The state's only interior design program to earn Supported status by the National Kitchen & Bath Association gives students more options.
Recent graduates of Fox Valley Technical College’s Interior Design program, area employers, and the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) have all been telling the same story: the kitchen and bath industry is growing and needs professionals with the right credentials.
FVTC’s new Kitchen & Bath Design program illustrates how the department stays relevant to the interior design industry. “This new program provides a positive employment opportunity in today’s continuing downturn in new construction,” explains Bob McKenny, Interior Design instructor. “People are remodeling now more than building. Kitchens and baths are typically the first rooms to get remodeled, so this new degree will help our graduates get to work in the current economy.”
“The Interior Design department at Fox Valley Technical College did an excellent job of exploring the best way to approach this new effort,” states advisory committee member and internship employer Joey Wilinski of Wilco Cabinets in Green Bay. “They sent out surveys and involved employers in defining their curriculum.”
FVTC is now the only college in Wisconsin that is supported by the NKBA. “Making sure our students have the best career opportunities is what our department has always been about,” says department chair Kathy McDonald. “Our students are learning what they need to know to pass their NKBA certification tests upon graduation. In addition, since kitchen and bath designers are often paid a base salary plus commission, a designer who can also sell can make quite a nice salary.”
With the addition of the new program, students can now choose to earn their associate degree in Interior Design
, Commercial Design
, or Kitchen and Bath Design
. They have the option to gain credentials in more than one area by taking additional courses.
Many students are already taking advantage of this option. Kayla Fischer, a second-year student at FVTC, is planning on earning a triple degree. “I’m interested in all aspects of interior design,” she explains. “I love learning all the new skills, plus I figure it will give me far more opportunities when I graduate."
The Interior Design curriculum at FVTC is arranged to provide students with maximum flexibility in choosing a program that best fits their interests and professional goals. “The programs start with the basics, and each course builds on the one before,” Bob McKenny explains. “This way, students can begin in the general program and then choose to break off into one of the other degree programs.”
|Interior Design program
graduate Kari Delsman
This is exactly what Interior Design graduate Kari Delsman did. “I planned on doing residential design but loved commercial,” she explained. “I have to admit that I was not the most focused student when I began, but with the help of the instructors and all the hands-on activities, I really got involved.”
Like many Fox Valley Tech Interior Design graduates, Delsman credits her success to her education. Today, she is the design specialist at Holy Family Memorial Hospital in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. “I do everything from choosing paint colors and signage to purchasing furniture and checking on construction project progress,” she says. “The work offers a variety of responsibilities; I love it.”
“No matter which program you choose, you can be sure that you’ll receive a first-rate education here,” McKenny says. “We’re practical, not theoretical. We make sure our graduates know how to do the tasks that employers need. No designer starts at the top, but with a Fox Valley Tech degree, you’ll be fully equipped to get started and then grow with your career.”
The Interior Design program continues to create success for its graduates. According to the latest FVTC Graduate Placement Report, 95% of Interior Design graduates landed jobs within six months of graduation. The Kitchen & Bath and Commercial Design programs are expected to mirror that success.
“I knew in fifth grade that I was going to be an interior designer,” laughs Kylie Fencil, a recent FVTC graduate with double degrees in Interior Design and Commercial Design. “I’ve also always had a passion for aviation. My grandfather was an airplane mechanic and my uncle owned a hobby plane. Flying is a definite adrenaline rush.”
Recently Fencil combined her passions in an internship with the French aircraft manufacturer Daher-Socata. She was one of only two American students chosen by the EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association) to participate in this prestigious five-week program in Tarbes, France.
“I worked on interior enhancements for the TBM850 aircraft for Daher-Socata’s 100th anniversary,” Fencil says. “This incredible experience convinced me that I wanted to work in the aviation industry.”
Fencil actually got to see the finished plane this past summer at the EAA AirVenture Convention and Air Show in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. “It was such a rewarding feeling to see an aircraft go from design concept to final product,” she says.
Fencil continues to gain experience at Daher-Socata while she pursues career opportunities. “The company has asked me to help them at exhibitor events, and that experience is opening doors for me,” Fencil added.