Archive for the ‘Project-Based Learning’ Category

Sony Shines in Golden Globe Ad

Monday, January 20th, 2014

Bringing together art and engineering talent.

Sony is running a multifaceted media campaign that harkens back to their early days of innovation and pushing the envelope. They ran an ad during the Golden Globes award show that got to the heart of their philosophy. When I watched the video clip, all I could think was that sure looks like a day at Cogswell College.

They say, “When you combine the artist with the engineers, you get something really new – something special.” The ad went on to say, “when great thinkers combine with great doers, 1 + 1 can equal 3.” So true! Great things happen when you create an environment that encourages – and even demands – collaboration across disciplines.

Walk into any classroom at Cogswell, step into the student lounge or listen to conversations taking place in our hallways – and you know you are in a unique place. Students and faculty are passionate about what they do and are eager to learn from each other.

Our next Open House is February 22. Why not RSVP now and come see for yourself how well we have integrated art and engineering? Step into our world of possibilities.

Programming the Video Game “Wizard’s Prison”

Thursday, January 16th, 2014

Video game creation has a lot of moving parts and the need for people with specialized skill sets – producers, game designers, artists, animators, programmers and sound designers. At Cogswell College we offer specialized degree programs in each of these areas and bring teams of students together to work on projects.

Our Game Studio project-based class spent a semester building a video game. The result was Wizard’s Prison – a retro shoot-em-up PC game where you play as the evil wizard and escape the dreadful prison.

Recent grad, Kaleb Grace who was a Digital Audio Technology major, was the programmer on the team. In this short video he talks about how sound impacts the player’s experience and the types of programming challenges he faced to achieve the results the team wanted.

Kaleb also just released an album, “Monocle Man Original & Arranged Soundtrack” from other projects he worked on while at Cogswell. Click here to learn more about our Digital Audio Technology Program.

Effective Workflow Tactics for Remote Clients and Collaborators

Thursday, January 9th, 2014

Working on a remote team to complete a project is now the norm rather than the exception. In this article in Designing Sound contributed by Michael Schiciano of Skitch Studio, he shares his insights into working collaboratively and how to avoid some of the logistical challenges that can crop up.

Points covered in the article include:

  • Establishing the Vision and Scope of the Project; Whenever I had issues coming up with ideas in the middle of a project, a very likely culprit was simply not doing enough communication early enough in the project.
  • Detours and Changes; Sometimes these are messaged down from a client.  Other times they are discovered as part of the work itself.
  • Getting the Names Right; Another area you’ll want to make sure gets addressed during the middle of a production are the simpler, smaller details of effective naming conventions.
  • Making the Delivery; The final stages of a project will bring forth another wave of heavy communication, most notably focusing on the details of the submission process.

If you have collaborated on a project remotely, what did you learn in the process?

What Does it Take to Bring a Software Engineering Idea to Life

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

Ed Hartwig & Zach Childers

You have an idea for a great – or at least intriguing – software project but how do you get started? This short video featuring an animatronic dragon’s head project designed by two Cogswell students offers insight into the development stage.

The project started over the summer as part of a special projects class in conjunction with San Jose’s TechShop. Zach and Ed wanted to build something that would resonate with the Cogswell community and be an inspiration for getting artists and engineers to collaborate.

While they still have a way to go before their prototype becomes the finished piece they envision, they have a solid plan in place to reach their goal.

What Does the Game Design Manager Say?

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013

Screen shot from the video.

At Cogswell College we focus on learning by doing. While we don’t ignore the theory and principles behind a process, we don’t feel the learning is complete until you’ve actually undertaken a project and put the new skills to use.

The Fall Semester ‘Project Management’ class had to break up into teams and then develop promotional materials that would introduce people to one of Cogswell’s majors. The goal of the mid-term project’s assignment was for the collateral developed to interest people in becoming students at Cogswell. In order to successfully complete the project, students had to organize, assign tasks, set up a timetable, deliver the project and then evaluate their results.

