Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Quest Ends..?

I'm exhausted, sleep-deprived, and pretty beat-up from all the end-of-semester work, but I figure I'd write a blog post to conclude my time here in DAI 505.

It's been quite the journey. I had an idea—to get professional practice education into DAI—and so I grasped this idea and let it lead me around for a couple of months. It kept picking up steam, but at the same time it also picked up a ton of other stuff too: complexities, questions, boundaries, and many more obstacles. It's true that the more your learn, the more you learn you don't know.

I've pushed my research as far as I can in one semester. I can see now why this class use to comprise of two semesters. There's a lot more I want to do, a lot more people I want to talk to, a lot more studies I want to look at. As Nancy said, I have to put it in the final section of my final chapter, and save it for later.

I have a feeling I will be pursuing this for weeks to come. The lack of professional practice education is an issue I felt strongly before this semester began. After countless hours of interviews and research, it's become an issue that truly compels me. It's difficult for me to speak to alumni and students with so much talent and enthusiasm, only to see them lacking the preparations to enter the professional world. This information is owed to them, it's necessary, it's vital. We are amazing problem-solvers and designers in this department—with so much potential—we just needed to know how to transition into the world of business + design.

It's been a great journey!


Sunday, April 29, 2012

Solution: New Direction

After meeting with two of my experts—Steve Jones and Josh Singer—I've come to the conclusion that my solution should focus on bringing to light compelling evidence—in the form of interviews, quotes, survey results, comparisons, and other data—that demonstrate a great need for professional practice education for students. This might possibly come in the form of a publication (print or PDF) or a website (maybe Flash?).

Previously, the concept I had for my solution would be to create a visual campaign, comprising of a poster and an information website/online petition, to raise the awareness of the need for professional practice education for students. Basically, the audience would see a powerful poster with a URL link to the website/petition. However, I've had to go away from this idea after talking to Josh.

Josh is actually the one in charge of developing the curriculum for Visual Communication Design, so he has some good insight. He told me: "Shame is not enough. What they want to see is that they want to see evidence. They want to understand why. They want to see what the benefits to students are. They want to see what the positive outcomes are. They want to see examples of other places where this is done, and done successfully. Shame is just a little bit of spice." Basically, "everybody supports this. Everybody likes the idea"—so my original campaign would only be preaching to the choir.

On the other hand, he told me to make the case. Surveys, interviews, successful examples of a class like this, feedback from alumni, etc. My direction should shift from negative to positive: "Say that we need this. Not that it sucks we don't have this—but we need this to succeed, right? We need to succeed and this is what we need".

Making the case with evidence is more important than something that says this sucks. "What's more important is a survey that says all of these things."

Well, I've been meaning to improve my publication design ability.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Late-stretch Uncertainty

I've been having some late-stretch uncertainty as we approach the end of the semester—and consequently the end of this research project—in a few weeks. So, I'm just going to write about it. This is my blog, after all.

What am I uncertain about? My research is strong. But I don't think my writing is strong enough. I want to do a really top-notch job for every phase of this research project—from the report to the prototype to my presentation. I think I'll revisit my writing for previous chapters to make sure it looks more professional. After I finish Chapter 3 though, of course.

I'm uncertain about my solution. I wish I had more time to research. I wish I could be more creative, more bold with my solution. Perhaps I still can. I'm probably aiming towards a campaign to promote the significance of professional practice education. But, the thing is...I don't want to just do a "good" job. I truly feel that this department needs to provide more professional practice education and/or resources to its students. I honest to god want my campaign to be able to make a tremendous impact. That's my top goal. If I can get an A in this class and graduate—sure, I'll be satisfied. But, especially at this point in my design education, I want a little bit more than that.

I am uncertain about my visual solution. Steve Jones is my graphics expert, and I really hope he can push my work to a whole new level. We will see.

I am uncertain about how my other experts—Josh Singer, Melanie Doherty, Peter Radsliff, my peers, everyone else who's aware of my research project—will feel about my solution.

Those are the things I'm uncertain about at the moment.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Interview: Melanie Doherty

I got into contact with Melanie Doherty, a designer as well as someone who taught Transition to Professional Practice at CCA for several years. I was very fortunate to be able to talk to her and receive an amazing amount of information an insight, which I feel has helped pushed my research to a new level.

