Central Michigan University’s Apparel Merchandising and Design program has been ranked 20th in the nation by Fashion-Schools.org.
Fashion Schools awards its rankings based on state-of-the-art technology and focus on the latest design trends. Criteria includes academic reputation, admission selectivity, depth and breadth of the program and faculty and geographic location.
CMU ranked in the top 15-percent of the nation and was the highest-ranked school in Michigan, followed by Western Michigan University.
“From our perspective, it’s just positive feedback for our hard work,” said Carol Beard, an assistant professor of apparel merchandising and design. “I taught at Michigan State for 10 years, and this is such a hardworking faculty. Everybody in the department works hard, and sometimes it just feels good for someone to recognize what you are doing.”
The program’s state-of-the-art technology includes a body scanner, environmental chamber, thermal mannequin and biofeedback machine.
The body scanner allows students to research the fit of a garment. Technology such as the mannequin and environmental chamber allow students to test how the body and garments react to airflow and different structuring. The biofeedback machine is used to observe how people respond to merchandising issues.
According to Beard, CMU is one of four schools in the nation with a thermal mannequin and a biofeedback machine.
“We constantly bring in what the industry is using and the latest versions of software so the kids get exposure to all the technology,” she said.
The program is also always trying to keep up with the industry in any way they can, Beard said.
“We are very interested in staying on the pulse of the industry and adjusting accordingly. We always meet in the summer and see what we can do to make a class better,” Beard said. “It’s a constant effort to make it better. I never keep my classes exactly the same. We keep adding real-world experiences to our classes. We are constantly evaluating.”
Though the program has achieved a lot of success, Beard and her staff are seeking ways to improve year after year.
“We’ve been working more and more with students doing research for the department,” she said. “We are also looking into ways to house the equipment better so more students will have access to it.”