Santa Clara University

SCU Engineering News

An artful education

Dustin Han
Dustin Han ’11 poses with his artwork on display in the School of Engineering.

Dustin Han ’11 had no idea the opportunities that were available to him when he first came to SCU as an undeclared freshman. “I wanted to study art, but my parents had engineering in mind,” he said. Without a clear idea of his path, Dustin made a smart move and sought the advice of computer engineering professor Darren Atkinson early in his first quarter. “I knew I wanted to be an animator and that my dream job was to work for Pixar. With Prof. Atkinson’s help, I was able to get started taking core classes that addressed my love of art. In my sophomore year, I declared my major as computer science and engineering with a minor in studio arts.”

“It’s been so great learning a lot of new ways to do art, and I’ve surprised myself with the painting,” said Dustin, whose work was displayed as part of an exhibit within the School of Engineering earlier this year. “The classes I have taken at SCU have expanded my knowledge of art such as learning color theory and drawing from life. Last year I used a bandsaw for sculpture and I thought I was going to cut my finger off, but it was fun!”

As a commuter student, Dustin said he felt the urge in his junior year to expand his horizons. “I’ve lived in San Jose all my life,” he said, “so I thought studying abroad would be a good idea for me to branch out and become independent.” Initially choosing Australia as his destination, Dustin was disappointed when that program was canceled due to low registration. His only option at that point was to join the program at Sophia University in Japan, but the deadline for enrollment had already passed. Once again he turned to Prof. Atkinson for advice. “By the time I contacted our International Programs Office to ask for help, they already had things under control and Dustin was on his way,” said Atkinson.

It turns out this was the perfect opportunity, and Dustin loved every minute of his time in Japan. “It was life changing, pretty much,” he said. “I met people from all over the world and it was such a different experience for me to live in a dorm with them, learning new cultures and traveling all over. It was like being on vacation, but I was able to take classes in art history and religion that I have transferred back to SCU for credit, so I will still graduate within four years.”

“Dustin made some very strategic choices in his selection of classes along the way“, said Atkinson. “That made all the difference in allowing him to take advantage of all that SCU has to offer.”

“When I first came to Santa Clara, I didn’t expect to go abroad or do all this stuff. I didn’t realize all these opportunities existed. I’m so glad I had the chance to do it all.”

And, Pixar? “Yes, Pixar is still the ultimate dream, but I have other goals, too. I may go on to get a master’s degree in computer engineering or even go to art school, but mostly I want to make my parents proud of me. They have given up a lot for me to come to SCU; I’d like them to get something out of it, too.”

Read more about SCU International Programs.