Season 2, Episode 3

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This is a transcript of one episode of the Samsung Developers Podcast, hosted by and produced by Tony Morelan. A listing of all podcast transcripts can be found here.


Tony Morelan
Senior Developer Evangelist, Samsung Developers

Instagram - Twitter - LinkedIn


Amy Lee
Art Institutes

Amy Lee is the vice president of mentorships and career readiness at The Art Institutes, a collection of private schools located throughout the US. For several years now, Samsung and The Art Institutes have worked together to help students learn how to design, code and create for Samsung. Amy talks about classes, curriculum and what it takes to be a student at The Art Institutes, and the close collaboration between Samsung, the schools and the students.


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NOTE: Transcripts are provided by an automated service and reviewed by the Samsung Developers web team. Inaccuracies from the transcription process do occur, so please refer to the audio if you are in doubt about the transcript.


Tony Morelan 00:01

Hey, I'm Tony Morelan. And this is POW! the Samsung Developers podcast where we chat with innovators using Samsung technologies, award winning app developers and designers as well as insiders working on the latest Samsung tools. Welcome to season two, episode three. On today's show, I interview Amy Lee, vice president of mentorships and career readiness at the Art institutes, a collection of private schools located throughout the United States. For several years now Samsung and the Art Institutes have collaborated to help students learn how to design, code and create for Samsung. Not only do we talk about classes, curriculum and what it takes to be a student at the Art Institutes, but the close collaboration between Samsung, the schools and the students. Enjoy! So Amy Lee, thank you very much for joining me on the podcast today.

Amy Lee 00:50

Thank you for having me, Tony.

Tony Morelan 00:52

I'd like to start with the first question. And that is, who is Amy Lee?

Amy Lee 00:57

Gosh, that's such a deep question to start off with, right. So I'll tell you my official title. Obviously, you know, Amy Lee, I'm with the Art Institutes and my official title is vice president of mentorship and career readiness. I like to think of myself as more of a student success advocate, a creative connector, and that bridge for our students between the classroom and their potential career.

Tony Morelan 01:27

You know, I'm really excited about our chat today, because this is the first interviewer I get to talk with not a designer or a developer or even someone from a big tech company, but I get to talk with someone about education. And that is something that everyone starts with, you know, learning, learning new skills following passion starting or even changing a career. And you know, it all begins with education. Right. So can you tell me a bit about the Art Institutes?

Amy Lee 01:54

Sure. So the Art Institutes is a system of eight private schools. We're located throughout the United States, and we offer undergraduate graduate degrees in the fields of fashion, design, media, arts, culinary. And, you know, we're really here to focus on the Applied Arts, and you know, honing in those skills in the creative industries.

Tony Morelan 02:22

Yeah, so you're really covering a lot of the different areas of everything that really you know, means art. So I love that everything from cooking to traditional fine art to even tech, as it's related to art.

Amy Lee 02:34


Tony Morelan 02:35

So when did the Art Institutes first open?

Amy Lee 02:38

So the Art Institutes first open their doors in 1921? Wow, quite some time ago.

Tony Morelan 02:45

So you coming up? It's 100 years?

Amy Lee 02:48

It is it? Is it? That is crazy to think of?

Tony Morelan 02:51

Wow, that is crazy. So you had mentioned there are eight campuses? Is that correct? That is correct. So can you tell me where are those different locations throughout the US? Yeah,

Amy Lee 02:59

so we have campuses located in Florida, that would be our Miami and Tampa campus? We have one in Georgia, located in Atlanta. We have four in Texas, Austin, Dallas, Houston in San Antonio. And then I have one in Virginia in Virginia Beach. Oh, wow. Wow.

Tony Morelan 03:19

So you really are covering a good part of the good part of the country now? Are these schools independent of each other? Or can students start at one at one school, one campus, and actually at some point transfer to another location?

Amy Lee 03:31

Sure, students who begin their studies at one location are absolutely able to transfer to another location of the art institutes, depending on their program of study, and where they are in their study. So if they're, you know, a new student or closer to the end of their degree. So it just kind of depends on where they are and where they want to go.

