A new professor for a new department
Published: Friday, September 20, 2013
Updated: Friday, September 20, 2013 02:09
This article is part of a series highlighting this year’s new professors who have outstanding achievements in their career and major plans to bring to UConn.
Behind Shippee Hall, in the Bishop building, sits one of UConn’s newest departments. It is a product of the School of Business and School of Fine Arts called Digital Media and Design.
Professor Samantha Olschan has a list of achievements that run from doing after-effects for a Nickelodeon cartoon to broadcast designing for Fox News. For the past 10 years, though, she has been a professor at various schools, including the Pratt Institute in New York City.
Olschan came to UConn last year, but since the department is new this semester, this is her first semester as a UConn professor in the digital media and design department.
“UConn’s awesome because I get to work on all these projects with students,” Olschan said.
Last year, her student agency class called “Action” co-taught with Professor Bill Congdon took the virtual desktop program, vPC, used by classes such as statistics, and did a swat analysis on the program to identify what needed to be done.
Over the summer students were hired as interns to work to redesign and rebrand the program to become “SkyBox.” They redesigned the system to be more user-friendly, built a website, created and placed ads, and made a one minute animation. The finished project can be seen at skybox.uconn.edu.
There were two teams, a copy PR marketing team, and a design team. The team’s show how both business and fine arts come together said Olschan. “People in the business school are learning to communicate with designers, and people from fine art are learning to communicate with business people.”
In addition to the student agency class, Olschan is teaching a motion graphics course and moving image and sequence this semester.
“I love teaching because you get to constantly reconnect with people using these tools in new ways.” She said one of her goals at UConn is to collaborate with other departments, because digital tools can also apply to journalism, the sciences, and humanities among others.
The classes use software such as PhotoShop, After Effects and Maya, Olschan said.
The major is also being offered at the Stamford campus. Olschan said it was great to put the program in both locations because there is a lot of industry in Stamford, and given the current digital media world there is a “linking thread” between both campuses students.
Digital Media and Design has multiple different tracks including Olschan’s specialty, motion graphics, and also game design, digital humanities, 3D animation, web and interaction design and digital marketing.
The new department was launched under department head Tim Hunter, and currently has 11 faculty members and is offering 28 courses.