Raja Schaar, IDSA is Associate Program Director and Assistant Professor of Product Design at Drexel University’s Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts and Design. She also co-chairs IDSA’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council. She is an industrial designer with an extensive background in museum exhibit design who is passionate about ways design can make positive impact intersections with health, the environment, and education.
Raja’s interdisciplinary research focuses on addressing inequities in maternal health; methods for engaging black girls and underrepresented minorities in STEM/STEAM through design and technology; innovation and entrepreneurship education; and biologically-inspired design and sustainability.
Raja currently co-leads two collaborative research projects. She works with faculty from Drexel’s College of Nursing and Design and Merchandising Programs the development of low-cost wearables for maternal health. She is co-PI on an interdisciplinary research project funded by the US Department of Education Promise Neighborhood Grant entitled “Black Girls STEAMing through Dance,” where she works with students and faculty from Drexel's departments of Computing and Informatics, Dance, and the School of Education to uncover STEAM identities, literacies, and self-concept in African American girls through the development of wearable technology. Raja is also PI on a VentureWell Faculty Grant that connects Product Design, Biomedical Engineering, and Entrepreneurship to examine the role of clinical immersion on product innovation on campus.
As an educator, Raja works to infuse Drexel’s Product Design Curriculum with society-centered design principles that address impactful, real-world problems. She teaches a number of traditional and research-based studios across the curriculum, but her favorite courses to teach are Interdisciplinary Product Design, Bio-Inspired Design and Sustainability, Design and Waste, and Wearables for Health.
Before joining Drexel's Product Design faculty, Raja taught at Georgia Tech School of Industrial Design and the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at GA Tech and Emory University. Raja received her BSID from Georgia Tech in 2001 and completed her graduate work at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2003.
Ackerman, J. and Schaar, R. (2016). *Clinical Observational Design Experience – A Large Design Oriented Clinical Immersion Course Based in an Emergency Department. *Unpublished Paper to be presented *at *VentureWell Open 20th annual conference, Portland*. *
Schaar, R. Jacobson, M., and Rains J. (2015). *Jump-starting Biomedical Design Education in the Sophomore Year: A human-centered approach. *Paper presented at VentureWell Open 19th annual conference, Washington D.C*. *
Schaar, R. and Shankwiler, K. *Design Gateway: Pedagogical Discussion of a Second-Year Industrial Design Studio*. 24th National Conference on the Beginning Design Student, 2008.