Well I can’t say I’m not biased…but.
I came to VT because I didn’t want to go to Pratt. I’m not a huge fan of the typical art-schooler and wanted to come to a school with a big football stadium, and a bunch of drunks.
With that said the VT ID program is continually getting better and better. You have access to some great facilities like you’ve said, and building stuff is a very integral part of our education.
Ron Kemnitzer the current IDSA President is one of our professors, and I can say that the ID staff is really a very tight knit and fantastic group of people. We have a professor that owns a box of any gadget known to man, drives a Model T Ford, and can identify polymers by sticking them up to his eye.
My list was nearly identical to yours for college. I got into Georgia Tech, Syracuse, and VT. I ditched Pratt and Syracuse because I didn’t recieve any financial aid and the price was just way too high.
I decided against Georgia Tech because it’s further away from home for me (NY) which means I would’ve had to fly instead of getting a car, and I love my car. VT also has a better male/female ratio, and while I hate to say that was a deciding factor, it certainly was a realistic one.
After visiting the NorthEast IDSA conference I honestly can say I think VT is definately up there among the better ID schools after watching the merit award presentations. And what I’ve come to realize is that a huge part of your education comes down to what you put into it. Theres a lot of people in my studio that can’t draw, do hardly any work, and the work they do sucks. But theres also a handful of us that push each other to do great work, win competitions, get internships etc. I also think a lot of our projects can be a bit more diverse (sometimes strange to us) then some other schools. If you want to design MP3 players, Bluetooth headsets, and furniture, it may not be the place for you. Several recent projects I can think of include assitive devices, life jackets, farming equipment, etc.
You can check out the projects from the Northeast 2005 award winner who was from our school here:
We also have Kevin Reeder (a GT professor) come up once a year and teach a workshop on anthropometric drawings which is always great fun.
I can say for certain there are other schools that may have more connections, but a large chunk of last years graduating class has jobs now in a design field of some sort. There are a good amount of internship opportunities which are definately available if you’re willing to push yourself.
My one piece of advice would be to start pushing yourself freshman year. Freshman year at VT consists of a core program (like many programs) with architects, ID students, landscape architects, and all of the other majors in the architecture school. A lot of the projects tend to be much more loose, and nothing is specifically design related. If I knew now what I knew then, I would’ve spent a lot more time downstairs in the design studios looking at the 3rd and 4th year ID work.
I love my school, and having visited Pratt and Syracuse for ID conferences I definately think VT is going to be a continually improving program, I’ve seen it happening since I got here, and I see it continuing with the students that are already younger than us.
If you want to talk one on one about it feel free to email/IM/PM me.