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An undergraduate program at University of Wisconsin-Stout has received national attention for the third time in the last 14 months.
Game design and development, a Bachelor of Science program, has been named the 46th best program of its kind in the nation and No. 5 in the Midwest, according to rankings released by Animation Career Review.
UW-Stout was the only school in the top 75 from Wisconsin, Minnesota or Iowa.
"We are honored to be in the AnimationCareerReview.com rankings, since it recognizes the depth and breadth of our program and faculty and continues to build our reputation as one of the best game design programs, both nationally and regionally," said Professor Diane Christie, program director.
Animation Review is a leading source of information for "aspiring animation, design and gaming professionals seeking info on training programs, schools and colleges, software and technology, career profiles, profiles of the leading industry firms and more" according to its website.
In March 2013, UW-Stout's program was named one of the top 30 in the country by Princeton Review, a higher education rating website.
In June 2013, a group of students in the program were named co-champions in the E3 national video game competition in Los Angeles sponsored by the Entertainment Software Association.
"Our program provides students with the quality education and experiences they need to successfully compete in national venues like the E3 competition and, ultimately, in the industry," Christie said.
Students in UW-Stout's program can concentrate on art or computer science aspects of video games. Art and design skills, such as drawing, digital imaging and animation, are needed to create interface components, 3D environments and 3D characters. Math and computer science skills are needed to develop 3D graphics, artificial intelligence and game engines.
Christie said the computer science and art concentrations are the equivalent of full majors in those fields, with a common core of game design courses. "We combine the students to apply their technical and creative skills in upper level classes, which are set up as industry simulations and team taught by faculty from each of the disciplines," she said.
Faculty serve as producers of the projects, managers of the interdisciplinary teams of students and technical leaders. Students create 2D and 3D games, both for entertainment and educational purposes, for clients who bring industry projects into the classroom, Christie said.
Dave Beck, assistant professor, is art director for the program.
"It is exciting to be recognized by AnimationCareerReview.com, as it is one of the big online resources for people interested in animation and game design careers. Our game design program continues to find success, which I believe is largely due to the dedication UW-Stout has toward both incorporating art and science into a college education and integrating advanced technology into the classroom environment," Beck said.
"In addition, our entertainment design program has a robust animation concentration, which provides many specialized animation classes that our game design students take for their major," he added.
The game design and development program was approved in 2009 by the UW System Board of Regents.
Top: Diane ChristieMiddle: Students work in a UW-Stout lab on an animation project.