Academy of Art

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Founded in 1929, Academy of Art University offers educational tracks in subjects including graphic design, fine arts, industrial design and illustration. Using Corona SDK, the university offers several sections of a course on mobile development.

Within several semesters, the course became so popular that Academy of Art opened an additional section, allowing more students to enjoy developing with Corona SDK.

We’d love to hear about the history of the Academy of Art University. When was the university founded and what educational tracks do you offer?

Academy of Art is a San Francisco-based art school, established in 1929. Initially, the school focused only on fine arts, and has since extended to others subjects including graphic design, animation, illustration, fashion, industrial design, architecture and more.

What’s your background at the Academy of Art?

I’ve been teaching at the Academy of Art for 17 years, and am a faculty member in the Web Design and New Media department. Before I began teaching in the Web Design and Mobile department, I did freelance computer work. I used Director in the 90’s, then Flash, now using Corona. I teach Web Design 2 and 3, HTML, CSS, JS, PHP, and all the interactive media courses that use Corona SDK.

What’s the focus of the Web Design and New Media department?

Mobile is something we’re very focused on right now, because we see it a booming industry. As the industry expands, so does our department as it relates to mobile. A few years ago, we removed Flash from the program and replaced it with Corona SDK for teaching mobile development.

How have you incorporated Corona into your mobile curriculum?

We’ve been using Corona for 3 semesters and predict our course offerings will continue to grow. In the first semester that we taught Corona, we offered 2 sections. It was so popular that we added an additional section this semester.

Our mobile course is 15 weeks long and incorporates 3 projects. Students attend class once a week and learn everything from graphics to programming to managing assets. They get their feet wet by creating a calculator, then we move on to building an interactive storybook, and I leave the third project open-ended so they can get creative, and come up with their own concept.

What’s the development background of students in the mobile course?

All the students must take Web Design 1 and 2 (JavaScript and Responsive Web courses) and Digital Imaging as pre-reqs. Normally, second and third year students sign up for the mobile course and the majority of students have no experience in development.

Based on your experience working with Corona, would you recommend the platform to other illustrators and designers?

Yes, of course. I don’t believe there is a better solution. Corona is very easy to use – especially for non-developers – and the Kwik tool really sped up the project. We were completely new to the process so we wanted to make everything as simple as possible. We also wanted a bit of interactivity, such as scrolling text, and this was very easy to do with Corona and Kwik.

How have your students responded to working with Corona SDK?

Our students pick up Corona very quickly and enjoy working with the platform. As many of our students are visual learners, they’re pleasantly surprised to see instant results on the Corona simulator.

Have you used other development platforms in the classroom?

Yes, we previously used Flash but found that it didn’t have good output to mobile. Initially, we went through a whole list of alternatives including Appcelerator, PhoneGap, ObjC, and HTML wrapper tools but they didn’t fit our needs.

We’re very design-focused and find that Corona is the best option for creating visually engaging apps, quickly and easily.

Can you please share the success of the students that graduate from your program?

The Web Design and New Media department has over 1,000 students currently enrolled onsite and online in the combined graduate and undergraduate programs.

Our graduates work at many prestigious companies, such as: Apple, Attik, CBS Interactive, Fluid, Google, Organic, Yahoo! and Luminosity Group. Every year, I hear from graduates that are working in the industry, designing and creating web sites, motion graphics, video, and designing and building mobile applications at local companies.

I feel we teach a very relevant skill set that is especially suited to the needs of the present, specifically in the Bay Area. The school is located in downtown San Francisco, home of many web-based tech and design firms, and I see graduates all the time, as we cross paths in our commute. Students are always reporting back about their great successes in the outside world.

Thanks for speaking with us, Mitchell!

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