Only program in Canada puts us on the map

By Geoff Lee

January 27, 2016 2:21 PM

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.
An exception to the rule was an educational field trip to Vegas by 19 interior design students and two instructors who returned home Saturday.
Instructor Greg Plant who held the fort at the Vermilion campus spilled the beans revealing they were there to attend the 2016 Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS) Jan. 19-21 during a week long trip.
Faculty members Fiona McLeod and Rochelle Horne were onboard to lead students on tours to some outstanding architectural buildings in Las Vegas.
One of the lessons students learned from the trip is that Lakeland’s interior design program accreditation by the National Kitchen and Bath Association carries clout.
The group got to see and applaud Lakeland grad winners of last year’s NKBA design competition winners accept their awards.
The NKBA Student Design Competition was won by Kayla Soto while Laura Cobb finished third.
“They get the royal treatment; they get flown down there,” said Plant noting it’s on NKBA’s tab.
“That’s part of their prize,” he said.
“As well as the cash vale of the prize, they also get paid flights down too.”
The second year students who are currently preparing their 2016 NKBA design competition entries paid their own way down by raising funds.
The winners will be announced in September after they graduate, but there will be no Vegas trip for them.
“Typically, the field trip is Toronto for the design show, but NKBA requires that we have instructors attend the educators’ forum that they have in conjunction with the KBIS every three years so we were due to go there,” said Plant.
He noted this year that the design show in Canada conflicted time-wise with the show in Vegas.
“This was the first time the entire class has gone to Vegas,” he said.
Plant says being the only NKBA accredited program in Canada and one of 55 in North America puts the program on the map.
“It just gives the program validity in the eyes of all the people looking at the program,” he said.
Lakeland first earned full NKBA accreditation in 1999 and has once again met the strict standards for reaccreditation that’s good for seven years.
Unlike previous accreditations when NKBA representatives visited the Vermilion campus to speak with people and review curriculum and student work, the new one is a digital reaccreditation. 
“Every year we still have to submit student work for evaluation purposes,” said Plant.
“They have a pretty strict set of guidelines that we have to meet.”
Plant said the NKBA accreditation also puts the annual class of second year students in high demand following their eight industry practicums.
“Very often the firms that take these students on actually keep them and give them permanent employment” said Plant.
The NKBA standard means students can enter NKBA student design competitions and access association scholarships.
Lakeland interior design graduates also get that all important NKBA-certified designation that helps them start careers.
“We’ll have students working in the kitchen and bath industry,” said Plant.
“They will be working in interior design studios — they will be working for architectural firms — all sorts right across the board.”
He notes that if you can get into industry and you are selling kitchens you can make a six figure salary.
Plant noted the popularity of home design shows on TV spikes interest for students, but he adds they create a false impression of how easy the tasks are accomplished.
“So we get a lot of students who show up and they are kind of shocked by how much math is involved and how much research and all the details behind the scenes that they never show on television shows,” he said.
Interior design students learn to create kitchen and bathroom designs in a 20-seat lab dedicated to them with access 24/7.
In class they learn computer design software such as AutoCAD drafting, SketchUp 3D modelling software and 20 20 kitchen design software.
“The kitchen is the most complicated room in the house so it does take a lot of knowledge to create kitchen that is functional,” said Plant.

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