Program explores technology of theater, dance

Alyssa Sparacino

For some Kent State students, education can stretch beyond the basic majors and minors the university offers.

Kent State’s School of Theatre and Dance offers a technology certificate to motivated students. The program, which began three years ago, is available to students who want an edge on the competition.

The Entertainment Arts and Technologies Certificate Program allows students to earn certificates in sound, stage and arena rigging, stage lighting, event-based video production, stage scenery and automated lighting.

Michael Billups, a 2006 Kent State graduate, received a certificate in sound and currently works for Hughies Audio-visual & Staging in Columbus.

Billups said he would recommend the program to students.

“A lot of degree courses are generalized, but with the certificate you get more in depth with the material,” he said.

Steven Zapytowski, professor of design and technology and a coordinator for the program, said the idea came from his academic and professional experience in the technology industry.

Zapytowski said he realized there were two factors inhibiting the growth of the industry. First was the issue of safety resulting from the lack of proper training with equipment. Second was the difficulty finding qualified, entry-level employees.

“The certificate is a way of demonstrating that you have concentrated in an area or several areas that potential employers will find valuable,” Zapytowski said.

Upon completing the program, students receive 20 credit hours to apply toward their degree. Non-degree, special-admission students can leave with the certificate and apply the hours to a degree later.

Students also receive valuable, hands-on experience with an internship that is required to complete the program. The School of Theatre and Dance has a handful of company partners, who provide knowledge and opportunities for students.

Zapytowski said employers like a combination of skills, and students can earn certificates in two fields by the time they graduate.

“If a person is more flexible, they can better meet the needs of the company,” he said.

There are currently about 30 students enrolled in the certificate program, and Zapytowski said there has been positive feedback from both students and employers.

Billups said the program gave him an advantage.

“It gave me a heads up when applying for jobs and made my portfolio fatter too,” he said.

Incoming students interested in pursuing a certificate program should let the School of Theatre and Dance and the Placement, Advising and Scheduling System advisers know about their intent to register. For more information, students can contact Steven Zapytowski at [email protected]

Contact performing arts reporter Alyssa Sparacino at [email protected].