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Archive for the tag “Game Design”

Stevens Institute of Technology

Stevens Institute of Technology (visited 10/10/16)

stevens-dining-hall

A view of the NYC skyline from Steven’s dining hall.

“The Innovation University,” as Stevens calls itself, is located on a surprisingly attractive campus overlooking New York City. Parts of Hoboken are congested and hard to navigate, but the university is in a more residential area (just be careful of the narrow, one-way streets!).

 

stevens-walkwayThe 3000 undergraduates (still skewed towards male, but better than the 70-30 ratio from a couple years ago) take full advantage of all the on- and off-campus offerings. Housing is guaranteed for all 4 years, but students are only required to live on campus for the first year. The university runs some off-campus apartments for students to lease; these are available only for a full-calendar year, great for students who are doing co-ops or internships. These are all within a 15-minute walk, and shuttles are available. New York City is only a 10-minute ride away on Path. “Off campus, students don’t miss Washington Street Wednesday. We can use our meal cards at participating restaurants. A meal there equals 1 meal swipe.” They also have NYC at their disposal, including discounted tickets for shows.

stevens-field-2

One of the teams practicing

On-campus life is active, and students love the number of options. Some favorite events are:

  • Techfest (fall) and Boken (spring)
  • Habitat for Humanity Alternative Spring Break
  • Castle Point Anime Convention (Spring): this was started by a student who asked to have it on campus; it is now one of the largest and draws 5000 people to campus.
  • Ethnic Student Council’s Unity Carnival and Show
stevens-2

A dorm with a sand volleyball court in front. I’ll come in at 7am and see students playing there,” said a rep.

A little more than 1/3 of students go Greek here, and they’ve joined the Rethink Greek Movement which works towards getting away from hazing. There is 1 co-ed community service fraternity. The 26 DIII sports are evenly divided between men’s and women’s teams. Volleyball is really big here. They have a bowling alley on campus; it’s free for students and they serve free pizza on Tuesdays. “That’s a big draw,” said the tour guide.

 

stevens-lounge

A lounge in one of the academic buildings

Every student gets 3 advisors (academic, peer, and career) to help navigate social, academic, and additional options like internships, co-ops, and study abroad. Students can double major in anything across the 4 colleges except engineering (it’s too course-intensive):

 

  • Arts and Letters: Most of these majors are interdisciplinary and combine some sort of technology component.
  • Business: They offer 8 degrees including:
  • stevens-astro-and-physics

    An engineering and physics academic building

    Computer Science and Cybersecurity (winner of a national award): They’ve seen a huge jump in applications for this school. There are 8 concentrations within Comp Sci.

    • Game design is one of the most popular, and often will double major in VA&T to get the artistic aspects.
    • Artificial Intelligence
    • Mobile and Pervasive Computing
    • Students can apply for a scholarship with the NSA in their freshman year. 15 are awarded to fund the rest of undergrad studies as well as graduate (when appropriate), a summer internship, and a job after graduation.
  • Engineering and Science: Stevens started by offering only Mechanical Engineering (still one of the biggest majors). All Engineering students take the Design Spine for the first 3 semesters: they all take the same classes and work in groups on projects. This means that that students are qualified to go into another discipline – as an undergrad, in the workforce, or in grad schools – if a job opens up and is appealing. Some of the unusual engineering majors include:
    • A concentration in Naval Engineering: They have a building dedicated to this with a large water tank. The Navy and other governmental organizations come here to use it; there’s a 2-year waiting list to get access.
    • Environmental Engineering
    • Advanced Chemical Biology: this takes 1 year of study off a BS/MD track in conjunction with Rutgers Medical School.
stevens-arch-2

The Arch, the only remaining part of the original estate where Stevens now stands.

Stevens wants students to have academic/technical knowledge and the ability to apply it. They require Professional Practice for all students: 40% complete Internships, 30% participate in Co-ops, 20% do Research, 10% do something else. Those choosing Co-ops take 5 years to complete their degrees. For the first and last years, they’re full-time students; in between, they alternate between classes and co-ops, graduating with up to 2 years of work experience. Study Abroad is open to all majors with programs already designed to enable smooth transitions and transferring of credits.

stevens-statue-2

A statue on one of the quads

The Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship offers an Innovation course, entrepreneurship minor. All students do a Senior design project. Advisors work with students to answer “What do you want to do?” That becomes the basis for the senior project (many continue after graduation). The Innovation Expo and Elevator Pitch Competition is held annually: students prepare a 90 second spiel and present it to a variety of people. The top 3 win money; the overall winner gets a position with a company in Hoboken.