By talking to her and looking at her curriculum, I was able to realize how much information and readiness DAI students lack—and that are crucial to not only succeeding but simply being able to find jobs within the crowded industry today. She covers so many different topics in her class, and it astounds me that SF State doesn't even have a portfolio class; as mentioned, it was discontinued years ago and yet it is still on our contract. Transition to Professional Practice covers not only creating an effective portfolio, but it also looks at every aspect of freelancing and running a business, different working environments (small vs large studios, etc), which environment is best for you, how to interview, how to create a resume, preparing financially and mentally, and so much more. She even brings in established, successful designers for students to interact with. Not only is it the hard skills and soft skills, but it is also the culture and mindset that she looks at for graduates to not only succeed but be happy.

Fortunately, she has agreed to be on my panel of experts! She will be a very valuable resource for me to turn to for the remainder of my research.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Time and Resources

With Chapter 1's deadline coming up, I suddenly feel the pressure of having so little time left to complete this research study. I mean, because besides wrapping up the research project, we'll also have to work on finalizing our book designs, binding it, ideating and creating solutions, showing them to experts and peers and receiving feedback, presenting everything, etc. There is a lot of pressure to get a lot done in so little time.

I know that I can do enough to conclude with a great study and solution, but to be honest—I really have high hopes for my project. I really want to do a lot more research, to look at a lot more parellel situations, to have my solution be as creative and bold and compelling as possible. I truly feel that the lack of readiness for DAI students to transition to the professional world is a major issue, something that affects me, affected countless alumni, and will probably affect many more DAI students to come. I honestly, when deciding to pursue this issue, envisioned that my research study might have an impact great enough or contribute enough significance to spark change or at least serve as a major catalyst.

I still hope I can do that, but I also realize that this DAI 505 course is only one-semester long, as Nancy made clear to us many times throughout the course of the semester. I'll do what I can, and I'll try to approach the remainder of my time as intelligently as possible to make the most of the limited resources. If anything, this experience has given me a taste of what research can accomplish and how significant it is.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Reflect: Mid-term Presentation

So I just received my mid-term presentation feedback from Professor Noble.

I got overall high marks! So I'm pretty happy about that. I worked really hard for my presentation (I have to really prepare myself for big presentations, or I goof up). I had made sure to work on a some key things:

  • Getting the timing right (including adding duplicates but only when necessary)
  • Showing enthusiasm/passion
  • Using body language/movement
  • Eye contact
  • Integrating humor
  • Integrating agenda
Although my presentation grade was excellent, I still feel I can improve. I asked my peers how I could improve my presentation and also made my own analysis. For next time, I want to work on:
  • Although eye contact was strong, I want to improve it even more
  • I want to tell a story
  • I want to have a lot of strong research to present, compelling information
  • Need a much stronger conclusion to my presentation—didn't prepare enough for this
  • Perhaps add more interaction with the audience?
I feel presentations are really important to do well, especially to prepare you for the professional world, where you're constantly trying to get your ideas across, persuade others, and show that you have command of the subject matter. So, I'm going to really try to improve for my final presentation!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Interview: Peter Radsliff

I remember during Portfolio Nite, I was very impressed with Peter Radsliff. Peter was an alumni of SF State many years ago, has been very successful in the industry, and currently is the CEO of his own company. I contacted him hoping that he would be able to provide insight, and he generously offered me a phone interview with him!

He gave very interesting insight and information. He agreed with me that professional practice education and experience is important. He feels that there is information out there that would really give SF State students more readiness when it comes to transitioning to the professional world—to doing interviews, to finding jobs, to functioning effectively in different types of work environments. He stressed that when design and business mix—there is politics involved, and consequently there is a way of doing things to make yourself heard.

We covered a lot of information, and one thing was for sure—there is a lot of information out there that DAI students do not learn in the department, information that would enable us to feel more prepared and to be more successful in the industry after we graduate.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


I have to start solidifying my experts and figuring out who to interview.


Josh Singer agreed to be one of my experts. He really helped guide me along the way from the beginning, so I feel great that he agreed to become one of my "official" experts and to make sure my research and solution looks solid the entire way. In particular, he's pretty much directly affected by the situation and is also aware of how much we need professional practice education for students, so he's in support of my research study. I definitely have a lot of uncertainty about where I can take this research and what I can do with it, so his feedback is certainly welcome—and crucial.

