Student Portal News Letter Archive
For the Love of Design
Bimonthly Academic Newsletter
Vol. 3 No. 1 // FEBRUARY 2017

3 Secrets for Winning Big with a Vectorworks Design Scholarship

Want to turn your design projects into $10,000 USD? Then listen up! Diego Bermudez and Benno Schmitz, the 2014 and 2015 grand prize winners of the Vectorworks Design Scholarship program, have some words of wisdom on how to make that dream a reality.

1. Focus on Impact

When designing any project, it’s always important to understand why you are creating it. Outside of simply achieving the goals of the assignment to get a good grade, the most engaging and thought-provoking projects have bigger intentions. Throughout your design process you should ask yourself: what is this design trying to achieve and who will it impact?

Schmitz not only spent his time figuring out how to achieve the assignment goals of merging culture and nature into one structure, but also took into consideration how the building and its site in Bonn, Germany would interact with the surrounding community. His approach paid off, as his project’s clearly defined purpose impressed the judges and made his project stand out from the crowd.

Bermudez echoes these sentiments when discussing advice for answering the scholarship application questions. “Since you only have to write a couple hundred words for each question, you have to excite the judges in a few concise sentences,” says Bermudez. “The most important thing that I conveyed is the impact that my project would have on the community in Circasia.”

Bermudez’s rendering of “Parque de la vida.”

2. Embrace New Perspectives

Neither of these winning projects were produced in isolation. Great designs are not just the result of one person’s ideas and input, but rather the intersection of many different perspectives. Whether it’s having a discussion with a professor, professional, or peer, you should look outside of yourself for feedback. Bermudez cites his semi-weekly meetings as a key to his success. With their guidance and insight, he says that he was empowered to, “push the envelope.”

And we all know how easy it can be to hit a roadblock that brings your progress to a screeching halt. “I ran into problems with scale in particular,” says Schmitz. “Luckily, I had two professors who were very supportive of me as I worked on the design.” When Schmitz was struggling with how to create a complex building that needed to accommodate a large amount of people, rather than getting trapped in his own head, he looked to others for help.

Section of, “The Museum of Contemporary Arts in Bonn,” designed by Schmitz.

3. Plan Ahead

In the words of Schmitz, “Stop dreaming and just do it! Just start designing,” but you have to have a plan. Otherwise, Bermudez highlights that you’re more likely to procrastinate and take shortcuts as a result. “It took me an entire semester to create my project,” says Bermudez. “Understanding the site and its ecology took a lot of time. If I had put off doing all of the research, I wouldn’t have been able to create the in-depth presentation that impressed the judges.”

But getting started isn’t always the hardest part, sometimes it’s keeping your momentum. There will be times when you want to give up or just feel lazy, and that’s okay, as long as you plan for it. Bermudez suggests shaping your whole project early on, so that it is less work later. “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,” says Bermudez.

Plan of Bermudez’s project, “Circasia: Engaging the Creeks."

Of course, completing your design is only one part of the equation. Once Bermudez and Schmitz finished their projects, they actually put them to use. So take their winning advice and apply to the Vectorworks Design Scholarship today! And, if you need some inspiration along the way, check out past winning projects.