Meet Amber Howard
Amber Howard is a California girl. She was born in California and grew up in Belmont, a small town near San Francisco. And she was still a California girl when she pursued her B.F.A. in Communication Arts: Graphic Design from Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles.
Howard became interested in visual communication at an early age. And in high school, she used ". . .diagrams to structure her paper and explain scientific principles through Illustrations. Design seemed like a natural career choice. . . ." In California, she worked as a designer, teaching, and co-founding a research foundation in Los Angeles, called IBIS that brought designers and neuroscientists together. But she left California behind to pursue a Masters and PhD in Design.
Howard chose NC State to further her studies in graphic design because NC State is one of a handful of universities in the country to offer a Ph.D. in Design. And the Design program was a perfect fit for Howard since the focus is on design research -- and she realized that she needed to have a better grasp of the 'research shorthand' spoken by her neuroscientist collaborators!
She received her Master of Graphic Design, as well as her Ph.D. in Design from NC State. But she's staying with NC State and is currently a full-time lecturer in the Department of Graphic and Industrial Design. She also is a strong advocate for the Graduate School's Certificate of Accomplishment in Teaching (CoAT) program.
While a student, she learned about the program through her graduate advisor, Meredith Davis -- and says that she had ". . . a fantastic CoAT experience." Howard liked that the program offered a variety of workshops from which to chose, so she could tailor her choices to her career goals: "The material offered in each workshop directly resonated and guided my immediate teaching practices—it helped me structure courses and lessons to better serve students."
The program also offered Howard the opportunity to lead a CoAT workshop, Developing a Digital Evaluation Rubric. She was able to apply and adapt material learned in earlier workshops. And she could share tools and frameworks that she found useful with the other CoAT students.
Howard was also amazed with the amount of personal attention and feedback that CoAT students receive as a standard part of the program. She says that the program ". . . expectations and guidelines are clear and purposeful." And she believes that the structure of the program that allows for 'tailored attention' also contributes to the opportunities that CoAT provides ". . . to learn pedagogical techniques, tools, and frameworks in a fun, efficient, and accessible way."
But once she became a professor, she realized that some graduate students are unable to experience ". . .the full scope of the program -- e.g. teaching in a classroom or completing a teaching portfolio." (The program takes a year and a half to complete, but students in two-year graduate programs have a timing problem -- especially, if they ". . .realize they want to teach halfway through their college career.") The workshops, however, are available to all -- and Howard does not discourage students from participating in at least SOME of the CoAT program!
Howard knows the positives and negatives of the CoAT program not only as a participant, but also by serving for two years on the Graduate School's Preparing Future Leaders Advisory Board. She also worked closely with Drs. Barbi Honeycutt and Melissa Bostrom ". . . to re-conceptualize and redesign the Preparing Future Leaders landing page on the Graduate School website. We changed the structure and language of the page to reflect student's needs and interests." [Click HERE to see the new and improved web page.]
During her teaching career, Howard says that she continues to use the language, tools and frameworks that she learned in CoAT to develop courses, teach, and collaborate with other professors. She also thinks that her CoAT experience has made her a better communicator with both her students and her colleagues.
Her current project is organizing a graduate design symposium for November 18-20. The symposium will include a series of workshops to develop the purpose statement for a 'Graduate Design Network.' Howard's vision is that the Network will serve as ". . . a collective of graduate students from programs around the world and across design disciplines who share resources and collaborate on projects."
When not focusing on her teaching career, Howard spends her down time not exactly relaxing! She is an endurance runner who easily takes on 85-100-mile runs. And she loved to backpack through remote locations. In fact, Howard plans to hike through Patagonia during winter break! Safe journey, Amber!
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