I was hoping for Professor Melanie Doherty of CCA to be one of my experts, because she would be able to provide such vital information and insight on what the industry needs, what students lack, and how we can teach them. She hasn't responded to me email from a few weeks ago, however. I would really like someone who runs a professional practice class to provide me some wisdom for my research. I also discovered that RISD and a few other schools offer professional practice education courses—I'm going to contact several more people to find not only experts and interviews, but also successful parallel situations.

For my graphics expert, I'm still up in the air about what direction to go. This is because I'm not certain at all what my solution would be, and I feel that having an idea would give me a clearer idea of what kind of visuals I'd aim for and, consequently, which graphic designer might be most fitting as an expert for my project. I have a sense that my research study might leads to a design that tries to convince and persuade. So, I think it might be great to find a design who does very bold designs to become my expert. I will browse some magazines and my design books to find some designs that strike me—perhaps I'll really connect with a designer's work.

Hoping to recruit my experts soon, so I can receive as much guidance as possible for my research! Until next time.

Friday, March 2, 2012

PERT Chart

It's not pretty, but for a reason. My only goal for the PERT chart is functionality.
This is because:
  1. my research project, specifically, has a ton of key steps and needs a ton of planning and organization in order for me to successfully move forward,
  2. and time management is something I've really, really sucked at in the past.
For those reasons, I'm treating my PERT purely as a functional tool. My timeline can bask in the glory as the aesthetic one!

Here's how my PERT looks so far. Might (by "might," I mean "will probably") update it. If you're wondering, I used http://bubbl.usto create it—free, nifty, and web-based.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

After Talking to Professor Jones and Professor Singer

Current Problem and Purpose Statements (Will explain the slight change—"experience" to "education"—later in this post):

There is insufficient professional practice education for Design & Industry students at San Francisco State University.

The purpose of this study was to promote the significance of professional practice education for Design & Industry students.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

After talking to Professor Jones and Professor Singer, I've realized a lot of things, but these are key:
  • This is not an issue the college is not aware of. Everyone knows about this, it's talked about every semester, every year. It boils down to resources, to money.
  • Is it impossible to accomplish? For now—perhaps. But if it is something I believe in, I shouldn't give up. It's the only way to make a difference.
  • I have to be extremely creative and convincing.
  • Offering a professional practice experience might not be feasible, since students can also screw up work (which falls on the supervisor and the clients) and, also, it would be difficult to find projects that fit perfectly within the semester schedule. More feasible would be to offer a professional practice education, which students here severely lack.
  • There are several options to provide this education, hypothetically. However, the biggest issues are resources. We need to convince the college that this education is valuable.
  • Additionally, we'd have to figure out a curriculum.
  • It was suggested that I talk to Bob Aufuldish (who headed the successful Sputnik program at USF) and also visit studios to find out what they want in new design graduates.
I have a lot of work to do. Time to roll up the sleeves.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Problem & Purpose Statement: Progress After Speaking with Professor Singer and Professor Hamid

As it stands, my Problem & Purpose Statements:

At San Francisco State University, there are insufficient resources to support professional practice experiences for Design & Industry students.

The purpose of this study was to discover a solution for the lack of professional practice experiences for Design & Industry Students students.

What I gathered from my meetings with Professor Singer and Professor Khalid to discuss my proposed design problem:

After speaking with Professor Singer (Design & Industry: Visual Communication Design) and Professor Khalid (Broadcast and Electronic Communication Arts), I gained a lot of valuable insight and feedback. However—this actually doesn't mean that my Problem & Purpose Statements are close to being finalized; in fact, it moreso means that I have a lot more to consider and think about. Before speaking to the two gentlemen, I had believed that discussing my research problem with them would serve as the catalyst to solidifying my direction. However, if anything, it's pushed me further away, with the revelations of obstacles that I need to heavily bear in mind.

In a nutshell:

Professor Singer: explained to me that student design work for real clients (such as other professors and departments on campus) CANNOT be student-run and NEED supervision to ensure that the work is managed and executed properly. As students, we simply do not have enough knowledge and experience to be successful without the right guidance; if anything, chances are we’ll end up screwing up and putting the DAI department in poor light. The main problem is resources—particularly, faculty time and availability (and perhaps money, to pay them). How can professors find time to oversee experiences like AIGA, Community Arts, and other internship/internship-like experiences? However, Singer did acknowledge that the lack of professional practice experiences for DAI students here is certainly a major issue. He shared resources, examples, and directions for me to look into during my journey.