“I wanted the finished piece to show the pride they take in their education, why they are excited about what they are doing and what they are about as students,” said Albert Chen, faculty for the class. “The assignment definitely reinforced the skills they learned during the class.”

This short video highlighting Cogswell’s Digital Media Management degree program and its Game Design & Business Modeling major was completed in two weeks by a team of six students. The students who worked on the project are: Vincent Velo, Andrew Traxler, Eric Tran, Frank Maddox, Oleksandra Keehl and Halsey Herms.

The Making of Assassins Creed III: Origins

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

If you are a fan of the Assassins Creed series and want to learn more about how the developers decide how to keep each new installment fresh, then this cool behind-the-scenes video offers some intriguing insights. Listen to the team members talk about how they envisioned reinventing the experience.

If you have played AC III, do you think the achieved what they wanted to with this game?

Math Skills are Important But Employers Want More

Monday, November 18th, 2013

There has been a lot of talk over the past few years that employers are having difficulty filling positions due to a lack of applicants with the requisite science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) skills – but there may be one more characteristic they need in employees that is also missing. A survey by the Workforce Solutions Group at St. Louis Community College finds that more than 60% of employers say applicants lack “communication and interpersonal skills” — a jump of about 10 percentage points in just two years. A wide margin of managers also say today’s applicants can’t think critically and creatively, solve problems or write well.

According to the article in Business Time, internships make a difference in how prepared a student is to enter the workforce. At Cogswell College we also have a strong focus on providing a project-based education that involves not only learning to work as part of a high-functioning team but also learning to participate in status presentations throughout the project development cycle.

The article concludes that you can’t teach these skills – communication, prioritizing and organizing work, managing projects, how to work in teams and with diverse groups – in a short period of time. We agree, which is why students spend their time at Cogswell acquiring these valuable competences.

Cogswell College is Happy to be the Exception in Educating Software Engineers

Monday, November 4th, 2013

We often hear about the great job prospects for software engineering grads but according to this article in Dark Reading by Gunter Ollmann, many new grads are finding the scope of those jobs limited by their lack of real-world experience. Mr. Ollmann says that the crux of the problem boils down to colleges missing two critical educational opportunities:

  1. In most colleges students predominantly work on individual assignments rather than collaborative projects.
  2. The vast majority of assignments require students to create code from scratch instead of working on code written by someone else.

Project-based learning is a hallmark of a Cogswell College education. Students have numerous opportunities to work in teams of artists, animators, audio specialists and software engineers and gain the experience they need to become a valuable asset to future employers.

Studio E Embarks on an Interactive Adventure

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

At Cogswell College we believe that the best lessons are those learned by doing. Our newest studio class – Studio E – is no exception. Students in this class under the leadership of faculty, Thomas Applegate, have an ambitious goal but are confident of success. The crew of 18 is creating the art assets, 3D reference models, animation, programming and audio content for an original story created by Thomas.

Over the course of the next 18 months, the team will create a short animation based on the story along with an interactive book version for mobile platforms to deepen the reader’s experience and further immerse them in the story. Students will take the project from the beginning development phase, through pre-production, then full production mode and finally post production. During the class students are given the chance to work in a setting that mirrors a professional studio and will follow an industry-standard production pipeline.

But in typical Cogswell fashion, the learning process has a twist. While the crew adheres to a full-blown production cycle, much of the work in the various phases will be done in tandem. Pre-production will happen in step with the development phase and some full production will happen while pre-production is still going on. This is possible because everyone works on the same files so the work can progress in stages. Environment artists create temporary environments that can be filled in later while character artists and animators can do rough animation in the temporary environment so they don’t have to wait for the finished environments to do their jobs.

“I really want the students to go through the entire design process and learn what is expected of them when they begin working in the industry,” said Applegate. “We started with the story and the visual design, then created a full 2D animatic, from which we are drawing all our information to create the pre-vis animatic, animation, color script, as well as color and lighting keys to establish art direction.”

