UT Dallas Arts and Technology course

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  12 December 2010
UT Dallas Arts and Technology course

I was wondering if anyone has any knowledge or input about this degree? It seems to be a mix of art, 3d art, and computer science. It's a BA and not a BFA, is that ok? Any input would be appreciated. Thanks.
  12 December 2010
I cannot say I recommend this program. I attended it and after 4 years I had a vague spread of intro level talents in a variety of professions. They do not have enough classes to properly train you to be ready to enter the work force. You would be a better trained professional by following DVDs from digital tutors for 4 years with a regimented schedule.

That said, several very talented people have come out of the program, but that has everything to do with the individual and very little to do with the program. I would say they have 2 great professors in the entire program, other than those two you'll spend all your time being taught by TA grad students who only teach becuase they get their tuition paid for if they do.

If you want to ask me some questions hit me on aim at ArchNacho.
  12 December 2010
I completely agree with Nacho, I went there for 2 years and his description is spot on.
  12 December 2010
Hi Mekhit, I just wanted to let you know that depending on your personal emotional investment in your education UTD's ATEC program may not be right for you.

I started at UTD in software engineering, couldn't really hack the math requirements for the computer science programs - so ATEC was offered to me as an alternative by my advisers since they knew I wanted to land in video games.

ATEC predominately has two to three tracks in it:
- 3D modeling and animation (the strongest)
- Project oriented work and programming for mobile devices (getting better all the time)
- "game design" (the weakest)

There's a couple of issues with all of the above. For one the 3D and animation track, while it is increasingly fleshed out, I don't feel that the courses you are required to take will give you a strong background in traditional art, nor a thorough enough technical understanding of what goes into game art to be successful. That said there are some really great instructors like Todd Fechter that will give you a solid foundation, the most important thing there would be that you build on that on your own time. This is true of any student coming from any program, but it's what you do with your time in the school that will make you successful more so than where you got your degree from.

As for mobile stuff, I haven't explored it personally very much, but Dean Terry is incredibly solid, a successful business man and a good instructor. He's got his finger to the pulse and if you are interested in developing mobile games he would love to help you.

On the subject of game design, if you have any intention of going to this school to learn the ins and outs of how a game are made, I think you're going to find precious few opportunities to do so. Most of those will be workshops, or the occasional class that is focused around small teams forming a completed product. The weakness here really isn't in the curriculum, it's in the lack of experience of the instructors. They are good people and they have a lot of great information for you but none of them have experience in the video game industry and most of them don't have experience at a movie studio either.

Some important things to note: Very few schools are going to be so good that you're just guaranteed one straight out of school. I graduated the ATEC program at UTD and have the BA - but I got hired on full time before completing it. Personally I believe my pursuit of that degree has had little to do with my success, but that attitude varies from company to company and region to region.

Who is ATEC for? I think if you are a self driven learner, and plan on creating a lot of projects on your own time anyway you will be very successful in this degree plan. Frequently ATEC has competitions for game design and galleries to recognize their artists. At some of their events, representatives from local studios will be on hand to network and find some stand out students they might need for internships or just to pick up a few resumés.

Again, make careful considerations about your budget, what you hope any school will do for you, and what you want your actual job title to be.
  12 December 2010
It's good for a few reasons

I would have to say ATECH is great if you need a degree and plan to go that route and your extremely motivated. If you just want to program or think the degree will net you a job in the industry think again. I see plenty of the kids skim by and have no skills at the end. I also see some make every moment of it and succeed just fine.

Here is a pro tip though, enter every contest you can at the school and aim to win. Join a like minded group and make atleast two games/mods before you get out of school. Never EVER stop working on stuff outside of class. Summer should be the 2 months that you spend working more on art and modeling than relaxing. If you do these things you'll be fine.
  12 December 2010
Ok first I've noticed that everyone keeps saying games. This program doesn't seem limited to games. Heck, one of the ATEC classes is for film break down and to understand film. I already have a minor bit of knowledge with Maya and a decent bit of knowledge with 3D Studio Max. I have an associate's degree from ITT in Multimedia and that school alone taught me that no school (especially not ITT - I also got this degree about 5 years ago before I knew how crappy that school was) will not guarantee you a job. It all depends on the person. I'm more going to the school to get a more solid understanding and structured learning. I'm still working on the self taught path, but I am one of those people that needs direction. Unfortunately, money is a huge issue for me. I'm a single full-time dad, so I'm stuck to the Dallas/Ft. Worth area and can not relocate.

It seems to me, thatprogram isn't going to be the say all end all program, but it has a pretty solid foundation. Every person should know it's all about what you put into it. BUT, I am taking into consideration what everyone has said. Again, though, I'm wanting to get more into film. Games are secondary to me. And I'm a very motivated person once I have a goal. I would love to do just self taught, but with all the distractions I have it's almost next to impossible to find time to sit down (between my daughter, my 50+ an hour week job, and soon school...and my one night a week I go out) and actually pump out work. This is why I need at least a few hours in class rooms to get that time.

