Lehigh University
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The real world starts on campus for student designers

Fusion Studio students created this art poster for the theatre department's production of Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night."

Graphic design students are getting a taste of the working world in Fusion Studio, a full-service design agency that lets them take on client-driven projects and entrepreneurial ventures across campus.

“It’s a great resume builder, but our mission really is to improve the level of design at Lehigh,” says Camila Drozd ‘10. “We have many committed students with strong design abilities who can do that.”

Fusion Studio students experience all the challenges and rewards of working in the field. There are real clients, real problems to be solved, and real results. The students serve not only as designers, but also as project managers who track projects from beginning to end, working with clients, getting estimates, contacting outside vendors, meeting deadlines and billing.

The program was conceived by Marilyn Jones, assistant professor of graphic design in the department of art and architecture in hopes that experience—and enhanced portfolios—would help students secure desirable jobs after college.

“Students learn far more by solving actual problems within clients’ parameters than by just doing their own work in the classroom,” says Jones. “This develops their sense of design thinking and presentation skills and also teaches them how to interact with clients, sell their work and negotiate budgets. These skills will be of great value to them as they enter the work force.”

After two years, a diverse portfolio

Lehigh clients who tap into the services of Fusion Studio improve their design aesthetics while saving money. Fusion charges for its services, but at a greatly reduced price from what clients would pay outside vendors. Students use the income to subsidize their education.

Since the group formed two years ago, students have completed a poster design for the theatre department, a package design for a DVD set of lectures given by the Dalia Lama, and logo designs for the office of multicultural affairs, the community service office and the Environmental Initiative.

Recently, Fusion Studio students finished a timeline for the 100th anniversary of the College of Business and Economics (CBE), which is currently on display in the lobbies of the Rauch Business Center and Linderman Library.

“I had an excellent experience working with the Fusion Group,” says Kathy Mattare, CBE director of marketing and communications. “We are proud to acknowledge that timeline as the work of very talented and dedicated Lehigh students. I depended totally on their design expertise and deferred to their recommendations when questions arose. They did not let us down.”

“There is much more that we can do,” says Drozd. “Why outsource to other design firms when we have brilliant designers right here at Lehigh? It makes a strong statement for the university if design around campus involves students.”

Story by Freddie Marianacci

Posted on Thursday, April 01, 2010

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