Although I did not attend a proper industry event this semester, I feel that the excursion that I ventured out on can be counted on the same level as one. In mid-November, I went to Philadelphia to meet up with friends from Drexel University; these friends were part of the university’s SIGGRAPH chapter, and we went to the SIGGRAPH conference in Los Angeles, California in 2015. During this visit, I was given a private tour by three out of four of my friends. Because this tour was not your standard college, “open house” kind of tour, I feel that this counts as an event.
Natasha (former SIGGRAPH Chair), Chris (former SIGGRAPH VP), and Ian (current SIGGRAPH Chair) gave me very in-depth tour of Drexel’s Design School, called DIGM for short. They gave me a tour of their entire building and showed me every studio room, from the fashion design studio, their graphic design studios, their architecture studios, and their animation and motion capture studios (they have a GIGANTIC room with a huge green screen, squishy black flooring, and state of the art mocap equipment).
I was also introduced to several professors along the way; one of their professors that was not present that day actually served as tour guide for us while in California. One professor spoke about their equivalent of our fabrication studio and asked me about the equipment that we have at our school. Another professor, who was a Japanese native speak named Shinji, spoke with me about the school’s study abroad program; Natasha and other students went with Shinji for a week to Japan and interacted and collaborated with Japanese graphic design students in their school.
I had visited Drexel before this, but I had never gotten a tour of their design school (I was the only person in our tour group who was going to major in 3D animation, so obviously I didn’t matter). Going through their design school for the first time was a breath of fresh air: their school was large, and it had several studio spaces for students to work in; there were several open windows to provide of sense of time and space for working students throughout the day; there was a large TV monitor in the common area that showed who was teaching which class and when, when special guest speakers would be coming to the school; but the thing that stood out to me the most was the posters of student work that hung up all over the building. Have you ever seen movie posters with signatures, special messages, or doodles from either voice actors or animators on them? Drexel has their students do the same thing for their senior capstone projects. Their space just has an overall professional feel to it, and these posters truly solidified how seriously the students and faculty treat work at this school. I hate to say it, but if I had actually seen Drexel’s design school while taking my first tour, there is a good chance that I would have wound up attending there.
Drexel also has amazing contacts; one of the guest speakers that was going to be at the school a few days after I visited was from Nickelodeon. A lot of graduate students from Drexel go off to California and work at VFX studios, such as MPC and Digital Domain; I was fortunate enough to get a tour of each of these studios with Natasha and friends while in California.
I know exactly what Drexel students are capable of and how their program is structured; this only raises the bar for myself and the work that I should be producing. And I am so up for the challenge.