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Graduates Share Real-World Knowledge With Art Students

Student Wendy L. Frew, left, discusses her work with graduate Joe Tertel, now an e-marketing specialist for JPL Productions.The applied-technology focus at Pennsylvania College of Technology has paid off for many of its graduates who are now working in the field they studied. Among those are alumni of the graphic-design and advertising-art majors, who returned to the campus on April 14 to show current students the kind of work their education has helped them to pursue.

“They get to see what’s out there, and they get more confidence,” said Steven P. Hirsch, assistant professor of advertising art, of the benefit current students reaped from talking with graduates. Hirsch organized the event.

Twenty-one students graduated from the graphic-design bachelor-degree major in 2004, Hirsch said, and of those, the faculty has been in touch with 15, all of whom are working in the graphic-design business. He expects that most of the remaining six are also employed in the field.

“When (current students) hear things like that, and they see the graduates come back, they put things into focus,” Hirsch said.

Penn College graphic-design and advertising-art graduates are working for advertising agencies, production companies and as art directors for such corporations as ShopVac and M&M Mars.

Thirteen former students attended the event, where they talked about their work and offered career advice. The graduates also critiqued the portfolios of students who will graduate this spring. Hirsch said that while the students’ portfolios have been evaluated by faculty, this event provided the valuable perspective of professionals who practice graphic design eight hours a day.

Current students also showed graduates their senior projects, which they spend the entire four months of their final semester at Penn College compiling.

Patrick D. Murphy, associate professor of advertising art, is one of the faculty members who oversee senior projects. He said the students design their own project, through which they not only employ their graphic-design skills, but also the critical-thinking and liberal-arts skills they have honed throughout their Penn College education. They must work independently and solve problems that arise throughout the project. They must write business proposals, objectives and a calendar for their project, two reports and a final written evaluation.

The projects include “a tremendous amount of research,” Murphy said. For instance, a current student who is creating a logo for a skin-cancer organization had to research not only the design and the organization, but also the disease.

“But they’re seniors and it’s sort of a rite of passage to prepare for the real world,” Murphy said.

The projects can also produce opportunities. Dustin L. Walker, a Spring 2004 graduate, reported that his senior project led to an award from MaximumPC magazine.

David M. Moyer, instructor of graphic design, said the undertaking involved designing a specialty case for computer processors. Along with it, Walker marketed his case as part of an existing company’s product line. He revised the company’s corporate identity, creating new advertising and a brochure that featured the product logo he created.

Independent from his senior project, Walker submitted his computer-case design to a nationwide contest conducted by MaximumPC and found out in July that he won.

“Recently he got a job,” Moyer said. “The person who hired (Walker) said he was very impressed with his portfolio.”

That portfolio was made up of work Walker did as part of his hands-on courses at Penn College.

Hirsch said there is a consensus: “All the graduates I’ve talked to are very complimentary about how the education they’ve had here at Penn College has made it easier finding a job.”

For more information about the academic programs offered by the School of Integrated Studies at Penn College, call (570) 327-4521, send e-mail or visit on the Web.

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