Red Deer College (RDC) keeps climbing the ladder towards officially becoming a university after the announcement of its new four-year Bachelor of Applied Arts degree in Animation and Visual Effects.
The degree, which begins this September, is a strong demonstration that RDC has the capability to offer its own degrees, according to President Joel Ward.
“It is another step in our journey to becoming a university,” he said.
“We have a number of other degrees we are taking forward and we expect to transition, with the name change taking place in the next couple years.”
The animation degree is the first of five degrees the College hopes will soon be officially announced.
Minister of Advanced Education Marlin Schmidt, who was in Red Deer to help unveil the new degree, said the Government of Alberta is working with RDC and the Campus Alberta Quality Council to ensure the new degrees meet the criteria necessary.
He added the degree announced Wednesday serves a need in the Alberta tech sector.
“It is a big day for the development of tech education here in the province of Alberta,” Schmidt said. “This is the first applied degree in digital animation offered in Alberta, so it is filling a really critical need in tech education in the province.
“We know there is a lot of demand for the tech industry here. We expect this will provide new opportunities for students to get work they previously haven’t been able to because they didn’t have the education they needed to work in this field.”
Ward added the development of this degree already meets 50 per cent of the requirements necessary for RDC to officially transition into a university
“The next piece will be beginning right away and we hope to move very, very quickly to get the name change and to be offering more degrees,” he said.
The Animation and Visual Effects applied degree falls under RDC’s School of Creative Arts and the dean, Jason Frizzell, said the program fits in nicely with programming which is already being offered.
“One of the reasons this degree made sense is that we looked at our ecosystem and what we have in the School of Creative Arts already,” he said.
“We have visual arts studios, we have a bronze casting foundry, we have the modelling capability and the life-drawing experience, we have actors, we have stage combat professionals — we have the people and we have the resources to really make this something unique.”
The first year of the program will see 22 students walk through the door with 100 students already on the programs interest list.
Frizzell said it is important for the program to recognize the needs of the industry.
“We have to be respectful of the industry,” he said.
“We don’t want to turn into a factory where we are churning out graduates. We have to make sure the graduates that leave will have meaningful opportunities.
“We will monitor that as the industry grows and we will respond to that.”
Ward added, “Alberta is becoming a leader in attracting companies to come make movies and films. We are also looking at ways that we can look at other programs which support programming around videos, documentaries and filmmaking.”
Red Deer North MLA Kim Schreiner added, “This program is something Central Albertans have been asking for for a very long time and I am really proud to have it here right in our own backyard at Red Deer College.”