Professor Khalid: not only acknowledged that lack of resources as the main—possibly only—problem, but he also stressed that everyone is already well aware of that. Ultimately, he strongly suggested me to go a different direction, explaining that it’s difficult to tie this problem into a design issue; that I needed to focus on a problem for which I could actually create something. He didn’t want to completely to urge me against my original idea; however, he wanted me to be well aware of the potential difficulty of taking on a problem such as this.

So, as you can see…I have a lot more to think about. I’m passionate about this problem, and I still want to tackle it somehow, but would it be feasible to translate it into an issue I can solve through design? I feel that if it’s something that strongly compels me…then I’d want to keep pondering this, to see if I can figure out something I can do, if I can make an impact using research and using my design abilities.

But if not, maybe I can tweak my problem a bit so it’s more feasible…or I might have to tackle a different one.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

New Problem & Purpose Statement! (Still Needs Work)

Hello All,

Since my last post, I came up with a new research topic that I'm very interested in. It was inspired by a conversation with a fellow design peer and also by my internship experience as the designer for a Cinema professor.


At San Francisco State University, there is insufficient awareness of cross-departmental collaborative opportunities.


The purpose of this research was to promote collaborative opportunities between different departments.

Examples of collaboration (websites I created for my client, the Cinema professor):

I brought it up to our class's round table discussion today, and turns out that in order for me to take on this topic—a lot more thinking, exploration, and decisions need to be made!

For instance,
  • Should we make it a class? Collaborative classes do exist. Additionally, Segment III classes here at SF State do expose students to fields outside of their majors.
  • Should I limit it to the Design department (which would design for professors or students from other departments)? Or should it be a larger-scale program that promotes interaction and collaboration among all the departments on-campus? Or use the Design department to start off, to see if it would work?
  • A thought—how would other departments contribute to us? i.e. What would the Kinesiology department give us?
  • I need to ask Josh, the faculty supervisor of our design group on campus, how we connected with the Theater department for projects.
  • Perhaps set up a database where design students can present their work? Look at for instance.
  • Would students have the time, effort, skill, work ethic—overall ability—to even take on these projects? What if they bite off more than they can chew? What if they perform poorly and give the Design department a bad reputation?
  • Would they get paid?
  • Work with GatorJobs and their goals, perhaps? you can see. Lots and lots of stuff to think about! I'm going to have to keep on pushing and see how I can refine and focus this problem. It's something that lights me up a little bit inside though, so, yeah...I'm definitely going to try to make this work.

Check on back! Hopefully I'll have a clear, focused, awesome problem & purpose statement set for ya.


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Initial Three Problem and Purpose Statements


Problem: Students at San Francisco State University lack time management skills.

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to improve the time management skills of students at San Francisco State University.


Problem: Students at San Francisco State University are dependent on caffeine throughout the school day.

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to promote ways for San Francisco State University students to feel energized without caffeine consumption.


Problem: Students at San Francisco State University study towards a career that is wrong for them.

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to encourage students at San Francisco State University to learn and pursue the best career directions for themselves.

About Me

My name is Thuan Nguyen. I am a senior at SF State, aiming for a B.S. in Industrial Arts: Visual Communication Design (aka, graphic design). I kinda specialize in web stuff, since I started learning it at an early age. But after being in this major, I've come to really appreciate and become fascinated with print and video. Importantly, I've made a full 180 in terms of my career direction; I originally got into design to create cool, flashy stuff and make money, but now I'll only do design work that's meaningful to me, that makes the world a better place.

Anyway, I still have no clue what the heck I'm going to do after I graduate. I really want to take this last semester to find my passions and discover a lot more about how I can enjoy and contribute to the design world.

I'm inspired by compelling design, the kind that touches the viewer deeply, that provokes, that sends shivers through one's body. I love dramatic stuff; I love when designers take risks. Thus, I'm influenced by bold, fearless designers.

My vision is to evolve significantly as a designer in terms of skill, experience, awareness, and wisdom. I want to truly believe that what I do can make a difference, that I do have the ability to create beautiful, powerful design. I know that if I'm passionate and if I believe in myself, I will be able to work towards a very fulfilling design career and towards discovering meaning in life.

Currently, I am really enjoying motion graphic design and am inspired by amazing video work, like the following:

I am contemplative, introverted, quirky, open-minded, uncertain, and curious.