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New Computer Game Development Certificate Program

April 06, 2011

Angelo State University’s Computer Science Department added a new Computer Game Development Certificate program in the spring of 2011 to further enhance the job prospects of the department’s graduates.

Gaming Lab

Students completing the four-course program sequence will be certified computer game developers, and the certification will appear on their permanent ASU transcripts.  However, the program is designed to be an additional credential, not a substitute for a university degree.

“We continue to believe the best degree for a student hoping to get into the game development industry is a bachelor’s degree in computer science,” said Dr. Tim Roden, Computer Science Department head.  “A general degree gives a graduate more flexibility when looking for a job.  On the other hand, companies want to know a graduate has had some experience actually developing computer games.  That is what the certificate program is about.  It demonstrates that a graduate has that specialized experience.”

The curriculum for the certificate program consists of four upper-level courses, including Computer Game Development I, Handheld Game Development, Computer Game Development II and Artificial Intelligence.  It is recommended for all computer science majors and minors who plan to enter the game development industry.  It is also open to all ASU students, regardless of major, but students majoring in disciplines other than computer science will still have to pass the prerequisite courses to be eligible.

The certificate program is also just the latest addition to the Computer Science Department as it continually tweaks its course offerings to stay current with the computer gaming industry.  The Handheld Game Development course enrolled its first class this spring and, according to Roden, makes ASU one of the first universities in the country to offer programming instruction for the Android, iPhone and other handheld devices.

“The next wave of game development will be for small platforms, such as cell phones,” Roden said.  “The Gartner market research group says by 2012, smart phones will outsell personal computers.  We want our students to be able to program for these devices, because that is going to be where the job opportunities are.”

“The course focuses on multimedia application development,” he added, “and provides students the skills they need to develop games or other multimedia-related apps.  This is also the kind of class that prepares students to take advantage of opportunities that exist now.” 

Hot on the heels of ASU officially adding the Handheld Game Development came the announcement that San Antonio-based financial services company USAA has agreed to offer summer internships in its mobile applications development group to computer science students taking the ASU course.  USAA was named the top information technology company to work for by Computerworld magazine in its June 2010 issue surveying the top 100 IT companies in the U.S.

In addition to preparing students for jobs in the gaming industry that grossed more than $75 billion worldwide in 2009, ASU’s computer game development program has also become a tremendous recruiting tool.  The Computer Science Department is the fastest growing department on campus, with a 38 percent increase in majors from 2009 to 2010.

“Our game development courses are some of the most popular courses we have,” Roden said.  “Correspondence I get from prospective students indicates many are considering attending ASU to get into our program.  The increased enthusiasm from students, faculty and the university administration is driving us forward to do even more.”

That enthusiasm led directly to ASU making the Princeton Review’s 2010 list of the “Top 50 Undergraduate Computer Game Design Programs” in the U.S. and Canada.  It is also helping prepare students for high-demand careers.

According to the 2010-11 edition of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook, computer science ranks No. 1 among the fastest growing occupations requiring a bachelor’s degree.  Additionally, Texas is home to the third-highest number of computer game development companies in the U.S., and starting salaries for game developers with bachelor’s degrees average about $60,000 a year.

“We think ASU is positioned to become a leader in educating the next generation of computer game developers,” Roden said.

For more information on ASU’s computer game development program, call (325) 942-2101 or go to www.angelo.edu/dept/computer_science/.