Apparel magazine has named Dr. Susan Hannel, associate professor of Textiles, Fashion Merchandising and Design at The University of Rhode Island, the Apparel All Star Educator of the Year. Hannel was nominated by the ITAA (International Textiles & Apparel Association).
Hannel teaches apparel production, construction, flat pattern and CAD; she supervises internships, independent studies in design, and also leads students on study tours to London and Paris. Her dedication to curricular development has spawned multiple opportunities for students to gain extensive experience with apparel industry equipment, standards and expectations.
Under Hannel’s guidance, the apparel laboratory at The University of Rhode Island has been transformed from a sea of “home sewing machines” to a true-to-life production floor, replete with industrial machines and sergers, professional steam irons, industry-standard dress forms and professional worktables, allowing students to gain experience in a more real-world industrial setting as part of their curriculum. She has accomplished this through donations from Rhode Island alumni, textile advisory board members, and grants from Rhode Island’s Champlin Foundations.
Beyond her dedication to building a strong facility, Hannel has devoted her time to teaching students how to use the equipment and has developed strategic lesson plans that integrate the use of equipment into assignments and projects.
In 2006, for example, after the addition of Lectra CAD/CAM equipment to the lab, Hannel spent semester breaks, mid-semester vacation weeks, and the summer learning to use the equipment and developing strategies for training her students on the new equipment. Likewise, with the addition of a Mimaki ink-jet fabric printing system in 2010, Hannel created conditions enabling students to design and print their own fabrics and further strengthening the textile science program of the university’s Department of Textiles, Fashion Merchandising & Design.
Beyond her work in the classroom and laboratory, Hannel contributes significantly to the department through activities that are crucial to fundraising efforts. Her coordination of the annual fashion show is central to the department’s Spring Splash fundraising evening, which raises thousands of dollars each year for University of Rhode Island student scholarships, and the event itself allows fashion design students to gain the experience of presenting their collections to a panel of judges, readying them a bit further for the real world, and building the skills and confidence they need to obtain jobs in the apparel industry.