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While many of their peers in the School of Engineering and Applied Science deal with machinery and complicated math formulas, some Engineering graduate students are finding themselves at the forefront of video game and 3-D design.

Since fall 2004, Penn has been the only school in the Ivy League to offer a graduate program in video game programming and technology to its students.

Engineering professor Stephen Lane — the director of the Computer Graphics and Game Technology program — said that “in 2004, a lot of people asked me how they [could] get jobs in the game industry. Since I had a game company that was doing 3-D simulation, I thought it would make sense to put together a master’s program with a curriculum that would prepare students [for the industry].”

The CGGT program requires students to take 10 classes before they can earn their degree. Though it is designed to be completed in a year, some students take more time due to a variety of reasons, such as internships.

In their classes, students learn different things about the entire process of designing computer and video games, as well as 3-D graphics.

“I expect students to come out of [the program] with skills, projects and know-hows that can be brought into a [company] and contribute to it right away,” Lane said.

Part-time Engineering graduate student Kelly Elkins said he has enjoyed the CGGT program.

“The cool thing is that it combines computer science, arts and technology, not just strictly focuses on technical [elements],” Elkins said. “I think the good balance of those three categories is the most valuable thing of the program.”

Upon completion, many of the students who earn CGGT degrees join companies in the animation industry, such as Pixar, Dreamworks and Disney. Others go on to work for gaming companies, such as Electronic Arts.

“Dreamworks recently told me that 10 percent of the technical directors at the firm are from Penn,” Lane said.

Some graduates have also contributed to movies like Harry Potter, Ratatouille and Madagascar 2.

As the field of computer graphics and game designing has become more popular in recent years, more students have become interested in the CGGT program to prepare them for a future career.

The number of students in the program has steadily increased since it was first established, according to Lane. About 40 students are pursuing their master’s degree in CGGT this semester.

Since its creation in 2004, Lane added, about 140 students have earned their degrees from the program.

“I’ve been impressed with the program so far, ” first-year Engineering graduate student Joseph Weinhoffer said. “I know that all of the professors, software and equipment are state-of-the-art, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see other Ivy League schools offering such programs in the future.”

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