Tony Morelan 03:55

Yeah, when I was starting my college career, I didn't really know what I wanted to do, right. I knew I wanted to be an art, something along those lines. I mean, my first attempt at a career would have been architecture. But I moved on from that pretty quickly, when I realized that I had a hard time with the rulers to be more free forms. Yeah, I eventually found my way into graphic design. But I could see where students that that you know, at that young age, when they are trying to figure out really what their career is. Part of that also is, you know, where do they find themselves? Where do they want to live? Right?

Amy Lee 04:25

Or where do I want to end after I graduate? You know, where do I want to end up and where do I want to be located for my first career attempt? Yes.

Tony Morelan 04:32

So do you see that some of your schools focus more in one area than other areas? Like do you see more fashion students, you know, at one campus versus others or, you know,

Amy Lee 04:42

they're spread all over? I will say we probably have a larger population of fashion in Miami, Atlanta, Houston, Dallas, some of our larger cities, okay. But not because, you know, the industry is less than one or the other, just because there's more people in the area?

Tony Morelan 05:04

Sure, sure. And what about tech, you know, when it comes to more, you know, using computers and whatnot to create

Amy Lee 05:11

our media program is one of our larger programs. So media encompasses our animation, visual effects, photography, audio, film, and they're all over, you know, those students, Atlanta with their booming film industry does seem to be a bit of a hub. But we have those programs at all eight locations.

Tony Morelan 05:36

You know, what your school offers is pretty amazing when it comes to that on campus education that you can get that being said, do you offer online courses.

Amy Lee 05:45

So we don't offer online courses as a total degree program, but we do offer classes in a virtual format and in person. So you know, 100% Online is not a, an offering that we have at the moment, sure. But because of COVID, and commas of, you know, how we are transitioning and being able to, you know, adapt our courses. There’re four formats technically for how students can learn. So they can attend classes from the comfort of their home, within a set core structure, they decide when they want to complete their courses in their course content. Alternatively, in this format, students can attend live sessions online at a set day in time. So the instructor goes live, say, Tuesdays at two o'clock, and all their classmates join, they might have a guest lecturer, and they're all learning virtually, in that environment.

Tony Morelan 06:43

Sure. So it's not it's not like an on-demand type, of course offering it is you are here with the teacher and your fellow students. And we're taking this class together.

Amy Lee 06:52

Yeah. So there's that option, and then there is that sort of on demand option, as well as students would be able to go in and look at their course content and, and say, Okay, this assignments due on Tuesday of next week, here's all my learning videos, here's all of the course instructor notes, here's the videos from my instructor, I'm going to do this at my own pace, and just meet my deadlines or my benchmarks. So gotcha. Yeah, that's sort of our virtual learning options.

Tony Morelan 07:19

I see. I could see what that would really work well, for a student who has responsibilities outside of school. Right. So maybe someone who has a job, you know, whether it's full time or part time, they may not be able to dedicate a certain amount of time every day, right?

Amy Lee 07:33

I think flexibility is the key, you know, we were trying to take into account different styles of learning, different types of students and different backgrounds, and, you know, really being able to accommodate all of those different things.

Tony Morelan 07:46

Yeah. Which brings up a good point, I want to ask you do you offer classes that are geared towards people maybe at different points in their career, whether it's a you know, a younger student who is just starting out? Or maybe it's somebody who's already had a career, and they're looking for a change or a switch? Do you offer programs for those different types of students?

Amy Lee 08:04

You know, I think our program speak to those types of students no matter where they are. So it's not that there would be an adult learning graphic design program. But the course content for our graphic design program would cater to someone who is fresh from high school, someone who's a career changer, someone who you know, maybe has a little bit of skill under their belt, and maybe they want to come back and just do the diploma program, not the associate's, the bachelors or the masters. So there's different levels and different skills and different time periods for everyone.

Tony Morelan 08:36

Yeah, yeah, that's what I like about the flexibility of it. How many students would you say total amongst all eight campuses are part of the art institutes?

Amy Lee 08:45

So we currently have more than 3000 students between our eight campuses?

Tony Morelan 08:51

Wow, that's a that's a big number. Yeah. So are all campuses have like the equal amount of students or is there one campus that is actually a bigger school than others?

Amy Lee 09:00

So they do range in size? And I would say it really depends on the city. So again, the more populous cities, so Miami and Atlanta, Dallas, they are a little bit larger as far as student body than a campus in Austin or Tampa or Virginia Beach, or San Antonio.

