SMU STAR Program





Have some questions about the STAR Program?

Here is our STAR FAQ...

Who or what are STARs?

STARs are SMU students who help faculty create Web pages and assist with other classroom-related projects. STAR stands for Student Technology Assistant in Residence.

What does it take to be a star?

People skills. These are as important as computer knowledge. STARs are responsible, dependable, and organized students who are good communicators and can work effectively with faculty.

Computer knowledge. While you don't have to be a computer whiz to be a STAR, you do need to be comfortable with both Macs AND Windows operating systems and most web browsers (Safari, Chrome, Firefox, and IE). Most STARs will also have worked with one or more of the following: HTML, Word, Excel, InDesign, Photoshop, Flash; Programming experience a plus.

What do I get if I become a STAR?

  • A loaner laptop computer for as long as you stay in the program.
  • Access to the Faculty Media Lab, a multimedia sandbox with equipment to create everything from HD quality videos to iPhone Apps.
  • Invitations to events not normally available to students.
  • Specialized training in the latest productivity and multimedia software.
  • Great experience for your resume.
  • You get paid.

What are the kinds of projects on which I might work?

These, of course, vary depending upon what faculty need and what your skills are, but here are some examples:

  • creating animations for virtual lab experiments in biology.
  • digitizing slides and graphics for a cultural formations course.
  • helping develop online tutorials for a first-year writing course.
  • showing a faculty member how to do a class Web page for an engineering class.
  • digitizing audio of musical examples for a Masterpieces of Western Lit & Civ class.
  • showing a faculty member how to use Facebook for a course.
  • creating an interactive map of Africa for an anthropology course.
  • creating an iPhone app for reviewing class presentations.

It sounds interesting, but I don't know how to do half that stuff.

That's why when not working on projects, you will continue to learn and expand your knowledge. By the time your first year is over, you will have a strong sills for designing Web pages, and be able to work with programs such as Photoshop and Sitecore, and digitize images, video, and audio. And, remember, you aren't expected to do everything.

Also, we have regular bi-weekly meetings on Wednesdays, to cover to topic and answer questions. Plus, it gives the STARs a chance to talk and meet with the other STARs.

What if I have a conflict on Wednesday nights?

Our Wednesday evening meetings are essential to managing STARs projects and quality control. If you don't come to the meetings, you can't be in the program, at least this time around.

Will I always be working on faculty projects?

Not always directly. Between faculty projects, you will be working 10 hours a week in the Faculty Media Lab, SMU's instructional and multimedia development center. It is possible that a small amount of that may be general office--e.g., digitizing materials, helping prepare mailings to faculty, etc.--but, in general, you will either be assisting with group projects or even learning some new software on your own (and getting paid for it).

Speaking of money, how much will I get paid?

Pay for the first year STAR the minimum starting salary is more than minimum wage and based on skills and experience. While school is in session you will work a minimum of 10 hours a week. Hours beyond that for faculty projects will be negotiable based on your schedule but typically would not exceed 20 hours/week. If you remain in the program, you may receive a raise based on performance. Also, we try to find other perks for STARs with seniority.

Hey, I'm already making twice that amount!

In a strong economy, it is true that the same talents that make you a STAR will also make you desirable to outside employers or even some on campus who can pay more than we can. We try to compensate by offering the convenience of working on campus in an atmosphere with less pressure than business, training on equipment and software that you might otherwise not have access to, and perks like the laptop computers.

Can I get another campus job?

No, a condition of becoming a STAR is that you will not work anywhere else on campus. While we cannot prevent you from working off campus, any such employment must not interfere with your work with the program (including scheduling time either with faculty or the Faculty Media Lab during the week).

Can I be dropped from the STARs program?

Yes. One of the major components of the STARs project will be constant evaluation of how well it --and you! -- are working. If you fail to showup for work, miss appointments with faculty, or we receive feedback from faculty that your work is unsatisfactory, you can be removed from the program at any time. Of course, you will also have to return the laptop computer and lose access to the Faculty Media Lab and any other perks that the program offers.

In some cases where your work is marginal, you may be allowed to continue to the end of the semester.

I want to join!

Then see our "Interested in Joining?" page.


The contents of this Web site are the sole responsibility SMU STAR Program, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or policies of Southern Methodist University.

©2006 by Academic Computing Services, Southern Methodist University.
STAR Program web site and logo created by Ian Aberle.