Digital artists dig new degrees

Wichita State to offer degrees in video game design, audio production, animation,  and filmmaking.


Tanat Maichan

Justin Rorabaugh introduces the computer room full of IMac computers.

Wichita State has teamed up with local entrepreneurs and industry professionals to provide a place for students to pursue video game design, audio production, animation, and filmmaking.  

On a tour through the sprawling new 35,000 sq ft facility, located in South Wichita on Harry and Oliver, Director of Education Outreach Justin Rorabaugh shared visions for the future.

“What I’m looking for is to turn this facility into a hub of activity,” he said.

An empty corner of a room became a future meeting space for students and professionals to interact.

“This will be a commons era, where, say, The Tallgrass Film Association or other professionals can interact and meet with students,” Rorabaugh said.

Cubicles encased in glass walls became the incubators for new ideas.

“This will be a creative collision space,” Rorabaugh said. “Picture this with chalkboard paint on the walls.”  

The new Applied Arts program will provide students an opportunity to work and learn alongside industry professionals, while working towards their degree.

The Kansas Board of Regents approved the plans for the four new degree programs on June 14, leaving only two months to prepare for classes to start.

“The biggest difficulties have been related to time, because it just happened so fast,” Rorabaugh said. “It just takes time.”

In a commons era furnished with paint-splattered chairs and pop art, a handful of students who work with the program shared their excitement.  

“I really like the creativity, the artwork, and the program,” said Edgar Costia, a junior majoring in theatre tech. “I think it’ll be really exciting for the students to have this new program available.”

Though the degree program has only been approved for two months, 41 students are already enrolled.  

Tanat Maichan
Michaela Marioni is one of the students in the video game design program at Shockers Studio.

Michaela Marioni, a student enrolled in video game design, expressed enthusiasm for the new program.

“Video Game design is something I’ve always wanted to do,” she said. “All the cool equipment they have is going to bring a lot to the program and help students venture out. I think it’s going to be really exciting”  

The program is expected to cost the University $450,900 over the first three years with money coming from an internal reallocation from the office of Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs. Additional costs will be covered by an annual program fee.

Rorabaugh expects enrollment to reach 150 students within the next two years.