Name: Victoria Barela
Title: Student, Senior
Institution: Columbia College Chicago
Major: Audio Arts & Acoustics
Concentration: Live & Installed Sound
Location: Chicago, IL
Why You Need to Know Her: Here we have a young woman in college aspiring to a career in AV. Barela is still riding high the wave of excitement following her first InfoComm show earlier this summer. It was at InfoComm in Orlando that she discovered she could combine two of her passions: audio and computer programming. While the type of position in AV she hopes to work in continues to evolve, she is now focused on AV programming. She has also begun to gravitate more toward the installed side of the business, instead of live events.
How It All Began: Maybe it was the musical roots she had at home? Her father is in a Polish band. She has a younger brother who loves editing for film, so clearly there’s an entertainment seed that was nurtured at home. “We love entertaining people and being involved with live events as well,” she said. “I think that from my background sparked the interest in taking classes in audio.”
Barela first began studying computer science at DePaul University, which she loved. After a few audio classes, in recording and audio editing for film, she thirsted to learn more, and the options were limited at DePaul. Nearby Columbia College, however, had a really great audio program, and she transferred in, loving everything about it. “Columbia really pushed me to get hands on experience with the equipment, and the consoles, and working side by side with the professionals in the field right now,” as those were her professors.
How She’s Been Getting Hands-On: Barela works as an AV tech at Columbia, working on the boards and more recently, learning to put cables together. She worked as a stagehand previously there too, which allowed her to experience what the audio engineer behind the soundboard does in action and setting up the gear for live shows.
InfoComm Was an Eye Opener: Barela was enrolled in an audiovisual course taught by Jeremy Caldera, an AV design engineer at Zdi, who happens to be the 2015 Young AV Professionals Award recipient, presented at InfoComm. Upon his encouragement, Barela and four of her other classmates made the trip to Orlando to support him and to check out what this whole AV industry was all about.
“It was definitely, completely overwhelming,” and exciting, she said. “It was floor after floor, like miles of just all the AV that you could think of.”
She took a few classes while there too, one about control systems and another about GUI design, both she found really interesting. She also connected with a support network at the Women of InfoComm Network (WIN) breakfast. “It was nice to see that women in the industry, we’re growing in it.”
She also ran into the co-founder of the Audio, Arts & Acoustics department at Columbia, Doug Jones, who works in R&D at Danley Sound Labs. “It was nice to see that even the creator of our major was there, and he was really appreciative that we were there as well.”
What’s Up Next for Her: Barela is hoping to land a summer internship in AV programming. When the fall semester starts up, she’s taking four audio classes and two in web development. She’s also prepping for the CTS and plans to have it by the time she graduates in December.
When Not Dreaming of Her Future in AV: Barela loves running and yoga and exploring Chicago.