Tony Morelan 09:21

Sure. What about faculty? I'm sure that you've got a large faculty group that can administer to all these students.

Amy Lee 09:28

Yeah, so faculty are great. Our faculty are certainly part of the lifeblood of our institute. They're very gifted instructors, many of whom are respective active professionals in the fields that they teach. So our faculty use a lot of different learning centered methodologies to prepare our students and right now we have approximately 350 of them teaching during any given quarter. Wow,

Tony Morelan 09:55

that's, that's pretty big. Yeah. So we You touched on COVID just for a quick moment earlier. So want to talk a little bit more about that. I mean, that obviously is impacted our country, our world. I mean, in every aspect of life, how has it impacted the Art Institutes?

Amy Lee 10:10

Sure. So, given the current state of the world, you know, we had to pivot very quickly within the Art Institute to make sure that our students could still be accommodated and still, you know, be able to learn. So we went to great lengths to really ensure that despite what's going on in the world, we were here to help our students keep the Applied Arts surviving and thriving. So in addition to those earlier courses we were talking about, they could learn virtually or, you know, at set times, we offer hybrid courses with one of two options. So for select courses, students could complete their academic work online, or come to campus for the practical lab component of their courses. labs are offered on multiple dates and times, students can schedule that date and time to attend from the available options via our online reservation system. Or students can access the campus outside of those class times via just the online reservation system. So they could come on campus and obviously limited numbers due to COVID. But following those CDC guidelines, they could still access and utilize the audio lab or the photo studio or the fashion lab and get that, I guess, hands on piece. Sure, in addition to what they're learning in a remote format.

Tony Morelan 11:34

Yeah. So I will say I was very impressed with how quickly you guys pivoted when COVID hit. I mean, it seemed like it was within just a matter of days that, that we all had to figure out, Okay, how are we? How do we can, you know, change our direction so that we can still, you know, help these students? So I was really impressed with how quickly you guys did pivot that,

Amy Lee 11:57

you know, that was something that we really kind of all pulled together on. So, you know, prior to initial lockdowns last year, students attended courses just on ground. And of course, the majority of our employees were based at campuses. So as with other higher education institutions in just a matter of weeks, you're right, it, it really was weeks that we were able to shift our entire operation to this virtual format. And AI Virtual Learning was designed to really provide students with as much flexibility in their learning and as much content and engagement as we could possibly, you know, get in there for them to be exposed to.

Tony Morelan 12:41

Yeah, definitely. So I'd like to jump right into the collaboration between Samsung and the Art Institutes. Yeah, because that's when I first met you. When I came out to Miami to help teach a workshop. Can you tell me how that association first began?

Amy Lee 12:58

So you're exactly right. It began with Samsung reaching out to the Art Institutes and saying, Hey, we have these really great game developer and watch design developer workshops. And could we bring that to your students? And we of course, said, Yes, I'd love to expose them to industry. That's, that's what I live for, is bringing sort of real-world application into their classroom environment. So we started off with workshops. We had workshops in Miami, and we had workshops in Atlanta, and we were working on a workshop for Houston and Dallas and COVID hit but in those workshops, gosh, I want to say we had over 220 students between both of those locations. Yeah. You know, take that sort of immersive, you know, one day one-and-a-half-day workshop, and they loved it. Oh, yeah.

Tony Morelan 13:53

So that was where, like I mentioned that when I first met you and all the faculty at the Art Institute, when it came out to Miami, I helped teach a themes UI, designing class to the students. And it honestly was a great time seeing what the students did. I think one of the best stories that came out of that was that we had students from all different departments at your campus there, right. So we had students that were there in design, or they were doing culinary or they were doing fashion. And we held a little contest. At the end of the day, we were going to select which team designed what we thought was the most compelling phone UI theme. And surprisingly, it was the fashion. Yeah, the fashion design group who these people are working with textiles and fabrics. But it was neat to see how they took that sort of concept and brought it into a you know, a digital phone UI theme.

Amy Lee 14:49

But that's part of fashion. Right? So wearables is something that we talk about in their curriculum. Yeah. And is it you know, and an athletic sort of fitness wearable, is it a fashion wearable? Is it technology wearables? And? And how are they going to incorporate that and design for it? for a wide variety of uses?

