Independent Study and Production in IGM

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As I’ve gone through my college courses with IGM, I’ve started to find projects, topics, and games that I’d like to take forward, beyond the scope of existing classes. Luckily, IGM gives a fantastic resource to do that - the Independent Study Program.

I’ve spent the last semester working with a large team (eight members in total) on a virtual reality project for the HTC Vive. When we started planning it out in the Fall, I realized that no existing course could really support the size or scope - even the Production Studio class, usually perfect for this type of work, proved problematic to fit into our varied schedules. However, after speaking with professors and advisors, my team still wanted to work on the project, and get class credit to work forward in our degrees. So we grabbed a form, spent half an hour filling it out, got a faculty member to support us, and turned it in.

Now, the problematic element was the number of workers - eight, which is a few more than “an individual.” However, we worked with our faculty sponsor and the office, and by the end of the first week of the semester, we had a new class made for us, a workspace, and were ready to go. This type of opportunity was huge - we were able to learn new technical skills by working with new engines and technologies, and grow as team members in a larger group in this independent production.

As the semester winds down, I’ve been looking at what classes to take next. I’ve already taken Level Design, but I’m incredibly passionate about the subject. So once again, I talked to my instructor about an (actual) independent study - and some paperwork later, I should be ready to have a class focusing on one, large scale level to develop and revise over a semester. This nicely builds on the existing course, and extends it so that I, as an individual, can continue to hone my skills and deepen my knowledge of the field.

And I’m not alone in doing this. Many of my friends have these types of classes - ranging from specialized web development, 3D modelling and asset creation, research projects, or just games. All it takes is passion for a topic, an interested teacher, and a plan for how to work, grow and learn around that topic. The Independent Study resource acts as another great tool to help shift your time in IGM around your specific interests. After spending the first few semesters growing your general knowledge and going into detail through electives, Independent Studies help refine your topics of choice. There’s no reason to stop learning just because the classes stopped having a standardized name or number when you can work with professors to make something new.