The next Shrek will be created with software from Autodesk, a top developer of 3D design, engineering and entertainment products. The company’s Entertainment Creation Suite was used to animate the last seventeen films that won the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects.
Whatever form it takes – ogre, robot, whip-tailed avatar – the character could have a Penn State Behrend connection: In October, Autodesk announced a first-of-its-kind partnership with the college, a $21.7 million gift of software that makes the company’s top products available to every student on campus. The Autodesk products will jumpstart the college’s digital arts, media and technology initiative, which blends film and video game development with other advanced simulation work. “In the game industry, this is what’s being used,” said Dr. Matthew White, lecturer in game development, computer science and software engineering.
“If you’re doing this work, you use Autodesk’s Maya for animation, and you use 3ds Max for modeling.” Both products were part of the Autodesk gift. So is Simulation Moldflow, an engineering tool that optimizes the design of plastic parts and injection molds, which cuts costs and speeds production processes. The partnership also allows Penn State Behrend to offer the annual Moldflow Certification exam. Students who pass have an advantage as they seek jobs or graduate school offers.
“Graduates of Penn State Behrend and its School of Engineering have enjoyed a rich employment track record,” said Ralph Ford, director of the School of Engineering, “and with access to this software they will be even better positioned for success. With this gift, Autodesk has invested—and invested big—in our students, faculty, and the future of the college and the region.”
Two alumni—Matt Jaworski ’98 and Jeff Higgins ’97—proposed the partnership after talking with John Beaumont, chair of the Plastics Engineering Technology program.
“We have hired several Penn State Behrend graduates,” said Tom Cameron, vice president of manufacturing sales at Autodesk. “This partnership reinforces our commitment to providing students and educators with the resources they need to inspire the next generation of professionals.”
Not all of them will be engineers. Dr. Heather Lum, research associate in psychology, is using Autodesk’s Inventor software to build digital prototypes of the cars used in the college’s annual PLASTcar competition. Dr. Michael Justik, associate professor of chemistry, is using Autodesk’s Maya to model the magnetic vectors in medical resonance imaging. That interdisciplinary approach was a key goal of the partnership.
“Depth of knowledge is important, but coupling expertise with a breadth of experiences creates a richer, more meaningful education,” said Chancellor Don Birx, who sat for a 3D scan that was animated, Max Headroom-style, for the announcement of the Autodesk gift.
“The entire college moves forward on the momentum this gift creates.”