Steven accepted 41% of their applicants last year; 90% were in the top ¼ of their class. The Subject Tests are only required for applicants to the Accelerated Pre-Med programs; those apps are due by 11/15. Admissions is test-optional for Music & Tech applicants; the Visual Arts & Tech students must send a portfolio if they don’t sent scores.

© 2016

 

 

 

Rochester Institute of Technology

Rochester Institute of Technology (10/19/15)

~RIT quad 2

~RIT fountains~RIT acad bldg 4I came away from my RIT visit well-informed and so impressed that I was already texting pictures of relevant departments to faculty at school and emailing students telling them to check things out. The campus is more attractive than expected (one of several nice surprises!); while a few buildings have a tech-school feel, most of campus has new buildings, trees, and green spaces. Quarter-Mile is the main thoroughfare, but it’s actually one-third mile long; its name came from a Greek fundraiser where people put quarters end-to-end to raise money. A large portion of campus is undeveloped giving Environmental Studies and other students an opportunity to complete surveys and other work on campus.

~RIT scupture 3~RIT art bldgWith 15,500 undergraduates, this is one of the largest private universities and one of the largest producers of STEAM (add Arts to STEM) graduates from private institutions. Students come from all 50 states (48% from NY); the 2,500 international students hail from 100 countries; there are 1,200 deaf and HH students on campus through NTID; and almost 2,900 underrepresented minority students. “RIT is diverse with people coming from all over. They’re friendly, welcoming, and don’t judge,” said one student panelist.

A student advertising the weekly activity schedule on the Student Center window

A student advertising the weekly activity schedule on the Student Center window

~RIT bleachers fountain

A fountain in the Student Center which had been the gym. These bleachers had been built into the foundation and weren’t able to be moved so they made a fountain.

This is a spirited community. Students were everywhere and engaging with people around them: walking in groups, studying or socializing in every building we went into, etc. These are not “stick-your-nose-into-a book tech nerds,” said one student. There’s a ton to do on- and off-campus including 1,300 annual on-campus events including free movies on Thursdays, Brick City Weekend, FreezeFest, SpringFest, Imagine RIT, Orange and Brown Fridays, student concerts/theater productions, sports, and performers (Macklemore, Michael J. Fox, Jon Stewart, John Oliver, Al Pacino, Maroon 5, and MythBusters, to name a few). Greek life hosts lots of events. Hockey (they have a new arena) is big with lots of traditions. Students look forward to the annual Haunted Trail (they turn the fields and woods into a giant haunted house and invite the public) and the Humans vs. Zombies game (campus-wide nerf-gun tag).

~RIT hallway

Students gathering in an academic building between classes

“We’re not looking for students who are interacting only with the machine. We’re looking for students who will interact with other students. Don’t bother listing something you did for an hour. Put substantial things on your application that you did regularly and are meaningful.”

RIT practices differential Admissions: students must declare a major and list first, second, and third choices on their application; on average, 57% of applicants are accepted, but this varies by program. For example, it’s far more difficult to get into Mechanical than Industrial Engineering. (Biomedical, Computer Science, Game Design, and PA programs round out the 5 most difficult majors to get into). The Deans give numbers to the admissions staff based on space. However, students aren’t stuck in that major: it’s easy to switch majors “95% of the time,” said an admissions rep. Much of it depends if there are spots available in the new major.

Undecided students have 2 options:

  • Students interested in areas that cross 2 or more colleges should apply for University Studies. They accept about 100 students a year into this program. Students may not graduate on time (but could) depending on how soon they decide.
  • Do an Undeclared/Exploration major in any of the schools. There’s no problem graduating on time because they’re taking the first-year classes right away.
~RIT science bldg

Students studying in the science lobby. Check out the floor and walls!

The high school record (GPA, rank, rigor, pre-reqs, grades in content courses) makes up about 60% of the admissions decision. Portfolios (if required) are sent to that school’s faculty and get ranked 1-6. If the portfolio doesn’t make the cut, Admissions will work with the applicant to suggest a similar area without a portfolio requirement.

