Texas Tech University

Interior Design Program Selected for TTAA Excellence Grant

Ashley Brister

September 18, 2020

Michelle Pearson TTAA ID Excellence Grant

Grant will fund the purchase of virtual reality equipment to better engage students in the design process

The Interior Design program was selected to receive the 2020 TTAA Excellence Grant for the 2020-2021 academic year. The grant awards the program $12,000 to use for the purchase of new virtual reality and technology equipment as well as researcher conference travel and registration.

"We thank the Texas Tech Alumni Association for their support," said Department Chair Sharran Parkinson, Ph.D. "As one of the top Interior Design programs in the country, this cutting-edge technology will provide our students the exposure to evolving software expertise that is impacting the future of design."

Students taking ID 3380, Advanced Studio, will evaluate 2D floorplans at the beginning of the course through a survey. Once students have evaluated the floorplan, the survey will gauge their ability to visualize the interior environment. Right now, the plan is for those same students to be contacted in the spring of 2021. This time, the students will utilize the VR equipment to explore the exact same floorplan through a 3D model using the VR equipment.

Interior Design Program Director Michelle Pearson, Ph.D. plans to present her findings at Interior Design Educators Council (IDEC) National Conference in March of 2022.

"The addition of VR equipment to the Interior Design is going to leave a lasting impact," Dr. Pearson said. "This technology will allow the students to design a space and within seconds, virtually tour the interior. From a teaching standpoint, this is a powerful tool. We no longer will ask students to imagine the volume of a space or to envision how light would enter. Instead, the students can experience it themselves. I expect once a student tours their design, they may have a greater understanding of their role as an interior designer."

The Interior Design program at Texas Tech University has a national reputation of producing quality graduates. Over the past three years, 95% of ID graduates found jobs in industry or entered a master's program. Entry-level interior designers are often tasked with generating these virtual reality spaces, and ID students must be prepared upon graduation to deliver.

"This equipment will also assist the interior design program in maintaining our competitive edge among other interior design programs," Dr. Pearson said. "We are very excited about this addition and appreciate the support of the Texas Tech Alumni Association."