Tulane University’s Digital Design Program Has Record-Setting, Award-Winning First Year

NEW ORLEANS – A year ago, Tulane University’s School of Professional Advancement (SoPA) re-introduced a new, updated digital design program with concentrations in graphic design, interactive design and game art and animation. The new courses and the launch of three new computer labs resulted in a 50-percent increase in enrollment following the first year. The year also proved to be record-setting in other ways. Details were shared in a press release.

SoPA students claimed 21 of 22 ADDY awards for student work at the Advertising Club of New Orleans’ annual competition. Two of those students garnered regional honors and competed at the national competition.

In addition to a bachelor of arts degree, the program offers a post-baccalaureate certificate and a digital design minor. The concentrations and courses were created and configured to bridge the gap between art and technology and are aligned with current industry needs.

• Program Director Amanda Garcia identified workforce needs in the Greater New Orleans area where labor market data shows a growing need for digital design professionals. Despite New Orleans’ reputation as a creative town, she found that local leaders were having to recruit design employees from outside the city.

• During the next five years in Louisiana, graphic design jobs will grow by 9.43 percent, interactive design positions will increase by 23.02 percent and opportunities in animation and virtual reality will increase by 11.8 percent, according to regional and national workforce projections.

• Garcia developed a rigorous curriculum that prepares students to enter the workforce following graduation. She set up a curriculum committee, comprised of both faculty and students, and an industry advisory board to provide both up-front and ongoing feedback on the program’s curricula.

• Garcia also oversaw the construction of three new labs at SoPA’s Elmwood campus with cutting-edge technology and creative collaborative spaces. These spaces allow students to develop a foundation in the technologies used by those with innovative tech design careers and were also designed to mimic industry work settings.

• One of the innovative ways in which students gain hands-on experience is the creation of the SoPA Digital Design Co-Op. The mock in-house agency allows local and regional businesses the opportunity to commission innovative, quality design work.

“Part of our mission is to align with workforce needs and to prepare students to dive straight into the industry after graduation,” Garcia said. “We do this in a variety of ways, such as embedding real-world projects into each course, utilizing service-learning community projects whenever possible and inviting industry professionals to critiques and presentations.”

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