~RIT atriumRIT offers more than 90 majors, 90 minors, and 40 accelerated dual-degree programs. Technology is woven into every major, but the Liberal Arts are also important: There are about 1000 students in the College of Liberal Arts, and all students must do a LA “immersion” – 3 classes in one subject. Some of their new, well-known, or unusual programs include:

~RIT labs

One of the many labs

Experiential Learning is crucial; many students graduate with a portfolio equivalent to Master’s level work. Their Co-op Program is the country’s 4th oldest and among the largest in the world:

  • Students complete 6,100 co-op education assignments each year with 2,100 employers in 50 states and 40 countries.
  • Students generally complete 4 placements over 2 semesters and 2 summers. They can’t go back to the same company unless it’s in a different division doing completely different work.
  • Students collectively earn $26 million annually.
  • Princeton Review has consistently ranked them in the Top 10 for career services.
    • 60% get employed by one of their co-op placement companies.
    • Graduates report a 95% placement rate: 85% in FT jobs, 10% in grad programs.
  • Some programs such as Mechanical Engineering take 5 years to complete but students only pay for 4. “I have 60 weeks of work experience: I worked for a company here for 48 weeks and was a supply-chain engineer and a mechanical engineer. I worked in Sweden working for Volvo. One of the big things I like is that it shows us what we’ll be doing when we graduate. The first week was pretty nerve-wracking. I felt confident going in, but getting there and seeing all the complicated stuff … we encourage people to ask questions. I’ve gotten more confident every time I’ve done another co-op.”
~RIT engo bldg

Student built projects in an engineering building

Other on-campus or nearby facilities help students develop sought-after job skills:

  • The Center for Media Arts, Games, Interaction, and Creativity studio helps students launch their own companies with high-tech facilities needed to commercialize computer gaming, film and animation, graphic design, and imaging science projects.
  • Their science labs – including clean-suit labs – are top-of-the-line and made us feel like we were walking through the halls of some high-tech company
  • Rochester has lots of cottage industries, fiber-optics, high-tech companies, medical technology, pharmaceutical firms, etc. There’s no shortage of internship opportunities.
  • Students get creative when internships are difficult to find. A Photo student on the panel said that “It’s hard to get internships in photography; they aren’t looking for interns.” She was paired up with a 3rd year student; they did all the photography for a department on campus.
~RIT infinity sculpture 2

Plaza and the Infinity Sculpture (even the art is scientific!)

Despite the size, most classes are not in lecture halls: 88% of classes have fewer than 40 students so classes tend to be discussion-based. GAs and TAs help in labs but never teach classes.

Global Village

Global Village

They’ve recently opened more student housing including the RIT Inn (an old Marriott) and the newly built Global Village housing 400 sophomores in suites. “They had been getting lost in the shuffle: we have traditional dorms for freshmen and apartments for upperclassmen.” School-owned apartments are ½ a mile down the road with shuttles running to campus. One complex only houses RIT students; the other gives first crack to students, then opens it to others. Greek housing, Special Interest Houses, and Academic and Lifestyle Floors are also available. Tunnels connect most of the on-campus dorms.

~RIT art bldgStudents had few complaints except that parking is difficult. Preferred/reserved parking costs $225 a year (General parking is $50). It’s not unusual to drive around for 10 minutes looking for a spot and then walking a ways to get where they’re going. Cars aren’t necessary except for some internships. Buses running through town are free to students on weekdays and $1 on weekends.

(c) 2015

Becker College

Becker College (visited 3/22/14)

Becker Quad

Becker Quad

Becker surprised me; I knew almost nothing about it before visiting (and embarrassingly, only vaguely knew the name). I left with a very positive impression. The college is small enough to be personal, but large enough to give the students options – including being able to move back and forth between the two campuses in Worcester and in Leister, situated less than 20 minutes apart from each other. The college has a clear mission, and no one seems to be forcing it to be something it’s not – or to be all things to all people. Because of that, they do what they do very well, and the students get an excellent education and overall experience.

LLC for Interior Design

LLC for Interior Design

Our tour guide was Sarah, a senior Interior Design major from New Jersey who is headed to graduate school next year for Interior Architecture. She loves Becker and couldn’t ask for a better school. Her major, along with Nursing and the Animal Sciences, are the biggest majors. She took us into the Health Science building which didn’t feel like a classroom building – in fact, the hallways had carpeting. The labs are state-of-the-art including simulation dummies. Nursing has a 12:1 student to faculty ratio allowing students to get a lot of hands-on experience in these labs before they even start their clinicals (and they had a 99% placement rate for their nursing graduates). All majors have current technology to support the education, including a 3D printer in the Game Design house.

