Heather Tompkins, an MFA student in the Academy’s School of Web Design & New Media, will spend the summer working at Klout, a San Francisco tech company that measures the influence of social media users, thanks to Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers (KPCB), a venture capital firm that’s backed some of today’s most innovative companies.
Heather Tompkins
Tompkins is one of 12 students from top design schools across the nation to be selected for KPCB’s Design Fellows Program, established to connect promising design students with some of the most design-influenced companies in KPCB’s portfolio. The program provides Fellows with mentorship, leadership and community experiences, all in the interest of nurturing the interconnection of design and technology in innovative products and services. The Fellows will attend exclusive events hosted by KPCB-funded companies, where they can meet other talented students, network with technology luminaries, and explore the Bay Area.
As part of the application process, Tompkins submitted her Academy thesis project, an interactive children’s book for the iPad called The Bear and the Picture Camera. She designed the book in a way that allows the reader and the main character to explore and draw together—a type of combination she felt was missing in the iPad children’s book market. “As a child who always preferred drawing to reading, I saw this project as a challenge to combine the two in an engaging new way, a way that I might have enjoyed as a kid,” she says.
“Not only did this project allow me to develop new skills in user experience and user interface design, it allowed me to further develop my skills as an illustrator, visual designer and storyteller. In the end, The Bear and The Picture Camera enabled me to explore and grow in all aspects of the design process.

“I’m honored and excited to be a KPCB Design Fellow. I look forward to my summer with Klout and this invaluable opportunity to grow as a designer.”

Academy President Elisa Stephens explains how the university’s teaching strategy helps make accomplishments like Tompkins’ possible: “One thing every Academy student must do in order to graduate is complete a portfolio of work that shows potential employers that the student has not only studied design, but has hands-on experience and can contribute to a company. Heather clearly knocked the ball out of the park with her thesis project, and we are excited that she will be able to further develop her skills this summer at Klout.”

The Design Fellows Program is part of KPCB’s strategy for supporting innovative companies. In establishing it, says Juliet de Baubigny, a partner at KPCB who helped build the program, “What we wanted to do was to really support the field; we wanted to make sure that we helped our companies gain access to the best designers, and we wanted to continue, ourselves, to learn as the field of design innovation unfolds. I feel that design is going to be the key differentiator with many entrepreneurial ventures going forward.”

Since its founding in 1972, KPCB has backed entrepreneurs in more than 500 ventures including AOL, Amazon, Citrix, Compaq, Electronic Arts, Genentech, Google, Intuit, Juniper Networks, Netscape, Sun, Symantec, Verisign and Zynga. The program aims to help bright students gain the experience and relationships they need to create meaningful careers at technology companies after graduation, and KPCB’s portfolio companies benefit by tapping into the next generation of design thinking and talent.

Learn more about Tompkins project here.

All images © Heather Tompkins

Tags: Web Design & New Media,  Graduate Students