Carlos Carranza, Class of '97, enrolled in the first web design
class offered in City College's Art Department in 1996, he could
not have imagined that, in four short years, he would be designing
and producing Web pages for the SCI FI Channel's specials and original
series. He loves the job.
CUNY website designers, from left: Eduardo Cueva, Alexander Castillo, Ming Xiong,
and Carlos Carranza. Above an example of Castillo's work; below, a Cueva Web page.
"We hired Carlos
because of his thorough understanding of the then-burgeoning field of HTML/Web
development," said Craig Engler, Executive Producer of SCIFI.COM, says of Carranza,
who majored in Electronic Design & Multimedia. "He clearly 'got' the developing
medium of the Internet at a time when few people realized the Web would be as
revolutionary as it has since grown to be," Engler adds. "Only after we hired
Carlos for his HTML work did we realize we had also picked up a world-class designer
who would go on to spearhead thelook and feel of SCIFI.COM as a top entertainment
destinationon the Web."
In fact, Viacom, the parent company for the SCI
FI Channel and USA Networks, was so pleased with Carlos that it hired four other
CCNY multimedia grads in the space of about three years. Alexander Castillo-currently
an Art Director for USA Network- works with a team of graphic designers and on-line
producers on the Web site that supports the TV channel.Classmates Eduardo Cueva,
Ming Xiong, and Marlon Jackson started with USA/SCI FI as freelancers, and have
since become full-time designers.
Other recent graduates of City College's
program in Electronic Design & Multimedia work in print, interactive media, and
telecommunications in such "hot" new start-ups as Oxygen.Com and long-established
giants like Time Warner and J. Walter Thompson (see sidebar).
Department at CCNY is home for one of the largest, most comprehensive and venerable
programs offering a digital arts and media curriculum at CUNY, thanks in no small
measure to Internet artist and City College professor Annette Weintraub.
Back in 1983-when
computer graphics was limited to expensive proprietary systems,
print and broadcast media were still analog, and the Internet was
largely the domain of computer "techies" and the military-Weintraub
saw the potential for explosive expansion of opportunities for new-media
design professionals in the local metropolitan area.
Her instinct was correct: New York City is now widely recognized
as the hub of "content creation" for artists and designers fluent
in the new technologies. By 1990 the program had expanded from a
handful of stations into a state-of-the-
art- facility in the Art Department's newly renovated building.This
was home for faculty whose credits ranged from a long career in art direction
at CBS Records (Ed Lee), to principal of a leading handmade book press (Richard
Faust), to an award-winning illustrator (Tim Okamura).
1995 Weintraub was joined by professor Kevin McCoy, a multimedia specialist who
is now interim director of the Center while Weintraub is on leave. In keeping
with the long tradition of City College, the mission of the Electronic Design
and Multimedia Program is to provide high-quality, cost-effective training for
a culturally and economically diverse student population-and to encourage the
entry of these students into professions in which minorities have traditionally
been poorly represented.
Now, the Department offers both a B.F.A. in
Electronic Design & Multimedia, which is a professional degree in design for print
and interactive multimedia and the Web, and a B.A. in art with a specialization
in digital media. Both programs emphasize a foundation in the principles of basic
design as the prerequisite to intensive studio practice for a variety of visual
communications media. They include broad offerings in electronic design, publishing,
2D multimedia, animation, and digital video. While the B.A. specialization is
open to CCNY students in the College of Liberal Arts and Science, the B.F.A. requires
a portfolio review, and admission is competitive.
Serving more than
125 majors, the multimedia curriculum builds skills in typography, design and
imaging, and visual problem-solving-all of which are completely integrated into
digital technology. Using industry standards in hardware and software, CCNY students
gain practice in both concept and production through free-lance projects and internships
in publishing, Web design, interactive multimedia and motion graphics at companies
that include Sony Music, MTV, and CBS New Media.
The heart of CCNY's multimedia program is the Robinson Center, established in
1994 by Herbert Robinson, Class of '37, and his brothers Jerry and Bernard. In
this media lab students explore emerging and experimental forms of electronic
media, as well as traditional modes of publishing, typesetting, and printing.
Monica Kirwan, now a designer at Oxygen Media, clearly had some of the
long hours she spent at the Robinson Center in mind when she offered this advice
to its current denizens: "If the Professor asks you for three versions of something,
make six or ten. Practice, practice, practice, and more practice will make you
a better designer. I remember working with a Design Director and looking at his
'scratch file' and learning that he made sixty-four versions before he arrived
at the final version of a design."
Early in the morning and late at night, weekdays and weekends, the
Robinson Center is humming with the activity of students taking
The Program has developed strong ties to the new-media industry.
Part of its success lies in giving students "real world" work experience,
notably through participation in the New York New Media Alliance's
Intern Program, which places students in Silicon Alley summer internships.
Robinson is also a member of the New
Media Centers Consortium, a national partnership between leading academic centers
engaged in new media research and the corporations that will employ their graduates,
including Adobe, Cisco, Compaq, and Microsoft. In addition, the Robinson Center
has developed long-term partnerships with some of the leading hardware and software
vendors. Its labs are supported through partnerships with Macromedia, Inc., Netopia,
Terran Interactive and other leading digital technology vendors.
makes the graduates of the Electronic Design & Multimedia Program so attractive
to industry employers? Hilary Moskowitz is the Executive Producer for USANETWORK.COM.
Castillo, she says, "Alex brings more than just professional skills. His creative
thinking and extensive knowledge give him the flexibility to find more than one
solution for each given challenge; in addition to his ability to collaborate,
this increases our ability to provide a richly diverse site."
Monica Kirwan, at Oxygen Media, adds another important dimension:
"I came to this country eleven years ago with no money and big dreams.
I couldn't afford a private school, but I worked really hard to
put myself through college. One of the biggest strengths of City
College's students is the life experience we bring with us, and
that is something to be very proud of. No, we're not the trendy
school downtown, but we do have talnt and strength, and that is
the message we send to employers." Spoken like a true graduate of
the trendy school uptown.