Preparing Interior Design Students for Employment
Southampton Solent University and Stephen Barker, Technical Instructor - Case Study
Design Software Solutions has been teaching Vectorworks for over seven years now, and as well as teaching those who are new to the software, we also teach those who are very skilled in Vectorworks but want to ensure that they understand the full capabilities of what the software can achieve and stay on top of the latest versions.
Stephen Barker, who took on the role of Technical Instructor in 2011 at Southampton Solent University, is a good example. The University has an enviable reputation in the area of interior design and has been using Vectorworks for a number of years now.
At first, Stephen was not overly impressed with the software, and the results it produced. However, he wanted to understand the capabilities of the software in more detail, and so embarked on a training programme with Design Software Solutions, the leading UK reseller and training organisation for Vectorworks in the UK. Stephen has refreshed that training each year as new versions of the software have been released.
Stephen says, “Over the last three years the progress has been exceptional and I am eagerly looking forward to further releases. The Vectorworks 2015 release was a real step forward for the course and its new features and stability have been more than welcomed.”
Therefore, the University will be introducing Vectorworks into another part of the interior design faculty when the next academic year starts.
Stephen explains, “The reason for choosing to stay with Vectorworks and also introduce it to another course at the University is, quite simply, employability. We have a good proportion of students who gain jobs in their chosen industry within one year of leaving university. The students are ‘work ready’ and their visualisations often win them the job.
At the recent New Designers show in London, students and lecturers from other universities visited the stand and had nothing but praise for the quality of the visualisations and the professionalism of the students.
Vectorworks allied with live projects where the quality of output really matters, drives the students to achieve beyond what they thought they were capable of.
One major achievement was securing the refurbishment design project for the balcony bar at the Mayflower Theatre in Southampton. This has been hugely successful and the winning students have overseen the project from start-to-end. It has been extremely challenging and the opening night will be upon us soon. This project has been our flagship project in terms of quality and financial size.”
As the lone Vectorworks tutor at the University, Stephen really appreciates his relationship with Design Software Solutions and will be returning this summer for further training. Stephen explains, “As well as getting great training it also acts as a self-audit to make sure I am in-line with good practice and industry standards. I will be making sure that I know about BIM and that I am able to take this knowledge and pass it on to my students.”
With over one hundred students in three separate year groups, Stephen is kept busy, but seeing the success of his students brings a real sense of achievement and job satisfaction.
One student, Nick Snow, became Valspar Paints’ designer of the year. His work on a space from Valspar will be highlighted in an upcoming homes magazine. In addition, Nick appeared on the ITV prime time show ‘Your Home in their Hands’.
One of the nicest stories was from Lucie Dinsmore, who based her Final Major Project on a local design agency. She worked tremendously hard with a very small budget. When she presented to the client he listened intently and at the end said, “I expected student work and I was going to pat you on the head and say well done. Instead I have work that is of such a high standard and so professional that you have won the job.”
During the presentation of a recent project, one of the judges asked a student who was presenting, to design an apartment she was purchasing, as she was so impressed by the quality and professionalism of the student.
These examples illustrate just how employable the University’s students are and as Stephen says “this is what makes my job an absolute joy.’