Lounge of the Game Design building

Lounge of the Game Design building

Game Design seems to be their fastest growing major, and they’re adding labs to accommodate the expansion. They’ve added a Game Management major dealing with the business side of the industry, and they brought in someone from Babson to run it. Exercise Science is also big. The brand new Forensic Science Building will open next month. They have a blood splatter room, a bullet room, etc. Even Game Design has made a “solve a murder” game that ties into this. They also started a Japanese minor because of the tie-in to anime.

Game Design House

Game Design House

Becker's largest dorm

Becker’s largest dorm

The university has made wonderful use of the neighborhood surrounding the school and has become part of the area. They have bought many of the Victorian homes in the several blocks on which the university sits and have maintained them as dorms. Each House has 25-45 students living in it, and all dorms are coed. They have Learning-Living Communities as an option for students starting in their sophomore year. The only large dorm is a brick building housing about 100 freshmen. This building also has 1 wing on the 4th floor designated as 21+; this is the only place on campus that students are allowed to have alcohol (and even then, only “small quantities”). Their Game Design building, a lovely two-story ivy-covered building is the newest property acquired by the college. They convert spaces as needs change: the library used to be their gym, and is not a spacious and light study area. Although they don’t house as many books as many other university libraries, they make sure not to duplicate resources between the libraries on the two campuses, and they shuttle books back and forth; students often get requested books on the same day so it’s easy to get what they need.

Library

Library

The campus isn’t far from Elm Park which the school has “adopted” and helps take care of. It was designed by the same guy who designed Central Park (supposedly this was the “trial run”!). There are lots of town-wide events like Art in the Park held there. The university recently acquired an apartment building with 708 upperclassmen on the main drag past the park.

~Becker 2The new President has placed a high priority on Global Citizenship. Students have worked in a sustainable garden in West Virginia and building houses in Haiti. They’ve provided scholarships for two students from Sierra Leone and they now have a partnership there where students are travelling to work. Students in classes are working on how to solve problems. Twenty percent of the faculty are international (born somewhere else). If all goes well, they’ve have the first Global Citizenship major in the country.

~Becker 5The average class size is around 16; the largest lecture hall on campus only has 70 seats. The classrooms we saw had about 24 seats in them set up around two-person tables and with nicely upholstered chairs. Any classes not available on Becker’s campus can be accessed through the Worcester Consortium of Colleges (Anna Maria, Clark, WPI, Holy Name, and Worcester State). Freshmen can have cars on campus (and there’s no parking fee), but there are also city buses and shuttles if students want or need to get to other campuses.

Food is pretty good on campus, but “it is campus food,” Sarah said. She’s never had more than a 5 minute wait for food even during rush times. The meal everyone rushes for is spaghetti; pasta is a huge deal here! Hawk’s Nest, the snack bar/ grill, is a popular hang-out. They will usually make what students want (if they have the ingredients!) even if it’s not on the menu. So many students were asking for chicken quesadillas that they ended up making in a permanent option.

Leister campus:

Student Center and classrooms at Leister campus

Student Center and classrooms at Leister campus

Although only about 20 minutes away, this campus has a distinctly different feel; whereas the other is incorporated into residential neighborhood in Worcester, this is a traditional campus. All the Animal Studies programs are on this campus, and there are plenty of open spaces to accommodate these. They have a 30 Acre equestrian center and students can board horses. Becker is the #1 producer of Vet Techs in NE (#15 nationally). Many of the athletic programs are also out here; their football field is turf. School spirit is huge! Soccer, football, and basketball pull in the most fans – but Hockey actually pulls in a lot of students to the school, and Becker now boasts 70% out-of-state student population, many of whom come from OH, NJ, CA, and CO.

The May House sits on this campus, which was owned by Louisa May Alcott’s family and where she wrote one of her novels. The 1812 House is supposedly haunted.

