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MIAD students discover dinosaur bones during paleontology dig study away experience

Sep 20, 2018

When seven MIAD Illustration and Industrial Design students traveled with the Carthage Institute of Paleontology to Montana for an unforgettable paleontology dig (aka Dinosaur Dig) last summer, they had a rare opportunity to participate in the prospecting, excavation and preparation of real dinosaur bones.

66-million-year-old turtle shell

66-million-year-old turtle shell

Each MIAD student kept a field journal in which they recorded everything they did each day and illustrated the discoveries they made. Some of those discoveries were astounding.

Colin Sutton ‘20 found a T-Rex tooth. Gordy Russell ‘20 uncovered the vertebra of a Triceratops from a surface collect. Emily Verbeten ‘19 unearthed a turtle shell that is 66 million years old.

In addition, using a pickax and shovel, the team helped uncover the brain case of a Triceratops skull.

Learning with Big Sky Country as the classroom

Renowned paleontologist Dr. Thomas Carr led the study away experience and MIAD professors Matthew Lee and John Caruso headed the two-week experience for MIAD students.

Triceratops quarry

Triceratops quarry

MIAD students participating in the dig outnumbered the student scientists from Carthage two-to-one. Students completely immersed themselves in the experience—driving together to Montana for 15 hours in a single van, living in close quarters in Big Sky Country and turning off their cell phones for the dig’s duration.

The Dinosaur Dig experience provided an unmatched opportunity to compare the merits of both science and art. Students gained an understanding of scientific and artistic practices and their relationship to understanding the natural history of earth. They also learned terminology of vertebrate paleontology, how to record observations in the field, identify fossils and translate scientific experience into art and design work.

“A study-abroad program like this offers a more dynamic way to learn, different from attending lectures,” says Professor Matthew Lee. “It’s a stand-out experience you’ll never forget and never regret signing up for. Being exposed to new things makes you a more dynamic person in work and in life.”

Additional study abroad experiences at MIAD

Each academic year, MIAD offers up to two short-term study abroad experiences during the summer months and/or over spring break. Past itineraries have included Italy, Ireland, China and Thailand. The three-to-six credit programs range in length from nine days to four weeks. Financial aid is often available, as well as a select number of need-based grants.

In 2019, MIAD students can participate in a three-week study abroad experience, May 20 – June 11, to Scotland. The course, “Making Glascow: Culture and Creativity in a Post-Industrial City,” allows students to investigate the relationship between creative work and the historical, social and cultural dynamics of Glasgow. Students are challenged to consider how artists/designers make work that is uniquely expressive of their time and place, and how artists and designers, in turn, make the place.

Students must apply to participate in the 2019 experience by December 3, 2019. Learn more about study abroad at MIAD.