Go beyond the Sketchbook




What Are we all about?

Tandem is a conference that helps students go beyond the sketchbook and into the world of professional design. Our main goal is to depict the life of a designer and show how product development is a collaborative process between many fields. The conference itself will be broken into multiple workshops featuring different professionals from many disciplines to shed light on their processes.

Throughout the conference, attendees will have the opportunity to meet professionals and students from a variety of locations and programs. Along with lectures and workshops, specific networking opportunities will be planned during the event. Join us for good talks, good company, and a good time!

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Last year we featured speakers like Reid Schlegel from Frog Design, Carter Agvent from Cole Haan, Insiyah Shahpurwalla from Photoshops 25 under 25, Andrea Pippins Graphic Design, and Mario Zucca Illustration just to name a few. Check them and more out below! 

We will be updating this section soon with our 2017 speakers.



Reid Schlegel

Reid Schlegel is Industrial Designer II at Frog Design, NYC and artist. He is famous for his sketches, illustrations, renderings, and other artwork posted to his Instagram page. He is an alum of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University where as a student was the IDSA Southern District Student Merit Award winner in 2012.  Check out some of his work by clicking the button below!

Carter Agvent

Carter is an  industrial designer who's had the opportunity to work with Fortune 500 companies such as Comcast, Rubbermaid, Armstrong, Timberland, and Currently Cole Haan. Through these projects, He has gained knowledge in industrial design processes and materials while improving his skills, such as product Design, Adobe Creative Suite, 3D rendering, research, leadership, teamwork, and concept sketching. Carter will also be part of the student panel.

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Richard Funnell

Richard is an internationally experienced industrial designer who manages customer training at Luxion, makers of KeyShot. He has worked with customers in nearly every industry ranging from aerospace to consumer electronics, and is based in Brooklyn, NYC.

Andrea Pippins

Andrea Pippins is a designer, illustrator, and educator who began harnessing
her artistic talent into a BFA in graphic design and later earned her MFA
at Temple University-Tyler School of Art. 
After teaching design full-time for five years, Andrea took a break from teaching to work on freelance illustration and design projects. 
In November 2015 Andrea published her first book, I Love My Hair,
with Random House Children’s Books/Schwartz & Wade. I Love My Hair is a coloring
book featuring her illustrations celebrating various hairstyles and textures. In 2016 will release her second book, Becoming Me, for young women to color, doodle, and brainstorm their way to a creative life.

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Insiyah Shahpurwalla

Insiyah graduated with a Bachelors in Fine Art with a specialization in Textile Design from the Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology in Bangalore, India. Shortly after which, she launched a small-scale establishment called 'The Fabric Loft' which catered to various fashion and upholstery designers as well as supplied and distributed printed fabric to stores in and around Mumbai, India. The principal characteristic of this start up was to design custom artworks and collections based on a particular concept for a particular audience and also source the required fabric and in turn produce digitally printed fabric. This growing venture has a versatile nature as it caters to small as well as large designing and printing jobs on a variety of substrates for a diverse clientele interested in the multifaceted field of textiles. During this period, she decided to pursue her Masters in Science in Textile Design at Philadelphia University to broaden her knowledge about Print design and it's techniques to help develop her skills and explore further. Insiyah will be part of the student panel as well.

Steve DeCusatis

Steve DeCusatis is a graphic designer specializing in logos, identities, and overall branding projects. He is an independent art director, designer and educator. Mr DeCusatis graduated from Tyler School of Art, Temple University in 2002 with a BFA in Graphic & Interactive Design and an Art History Minor. After working in both design and agency settings, DeCusatis started his own self-titled design studio in 2011. He collaborates with clients large and small creating innovative identity, print, and web design.
His work has been recognized by AIGA Philadelphia Design Awards, Print, HOW, Communication Arts, Graphis, The Dieline, Letterhead & Logo Design, LogoLounge, and more. In addition, art direction of student work has been recognized by HOW Self-Promotion Annual, Philadelphia Museum of Art's Collab Student Design Competition, and the Adobe Achievement Awards.


Mario Zucca

Illustrator. Educator. Self-made thousandaire.
Mario is a seasoned vet of the illustration game. He’s had the privilege of working for some pretty awesome clients across a number of markets and had a few honors thrown at him along the way. Select clients include Crayola, Ebony Magazine, ESPN Magazine, Grantland, Hemispheres, Jimmy Kimmel Live, Klutz, Maxim, The National Football League, New York Magazine, The New York Times, Newsweek, Quirk Books, Time, Inc., and The Wall Street Journal. Honors include selections into 3x3 Pro Show, American Illustration, Creative Quarterly, Society of Illustrators Annual, and Society of Illustrators West Annual.

