Community Impact Blog

Ongoing updates, events, and insider’s look at New York Tech’s community work and experiential education projects.

Interdisciplinary Professionalism: Take on Hands-On Learning

Apr 21, 2020

We interviewed Michael Hosenfeld to talk about his experience with Ready for Takeoff and his advice on hands-on learning for New York Tech students.

Tell us a bit about yourself/your position at NYIT.

  • I am an Associate Professor of Digital Art & Design in the College of Arts & Sciences. I have extensive experience in feature films, television production, and the development of visual effects. Previously, I trained as an Industrial Designer in Germany and worked as a Visual Effect Supervisor in the film industries. I take pride in my position as a VFX Supervisor on GRANT for History Channel, which airs Memorial Day this year.

What is one thing about you people might be surprised to find out about you?

  • One thing people would be surprised to know about me is my abundant interest and curiosity in multidisciplinary projects. This fascination with new projects led me to design, the film industry, and work in scientific visualization. My goal is to share my knowledge with students for them to gain these transferable skills.

How did you first become involved with the Ready for Takeoff Project?

  • I was first invited to work on READY FOR TAKEOFF by Terry Nauheim. Terry was familiarized with the Henry Viscardi School and she introduced me to the students from the school.

Tell us about your role in the project. What did you specifically do?

  • I served as the Director of the project, essentially based on my experience in the film industry. I considered this to be more of a supervising role because eventually, my goal was to allow students who were working on the project as well to take over. Eventually, I transitioned from a leader to a mentor during the production of the project. Once students achieved working well on their own, I would allow them to take on more tasks independently.

Tell us about what it was like to work with the Henry Viscardi School, as well as involving NYIT students with the school. Did the experience change your outlook/ideas in any way? If so, can you explain?

  • Overall working with the Henry Viscardi School has been an amazing experience for me. Initially, I had some anxiety about my first time working with disabled children. I began to think about things that could possibly go wrong. I was pleased to see how welcoming and accommodating the Viscardi students were. They taught me how to deal with and address them. It was part of their mission to always express their wants and needs. The students and faculty working with them on READY FOR TAKEOFF felt it was their job to translate their daily experiences into the film. The original message and purpose of the project were to share the Viscardi students’ experiences and who they are. They want us to know that they are normal people, just like us, and that they have the same interests and aspirations. From the beginning of the project, there was natural chemistry between the Henry Viscardi students and our New York Tech students. Both schools had tremendous experience in media, which allowed them to bond quickly. This experience reconfirmed how important project-based learning is for me. I believe getting students out of the classroom into a more interactive learning experience is much more gratifying and motivating.

What was it like to work with JetBlue, as well as involving NYIT students with the organization? Did the experience change your outlook/ideas in any way? If so, can you explain?

  • Having the opportunity to work with JetBlue also reconfirmed how an interactive learning environment is essential for students’ growth. This project allowed students to work with real clients. JetBlue already was a long-time supporter of the Henry Viscardi Center and worked with their students for years. It felt just natural to include NYIT’s students as a team of young professionals.

How does an educational collaboration such as Ready for Takeoff serve the mission of NYIT?

  • This particular educational collaboration allowed students to become job-ready. As an educational leader, making this happen is very important for me. Students should be able to apply learned knowledge to real situations. They must get involved with real clients and communities.

What excites you most about this project (past, present, or future)?

  • It was exciting to work on a hands-on project with a student-driven team. It allowed students to work collectively and apply their learned knowledge of actual problems. This project also enabled students to make their own decisions on how they film, shoot, and plan. They had a “let’s do it” approach instead of sitting in the classroom talking about it.

Will you continue to collaborate with HVS and JetBlue? What might that look like?

  • I have a few ideas in mind for future projects with the Henry Viscardi School and JetBlue. Although nothing is set in stone yet for the future, I am eager to work on another project with both of them.

Any other takeaways that you would like to share?

  • I would like to reiterate what an amazing and fun experience this project has been. In an academic setting, it is always a pleasure to have multiple disciplines participating and working together.