TMCC Students Work with EDAWN and V&T

K. Patricia Bouweraerts
GRC Student Shopping Bag Art

TMCC Graphic Communications students created vector line-art for a community shopping bag project, and this example is by Shiloh Reading. (Click to enlarge.)

Graphic communications and architecture students at Truckee Meadows Community College are increasingly sought after by community organizations for design collaborations.

The Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada (EDAWN) was looking for fresh artistic concepts in creating a reusable grocery bag and contacted Daniel Bouweraerts, Graphic Communications Professor.

Also, Virginia & Truckee Railroad Co. (V&T) was in the market for innovative designs toward renovating the Mound House Visitor’s Center and got in touch with Kreg Mebust, Architecture Instructor.

The two professors were not aware of each other’s projects at the start of Fall Semester, and now the two unrelated collaborations are well underway; showing the impact that TMCC students have in their region.

“One of TMCC’s core values is being a resource to its community,” Mebust said. “This is proof that there’s great worth in design, and there’s importance in the collaboration between the college and community. The students learn quite a bit and the community does too.”

One student graphic designer, Felix Danger, thinks that his class project was especially fulfilling.

“I was thrilled to work with EDAWN for the GRC 118 shopping bag project,” he said. “The EDAWN classroom experience prepared us for presenting our initial drafts to actual clients. Just as importantly, we learned how to gain the feedback necessary to give EDAWN the best solutions to their project needs and how to present those final products. This was a start-to-finish designer and client experience. That kind of insight is invaluable in learning how the graphic design profession works.”

Mound House Visitor Center Redesign

Representatives of the V&T called Mebust during summer and they worked together to get the Mound House Visitor Center redesign project parameters ironed out before Fall Semester.

“Shannon Earley and Phil Weidinger are with an advertising group working with the V&T and looking for new ideas because they want to know what’s relevant and important to the young target audience they’d like to reach,” Mebust said.

He set up the project as a class assignment for his first year architectural design students, where Earley and Weidinger would be the judges for a competition-like panel.

“One student integrated touch screens, a new technology, right along with older and traditional design concepts—it was really inventive,” he said. “The students’ designs will be presented to the V&T and they will take their favorite three or four to get some cost estimates on them. They may also use the designs when applying for grants.”

Mebust said that the project has been insightful for students because the Railroad provided them with specifications and a $25,000-$75,000 budget that they needed to research and stay within.

“They got to hear a client’s perspective and create an architectural design in a real-world context,” he said. “The collaborative project generates ideas that are live, dynamic and current. It pumps life into existing plans.”

Later in the semester, the V&T representatives are to meet with the class during a follow-up visit. Mebust thinks the visitor center renovation will most likely be sent out to obtain bids by regional construction companies.

WCSD Food Pantries Shopping Bags

Valerie Cotta, EDAWN Program Manager for Workforce Development at EDAWN, emailed Bouweraerts to seek youthful and new graphics for the front of a reusable shopping bag project. This is one of several projects to make the community aware in a non-traditional way of the abundance of higher-paying jobs opening in the region.

The bags will be given to clients of the Washoe County School District (WCSD) Food Pantries.

“Students created graphics with the call to action to get a better paying job or career,” Cotta wrote in a follow-up email. “The designs promote community organizations that can help you at no cost to improve your English, complete a high school diploma or equivalency, get a better paying job now, or train for an even higher-paying job.”

Six organizations are partnering with EDAWN for this project. TMCC Adult Basic Education, Northern Nevada Literacy Council (NNLC) and WCSD Rise Academy for Adult Achievement help provide the first steps for gaining English skills and high school diploma or equivalency. Nevada JobConnect provides support with the next step to get a higher-paying job. Community Services Agency (CSA) and JOIN, Inc. offer assistance with the third step of training toward even higher-paying jobs.

“EDAWN provided a sketch of pathway and pyramid concepts, directions they’d like the student designers to follow and the six required logos,” Bouweraerts said. “The students took the path and pyramid concept farther. They created unique visualizations of that idea.”

In their designs, students illustrated how community members could start on one step of the path or pyramid and progress. People can also enter at any of the steps depending on circumstances.

“Vector line art has the best reproduction for that type of media and so the students drew their two preliminary roughs in a single color by hand or on the computer,” he said. “The roughs need to be high quality to show two distinct concepts, each with imagery and type.”

Cotta attended the critique and viewed more than 30 design roughs on the board. Bouweraerts then focused students on the one of their two designs he thought would work best visually and technically. Completed graphics were developed in Adobe Illustrator for final presentation.

“The designs were professionally mounted on railroad board and each student gave a presentation to the client and the rest of the class,” he said. “In all, 18 final graphics were given to EDAWN and they will choose about three concepts for printing. Students also receive a project grade for class.”

Danger said the project helped him practice both design skills and important career skills such as working with people.

“The Graphic Communications Program has not only provided the skills for design but the kind of best practices and habits that were immediately needed for this real world client,” he said.

For more information about studying Architecture at TMCC, please call 775-673-7265, and for Graphic Communications call 775-673-7291.