Showcasing a semester’s worth of work, 17 senior graphic design students presented their final projects in Harbor Hall last Friday.
Each student’s thesis tackled the idea of what “design for good” meant to them.
This kind of exhibition for senior students in the graphic design program takes place every year in May. It’s a way for students to publicly demonstrate what they learned.
Jennifer Yucus taught the senior exhibition class for the first time this semester.
“There’s a lot of meetings during office hours, a lot of words of encouragement and it’s hard for them to narrow in on one idea,” she said.
Throughout the months leading up to the show, students focused in on their thesis and continued to work with Yucus and their adviser from the department.
Students in the senior exhibition class were also charged with coming up with the exhibition’s branding. After working together, students came up with Command + New as the name of the event. From there the group created made press releases, a website, invitations and programs.
Originally pitching their thesis ideas at the end of the fall semester, designers continued to polish them during the spring semester, mostly in their free time. Students weren’t given class time for research or creating presentations.
Yucus chose this year’s theme design for good and said designers had to decide what that meant to them. Most students used their projects to envision how they’d change the world for the better.
Megan Sierra’s thesis focused on adults diagnosed with autism. She created a prototype of a job search database that would help diagnosed adults find jobs.
“I’m not a web developer, I’m a designer but I hope to continue to work with it,” Sierra said.
Sierra was inspired by working with the Center for Autism & Related Disabilities at USF Tampa. She realized that the students were being helped throughout their time there but after graduation needed assistance.
At her section of the exhibit, she also used an interactive board titled “Autism Does Not Define Me.” She interviewed adults with autism and had them participate in a fill-in-the-blank activity.
Her favorite began with “I want to be known for…” and was finished by a person who said, “I want to be known for my skills at telling stories as well as being a good person; the anti-Trump.”
For Sierra, finally presenting her thesis was a huge weight off her shoulders.
“It’s so relieving and rewarding,” she said. “The program is extremely intense. It really does all pay off.”
Christine Dorobiala’s thesis involved helping with the recent uptick in fake news. After researching the issue, she developed a fact checking game for middle schoolers called “Question Market.”
“I wanted to do something where they’d be able to practice it so this isn’t just your traditional textbook or video education,” Dorobiala said. “I wanted something interactive, competitive and engaging.”
She wanted the students to be able to take it outside the classroom and bring it to more people. The cards have cartoon-like illustrations on them. Dorobiala took into account the kind of design that would appeal to her middle school demographic.
“It’s more geared to something semi-realistic, semi-cartoonish but a lot more emoji-like,” she said.
She chose to aim her thesis at middle schoolers because of what they’re learning in school.
“Middle school is right when they’re beginning to be introduced to the science courses where you’re going to be researching more information and more current events,” she said.
Dorobiala said that these young teenagers are in the process of becoming consumers and could use help with determining what’s true. She hopes to make a difference without the student even realizing they’re gaining the skills to determine what’s real and what’s fake.
Johnny Quaranto (pictured top) suffers from anxiety and wanted to help others going through the same thing with his thesis, Get Uncomfortable. The product is a 52 week-long interactive deck of cards that are supposed to help someone overcome anxiety. The cards have both relaxation techniques and social scenarios written on them.
In preparation, Quaranto conducted a survey of 120 students to find out what made them anxious. Public speaking, confrontation and karaoke were some of the most popular answers. The techniques and social scenarios would ideally start to ease some of the anxiety from those activities.
Quaranto said having to do in-class critiques throughout the program helped him overcome his fear of public speaking. He enjoyed his time in the program but was happy to see the end of it at the senior exhibition.
“It was amazing,” Quaranto said. “There were definitely ups and downs and lots of blood, sweat and tears but it definitely pays off. We’re all in the program together so it creates a family amongst ourselves.”
The show at Harbor Hall’s was the first of two. A second show will take place May 5 at The Studio@620 from 5 to 9 p.m.