To prepare students for high-demand careers in virtual reality (VR), computer gaming, animation and aviation simulation, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University has launched a new Bachelor of Science in Simulation Science, Games and Animation at the Prescott Campus. Student applications for the only program of its kind in Arizona are being accepted now for classes that start this August.
More advanced than the introductory curriculum typically taught in vocational schools or as an online offering, the new bachelor’s degree takes a deeper dive to deliver a technical, multidisciplinary collegiate education. The coursework combines aspects of computer science, aeronautics, mathematics, physics, engineering, military science, security management and business for students interested in pursuing careers in virtual reality, aviation simulation, computer-aided design systems, animation, computer games and more.
“We have built a compelling simulation program using the formidable strengths of our long-respected engineering and aviation expertise for a career path that is ripe with professional opportunity,” said Dr. Paul Hriljac, mathematics faculty member and chair of the new program at Embry-Riddle.
Graduates will have strong job prospects. Information technology jobs are among the fastest-growing fields in the U.S. today. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the category most in demand nationally is software developers, with a 17 percent increase expected between 2014 and 2024. Locally, in a 2015 report, the Greater Phoenix Economic Council forecasts a 14 percent growth rate in Information and Communication Technology by 2019, 4.5 percent faster than the national average. Additionally, Microsoft estimates more than 80 million virtual reality devices will be sold by 2020.
Upon graduation, students can expect to work as a graphics or network programmer in the areas of gaming, virtual reality, artificial intelligence or user interfaces for such companies as Microsoft, Sony, Disney, Boeing, Oculus and others. This is a technical, multidisciplinary degree where students can design and build virtual worlds using applied mathematics and technologies such as computer-aided design (CAD) systems, aviation simulators, animation software and video. A new specialized lab facility will be dedicated to this degree.
“Embry-Riddle strives to get its students to the forefront of technology and exploration. We are designing and delivering this new degree program to do just that,” said Hriljac. “New discoveries and industries are emerging in areas such as virtual reality, computer games and data visualization. This degree program is designed for students pursuing careers in these new worlds.”