By Diego Bermudez, Winner of the 2014 Vectorworks Design Scholarship and Richard Diehl Award
Do it! That’s the best advice I can give to anyone who’s considering applying to the Vectorworks Design Scholarship, an annual program where students from across the design disciplines can submit their best work for a chance to win $10,000. As last year's grand prize winner, I can say from personal experience that it’s definitely worth it. But if you’re still feeling a little unsure, or if you're a professional who wants to pass on some advice to an upcoming design student, here are five tips on how to create a winning entry.
It took me an entire semester to create my project, "Circasia: Engaging the Creeks," which focused on redefining the relationship between the people and the environment in a coffee-growing community in Colombia. Understanding the site and its ecology, as well as the inhabitants and their perceptions of the creeks adjacent to their town, took a lot of time. If I had put off doing all of the research about the site, I wouldn’t have been able to create the in-depth presentation that impressed the judges.
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I met with my studio professors, David Gouverneur and Oscar Grauer, twice a week while I was working on my project, and they guided me through turning my simple idea into a full-fledged master plan. Their knowledge of social and environmental issues was incredibly helpful. With their insight, I was really able to push the envelope and design a paradigm shift in how the people of Circasia interact with their natural resources.
Prepare to Lose Motivation
It was very easy to lose motivation during the semester with such a big project. I did a lot of work to shape the project very early, but making the presentation beautiful and planning for the little details took a lot of effort. I spent almost half the semester thinking about how I wanted to convey my ideas. Setting up the framework early helps to prevent burnout because you don’t have to start from scratch after you’re already that far into the semester. Also, it helps to submit a project that you’re already working on for class. Knowing your GPA depends on getting your project done is great motivation!
Focus on Your Impact
Since you only have to write a couple hundred words for each question, I knew that I had to excite the judges in a few concise sentences. The most important thing that I conveyed is the impact that my project would have on the community in Circasia. Precisely detailing how my project could improve the ecology of the creeks and the quality of life for the townspeople is what I think gave my submission an edge.
Prepare Your “Elevator Pitch”
Make sure that you can explain your whole project to someone in the time it would take to ride an elevator. Synthesizing all that information into a succinct speech will help you when you’re preparing your submission. Plus, if you win the scholarship, then you’ll know what to say when everybody asks you about your work!
What are you waiting for? The deadline to submit is August 31, 2015. Apply now.