Lyn Godley

Lyn Godley began her career in Fine Arts, then spent 30 years working as a designer, bringing form and beauty to functional objects. Her work has crossed the borders of interiors, product, furniture, lighting, and jewelry. Her designs, done both individually and as partner of Godley-Schwan (1984-1998) with the late Lloyd  Schwan, have been exhibited internationally. The Crinkle Lamp, the last piece designed jointly by Godley-Schwan, was accepted into the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art in 1998. Their work is also in numerous public and private collections. She is also regularly chosen for public art projects that explore the intersection of Light and Art in public spaces, most recently the Percent for Art commission for the Public Art at SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia.

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Russel Walters

Russel earned a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Lehigh University and a Ph.D. in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania. In 2003 Russel joined the Advanced Technologies group at Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies, where he focused on polymer / surfactant interactions and surfactant effects on skin. In 2010, JnJ awarded Russel the Philip B. Hofmann Research Scientist Award for his work on novel mild cleansing systems, and in 2011 the Johnson Medal, the companies highest honor for innovative technologies. 

Russel researches and models complex dynamic systems, both physical systems and more recently social systems. He is an inventor over 20 U.S. Patents and has authored over 20 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters. Recently Russel has also begun work on patent and innovation knowledge management and digital engagement with consumers, including the recently launched Johnson’s® Bedtime® Sleep app. With over 500,000 users the app was awarded the JnJ Burke Marketing Award (2013).

Renee Kakareka

Renee Kakareka is the founder and CEO of Olive Devices: creating assistive technology through augmented reality. At just 22 years old Kakareka has co-founded two organizations. The Tandem Design Conference at Philadelphia University and Olive Devices. Industrial designer and entrepreneur by trade, ‘dreamengineer’ through passion, Kakareka founded Olive Devices as a senior at Philadelphia University. She began by designing smart glasses for deaf and hard of hearing. After working with a client in her junior year, and growing up learning sign language, she pursued to form a company that will produce the product. Now in their first year Kakareka has lead Olive Devices to winning multiple start-up awards including bronze at the world wide Publicis 90 competition, runner-up at Jefferson University’s JAZ Tank, participating in the Angel Venture Fair, and participating in the MedTech Bootcamp in Munich. In addition, Kakareka has received pilot funding from BioAdvance to progress the company to raising their SEED round. Kakareka was also recognized by local Philadelphia news website: BillyPenn as one of the up and coming entrepreneurs under 40

Eric Schneider

Eric Schneider has over 30 years of corporate and consulting industrial design experience. He has run his own firm, Phase One Design (, since the mid 1990s, concentrating mostly on industrial, commercial, and medical products. Eric has also taught at Philadelphia University since 2010 and is particularly interested in helping students understand how knowledge of manufacturing and the product development process can empower them as designers.

Christopher Zoog

Christopher is a licensed architect and Senior Associate with the Philadelphia office of HOK, where he is working as part of the firmwide Design Technology team.  He assists on projects across all HOK market sectors, including Aviation + Transportation, Urban Planning, Healthcare, Sports + Recreation + Entertainment, and Science + Technology.

Christopher manages building information model quality and delivery initiatives both locally and globally within HOK. With over a decade of BIM project experience, he has used BIM tools to design, document and visualize, everything from large hospital and laboratory projects to high rise speculative office buildings to two of the world’s tallest super-towers. Christopher is also well versed in pedestrian simulation software and is a pioneer in the utilization of BIM for simulation models. He is on the forefront of advanced model based coordination efforts, leveraging BIM in automated code compliance checking for life safety and accessibility.  Always focused on interoperability, Christopher excels at leveraging design information across seemingly disparate and often disconnected software tools.  He is currently developing workflows from design authoring applications to VR/AR and other real-time rendering technologies

Student Panel

Below are the people who will be joining Tandem as a Student Panel speaker. During the student panel attendees will be able to ask questions from these recent graduates about anything really! From what its like to be out of school to advice for what to do in school to prepare for the end of school. Come with your questions and notebooks ready!

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Contact Us 

Please allow for a modest delay in response time. Contact us through this form or email us at Thanks!

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Where we are

Philadelphia University

4201 Henry Avenue, Philadelphia Pennsylvania, 19144


Where should you stay?

We understand some of you might be coming from out of town and so would need a place to stay overnight. No worries! Depending on your situation and volunteers, some students can let you "couch surf" for the weekend of the conference. There are also other options, such as actual Couch Surfing, Air BNB, a hostel, or a hotel.

If your interested in staying with a PhilaU student please fill out the form above or email us and let us know so we can provide you with a place to stay. Below are some helpful links to get you started.