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Jefferson Award Winner Exposes SF Youth To Industrial Design

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS 5) - Budget cuts often mean art classes are some of the first to go. But hundreds of San Francisco students are thriving in a unique 21st century version of woodshop, thanks to this week's Jefferson Award winner.

In a busy classroom at Thurgood Marshall High School in San Francisco, students worked to create speakers for their iPods. San Francisco State University Professor Martin Linder led the unique design class.

"The more they can be passionate about what they're doing, the deeper they're going to get into it, the better results they're going to get in terms of their education," Linder explained.

Linder founded Industrial Design Outreach, or "iDo" in 2003. It inspires innovation and invention among low income and underserved teens. Teacher Tera Freedman's class uses high tech tools Linder has purchased through donations and grants.

"They're actually making something," Freedman said enthusiastically. "They're using their hands. They've using their minds in a creative way."

Students like 17-year-old Quincy Collins says the class sparked his interest in a design career.

"I have the ability to create what I want to create instead of being told, 'Paint the flower,'" Collins said with satisfaction.

About two dozen design students from San Francisco State get credits to mentor and teach the daily high school class at Thurgood Marshall. iDO assistant director Phillip La says the young artists are encouraged to make mistakes.

"The faster you make mistakes, the faster you learn, the more you learn," La explained.

The iDo class is showing students "I can" -- be curious, creative, and confident. In fact, in May, the De Young Museum will display their clock projects and California-themed community bench. Each student intricately laser-cut their own designs out of veneer.

"They've worked so hard and then, 'Wow, it's wonderful!' They immediately want to share it with their family," Linder said.

Phillip La says Linder inspires them to stretch their imagination.

"When he speaks, you automatically are engaged with him," said La. "You believe in what he believes in."

Judy Chu believes. She dropped plans to pursue accounting after Linder's design class. Now a design student in college, she'll return to Thurgood to mentor.

"The program let me think out of the box and do things beyond what I thought I could do," she said.

"When you see them discover something new in themselves, that's what I really delight in," Linder added.

So for inspiring creativity and confidence through design, this week's Jefferson Award in the Bay Area goes to Martin Linder.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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