From Interior Designer to Autodesk Educator

Meet Melissa Maltba. After leading a successful 20-year career as a professional interior designer in the home furnishings industry, she decided that it was time to raise the next generation of designers. See how Melissa uses her industry-proven skills to help students design their own future.

Certiport: Melissa, thank you so much for your time!

Melissa: My pleasure! Thank you for inviting me to speak with you.

Certiport: You were a professional interior designer for a long time and now you teach Interior Design and Drafting classes. Can you tell me about that transition?

Melissa: I was interested in Interior Design from a young age. That interest was solidified when I went to high school and started taking drafting classes. Even though I was the only female student in most of those classes, I loved them, and I excelled in them. These classes confirmed my love for Interior Design, and I decided to pursue it as a career. That led me to major in Interior Design in college and after I graduated, I went into the design business via retail home furnishings.

Fast forward 20 years, during the 2009 housing market collapse, there was a standstill in a lot of design-related businesses. I decided to take that time to go back to school. From there, I received an offer to teach Interior Design at the high school level. It was a perfect opportunity for me. I had a daughter in high school back then and was already very involved in her schooling. I had a working knowledge of the course content. It was also a great way to give back to the community while sharing my passion of design with students. The opportunity felt right in multiple ways. I must say that the transition hasn't been easy. In fact, it is the hardest position I have ever held! I don't think any teacher will say that teaching is easy. However, when students get excited about learning something you love, it gives you so much joy. It allows you to know that what you do matters!

Certiport: Thank you for sharing that with us. How has your teaching evolved from when you first started until now?

Melissa: In the beginning, I focused on teaching Interior Design. But three years ago, our school added the Drafting Architecture course. Every year since then, we have added a new Drafting course.

Drafting classes have been a great addition to our course offerings. When I was in the industry, I had a design business contracting design work through manufacturers, other designers, and architects. This work consisted of completing drawings on AutoCAD for showroom design, retail buying, merchandising, and video/photography styling. So, having used the software in my business, I know that this skill is very useful in the industry.

Besides, I grew up around residential construction. My father was a contractor and I enjoyed going out on the job site for the construction process. Drafting has a soft spot in my heart in that way as well.

Certiport: I love how you know by your own experience what skills are important!

Melissa: Yes, especially in designing and drafting, Autodesk is an industry standard. Many businesses use AutoCAD in some format, whether it's designing, or engineering, or architecture.

High school students that become Autodesk savvy will be able to use these skills in many different industries. To that, earning the certification just adds another element of employability. Even if the employer doesn't use Autodesk, it shows the student is driven, intelligent, and can be taught. What more could an employer want?

Certiport: What advice would you give to fellow Autodesk teachers?

Melissa: Get hands-on practice in the software whenever you can. Accept that a lot of your students will get better at it than you are. Come up with ways the students can use the software in ways that interest them. Have an open honest classroom where you express the value in learning the skill. Empower students to struggle and find solutions on their own. They will be better off for it!

Ready to learn more about Autodesk certification for your students and classroom? Get more information here.