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DELTA’s College of Design Alumni Create and Share Experiences

Group photo of DELTA's College of Design alumni in front of Leazar Hall on NC State's campus.
DELTA's College of Design Alumni gathered for a group photo in front of Leazar Hall. All photos by Katie Harris.

DELTA is known for its innovation in harnessing technology to improve the quality of education at NC State. Seeking creative solutions to instructional challenges, DELTA has attracted staff members from a variety of different backgrounds including six NC State College of Design alumni.

They found themselves drawn back to NC State, some even joining the staff full time after interning with DELTA as students. We caught up with the six Design alumni to learn how their backgrounds in design have impacted their work at DELTA. They shared some of their most memorable moments as students, what it’s like working for their alma mater and what their perspective brings to the New Media Development team.

All degrees are from NC State unless otherwise noted.

Mike Cuales

Creative Director
Bachelor of Science in Business Management and Marketing, Minor in Graphic Design
Master of Arts in Industrial Design

How has your NC State degree impacted your work at DELTA?

In my degree-seeking efforts, I got really comfortable dealing with unknowns and putting odds and ends together in order to achieve the end goal. Because I didn’t really know what I wanted to specialize in, I wound up getting exposure to tons of different things like photography, videography, animation, illustration, graphic design, motion graphics and so on. You name it, I investigated it.

Coming out of graduate school, I think I gained a better appreciation for how to nurture and encourage the creative spirit in others, regardless of what art form they are practicing. I recognize and appreciate that as a unique skill set, and then I try to protect and ensure that the creative spirit can succeed — that’s what my instructors in college did for me.

The well-rounded multidisciplinary view that College of Design gave me is helpful in managing and directing a multimedia development effort.

What is one of your most memorable moments as a student?

The first thing that comes to mind was working on my master’s final project, a 3D animated short film, and I remember how super trippy it was to wrap up for the “evening,” go up to the roof of the building and watch the sun come up, and then go home and go to sleep.

It was really reaffirming that it was a lot of hard work, and it was all very unscripted and unknown. There was no course or curriculum that I could follow, it was very much self-driven and self-directed. I did a lot of questioning. I really enjoyed learning and solving and figuring things out. I learned how to learn — really quickly and effectively.

Rich Gurnsey

Multimedia Designer
Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design

How has your NC State degree impacted your work at DELTA?

My graphic design education influences all facets of my visual design work, from graphic design, to animation, to illustration, to video and motion graphics. Whether it’s setting up a scene for an animated video, or creating a striking and well-composed illustration, I see graphic design as the foundation of all of my work.

Do you feel that your design background helps you bring a unique perspective to your project team?

Yes. We’ve all taken different paths, and I think my graphic design education from NC State plus my many years as a freelance graphic designer and animator help me approach challenges from multiple angles, which complements the team.

Ben Huckaby

Lead Interaction Designer/Developer
Bachelor of Art and Design, Bachelor of Science in Computer Science

How has your NC State degree impacted your work at DELTA?

Without the skills that I learned from my time at the College of Design, I would be unable to do most of my job at DELTA. This isn’t just technical skills, such as how to do 2D and 3D animation, illustration, visual design, etc. but also skills such as how to give and receive critique effectively, time management, prioritization skills, teamwork and juggling multiple projects at once. These skills have been reinforced and grown during my time at DELTA and have been a critical part of my role.

Do you feel that your design background helps you bring a unique perspective to your project team?

With design specifically, I feel like it helps me to see the development process at both a high level as well as the detailed steps needed to achieve a goal, allowing me to not only see the path forward for media deliverables but also communicate that back to the team so that everyone can be on the same page, offer their input, and understand what is needed for us to reach our goals.

David Tredwell

Senior Interaction Designer/Developer
Bachelor of Science in Computer Science, Minor in Design

How has your minor impacted your work at DELTA?

I work with a team of extremely talented and creative designers, all of whom have invested a lot of time and dedication toward their design education and practice. I feel like having a minor in design gives me an appreciation of others’ perspectives and processes, as well as a respect for thoughtful approaches toward problem-solving.

What is one of your most memorable moments as a student?

I’d like to say one of my most memorable moments was of a successful project: designing a chair for a 3D digital modeling class. The only constraints were to be mindful of the budget, using as few polygons as possible to represent the chair and very little in the way of texturing. I decided to be a bit silly and create a “carnivorous chair,” which looked like a bizarre combination of a La-Z-Boy and a giant reptile, ready to devour unsuspecting recliners. It felt good to express some creativity within some challenging constraints.

Jeff Williford

Senior Graphic Designer
Bachelor of Environmental Design in Visual Design
Master of Business Administration (Duke University)

How has your degree impacted your work at DELTA?

My design education has greatly impacted all professional work I’ve ever done, including graphic design work at DELTA, but also projects not directly related to graphic design. Creative process, project management and experimentation have been strong assets throughout my career.

What is it like working for your alma mater?

I love working for NC State. This place has consistently been good to me, ever since I attended a summer computer/math camp back when I was in high school (and thanks again to “the Wolfpack” for covering the tab!). In general, it feels good to be contributing to a such a valuable public asset, and especially one that I associate with a lot of good memories.

Donnie Wrights

Senior Educational Media Designer
Bachelor of Fine Arts in Communication Arts (East Carolina University)
Master of Art and Design

What is one of your most memorable moments as a student?

Getting a research assistantship that began my interest in education and design. Art + Design professor Marc Russo gave me the opportunity to work with the Intellimedia Group within the Department of Computer Science building assets for educational game research projects. I learned a lot about educational research in gaming as well as practical 3D modeling and animation.

What is it like working for your alma mater?

It is a really great feeling to be able to give back to NC State by contributing to the development of media to address course needs. I am very thankful of all that I learned and the opportunities that I was given while attending NC State. The faculty in the Department of Art + Design have been extremely supportive and continue to be great advocates.

In addition to our six full-time staff members, DELTA hires student interns and part-time staff from the College of Design each year to bring a new and fresh perspective to our teams. Many are heavily involved in design and development of 360 videos, animation, illustration and much more.

DELTA plans to continue employing passionate and creative students from the College of Design to enhance education at NC State.