Also, something I've noticed a lot is that when people go to school for either of these industries they don't realize that it's up to them to learn a specialization. This program SEEMS a bit varied at first, but they have plenty of electives to allow you to specialize and too many students, it seems, don't see that and that's where they go wrong. I've read a lot on forums where people bitched about a school because it didn't teach them everything, but again it's up to the student to do some independent learning. I like the idea some classes that dabble in a lot of areas so I can figure out exactly what specialization I want to gear towards.

As far as traditional art classes go, they have a few that are outlined in the degree, but no one says I can't take some on my own. I already know a few mediums so that isn't a problem for me and I do know that no matter which industry I'm wanting to work in, a traditional art background is a must for an artist. A TD is another story.

But I did read some constructive stuff about this school and I'm not going to just jump in right away.

Edit: I forgot to mention that I'm doing my basics at a community college to save money and give myself time to make the decision overall.

Last edited by MPiland : 12 December 2010 at 07:54 PM.
  12 December 2010
the program is still new with changes being made constantly. there are a lot of people in it who arent very passionate b/c it's the fun/ "easy" program.

i'm not very far along into it so i cant say much more than that
  12 December 2010
I went there, nice place - nice people. But it really comes down to what you want to do. Modeling, Animation, Rigging - TD, Generalist? I saw that you said film, but doing what exactly? Let me know and I'll give you the rundown. and just remember, have a very clear idea of where you want to be when you get out before you dive in.
Ricardo 'Rico' Flores
  12 December 2010

ATEC has some very strong areas and others that are still being developed. We work very hard to make sure our courses are constantly improving and being kept up to date. As most everyone has said, the school can only offer so much in terms of application and foundations. The rest is up to the student to use and apply the class materials to create their own work. Those that follow this path do just fine. Those who expect the expertise to just fall into their lap are in for a surprise. We have alumni working at Dreamworks, Digital Domain, ID, Reel FX, Gear Box, Disney and many other animation and gaming studios. If you apply yourself 110% you will find work and be successful.

Mr. T
  12 December 2010
Hey Mekhit,

I graduated from UTD with a BA in Arts and Technology and when I went there it was mainly geared towards 3D film and production. I decided to go the route of game art, but I still feel all the classes I took were valuable in giving me basic training as a 3D artist. The skills I learned for high poly work for film has still carried over into the game world so I would not deem it useless. Now I've heard the program is introducing more game related classes. As some people have said before, the program is still new and is constantly evolving from year to year. Also previously stated by others, it really depends on you! How much do YOU want it? How hard will YOU work? If you are expecting to have someone wave a magic wand and give you mad skills, then no, this isn't the right school for you. I also have to say, now that I've been in the industry and have talked to other artists, they pretty much say the same thing about their school as well. The school is there to teach you the tools... after that, its up to you.

Now here's some personal advice: I've gone to many many portfolio reviews while in school and the main thing I've heard over and over is "don't show me your school work". The way you stand out is from your own personal work. Believe me your peers have also applied for the same internships and the recruiter has seen that same model over and over again. The best thing I ever did for myself was when I started doing online competitions. I didn't win, but it was great motivation and I had new work for my portfolio. You also get GREAT advice through the forums on how to improve your work.

Also one last thing haha. The reason I chose UTD was because you can dive into what you want to do right away. I had looked at A&M's program, but you had to do several years of the architecture program first which isn't bad (architectural background is a big plus!) but what if once I made it into the specialized program I find out its not really something I'm passionate about after all.... That's a ton of money down the drain and then more school after switching majors... With UTD you can find out within your first year if its what you really want to do with your life. UTD also has classes like Web Design which to this day still helps me maintain my portfolio site. Sure you will take some other courses that seem useless... but that's every school. (btw I don't know if A&M's program is still like that so no one get mad at me haha ><)

I hope that helps you out with your decision =)
  12 December 2010
Hey Megan,

Glad to see you posting on here and supporting the cause. How goes the search?

  12 December 2010
Originally Posted by meghigg: Also one last thing haha. The reason I chose UTD was because you can dive into what you want to do right away. I had looked at A&M's program, but you had to do several years of the architecture program first which isn't bad (architectural background is a big plus!) but what if once I made it into the specialized program I find out its not really something I'm passionate about after all.... That's a ton of money down the drain and then more school after switching majors...

Just an FYI, but no you don't. Not sure what curriculum you were looking at or if it's changed, but the undergrad courses in architecture at A&M are entirely different than the Viz classes (with some possible crossover in the art history/basics courses but those aren't "architecture" classes).

If you're referring to the graduate program there a lot of people do come into the program after doing an undergraduate degree in architecture but there's lots of folks from other computer science and art programs as well.
figdigital | @figdigital
  12 December 2010
@ Fig - The program must have changed since then. That or the adviser I spoke with some how led me to believe I had to go through the architecture program first. Either way, that's great news to hear its no longer that way and thank you for correcting me =)

@ Todd - The search is going well! I have a lot more connections in the industry now and many of them are helping me out with the job hunt. Definitely seems easier now that I've got some experience haha. I'll let you know as soon as I have something official =)
  12 December 2010
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