Magazine article ASEE Prism

Drawing Up a Future

Magazine article ASEE Prism

Drawing Up a Future

Article excerpt

ENGINEERING AND ART WILL MEET THIS FALL WHEN the University of Florida launches its Digital Arts and Sciences Program. Competition in today's high-tech world demands that computer engineers graduate with a working knowledge of shapes, forms, and sounds to go with the programming and technical lingo, while artists need to know how to computerize their images and sounds.

"Computer nerds are not usually artists, and artists tend to know very little about computers," says Paul Fishwick, a computer engineering professor who helped create the program. "But art and computers converge in movies, games and scientific pursuits today, and employers need people who cross traditional boundaries."

Future employers were exactly what UF had in mind when it designed the new program. Since many jobs in the growing digital effects industry increasingly require computer scientists and artists to work together on producing anything from a feature-length film to a computer game, the traditional computer geek has to know more about the arts and not just about data and algorithm structures. And instead of finding the time, space and resources to train employees, several companies have turned to UF with money and suggestions for the new program's curriculum. Corporate backers include Silicon Graphics Inc., which created the dinosaurs in the movie Jurassic Park, and Cinesite Visual Effects, which contributed hightech special effects to The Mummy and Titanic.

"What UF is doing is producing candidates who are ready to work in a production environment in the company," says David Stamation, an account manager with SGI in Orlando. …

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