campaign for UC San Diego. Philanthropic contributions to the Design Lab help expand the science of design through research, community-connected projects, educational opportunity and creating places for people to collaborate. To give, contact Design Lab Associate Director Michèle Morris at 858-822-0128.