A high school art teacher at St. George’s got Jay interested in painting and drawing. After briefly considering the law, Jay made art his full-time focus. “I found that I got the most satisfaction out of working creatively, and sculpture, in particular, drew me in. I was using tools and my hands to realize things in 3D with everything from welding and metal casting to woodworking.” Jay went on to get his bachelor’s degree in visual arts from Brown University. After completing graduate school at Hunter College in New York, Jay was hired to teach sculpture at RISD.
As Jay worked his way through the administrative ranks, he saw that the skills students were learning at RISD had applications far beyond a career in art or design. “I hear back from people who have left the design field to do something else, and they all say how helpful everything they learned in school has been to their career,” notes Jay. “Being a creative individual and a problem solver are adaptable skills for any field you may choose to go into.”
Jay gets particular satisfaction from developing corporate partnerships where his students can apply the skills they’re learning. After graduation, those externship opportunities frequently become full-time jobs and help launch fruitful careers. Quite often, those careers have nothing to do with the marine industry. Students from the Digital Modeling and Fabrication program are learning design thinking and how to turn ideas into real-world objects. IYRS students learn how to use CAD software, 3D printers, laser cutters, CNC routers, mills, and lathes. Those skills prepare them for careers in design or advanced manufacturing at organizations like Hasbro Toys and NASA.
Jay believes in the skills of design thinking, digital modeling, and fabrication so much that IYRS has partnered with a handful of other organizations in Rhode Island to create the Mobile Maker Lab, a STEAM laboratory that brings the digital fabrication experience to local middle and high schools. “Students can take an idea, put it into a piece of software and come out with a 3D object at the end of the experience,” says Jay. “There’s a lot of interest right now in having students learn how to work with their hands and experiment.” Jay knows the satisfaction of building and creating with his own hands, and he is sharing that experience with the next generation of designers and makers.