UHV pairs with TimeGate for high-tech animation studio

Through a partnership between the University of Houston System and Sugar Land-based TimeGate Studios, the University of Houston-Victoria is helping to form a cutting-edge motion capture studio that will give industry experience to student interns.

UHV, which provides many of the courses offered at the UH System at Sugar Land, and TimeGate will work together to provide equipment, a facility, training and mentoring for student interns.

Li Chao, a professor of computer science and chairman of the UHV School of Arts & Sciences Science, Technology and Mathematics Division, said the agreement will be a boost to students pursuing one of UHV’s two gaming-related bachelor’s degrees.

“We are expecting at least 50 students to participate in the program,” Chao said. “This will be a great opportunity for them to gain experience in the gaming industry.”

The agreement specifies that the university will purchase the motion capture equipment, and TimeGate will provide space and the commercial talent to operate the studio at company’s headquarters.

Money the university uses to purchase the equipment will come from the Texas Higher Education Assistance Fund, which provides funds for capital equipment. All HEAF projects must meet state guidelines, and money may not be used by a university for general operating expenses.

Since its founding in 1998, TimeGate has had numerous successful video game launches across multiple game platforms, such as “Section 8,” “F.E.A.R. Files” and the “Kohan” game series.

“This agreement represents the beginning of a long-term relationship with UHS to develop a world-class computer science and digital gaming simulation program right in our backyard,” TimeGate Board Chairman Alan Chaveleh said.

Chao said students will be able to become interns in the program in early 2012.

Students who want to take part in the internship can enroll in one of two UHV bachelor-degree programs after completing certain requirements, Chao said. UHV offers two gaming degrees, a bachelor’s in computer science with a digital gaming and simulation concentration, and a Bachelor of Applied Arts & Sciences with a digital gaming and simulation concentration.

“This agreement will provide an outstanding opportunity for students and strong recognition for the program’s graduates,” UHV Interim President Don Smith said. “This is a fine example of how the programs at UHV can impact area industry and help with our vision of providing a well-trained workforce to the Coastal Bend area.”

Smith added that UHV will continue to work with community colleges in Victoria, Wharton County, Houston and San Antonio to make transfer from those institutions’ gaming programs as seamless as possible.

In addition to Chao, UHV faculty members taking part in the courses include Alireza Tavakkoli, Qi Zhu and Junda Hu.

Jeffrey Di Leo, dean of the UHV School of Arts & Sciences, said the partnership showcases the university’s forward-looking faculty who make studies relevant for students.

“Dr. Chao and the rest of the computer science faculty have shown that UHV is on the cutting edge of offerings in this industry, whether in the digital gaming or cloud computing areas,” he said. “Students in this program will benefit greatly from this work experience, adding much more value to their education at UHV.”

The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973 in Victoria, Texas, offers courses leading to more than 80 academic programs in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as an instructional site in Katy, Texas, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.

Ken Cooke 361-570-4342