A proposed bachelor's degree focusing on animation, audio production, game design and filmmaking could be a game-changer for Wichita State University students and area businesses.
The Bachelor of Applied Arts in Media Arts (BAA) degree is being developed by WSU's College of Fine Arts and Elliott School of Communication.
If approved by the Kansas Board of Regents this summer, it would start this fall and be one of only a handful of such degrees in the United States. The degree merges arts, science and technology, creating opportunities in emerging creative technologies that will vastly improve students' career competitiveness.
The degree will allow students to specialize in one of WSU's technical and creative tracks – animation, audio production, game design or filmmaking. The 120 credit hour total includes 30 hours of general education, 21 hours of media arts core courses, 54 hours of discipline specific courses and 15 hours of guided electives. In addition to WSU faculty, specific technology-based courses will be taught by industry professionals.
Students will have the chance to develop creative solutions, effectively communicate, practice entrepreneurship and master emerging software / hardware. The development of these capabilities will be grounded in an applied academic curriculum, says Fine Arts Dean Rodney Miller.
These skills will result in graduates who are more qualified for a variety of media arts jobs, such as sound engineering technician, video game designer, studio camera operator, cinematographer, CGI animator, videographer, film director, film lighting engineer, web designer, sound engineer, video or film editor, and film lab technician.
With recent technological advances, there is more demand in the industry for employees to possess a variety of these skills, says Bill Gardner, owner of Gardner Design in Wichita. It can be hard to find someone in the Wichita area – especially at an entry-level position. So the result is that employers either absorb the higher cost of training new employees or hire from cities on the East and West Coast where media arts training is more abundant.
“Production studios that are offering those unique services to our industry really need to be able to find the talent,” Gardner says. “They have relied heavily on people with some strong skills, but are having to teach them additional skills in-house. That's a tremendous front-end cost to be saddled with. So you're looking at hiring people who do have those skills but come at a premium cost or you're going to hire it out of market.”
This new BAA degree, Gardner says, helps fill that gap.
“This degree means we'll have a higher quality of work that's coming out into the local market, and that's good,” he says. “This gives media arts education the kind of focus it really requires. And if you can grow these skills on the home farm instead of buying out of market, it provides a brighter opportunity for the community.”
This degree would fulfill Wichita State's mission is to be an essential educational, cultural and economic driver for Kansas and the greater public good. It is also grounded in two core principles found in WSU's Strategic Plan – applied learning and interdisciplinary collaboration.
“These are real-world degrees that prepare students for real world careers in 21st Century technology,” Miller says.
Anyone interested in enrolling can contact Justin Rorabaugh, director of educational outreach in fine arts, at 316-978-7731 or firstname.lastname@example.org.