Digital artists dig new degrees – The Sunflower

Wichita State will offer degrees in video game design, audio production, animation, and filmmaking.

Tanat Maichan

Justin Rorabaugh introduces the computer room filled with IMac computers.

Wichita State has partnered with local entrepreneurs and industry professionals to provide students with a place to pursue video game design, audio production, animation, and filmmaking.

During a tour through the sprawling new 35,000 square foot facility, located in South Wichita on Harry and Oliver, Education Outreach Director Justin Rorabaugh shared visions for the future.

“What I’m looking for is to turn this facility into a center of activity,” he said.

An empty corner of a room has become a future meeting space where students and professionals can interact.

“It will be an era of the commons, where, for example, the Tallgrass Film Association or other professionals can interact and meet students,” Rorabaugh said.

The cabins embedded in glass walls have become incubators for new ideas.

“It will be a creative collision space,” Rorabaugh said. “Imagine this with chalkboard paint on the walls.”

The new applied arts program will provide students with the opportunity to work and learn alongside industry professionals, while preparing for their degree.

The Kansas Board of Regents approved plans for the four new degree programs on June 14, leaving just two months to prepare for the start of classes.

“The biggest difficulties were time-related because it happened so quickly,” Rorabaugh said. “It just takes time.”

In an age of commons furnished with paint-splattered chairs and pop art, a handful of students who work with the program have shared their enthusiasm.

“I really like the creativity, the artwork and the program,” said Edgar Costia, a junior majoring in theater technology. “I think it will be really exciting for students to have this new program available.”

Although the study program has only been approved for two months, 41 students are already registered.

Tanat Maichan
Michaela Marioni is one of the students in Shockers Studio’s video game design program.

Michaela Marioni, a student enrolled in video game design, expressed her enthusiasm for the new program.

“Video game design is something I’ve always wanted to do,” she said. “All the awesome equipment they have is going to add a lot to the program and help the students to venture out. I think it’s going to be really exciting.

The program is expected to cost the University $450,900 over the first three years, with the money coming from an internal reassignment from the Provost’s Office and the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs. Additional costs will be covered by an annual program fee.

Rorabaugh expects enrollment to reach 150 students over the next two years.

Marilyn M. Davis