‘Artistic Community on Campus’: Industrial Design Student Scholz Enjoys Pre-BFA Experience | Dunn County News
Abbey Goers UW-Stout
In high school, Ethan Scholz participated in FIRST Robotics competitions, was a freelance graphic designer for student organizations, and enjoyed drawing and painting in his spare time. These activities inspired his research on career paths in art and engineering.
“When I found the industrial design major at UW-Stout, I knew it would be the perfect blend between the two fields,” he said.
Scholz, of Brookfield, joined the University of Wisconsin-Stout School of Art and Design’s pre-BFA program in its pilot year in 2020-21.
The pre-BFA program is not a major but a gateway, preparing freshmen to apply to the fine arts program of their choice. Faculty, staff, campus partners, and professionals provide guidance to freshmen, introducing them to various BFA programs, minors, related degrees, art and design careers, student organizations, and colleges. study abroad opportunities.
The program has eliminated the need to submit a portfolio when applying to college. Instead, students build their portfolio in their first year and submit it when applying to their desired fine arts program in the second semester.
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“Equity and access are important facets of the pre-BFA curriculum, creating a level playing field for all students interested in creative career paths,” said program director Tamara Brantmeier. “All candidates take the same courses and have an equal resource base to draw on – the range of course projects, guidance and coaching, and help with their portfolio and essay.”
By eliminating a prerequisite portfolio, the number of students enrolled in the first year of art and design increased from 200 in 2019 to 350 students in 2020 and just over 400 in 2021. Scholz was part of the pilot cohort. Now a sophomore in industrial design, he reflected on his freshman experience.
“The pre-BFA program was extremely helpful in preparing me for the fast-paced world of industrial design,” Scholz said. “It not only gives students a solid understanding of the fundamentals of art and design, but also pushes them to develop professional habits in documenting work, creating portfolios, and managing time.”
and walletPre-BFA students take the same courses, including drawing, art history, 2D and 3D design. Courses carry over into all SOAD programs, establishing a foundation in the liberal arts and fine arts, with a balance of design and theory in studios and labs.
Due to the pandemic, many of Scholz’s freshman classes were socially distanced online or in-person classes, with limited studio hours. He initially struggled with the delivery method, but over the year he bonded with his peers and professors.
“While the pandemic is still affecting our daily lives, I feel that I have shown great resilience throughout my first two years at university. I made the most of my experience until present by getting involved on campus and striving in my schoolwork,” he said.
Scholz believes the experience creates an incredible artistic community on campus. Although not all of his classmates were working toward the same major, “we all shared a creative mindset, and it connected us all,” he said. “Working alongside peers with different creative interests has fundamentally changed my view of my field of study and opened my eyes to new opportunities in art and design.”
It was Scholz’s first time building a creative portfolio, and he was nervous at first. But industrial design program director Jennifer Astwood gave him insightful reviews related to his major, identifying his strengths in drawing and visual communication, and helping him select portfolio-ready work.
“After meeting her, I felt confident in my foundational skills and my ability to apply them in my major-specific courses,” Scholz said. “The guidance of my professors and peers throughout the process has made the creation a truly exciting and valuable experience. I continue to use these skills as I begin to create my professional portfolio, which I will use to apply for internships.
As Scholz reviews his work from his first year, he realizes how much he has improved. “I came to Stout with a love of drawing that only grew as I perfected my technique and became more confident in my work,” he said.
This summer, Scholz will study art and design abroad for six weeks at the Accademia Italiana in Florence, Italy. He is also looking forward to applying his skills in future internships and co-op opportunities as he considers a career in designing color material finishes, user research and usability testing.
Pre-BFA students have two options to apply for their desired BFA degree after portfolio review. If a student is not accepted, instructors and mentors guide them to another program that matches their talents, interests, and career goals.
SOAD offers six Bachelor of Fine Arts programs, each with unique skills including Animation and Digital Media, Game Design and Development, Graphic Design and Interactive Media, Industrial Design, Game Design interior and studio art.