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May 01, 2015

Cleveland Institute of Art student wins merit award for design

Contact: Ann McGuire
Director of Communications

CLEVELAND (Ohio) – A Cleveland Institute of Art student is one of five college students in the U.S. to be recognized by the prestigious Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) with a Student Merit Award.

Geemay Chia, a senior Industrial Design major from Gates Mills, Ohio, was chosen over semifinalists from Carnegie Mellon University, The Ohio State University, University of Cincinnati, Columbus College of Art and Design, College for Creative Studies and other large programs in the IDSA’s Central District. She is the fifth CIA student in the last decade to receive the Student Merit Award.

“Geemay is very deserving of this honor as she excels in every part of the process, from gaining insight and developing concepts, to refining and implementing a final product,” said Dan Cuffaro, CIA’s Industrial Design Department chair. “She has worked hard over the past four years and has developed her own approach, which results in strong and innovative work.”

The Student Merit Award selection process begins at the college-level in January, when faculty members choose their top talent to be college-wide Student Merit Award winners. All college winners advance to their respective IDSA district design conference where they compete for the district title. Chia was chosen as the top student in the IDSA Central District when that group had its conference in Columbus in April.

“This award is very meaningful because we are in a very tough IDSA district. The competition from other schools is stiff, but Geemay has what it takes to rise to the top,” Cuffaro said. IDSA’s Central District includes Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and the western half of Pennsylvania.

The five district SMA winners from colleges across the country are recognized through profiles in IDSA’s INNOVATION magazine, on, and at the organization’s International Conference in Seattle this August, where Chia will give a brief presentation.

“I was ecstatic and very honored to be given this wonderful recognition,” Cia said. “I was happy that four years of hard work paid off and that I was able to represent Cleveland Institute of Art at both the IDSA Central District Conference and now at the IDSA International Conference. I am very grateful to Cleveland Institute of Art for giving me this opportunity to represent the school, as well as to the IDSA Central District Judges for selecting me as their 2015 IDSA Central District Student Merit Winner.”

Cuffaro noted that Chia joins a long line of top designers educated at CIA. "Geemay embodies the knowledge, skills and qualities that our program most values. As a result, our students have won five times in the last 10 years. She is in amazing company with past CIA winners Mich Alvarez, Mandy Stehouwer, Matt Swinton and Dan Rowe. These are all individuals who have gone on to make their mark in the field and are true design leaders. Geemay's talent, work ethic and intelligence will take her far and she will make an impact."

In March, Chia went to Chicago to accept a top award in a separate competition, the Student Design Competition sponsored by the International Housewares Association. Competing against 245 entries by students from 34 colleges, she won second prize for her Clean Mate Personal Cleaning Companion, a hybrid walker, folding seat, and caddy designed for peoplewith limited physical capabilities.

About CIA

Founded in 1882, Cleveland Institute of Art is an accredited, independent college of art and design with 15 majors in studio art, digital art, craft disciplines, and design. CIA extends its offerings to the public through gallery exhibitions; lectures; robust continuing education courses; and the Cinematheque, a year-round art and independent film program. CIA’s public programming is supported in part by the residents of Cuyahoga County through a public grant from Cuyahoga Arts & Culture. For more information visit

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