Press Releases Index

October 25, 2004
CONTACT: Jette Englund
Office of University Relations
908-737-NEWS (6397)

Kean University Students Take First and Second Place
At ADCNJ-Sponsored Design Derby

UNION, N.J. ––Kean University students won first and second place in Saturday’s annual Design Derby sponsored by the Art Directors Club of New Jersey (ADCNJ), held at Monmouth University in West Long Branch, N.J. The design will become a mural in the Verizon New Jersey CEO’s office in Newark, N.J. First-place team winners are Jessica Hartman, Kevin Peach, Anke Nitz, Rita Marquez, and Juan Montenegro. Second-place team winners are Michael Sasjack, Natalia Pires, Jason Washer, Ramon Lopez, Parag Desai, Brian Buttavacole, and Eva Zvoc. All winning students are from Middlesex, Union, and Essex counties. A total of 66 students from six New Jersey colleges and universities competed.

“Each year, the Design Derby invites students to solve a problem for a client in a matter of three hours,” said Robin Landa, professor of design at Kean. “Colleges and universities from all over the state sent teams to compete. The students are allowed a pad and a marker, but no access to computers or teachers. This year was particularly interesting as the client was Verizon Wireless that sent its brand strategist Margaret Talbot of the firm Graphics 88 as a judge. She was ‘blown away’ by our students’ solutions, saying they do very sophisticated work.” According to Landa, what is so important about winning the Design Derby is that it is judged by clients and outside professional visual-communications experts, not by faculty or by ADCNJ members. “That is significant since it is validation from unbiased experts,” she said.

“The students’ creativity was impressive,” said Tom Pica, executive director of Corporate Communications for Verizon Wireless, based in Bedminster, N.J. “It was great to see their energy and talents applied to this project.”

Graduating senior Jessica Hartmann from Springfield, N.J., participated in the derby for the first time. “It was a lot of fun brainstorming with my classmates and presenting,” she said. “I was so proud and excited to hear both Kean teams’ names announced as winners. It really says a lot for our teachers who helped us take our creativity to another level – they helped us to design to the best of our ability.”

“Naturally, the entire visual-communications faculty is very proud of our students,” Landa said. “Our two teams of students volunteered for this event, and all were eager to take on a design challenge that entailed problem-solving, on-the-spot idea generation, team work, collaboration, and comprehensive execution. Their solutions demonstrated critical and creative thinking, and a thorough understanding of visual communications. Coupled with winning the four top scholarships based on portfolio reviews last semester from the Art Directors Club of New Jersey, clearly, Kean University has the premiere visual-communications program in New Jersey.”