In addition Cogswell’s learn-by-doing class format, students work on state-of-the-art equipment. Studio E is equipped with Wacom Cintiq monitors which allow you to paint right on the monitor. According to several of the students it took a little adjusting to transition from drawing on a desktop tablet to drawing on a monitor but the consensus is that this is one of the best classes they have taken.

Check out the video for more information stay tuned to find out how the project progresses.

Cogswell College: A Microcosm of Silicon Valley

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

While many regions around the world have access to talented artists and engineers, groundbreaking marketers, infusions of capital and excellent universities – what is it that makes Silicon Valley so special and difficult to reproduce elsewhere?

It’s not in the water but it does seem to be in the air we breathe. We operate differently in the Silicon Valley and have a very different mindset about how to do business. Words often used to describe this unique area include: entrepreneurial, passionate, future-focused, collaborative, high-energy, innovative, creative, techy, team-oriented and willingness to take a chance.

In an article published in the Washington Post, author Victor Hwang, identifies a key element that is often overlooked. Other regions “focus primarily on its ingredients — its obvious assets, like venture capital, skilled workers and universities. What they have largely ignored is its recipe — the social interactions that turn those ingredients into vibrant companies.”

He goes on to state, “arguably, the most important factor in its success has been the formation of a unique culture — one that allows people with diverse skills, who often don’t know each other, to mix and match: collaborating and trusting in ways that people in other cultures don’t. It is not simply creative destruction, as many observers say. More importantly, it is a process of creative reassembly, as people join forces on temporary projects and then recirculate and recombine for other projects later.”

Cogswell College, located in the heart of Silicon Valley, is a true microcosm of Silicon Valley. Within our walls a true collaborative spirit exists. Students, faculty, alumni and external ventures dive into projects and work together to give them life thus gaining valuable collaboration and teamwork competencies. The groups formed bring a diversity of talents, skills, life experiences and perspectives to the task at hand plus an eagerness to learn and desire to create something extraordinary.

Visitors to our campus respond to the natural curiosity and energy permeating Cogswell’s classrooms and labs as teams tackle whatever challenge is in front of them. Whether you are a student in our Undergraduate program or Master’s program Cogswell encourages its students to create, innovate and apply what they have learned in a project-based curriculum that focuses on delivering market-ready products. Students learn to work on teams that mirror real development teams consisting of artists, animators, audio experts and project managers – with software engineering at its core.

With the ability to assemble multidisciplinary teams from within its programs of study, Cogswell College is uniquely positioned to deliver market-ready projects to partner companies and organizations. A sampling of projects we have collaborated on include:

  • Interactive Logo Designs – Cogswell’s Sound Design class developed new logo treatments for Cogswell (seen at the end of the video posted below) and for two different external partner organizations.
  • Interactive Book – Using the latest industry-standard technology, students are working under faculty guidance to create an artistically stunning interactive book (or whatever text Thomas approves).
  • Mobile game – Prairie Rainbow develops table top games to help younger students learn math concepts. Cogswell students are developing a mobile game version of the company’s Rainbow Squares learning tool.

Cogswell also encourages it students to develop their own projects through and supports their efforts. Original student development projects include: game development, operating student store, 3D printing and audio theater projects.

One of the things that sets Silicon Valley apart from other tech development centers, is the sharing of ideas and expertise. Few days go by without an opportunity to attend meetups, salons, hackathons, live/work houses, clubs and industry-specific events. Most have an open door policy – if you are interested in whatever the topic, stop by to learn and network. There is an accessibility to successful entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley unavailable in other tech regions largely fostered by the area’s culture of sharing knowledge with the next generation of entrepreneurs.

At Cogswell College we bring all the pieces together in one place. Our students have the opportunity to collaborate with other students who possess a diverse range of skills and interests on projects, they have access to Silicon Valley thought leaders and a long history of innovation and cutting-edge education. Cogswell College truly is a microcosm of Silicon Valley.

Check out this video to learn more about how Cogswell mirrors the Silicon Valley ecosystem.