A games course set up by Havok co-founder Steven Collins is moulding future developers and academics by asking them to produce cutting-edge research as part of their Master’s degree.
Trinity College Dublin’s MSc in Computer Science (Interactive Entertainment Technology) invites students to seek inspiration from recently published papers to inform the development of practical projects. The final results, which must break new ground in their chosen field of research, have lead to games industry jobs and doctoral studies for graduates of the one-year degree. Projects range from using Microsoft’s Kinect to animate facial expressions in realtime to making augmented reality apps for iPad.
“We don’t just teach you programming skills,” Dr John Dingliana, course director and assistant professor, tells us. “We want you to think independently and we want people to invent. This course is more about game technology.”
Since launching in 2007 the MSc has produced graduates who have gone on to get videogame jobs around the world, as well as in the movie industry and at companies such as IBM and Cisco Systems. But Trinity’s computer science pedigree also pre-dates the current courses, with notable alumni including Dylan Collins and Sean Blanchfield, co-founders of middleware firm DemonWare, which was acquired by Activision for £71m five years ago.
Dingliana hopes the course’s mix of research and practice will continue to foster entrepreneurial graduates in an ever-changing game industry. And he also believes the focus on cutting-edge technology – while still covering team software development, maths, and options such as computer vision, animation and AI – is the key to boosting the employability of students.
“A lot of the big studios are dominated by technical artists, but we are training people doing the technology side of things,” he says. “It’s a smaller, but very important part of the industry.
“The game industry is changing. Lots of new technology is required for social games, for instance, and there is lots of technology that is yet to be fully exploited.”
Trinity’s technology focus means the four full-time and four part-time computer science MScs are specialist rather than conversion courses. Typically, students will have completed a computer science or computer engineering undergraduate degree or studied Physics, Maths or Art while developing a strong thread of programming skills.
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