Mike Andersen

Mike Andersen

Everyone needs to learn to work with people from different backgrounds and experiences. Mike Andersen , Faculty , The Illinois Institute of Art — Schaumburg
What would you say is the defining moment in your life when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?

My degrees are in Electrical Engineering and Physics–Acoustics. I realize now that engineering is a creative profession, just with more rules. In college, I decided I wanted to use my interest in electrical engineering and music to design audio equipment.

How do you weave your professional background into the classroom experience to provide an industry veteran's sense of the realities / challenges / opportunities of the profession?

I use the experience I have in the various aspects of Audio Production as examples in many classes. I have been a design engineer for noise control, a technician for live event production, and on a team designing A/V systems for installation in large schools and performing arts centers. I use these situational experiences as examples of things that go right and things that can go wrong—especially for situations that can go wrong. I then ask the class to come up with possible solutions, and then follow-up our discussion with examples from the field. 

Is there a class assignment that exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring? Similarly, how does your approach inspire each student to push themselves beyond their own perceived limits?

In the Live Sound 2 class, I ask students to complete a project where they have to design a complete A/V system for a theater. Students learn many aspects progressively while working on the project. Part of what students learn during the project is that you never know what you will be called on to do in a job, so you better learn how to learn.

What role does collaboration contribute to students' success, especially when students from other programs contribute to the same project?

Collaboration is very important to life in the real world. Everyone needs to learn to work with people from different backgrounds and experiences. One of the harder lessons to teach is to not do everything in a project yourself. It is often best to try to find the best person for each role of a project. It will be better for you and for your project. The same will be true in the rest of your life. 

What is the most critical advice you would offer any student as he / she embarks on a creative career?

The most important thing for everyone to learn is that you are not done learning—EVER. You need to learn how to find the information/skills that are required for the task at hand. Also, always be professional in all of your dealings.