New Degree Options in UT’s College of Fine Arts Designed to Prepare Students for Jobs in Creative Economy

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Arts and Entertainment TechnologiesThe College of Fine Arts at The University of Texas at Austin is adding two new undergraduate degrees that combine hands-on learning experiences and creative problem-solving skills: a new Bachelor of Science in Arts and Entertainment Technologies and a Bachelor of Arts in Design. Students will be able to enroll in these programs beginning today.

“Austin has become a capital of the creative, high-tech economy that’s disrupting business practices, popular culture and traditional arts worldwide,” said Doug Dempster, dean of the College of Fine Arts. “The College is redefining its mission by offering a wider array of leading-edge offerings and degree options in gaming, design in all its many industry applications, new performance technologies and music and sound technologies. With these new programs, students can work across disciplines and collaborate on hands-on projects — an experience that will serve them well in the workforce.”

With the addition of these two programs, the College of Fine Arts expects that enrollment in the college could grow by 30 percent during the next four years.

The new Bachelor of Science in Arts and Entertainment Technologies (AET) is the first B.S. degree offered by the College of Fine Arts. In this interdisciplinary major, students in the program will learn in an environment that emphasizes hands-on, project-based learning with creative technologies. AET foundational courses deliver creative coding fundamentals, an introduction to a wide range of creative production software and techniques and a colloquium series of guest speakers. Students advance to projects-based coursework drawn from three emphasis areas: Music and Sound, New Performance Technologies, and Game and Mobile Media Applications. Students conclude their studies in a capstone experience or thesis project. The AET major is open to incoming freshman and internal transfer students. 

The college began offering courses in Arts and Entertainment Technologies this past spring, and about 110 students are enrolled in the program this fall.

A student draws on a tablet as part of the launch event for the Center for Arts and Entertainment Technologies.“We want to break down barriers between arts and technologies and equip students from Day One with the creative technologies and skills to make new work and inventions,” said Bruce Pennycook, director of the Center for Arts and Entertainment Technologies. “In this program, students will gain the hands-on experience and have access to a variety of tools to work across disciplines.”

To support the new program, the Center for Arts and Entertainment Technologies partnered with the UT Libraries to build the Foundry, a creative makerspace in the Fine Arts Library that will be available to all UT students and faculty members.

Opening this month, the Foundry consists of a series of interconnected studios designed to support audio recording, video production, fabrication, 3-D printing, animatronics, game design and fiber arts. The space is designed to provide advanced technological systems for all aspects of performance, game development, music production, digital visual arts and other forms of digital entertainment.

The college will also partner with UT Libraries to renovate the fourth floor of the Fine Arts Library to create new, flexible teaching spaces — classrooms, labs and collaboration spaces — for the Center for Arts and Entertainment Technologies and design programs in the college. Renovations are expected to begin in 2017.

The new Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Design, which complements the existing B.F.A. in Design in the Department of Art and Art History, is created for students who prefer the flexibility and breadth of a liberal arts degree or who are interested in pursuing a simultaneous major in a complementary area. The B.A. is also a more accommodating option for transfer students. With the addition of this new design degree, the college expects to double the size of its design program during the next few years. The B.A. in Design is open to incoming freshmen and internal and external transfer students.

“There is a large unmet demand for design coursework among students at the university, as well as a strong demand from local and regional employers for graduates with skills in design and design thinking,” said Carma Gorman, associate professor and chair of the Design division in the Department of Art and Art History. “We are excited to offer a B.A. degree that allows students to combine a liberal arts degree in design with a second major, Bridging Disciplines Program, study abroad and/or intensive language study.”