Classes and co-ops deliver the skills
By Ann Krebs
In high school Collin Dozier was compelled by design, but wasn’t sure which college to attend or which program he was interested in until he heard about Bowling Green State University’s Visual Communication Technology (VCT) program and the co-op opportunities as part of the curriculum.
The first person he met from VCT was Dr. Donna Trautman, chair and associate professor in the Department of Visual Communication and Technology Education, who told him how the program focuses on applied learning, mandatory co-ops, and corporate partnerships.
VCT is a premier cross-media program, with students learning about photography, print, video and interactive media. Students specialize in a primary visual medium that emphasizes the uniqueness of that medium while understanding the dependence each form has on the others.
In the College of Technology, Architecture and Applied Engineering, where the VCT program is located, co-ops are mandatory, and not just one, but three, for VCT students. Each co-op is a paid, full semester, intensive experience. Students leave behind the familiarity of the classroom to navigate the world of work as part of their graduation requirements. The co-op program is nationally accredited by the Accreditation Council for Cooperative Education.
Dozier had not heard about other universities offering similar programs so that’s when he decided VCT and BGSU were the perfect fit for him.
“The program utilizes Adobe software such as Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign,” Dozier said. “I’ve enjoyed taking the fundamental VCT classes and the hands-on experience we receive. I’ve been exposed to a variety of mediums from creating and designing brochures to editing and producing videos and commercials utilizing our creative and technical skills. We also worked on packaging displays/exhibits as a group project that we will present as a final assignment.”
The majority of labs are small with about 20 students in each, while some lectures are larger. Students are able to receive one-on-one instruction, hands-on experience and collaborate with other students, especially in the labs.
“We have a lecture and a lab once a week,” Dozier said. “It really gives you the opportunity to ask questions about an assignment from the lecture and the instructor can help you directly.
“All my instructors played a key role in my understanding of VCT. I always go to Dr. Trautman when I need something or have a question. Since I’ve been here, she is always there when needed. She is a phone call away or I can meet with her in her office.”
"Working with Collin and students like him is exactly why I love to teach,” Trautman said. “He had the desire and passion to learn and I just helped him channel his drive to accomplish his goals. Collin will do well in whatever he chooses. BGSU and his family have played a significant role to help him on his way to a successful career."
Dozier has been the recipient of the SFC Graphics Scholarship every year starting with his freshman year. SFC Graphics, a commercial printing company located in Toledo, Ohio, that provides digital printing for many large firms in the area, is a long time partner in the college’s cooperative education program.
“I wasn’t a 4.0 student, but I worked really hard to maintain my grades in order to meet the scholarship requirements,” Dozier shared. “I needed those scholarships and I remained consistent, staying on top of what I needed to do because it was important to me. I appreciated the scholarship support very much.”
Dozier had the opportunity to work for SFC Graphics this past summer. He needed one more co-op to have the three required and that also count as course credits.
After SFC Graphics had sent an email congratulating him on receiving their scholarship, Dozier took the initiative to ask if they had any need for a co-op student. They brought him in for an interview and he was offered a job as a print operator.
Dozier was responsible for overseeing and operating a digital printer. He made sure the printer ran smoothly, ran ink tests, and prepared jobs for printing. He received a lot of hands-on experience and was able to work with another BGSU VCT student while there.
Dozier worked all his co-ops in the summer to balance out work and school. Students can work part-time or full-time depending on what works best for their schedules or workload.
His first co-op his freshman year was with Metaphor.com. Metaphor, located in Ann Arbor, Mich., provides process-centric collaboration software that helps companies communicate and problem solve. Dozier’s responsibilities included overseeing the company’s online site map for an overall better flow of information, testing software to make sure if was functioning properly and working with web developers to solve any issues.
Another co-op was at BGSU’s Unigraphics as a production supervisor. Dozier would edit the University’s newspaper and provide design support.
He was asked to speak to the BGSU Board of Trustees about his experience in the program. He was proud to represent VCT and talked about how the faculty, classes and labs provide the knowledge and skills you need to succeed, tied with the co-ops that help you decide a career path. He expressed the importance of scholarships and the opportunity to integrate academic coursework with work experience that helped him become the person he is today.
“The programs are top notch,” he said. “I think BGSU provides a unique experience because of the instructors lending their expertise and the relationships that they cultivate with the students.”
After graduation Collin would like to stay in Ohio or near his hometown of Detroit, Mich., for starters. He is focusing his job search on design with marketing and advertising firms, wanting to help companies and clients solve their visual communications problems utilizing his creative abilities. He is confident in his professional skills and is excited to see what the next step brings.