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Professor oversees new high-demand majorA student works on a computer. The screen shows a 3-D image.

Students huddle around the gleaming iMac workstations that populate Whitworth’s Lied Arts Center, where professors enhance their lectures with creations from a new 3D printer and classes expand to encompass a virtual world through digital drawing boards. These innovative tools and other advanced electronics are resources for students interested in the visual design computing major, added to Whitworth’s catalog in 2015. The human/computer interaction major was also introduced recently.

Bradley Oiler, who oversees the visual design in computing major, joined the art department in 2015 as its first professor in graphic design.

"The program has grown as a response to students," Oiler says. "There are a number of students who were writing their own majors to create a combination of computer science and the arts (specifically graphic design)."

Whitworth’s Lied Arts Center is equipped to provide extensive resources for students interested in this major. The Lied Center has 25 new iMac workstations with full Adobe Creative Suite and Autodesk software. This allows for the teaching of digital photography, graphic design, web design, app development, video editing, animation, scenography, 3D modeling and 3D printing. The lab has high-quality scanners, a color laser printer/copier, a professional glossy photograph printer, digital drawing boards, and a 3D printer that cuts paper designs. A photography studio provides additional traveling light kits and DSLR cameras that students can borrow.

"It is truly a liberal arts interdisciplinary program that supports majors in marketing, theatre, advertising, public relations, computer science, communications, English, film studies, art and graphic design," Oiler says.

Students who major in visual design in computing or human-computer interaction have several career options after graduation. The major typically leads students to positions such as production artist, art director, web designer, front-end developer, app designer, game developer, 3D animator in character development, or 3D print technician.

"The range for these careers will vary with responsibilities," Oiler says. "But in Spokane, in 2015, a front-end development job paid $86,000 for a beginning medical app development." He continues, "The workforce market after school is asking for back-end coding skills from graphic designers involved in the web design and app design fields. It is also asking for more visual communication and creative skills from front-end developers, web developers and app coders."