Jeffrey Owen came to the Business of Art & Design program at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center (SVHEC) because he wanted to learn how to design webpages. He soon found that the program, with tracks in Digital Art & Design and Product Design & Development, offered him so much more. Two years later, Owen holds two certificates, has completed an internship in the R&D Center for Advanced Manufacturing & Energy Efficiency, and has been hired at the new National Tire Research Center.
Owen entered the Business of Art & Design program as a Digital Art & Design (DA&D) student in 2009. He took courses in computer graphics, design, and multimedia, and went on to earn a Career Studies Certificate. Because students in the DA&D program work closely with students in the Product Design & Development (PD&D) program, Owen was exposed to the PD&D curriculum that teaches students how to develop a product from a concept to a beautifully designed, manufactured piece. After experiencing some initial success, and discovering a hidden talent for design, he decided to try the other side of the Business of Art & Design, "While I was in the DA&D program I realized that I could design and that I had a mind for it so I decided to try PD&D next," Owen stated.
As he expected, the Product Design & Development program gave Owen the ability to create the products he was imagining. What he didn't expect was the strong foundation in problem-solving and teamwork that he gained. "I would run into a problem and the program taught me not to give up but to work through it. I also learned how to work on teams and that teamwork equals success," Owen stated.
The skills he gained in the Product Design & Development program not only helped him earn another certificate, but also led to him working as an intern in the SVHEC's R&D Center for Advanced Manufacturing & Energy Efficiency (R&D CAMEE). "Working in the R&D Center was a positive experience. I worked on a lot of great projects, and the experience really helped build up the skills I'd learned. My problem-solving abilities went through the roof when I became an intern," Owen said.
As an intern, Owen got hands-on experience operating sophisticated advanced manufacturing equipment and was introduced to several computer-aided design (CAD) software programs. His experiences in the Business of Art & Design and R&D CAMEE prepared him for his current position as a shop technician at the National Tire Research Center. "At the National Tire Research Center I use the skills I gained in teamwork, problem solving, materials and sciences. I'm able to work with metal and rubber, and when a tire has unique movement I can understand it and what it's doing. I'm also able to use my Digital Art & Design skills to make updates to our website," Owen said.
"The NTRC was in full launch mode when Jeffrey came onboard. Jeffrey became a contributor to our success day one. He has a wide variety of skills that can be applied in many areas of our business. He takes on projects and take true ownership until completion. I believe that reflects well on the program we recruited him from," said Frank Della Pia, Executive Director of the National Tire Research Center.
Owen's is capable and confident, and has a bright future ahead. He attributes much of his success to his experiences at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center. "Going through the BA&D program and the internship at the R&D Center had a great impact on where I am today. From understanding problems and situations I might not have learned to giving me a mind of understanding that if there's a problem you don't have to freak out," he said. "The BA&D program gave me a great deal because I could see myself doing graphic design and video, but I also found that I'm a hands on guy and I like to work with my hands. I'd recommend the program to someone who's not sure of what they want to do in life or to anyone who wants to be hands-on."