Andrew Singer named interim director of Siebel Center for Design

Professor and entrepreneur will lead a new $48 million hub for student-focused design thinking and learning.

Andrew Singer has been appointed interim director of the Siebel Center for Design at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. A professor of electrical and computer engineering, Singer will guide the development of the center’s signature programs, help foster design thinking and education in the university’s colleges and departments, and lead the ongoing planning of the center’s $48 million home.

An international search will be conducted for the center’s inaugural director.

The Siebel Center for Design will be a campuswide hub for student-focused design thinking and learning. Construction is expected to begin this summer and to take about 18 months. Cross-disciplinary, student-driven projects will advance in an environment that teaches innovative approaches to product, process and user centered design – with an emphasis on technology, creativity, purpose and collaboration.

The 60,000-square-foot building will include five team-based collaboration studios for up to 400 students, including one studio for large-scale construction and graded access for big prototypes. It will also include a large workshop for 3-D printing, metal fabrication, laser cutting, water-jet cutting and computer-controlled machining. Two digital media studios will support video and audio recording, as well as immersive technologies for virtual reality applications. There will also be public gathering spaces, meeting rooms and galleries to encourage more informal interaction.

“Design thinking and learning are off and running on our campus, and have been for years across a network of maker spaces, workshops and projects labs,” Singer said. “Our academic rigor and our students’ entrepreneurial spirit amplify the impact of that wide-ranging creativity. The combination is powerful and unstoppable. (Lead donor) Tom Siebel has given us a unique opportunity to harness all of that activity, at campus scale, with new programs and a new iconic facility. I’m honored to have a role in this important and exciting new addition to our campus.”

Singer is a serial entrepreneur, having founded a pair of communication network technology companies. He is the Fox Family Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering and the director of the College of Engineering’s Technology Entrepreneur Center.

“Education and opportunity will be at the heart of the Siebel Center for Design, whether inside the building or elsewhere on campus. Imagine a cross-campus network of design spaces for student ideation, making and collaboration – each of them enabling design-thinking principles and practices to be developed within curricula and programs in every department and explored by students in their own projects, as well. Imagine those world-changing and impact-making skills taking root in every student on campus. That’s the power of design thinking and the promise of the Siebel Center for Design,” Singer said.

The Thomas and Stacey Siebel Foundation established the Siebel Center for Design with a $25 million lead gift in October 2016. Siebel is the chairman and chief executive officer of C3 IoT, an enterprise PaaS and SaaS software company that enables companies to design, develop, deploy, provision and operate large-scale IoT applications. Siebel was the founder, chairman and chief executive officer of Siebel Systems, one of the world’s leading software companies, which merged with Oracle Corporation in January 2006. Founded in 1993, Siebel Systems rapidly became a leader in application software with more than 8,000 employees in 32 countries, over 4,500 corporate customers and annual revenue in excess of $2 billion.