Tony Morelan 15:11

Yeah, definitely. And I think also, another highlight for me was I was given the opportunity to review a lot of the students personal portfolios. So this is just their portfolio of work, you know, whether they were assignments that they've done, or some of them already had been working as graphic designers, and they were showing me some of their projects from the past. And, you know, to be able to sit down with those students and share a bit of my knowledge, that was a really nice tie. That was, it was a great moment for me.

Amy Lee 15:38

Yeah, we have a lot of great partnerships and industry pros who are on campus all the time, sort of imparting their knowledge and allowing the students the opportunity to share their work, which is what really excites them and keeps their sort of passion and flames, you know, fueled so that they can see where they're going to progress once they're, you know, done with school and what they're going to be able to do in the industry.

Tony Morelan 16:00

And I think what we liked the most was that, you know, we were given an opportunity to sit down with these students at the beginning of their career and show them about how easy it is to develop for Samsung. I mean, there's this sort of stigma that, you know, I have to learn how to code by the tools that we were showing at that time, for phone UI designing, and also for watch face designing. Students didn't have to know how to code. So it was easy for us to come in to a group of students that were taking classes in culinary in fashion design and other areas of art, that maybe are not developers that know how to code, right, but we're giving them an opportunity to actually create for Samsung,

Amy Lee 16:41

I agree. I think one of those interesting things you mentioned culinary, I remember talking to the culinary student, he was like, I want to design a watch for a chef, you know, what are my times for? You know, my eggs are my deep fryer. And can I build that into this watch design so that I can, you know, use it?

Tony Morelan 16:58

That's great in the kitchen. It was great. Yeah. So we had so much success at those workshops that we decided to offer an actual course, correct. This would be a Samsung, this was watch face designing. And as you'd mentioned, we were in the middle of just about ready to launch this and then COVID hit

and lockdown.

Tony Morelan 17:16

Yes. And we all had to figure out how are we going to take this in person? I think it was a six-week course at the time, right? I worked pretty closely with some of your faculty there on how we could turn this into an online course. And it was actually very successful. I was really impressed with the students in their eagerness to learn this new tool and take that in the actually designed some pretty nice-looking watch faces.

Amy Lee 17:42

Yeah, you're right. So the workshops evolved into the course. And, you know, working with you and other members at Samsung, we had faculty we had some of our Dean's, we had, you know, programmatic experts to really take what Samsung had in these half day workshops to expand it into what does a student really need to do to flesh out a full, you know, credit bearing course within our curriculum that would, you know, benefit them and expose them to technology and industry in a more real world application. So, we pivoted very quickly again, it was going to be on ground. It went to this virtual learning format. We stretched it to 11 weeks in the end. Yes, I was just looking at the calendar, Tony and we're coming up on the one-year mark of offering this class and we have had over 128 students I think is when I last looked at it Wow. come through and take that class.

Tony Morelan 18:46

That's amazing. And it's still a class that is being offered criminalists.

Amy Lee 18:48

Yeah, it's on the schedule. That

Tony Morelan 18:50

is that is great. So we've talked about UI designing for phones. We've talked about watch face. Designing to understand there's actually another area that my counterpart Diego Yeah, another evangelists that he helped teach game development.

Amy Lee 19:03

He actually did last quarter on the quarter system. So last quarter, Diego partnered with our team production, one into class for game art and design. And he was in that class, we had our first instance, I think we had 18 students. And he really spent so much quality time with them, talking about the Samsung platform and how they could get their indie games, potentially published the process behind there. And then the students got to ask their questions, you know, so they had, you know, Diego as the expert, and he offered to again, as you did look at their work, give them feedback, and really kind of fulfill that publishing fire of how they're going to go about that and get that game noticed.

Tony Morelan 19:52

You know, a lot of the students when they're starting out, they haven't had that opportunity to have real world game development experience. What we were able to as a collaboration with Samsung, where Diego was able to give them that insight on what it is like to actually develop a game in the industry,

Amy Lee 20:09

right, right. So you're right, they kind of work in a bit of a vacuum. And, you know, they look at different places where they can publish and, and how they can, you know, go about getting their game notice. But, again, having this partnership with Samsung has been so valuable for them because they could learn a little bit more, I guess about tips and tricks and sort of an inroad, and getting into the galaxy store for potential publishing.

