Tuesday, February 26, 2013

VPA Graduate Spotlight: Laura Larsen

Laura Larsen graduated from Michigan Tech in December with a degree in mechanical engineering and a minor in theatre arts.  She was involved (as a cast member) in seven productions while at Tech, starting with Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy in her first semester and ending with The Horror of H.P. Lovecraft in her last semester.

1.  Why did you choose to minor in Theatre Arts at Tech?

When it came time to choose what I wanted to do, I was very torn between doing something with math and science or in the arts.  In the end, I made the right decision for me to be a mechanical engineer but I was thrilled to find how much I loved the VPA department at Tech.  I was spending so much time there, and I realized how much more there was for me to learn about the different aspects of theatre, that I decided to become a minor.

2.  How did adding a minor in the arts enhance your experience as a Tech engineering student?

Adding the theatre arts minor was the best thing I could have done for my engineering studies because it allowed me to split my time between exercising either side of my brain.  When Mechanical Engineering courses were overwhelming, I could spend a few hours on theatre classes and come back to those other courses feeling more confident and refreshed.  Also, when you know more about a variety of subjects, you are able to approach any issues more creatively.  I am always amazed how much engineering and the arts lend insight to one another.

3.  What is the most important thing you learned from participating in theatre at Tech?

The most important thing I learned from theatre at Tech is how much I am truly capable of and that I should never doubt my abilities.  I became so many distinctly different characters and learned a lot about myself in participating in so many productions but more importantly, I learned that I could balance classes, homework, hours of rehearsal a night, and friends.  Not having to cut out any of those aspects, really enhanced the rest of my life and I never dreamed that I could be able to do it all.

4.  What inspires you?

I am inspired by the beauty and diversity of the people around me.  Everyone I meet has a different story to tell and they all find so many wonderful ways to be happy.  It is so inspiring to know that no matter what life hits me with, there will always be beauty and happiness to be found in the world.

5.  How will you use your theatre experience now that you have graduated and work as an engineer?   

I am working as a mechanical engineer but I hope to still remain involved in community theatre.  Even if I am not directly involved in a production, I will always use what I have learned from the arts: once you learn to work together and what you are personally capable of, with a little creativity, anything is possible.

6.  What advice would you give to other engineering students who want to participate in the arts?

To other engineering students, I would say there is no reason to think you can't participate in the arts; I have seen every type of person benefit from even minimal experience.  You may be forced out of your comfort zone, but that is quite possibly the best thing you can do for yourself because only then you will find out who you truly are and what you are capable of.

Monday, February 11, 2013

VPA Student Spotlight: John Watza

Photo by Lara Neves
John Watza recently earned an Honorable Mention at KC-ACTF (Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival) for his Sound Design Project of Shakespear's "Twelfth Night."

1.  Why did you choose to major in Sound Design at Tech?
I knew I wanted to go into music and specifically Sound Design because I wanted to learn the technical as well as the artistic side to music.  From a college fair I learned that Michigan Tech had a Sound Design program and I came to visit and really liked what I saw.  I also love snow and Michigan Tech sure has snow.

2.  What has been your favorite part of working in Sound Design?
Being able to collaborate with other creative students, whether its making radio dramas or composing music for a play, it is a lot of fun to work as a part of a team to create something bigger than you could have done by yourself.  It's always exciting to see a big project come together.

3.  What is the most important thing you have learned in your major?
Designing Sound is about telling a story or creating an emotion and there are countless ways to use sound to tell whatever story needs to be told, or create whatever emotion that needs to be created.

4.  What inspires you?
I love music and I love movies, that's why I chose to go into this field.  I also find working with a group of people on a project to be very inspiring because everyone is trying to create something and collaborating together which is a great atmosphere for creativity.

5.  What are your goals after graduation?
I want to work on movies, I really love composing music and to be able to do that for film is my goal for the future.  

6.  What advice would you give others hoping to major in Sound Design?
Work hard at learning as much as you can.  Listen to everything, music, movies, everyday sounds--just listen.  Networking is huge, make as many contacts as you can and always be looking for opportunities.