© 2014

California Lutheran University

CALIFORNIA LUTHERAN UNIVERSITY (visited 1/17/14)

Cal Lutheran 3Cal Lutheran’s spacious campus is home to just under 3000 undergraduates in Thousand Oaks. They are affiliated with the ELCA Lutheran Church: in terms of spectrum of churches, they’re very open in all that that suggests. They attract students of many faiths including a lot of Jewish students, and there’s a Rabbinical student who leads Shabbat services. There are no required chapel services or religion classes (at least in the theological sense). People in the area know that CLU is open to various people whether it be religiously, politically, or anything else (for example, there are lots of openly gay folks, even in the ministry).

Cal Lutheran 4

The cafe

“We tend to attract nice kids,” said an admissions reps. Students who have good organic intellectual curiosity will thrive here because of the 1-on-1 relationships and the opportunities they get bombarded with. Most students complete two internships during their time here. For the kids who want to dig in and experience things, it’s great, but they don’t have to be the smartest kid in the class to thrive. “This is not going to be a giant school experience; it won’t be a conservative religious experience. It’s a dry campus, so for kids who aren’t interested in the uber-party scene, this will work. But it is a very big social atmosphere; students are gregarious and open.”

Cal Lutheran Management bldg

Management Building

Admitted students average a 3.7 GPA and 25 ACT or 1150 SAT (CR&M). Students applying to CLU tend to overlap with UCLA (CLU lost the most kids to them last year), LMU, and UCSB. CLU will superscore both exams, and students can appeal for a higher scholarship with higher test scores after admittance. Students must apply Early Action to compete for the Presidential Scholarship. Students must be invited to come to campus to compete for this scholarship: decisions are based on an interview, a written response to a lecture, and more. Another great scholarship opportunity is the CLU Match Guarantee. If an applicant has also gotten accepted to UCLA, UCSB, UCB, UCSD, or UCD, they will match the in-state price (even if they’re out of state!!).

Cal Lutheran quadLearning here is experience-based, and students are guaranteed to graduate in four years if they meet the program guidelines (including meeting regularly with their advisor, declare a major on time, etc). Classes average around 20 students, and professors are interested in providing more than just theory and book learning. The university attracts professors who want to teach and who tend to stay for a long time. Core Classes include: literature, art (1 lecture-based, 1 participatory), philosophy/religion (historically, not theologically based), science, foreign language (students can test out but rarely do; a 4 or 5 on an AP would satisfy this requirement), and 2 social sciences. The writing requirement is often fulfilled during the senior capstone.

Cal Lutheran Acad bldg 2Business, education (Deaf and HH credentials are also offered), exercise science, and psych are some of the most popular majors. The Exercise Science major gets high accolades; most of those students continue on to PT graduate programs, but they can also be a coach or trainer without grad school. Game Design is gaining traction. They offer a TV/Film Production minor, and students get fabulous internships, especially in Burbank. There are specific pre-med, pre-vet, and pre-dental advising programs; the advisor, a chem professor, came from Berkeley. Under this program, the students get the right prep without the super competitive culture that they may find in other schools, and they’re still successful in getting into medical/vet schools (3 years ago they had a 100% acceptance rate).

Cal Lutheran food truck

One of the campus food trucks

CLU is a big fish in a small DIII pond. Football and volleyball teams have both won national championships, and in the fall, football can dominate the weekends. Kids get the best of both worlds: learning in smaller classes without sacrificing the “big-sports college experience.” Some students say that CLU is more homogenous than they’d like, but this is changing rapidly. Currently, approximately 25% students are from out-of-state, and they’re attracting international students as well. Students aren’t always thrilled with the feeling of “suburbia” around campus, but they’re certainly not cut off from things to do off immediately campus or from downtown LA.

Cal Luthern 1

One of the upperclassmen housing areas

underclassman dorms

underclassman dorms

Students rave about the dorms, most of which have been built in the last 10-15 years. Housing is guaranteed all four years if students want it, but only freshmen are required to live on campus (waived if they live at home within 30 miles). About 2/3 of sophomores stay on campus; after that, it drops a little more, but not significantly. Juniors and seniors are housed in apartments with pools, a bbq area, and volleyball court. CLU is committed to making on-campus housing affordable and attractive, mostly because off-campus housing is pricey, and they want to continue building community. Because more students are living on campus, they need a bigger central space for students. A new dining commons is being built and will open in the summer of 2014. Until now, there hasn’t been a great central meeting spot for students that’s the center for social activities, studying, and eating. The new building will have rooftop seating and dining. They deliberately made the decision not to bring in outside venders (except Starbucks!).

© 2014

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