Tony Morelan 20:36

It wasn't just about creating the game, they actually had to do more than that, which was put together their business plan and also talk about how are they going to promote this game?

Amy Lee 20:45

Correct? Who is their target audience? What age bracket are they going after? Where are they going to publish it? All of those types of things? What's their logo? What's their, you know, font choice? What are their colors? You know, how does it play on different platforms? Is it you know, a phone? Is it for console? You know, all those different things?

Tony Morelan 21:04

Yeah, that's great. It's all part of marketing your brand. So Diego also participated in your AI live?


Tony Morelan 21:13

So tell us a little bit about what is AI live.

Amy Lee 21:16

So AI live again, was kind of born out of the pandemic, to be honest with you, but a way for us to continue to connect industry professionals, even highlight faculty and alumni of the Art Institutes to our students. So in the past, we all had guest lectures on campus. With pandemic, we couldn't do that. So AI live was born, you can check out AI live on our YouTube channel and see all of those recordings, and Diego did participate. So he was an industry professional and talked about Samsung, and the partnership and the developer program and game publishing. And he's one of our more popular views actually on the channel.

Tony Morelan 22:05

I want to kind of go back a little bit also and just touch a little bit more on COVID. You know, financially, it's really hit a lot of people very hard because a lot of people have been out of work to COVID does the Art Institute, do they have any sort of financial aid or any way that they can assist with students in tuition?

Amy Lee 22:21

Sure. So at the Art Institutes financial aid is available to those who qualify, we are always here to help students understand everything they need to know, to help fund their creative education. We're always looking for ways to make education more affordable. So we offer full and partial scholarships to eligible new and continuing students. And one of our internal institutional grants is called the art grant. And the art grant gives students the chance to earn tuition of up to $17,340 for a bachelor's degree, which is an average of about 18% of tuition, and up to $5,845, which about 13%. For an associate's degree program, of course, we offer all the traditional VA funds for veterans all the title for programs and those types of things.

Tony Morelan 23:17

Wow, that is that is really nice to hear. What are you guys doing in the way of recruiting new students? Sure. So

Amy Lee 23:22

we have an admissions team who helps students in each step of the process, and there's a four-step process to getting started. So first is the interview. And that's going to be where the students would meet with their enrollment counselor. During the interview process, they're going to share stories of the Art Institutes mission, how we help creative individuals launch their careers and do what they love. Talk about range of services provided and that sort of thing. Next step would be to apply. And we're serious about creative education and students. Applications tell us that they're serious, too. So once accepted, we work with the student to make sure that they're on track to start classes. Third step is financial aid and scholarships where a financially aids rep would help the students explore their options, scholarships to help fund step four would be orientation. And that's really the final step. So New Student Orientation and my team plays a big part in that but orientation is really that chance to explore the campus, which takes place digitally right now we do a virtual orientation, but it's the students opportunity to learn everything from policy and procedures to time management to how to log into their classes, meet with their academic directors to make sure that they're well prepared to start school and know what to expect and how to move very quickly in our very fast paced, you know, environment of how we're learning today.

Tony Morelan 24:57

Yeah, that's great to be able to Put that information out there for the students to really get a good understanding of what it is that they're about to embark on. Absolutely. Once a student has completed their degree at the Art Institute, what is it that you guys can do with help with placing them into the workforce?

Amy Lee 25:13

Sure. So again, that falls under mentorship and career readiness, which Diego help navigate our students within our team of mentors. So our department student, mentor, ship and Career Readiness partners with our students, as they, you know, select courses to register up through that career transition piece, they can seek guidance from us in tending a myriad of workshops. So over the course of a quarter, we host workshops on resume writing, interview techniques, salary negotiation, if they, you know, really want to do freelance or be an entrepreneur, you know, pointing them in the right direction for business planning resources, or connecting them with a copyright or contract attorney to do a workshop on intellectual property, and, you know, all of those resources and building blocks that they're going to need to be successful after, after school, we have a job board, of course, we have a lot of self-directed resources, we have on demand resources we have in person resources, all of those wonderful things to connect them with, I can say, I don't know, on the job board, I probably approve 20 to 25 jobs a day really have employers reaching out, you know, to the art institutes to say, hey, I want to hire a graduate of yours, or where can I post this job? Sure.

