Red Deer College president Joel Ward and Minister of Advanced Education Marlin Schmidt found out what students will learn to do in RDC’s new Bachelor of Applied Arts in Animation and Visual Effects from faculty and program developer Peter Fiala. (Photo by SUSAN ZIELINSKI/Advocate staff)

UPDATED: RDC announces first applied degree program

Animation and visual effects degree

Starting in September Red Deer College students will be able to earn an animation and visual effects degree — the only such degree available in Alberta and the college’s first step towards becoming a university.

Bachelor of Applied Arts in Animation and Visual Effects is a four-year degree program that was developed over several years with input and collaboration from professionals across Canada.

“This will be the first time students will enter and complete a degree program here at Red Deer College so it’s a big day. But not only that, it’s also a big day in the development of tech education here in the province of Alberta,” said Minister of Advanced Education Marlin Schmidt at Wednesday’s announcement at the college.

“This is the first applied degree in the digital animation that’s offered in Alberta so it’s filling a really critical need in tech education.”

He said there is a lot of unmet demand in Alberta’s tech industry so the degree will provide graduates with work opportunities.

Jason Frizzell, RDC’s dean of the School of Creative Arts, said the program is accepting 22 students and RDC has more than 100 students on an interest list. Applications are still being accepted.

“We attract a very young demographic in creative arts. That’s typical. They want digital arts based programs. The demand is there and that demand is going to grow,” Frizzell said.

But the college also has to be respectful of the industry, he said.

“We don’t want to just turn into a factory where we’re churning out graduates. We have to make sure that the graduates that leave will have meaningful opportunities.”

The degree will prepare students for entry level jobs in mid to large animation studios, to develop independent projects to serve the industry’s needs, or start up their own companies.

RDC president Joel Ward said credits at the end of the new Avengers movie listed an enormous number of people involved in animation and special effects.

“We are exactly in the right space when we are creating opportunities for students to participate in this new world of animation and special effects,” Ward said.

“Alberta is becoming a leader in attracting companies to come and make movies and films.”

RDC has also submitted a proposal to offer a four-year degree in Bachelor of Applied Arts in Film, Theatre and Live Entertainment. The college is working with the province and Campus Alberta Quality Council through the approval process.

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