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Academy Cares: Academy of Art Responds to the Needs of the Times, Helps Community

Needless to say, it has been a tough and extremely challenging time for everyone these past couple of months. The pandemic, which spans an impressive but lethal reach around the globe has all but paralyzed economies, and has shifted definitions of what constitutes as normal.

As overwhelming as all these may be, and as small as we may feel we are in the greater scheme of things, we at Academy of Art University stand up tall and proud as we power through, doing what we can to offer relief and support to our local community in San Francisco.

COVID-19 may have reared its ugly head to reveal the monster that it truly is, but we will not let this back us down into a corner. Understandably, it is scary for most, especially with the very tangible damages it has inflicted thus far upon us. But no matter how big it gets, we will always strive to become bigger than this fear.

We’ve got a long way to go before we all fully come out of the woods, but we came into this knowing full well this is going to be one of the most challenging—and important—marathons we’ll ever be in. That said, here are some of the steps Academy of Art has taken so far in response to this global pandemic brought about by COVID-19.

 School of Industrial Design Creates 3D Printed Face Shields

 All it took was one good idea. Industrial Design Shop Manager and instructor Max Niehaus thought of putting to good use the 3D printers sitting idly at the Academy of Art School of Industrial Design studio.

Thanks to his quick thinking, the Academy of Art community was able to get started on creating 3D printed face shields for healthcare workers and frontliners.

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Max Niehaus wearing a 3D-printed face shield
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Saint Francis hospital workers tried, tested, and approved the 3D printed face shields

The face shield design was derived from the creation of Swedish firm 3DVerkstan (Swedish for “3D Workshop”). It was then tweaked according to the recommendations and feedback of the Bay Area doctors who tested it before giving their stamp of approval. The refined version now features more space between the shield and the nose, easing the facial pressure on the wearer.

To date, this 3D printed face shield initiative of the School of Industrial Design has been consistently producing 100 units per week. Coupled with the community 3D print donations, the Academy is now looking to double that to 200 face shields produced and distributed per week.

School of Fashion Sews Face Masks

Not long after the School of Industrial Design’s face shield project rolled out, the School of Fashion followed suit with the creation of much needed face masks. Especially now that it is a requirement for everyone, this collaborative effort proves to be a big help to communities who may be having difficulty procuring supplies.

University School of Fashion Students Team Up to Make Face Masks for the Underserved Giving Back to the San Francisco Community During Covid-19
University School of Fashion Students Team Up to Make Face Masks for the Underserved Giving Back to the San Francisco Community During Covid-19

Recent fashion school alumni Chris Cabalona shared his video tutorial online for the creation of DIY masks. This made it accessible to all other students who had the tools and the capacity to create face masks in their own homes. The finished products will then be picked up by TogetherSF and UBCO and delivered to those who need it most, such as homeless shelters, group homes, and assisted living communities, among others.

“Being able to have the faculty and students partner with TogetherSF and UBCO Bikes felt like a perfect way to build a community for our students and to feel connected while knowing we are helping the homeless population of San Francisco,” says Simon Ungless, Executive Director of School of Fashion.

Academy Cares: Academy of Art Responds to the Needs of the Times, Helps Community

Online Education Transition

As you may very well know by now, the San Francisco campus of Academy of Art University will remain close throughout the summer semester. This is keeping in line with the Academy’s thrust of ensuring the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff members.

At the core of this decision is a careful consideration as to how the students’ learning will be impacted. The good news is that our pioneering online education program has always been ready and in place for such a transition. Thanks to this, our students did not have to miss a beat in continuing their respective course.

A majority of our students are already taking hybrid classes anyway, which is a mix of onsite and online classes, which already sets them up for a full transition. While it may be difficult for some to have to retreat to the safety and quiet of their homes or dorm rooms, we realize that this is the best step for us to at least minimize the danger on everyone.

Academy Cares

As an art and design school, we realize that not all things may be sufficiently learned in the online classroom; hands-on activities are needed to truly hone and refine those artistic skills. That is why we have also put up work stations—in full compliance with social distancing policies—in the lobbies of our residence halls. This way, our students who opt to remain in the city can have access to these design stations for their course requirements.

Our labs and studios are also open to accommodate students who may need to borrow equipment to take home with them for the duration of the sheltering-in period.

All of these we have come to decide upon with our Academy of Art community’s best interests at heart.

Department Response

Meanwhile, each of our school departments have also taken custom steps so they may be able to continue delivering lessons to their students. Apart from the Academy’s custom-build online platforms, online applications such as Zoom, Google Meet, and more are also being used to make the lessons accessible to the students, no matter where they may be.

Music Production & Sound Design for Visual Media

The School of Music Production and Sound Effects for Visual Media, for example, have been working to modify their curriculum to make it even just a little bit more convenient for everyone. On top of that, they are also working to get students access to much needed resources, such as computers and temporary free licenses of music production software. 

Another studio-heavy department, the School of Photography, has also resorted to creative solutions.

“Classes that have been focused on studio instruction have come to life due to the creativity of our instructors. From Apple Facetime tutorial meetings conducted in real-time by our instructor John Vano for his location lighting classes to instructional videos created by instructor Chris Hardy for his studio lighting classes, our instructors are able to create exciting and very workable solutions to the new challenges,” explained Associate Director Timothy Archibald.

Various fun and interactive webinars and virtual events are also lined up to keep our students not only busy but continuously learning. These online events, unless otherwise noted, are open to the general public of all ages, thereby making it another form of reach to our community and beyond.

Career Services are also fully up and running to provide support to students and graduates in need of assistance as they search for employment. The online job board, accessible to both current and graduated students, are consistently updated every day to provide as much options and opportunities as possible.

Summer and Fall Semesters

Last but not least, we would like to reassure parents, guardians, and students that Academy of Art University will remain open throughout the rest of the academic year in 2020. As a matter of fact, we are already accepting applications for the summer and fall semesters. You may also get in touch with our admissions representatives to request information on our art and design programs, financial aid options, and contingency plans in this pandemic.

We Are Open For Summer Classes

As mentioned earlier, the Academy has come to the difficult decision to keep classes exclusively online throughout the summer semester, but as we’ve also shown you, there is nothing to worry about given our reliable online education program.

As for our housing facilities, they too will remain open throughout this less than ideal circumstance. Again, you can count on the Academy to exercise its due diligence in ensuring that our student-residents’ health and safety are our primary concern. That said, the Academy remains in close coordination with the local government and health officials to keep abreast of the policies and regulations critical to social distancing, disinfection, and other measures geared towards public health and safety.

We thank you for your continued trust in Academy of Art University in these trying times. We can only promise that we will further strive to improve in the ways we adapt to the dynamic changes in circumstance every day, while remaining true to our core as an art school that works to serve its community through creativity.

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