Student work, professional setting

By Ivana Hester

Columbia students are not just completing projects and writing papers in their classes but also receiving hands-on experience with real companies in creative industries.

Mark Klein, an adjunct faculty member in the Art & Design Department, teaches the Furniture Design course and has been preparing his students for a contest that will allow them to display their work in a real-world setting.

Groovystuff, a Dallas-based furniture company, hosts an annual nationwide competition that challenges college students to design and build furniture using

sustainable materials.

“This is a good opportunity for the students to be able to have contact and understand aspects of the industry,” Klein said.

For the competition, Klein’s students each have been designing and building a piece of furniture to be showcased at various consumer trade shows.

According to Klein, the piece that receives the most positive customer response will be mass-produced and sold by Groovystuff. The winning student will profit from every sale and will keep the legal rights to his or her design, he said.

The course is open to every major, the only prerequisite is [a students] interest, Klein said.

Danny Grokulsky, junior A&D major, said he took the furniture class to enhance his product design skills. He said he wants to design for electronic companies like Motorola and added that certain foundational disciplines taught in this class will prepare him for his future career aspirations.

He said working with Groovystuff is  a great opportunity because it gives him a chance to practice manufacturing  his designs.

“It is good real-world experience to be able to work with a real client,” Grokulsky said.

Like the A&D program, the Marketing Communication Department has offered its students a chance to work in their field.

Jane Canepa, adjunct faculty in the Marketing Communication Department, owns The Eventors, a special events business. She said she allows students in her Special Events and Promotions class to help organize events for some of her nonprofit clients.

“The students have skills that the nonprofits might be lacking,” Canepa said. “It is a wonderful way to match up people with their passions.”

This semester, her students helped the Joseph J. Gentile Italian American War Veterans Post #2, a group of approximately 50 veterans, plan its annual pasta party. The Nov. 16 event raises awareness and funds for the organization, Canepa said.

Students were responsible for planning the entire event, from live entertainment to promotions.

Canepa said she has taught Special Events and Promotions for 22 years, during which her students have put on a number of events and helped raise money for

many charities.

For their final exam, students will organize an event called Jammin’ with Jane, which will feature a silent auction to raise money for the Northern Illinois Food Bank. The class has a goal of $3,000, and some of the proceeds will go to victims of Hurricane Sandy, she said.

Chelsey Boggs, a senior marketing communication major in the class, said she wrote a public service radio announcement to raise awareness of the event and was responsible for contacting media outlets for promotion.

“This experience has made me more organized and [opened my eyes to] the bigger picture of putting on a [larger] event,” Boggs said.

She added that she feels great about being part of an event that allows her to be .

“It’s a learning experience, but I am also helping someone else,” Boggs said.