Tony Morelan 26:39

That's great. So you really do have a nice program when it comes to career readiness.

Amy Lee 26:42

We try we really do try to help, you know, set them up.

Tony Morelan 26:45

Yeah. So can you tell me about some of the major accomplishments that your graduates have gone on to do after they have graduated from the Art Institute?

Amy Lee 26:53

I would say, you know, again, check out our AI live series on YouTube, you can actually hear from them firsthand. But some of the more recent interviews from some of our alumni, and some of the upcoming ones that we'll be launching by the end of March, you can check out Joshua Leonard. He is a 2018. graduate from the Art Institute of Atlanta, and he is a Character Animator for Netflix. Wow. And we're very proud of him and all of his accomplishments. He's one of our most recent ones. You can look for upcoming on AI live. Simone Qi. She's a 2012 graduate from the Art Institute of Dallas. She does branding and advertising for a lot of Fortune 500 companies, advertising now she's opened up her own creative studio in Dallas, and then culinary jamika pessoa. She was on the next Food Network Star in 2009. She's a weekly contributor on the dr. oz. New Series the dish on Oz, and she's a 2005 culinary graduate from our Atlanta campus. Wow. So

Tony Morelan 28:04

you really do have some, some notable alumni, you

Amy Lee 28:07

we're very proud of them. We're proud of all of them. But you know, if you want to hear some of the highlights, you know, those are some good ones to check out.

Tony Morelan 28:14

Oh, definitely. Well, so can you talk about future plans, any upcoming announcements with the school?

Amy Lee 28:20

Yeah. Miami, International University of Art and Design, Global Campus, will most likely officially I'll do some air quotes their official launch in its first full academic year, which would be 2021-2022, which would commence in the fall. Could be sooner. But that would be an online education platform. So where we previously spoke about, you know, virtual and hybrid and, you know, we're not totally online, Miami, International University of Art and Design Global Campus would be an online modality for education. Oh, wow.

Tony Morelan 28:59

So this obviously came out of the what, how COVID has impacted your school and where you had to pivot? You now realize, you know what, we're going to offer this just permanently as an ongoing right offering. That is that's great.

Amy Lee 29:11

Definitely a need.

Tony Morelan 29:13

And yeah, definitely. So what's the best way for people to learn about the Art Institutes

Amy Lee 29:18

so I would go to the website, you know, that's, that's where anyone interested in our programs can visit us online. And it's www dot Art Institutes with an You can also check out some of our virtual open house events, and upcoming virtual open house events. May the eighth of 2021, from 11am, Eastern 10am Central, and you know, those are all great ways to interact with our departments, our faculty, hear stories, see resources, and really learn more about the art institutes.

Tony Morelan 29:54

That's excellent. So when you're not working and helping these students plan their careers What is it that you do for fun?

Amy Lee 30:02

You know, my husband and I love to take the motorcycle out on the weekends and the Texas Hill Country. So go for long rides until I can't sit on the back of that bike anymore. Love to be out with my dogs, my fur babies I'm an avid artist at heart. My undergraduate degree is in Fine Arts. So I paint quite a bit, refinishing some piece of furniture or painting something. So that's what

Tony Morelan 30:31

I do. And I will say every time that I've met you, you've had a different hairstyle. A different hairstyle. I mean, right now you have this beautiful slosh of pink coming right through your bangs. And I can tell you are a very artsy person, a perfect person to represent the Art Institutes.

Amy Lee 30:50

Well, thank you. I do change my hair quite frequently. I think I've been every color of the rainbow.

Tony Morelan 30:55

That's great. Well, Amy, thank you very much for being on the podcast. I really appreciate it.

Amy Lee 30:59

Thank you for having me. Tony was a pleasure.

Closing 31:02

Looking to start creating for Samsung, download the latest tools to code your next app, or get software for designing apps without coding at all. Sell your apps to the world on the Samsung Galaxy store. Checkout today and start your journey with Samsung.

The POW! podcast is brought to you by the Samsung Developer Program and produced by Tony Morelan.