Students mean business

The University of Indianapolis prides itself on producing students who are prepared to meet the challenges they’ll face once they enter the workforce. Several groups are at the forefront of UIndy’s effort to develop student-run businesses that offer experience while helping organizations in the real world.

a creative spark

XD-imaginationemporiumAssociate Professor Samantha Meigs is director of Experience Design, a cutting-edge interdisciplinary program that researches, designs, and implements interactive experiences—real and virtual—for a target audience. The Imagination Emporium is the business run by “XD” students.

“This is a chance to work with real-life clients,” says Samantha. “The idea is that we collaborate with community partners to design a program that would address some social issue or give that spark of creativity, using imagination in lots of different ways. For example, Imagination Emporium partnered with nearby Southeast Community Services’ after-school program to find a way to show area students that “school is cool.”

One result was “An Adventure to Middle Earth,” an interactive after-school program that included teaching the kids how to write their names in Elvish, a language created by writer J. R. R. Tolkien. Samantha says that the Imagination Emporium gives XD students the chance to meet learning goals and gain valuable life skills.

Freshman Wilmer Wynn agrees. “I love being in the Imagination Emporium because it allows me to immerse myself into the processes and networking that will help me in my future career,” he says. “The Experience Design program,” Samantha says, “is founded on three major skill-set areas: design, research, and management. A good experience designer should be somewhat fluent in all those areas.Imagination Emporium students specialize in one of those.”

up in lights

greyhound-production-servicesStudents and alumni attend many performances throughout the year at the University, such as the annual Dinner Theatre in the winter and the theatrical productions each fall. Greyhound Production Services, led by the production manager and technical director of theatre, Fritz Bennett, sets up these events and makes sure they run as smoothly as possible.

“We’re sort of like an event-production company that services events on campus,” Fritz says. “It depends on what’s needed. Sometimes it can be complicated, so there can be a lot of design and a lot of technology behind it.”

Jazmine Floyd, a 2013 Theatre grad, says she “enjoyed being a part of Greyhound Production Services. I liked the challenge of structured creativity, customer service, and learning new technical equipment.”

GPS put together last semester’s annual Fashion Show, an ambitious production with lights, music, and a full runway. Fritz says events like these give technical theatre students the experience they need.

“Its primary goal is to help the students gain more skills and experience before they graduate,” Fritz says. “Part of it is time management, part of it is simply people skills, working with others.”

top of their game

Top-Dog-studentsTop Dog Communication, the on-campus, student-run public relations firm, is still relatively new. Yet the group has been named the top firm in the nation for the second time in three years. (Back-to-back winners are not allowed, so Top Dog wasn’t eligible last year.) Associate Professor Rebecca Deemer is the advisor to Top Dog Communication. She encourages her budding PR professionals’ growth by affording them as many opportunities as possible. This includes working with nonprofit organizations on semester-long projects and engaging the students in professionalization activities. The firm has helped more than 60 clients. A project for Samaritan’s Feet raised awareness of the organization’s mission. Another, for the Girl Scouts of Central Indiana, strove to gain volunteers.

“Our agency truly has a family feel to it,” says senior Allison Schrock. “We form relationships and networks with each other and professionals working around Indianapolis that will benefit us outside of the classroom. Top Dog has produced award-winning work and stellar public relations professionals by focusing on ‘teaching through doing’ rather than solely out of a textbook.”

“Public relations, ideally,” says Rebecca, “is about establishing and maintaining relationships through good and open communication. Top Dog Communication does this in numerous and creative ways on behalf of our clients.”

getting graphic

One-14-Design-StudioAssistant Professor Nelson Wei Tan advises One14 Design Studio, the business UIndy graphic design majors run on campus. It launched officially just last semester.

“It’s a class where we’ve got juniors and seniors in the roles of designer, art director, and project manager,” Nelson says.

Each class lasts one semester, and students take on four or five projects in each class. Nelson hopes the class will be expanded to a year so the students can take on longer-term assignments from both campus clients and nonprofits in the community. Senior Whitly Charles is a fan. “Internships are great, but student agencies combine internship experience with faculty interaction.

“It’s a great feeling to have helped create and be a part of something that will help not only me but future design students as well.”

— Allison Gallagher ’14

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