Laura Marelic, Cristina Silva, and Ryan Ma (left to right) plan creative projects for Scout, Northeastern’s student-led design studio.

Laura Marelic, AMD’15, saw a need and jumped in to fill the void.

As a graphic design major, she was struck by the number of students who approached her to create logos, posters, and branding concepts for campus groups. And as creative director of the Entrepreneurs Club, she was convinced that business and design students could learn from one another.

“It began as an underground movement, with students getting together to talk about design,” Marelic says.

In September 2013, the underground movement surfaced as Scout, a full-fledged design agency, conceived of and run entirely by students. It was made possible by $200,000 in donations from two sets of Northeastern parents—Eric and Jean Young, and Marla Schaefer and Steve Weishoff—who were impressed by the organization’s entrepreneurial spirit and student leadership.

Located in a sunny space on the third floor of Ryder Hall, the studio is a hub of activity, where 25 students often work long hours fueled by coffee, adrenaline, and inspiration. The Scout troop typically handles five clients at a time and will host its first co-op student this spring.

Scout’s first project—the design for the Our Marathon oral history exhibit last spring—garnered considerable local press. More recently, Scout handled branding and package design for CoffeeBar, a mocha-flavored, coffee-infused energy bar that is the brainchild of D’Amore-McKim students Johnny Fayad and Ali Kothari.

“Our mission expanded to have a community of and around design at Northeastern,” says Marelic. “We’re passionate about it.”

To foster a design culture here, the organization hosts a variety of campus events. In September, Scout held a workshop on creating successful user experiences. The group also organizes speaker presentations and portfolio workshops.

Scout provides the kind of entrepreneurial experience that the university excels at: encouraging students to start their own ventures, which can lead to unexpected discoveries. And the team gained skills in various fields, which will serve them well at the firms and companies they join after graduation.

“Scout members can communicate across disciplines, from computer science and design, to business,” Marelic says.