Design professor wins Jefferson Award

An SF State professor has received the prestigious Jefferson Award for Public Service for his work bringing hands-on, project-based design education to San Francisco high school students.

A photo of SF State Professor of Design and Industry Martin Linder.

SF State Professor of Design and Industry Martin Linder

Martin Linder, an associate professor in the design and industry department, received the award at a ceremony at SF State on May 2 and will be the subject of television and radio features next week.

Linder is the founder of Industrial Design Outreach (iDo), an education enrichment program that introduces underserved high school students to educational opportunities in industrial and graphic design, computer software tools, and traditional and modern manufacturing systems. The program fosters curiosity, promotes creativity and builds self-confidence by having the students envision and develop their own designs. The class is currently held five days a week at Thurgood Marshall High School in San Francisco's Bayview district. SF State graduate students serve as mentors to high school students participating in iDo.

Linder says he developed the program after realizing many underserved high school students were taught toward the goal of passing a test rather than receiving practical, hands-on learning experiences. "We give the students a problem to solve, the methodology to solve it, the tools to solve it and mentorship," Linder said. "They're not assessed on a written test. They're assessed on their creativity."

In 2010, 60 volunteer mentors from SF State provided more than 10,000 hours of community service through iDo, and the program has reached more than 700 high school students since its inception. The program has been the subject of media coverage, including in the San Francisco Chronicle, and a 2009 student project, the "Community Bench," is on permanent display in San Francisco City Hall.

"Martin's commitment to the community is inspiring to colleagues and students alike," said Perla Barrientos, director of community service learning for the SF State Institute for Civic and Community Engagement. "With the iDo program, he is reaching out to new generations of citizens with math and science in a way that is refreshing and fun for those young students."

Linder said he is honored to be among those who have won Jefferson Awards and gives credit to the high school students, the 300 SF State students who have participated as mentors and the program's donors.

"Community and civic engagement like this is a highlight of what this University is about," Linder said. "With this honor, I hope to find more partners to deliver project-based creative learning throughout public education."

Linder is the second SF State professor to receive a Jefferson Award. Music and Dance professor Albirda Rose received an award in 2008 for her work with the Village Dancers, a program she founded in 2000 to teach free dance classes to disadvantaged children in San Francisco. The Jefferson Awards, named after U.S. President Thomas Jefferson, are awarded nationally and locally to individuals for community and public service.

Linder will be the subject of news features on CBS 5 at 6 p.m. May 9, 12 p.m. May 10 and during "Early Edition" on May 12. KCBS radio will also run segments on Linder at 6:50 a.m., 9:40 a.m. and 11:50 a.m. May 9 and 11:50 a.m. and 3:50 p.m. May 13.
To learn more about iDo, visit

-- Jonathan Morales