Contact: Ellen Sterner
SMU News & Media Relations
(214) 768-7650

January 2003


To help meet the needs of local industry, the Hart eCenter has announced plans to offer a new program in digital games development. The multidisciplinary program, which will include tracks in art creation, level design and software development, is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). Classes are expected to begin in July 2003 at SMU-in-Legacy.

In addition to training students to work in the games industry, the 18-month program will have applications for numerous other industries, including national defense and education/training.

"The success of the digital games industry has been a driving force behind the development of affordable computer hardware and software, as well as tools and techniques in computer simulation, modeling, and animation," says Peter Raad, professor of mechanical engineering and Linda Wertheimer Hart Director of the Hart eCenter. "The same skills and tools that build games for entertainment are equally important in a broad spectrum of research and training contexts. I imagine soon we'll see these techniques spread from the extremes of entertainment and scientific simulation into many everyday elements of our lives."

Raad says the multidisciplinary nature of the digital games industry --- requiring creative arts, computer science, engineering, business, and humanities -- fits perfectly with the Hart eCenter's multidisciplinary approach to research and education on networking technologies.

Dallas traditionally has been at the heart of the digital games development business, and several industry leaders asked the eCenter to develop an intense, industry-oriented training program. Professionals from several area game studios are involved with curriculum development for the program, and will assist SMU faculty members in teaching classes.

The program will consist of six three-month terms, each culminating in a real-world project.

The program, which is being called the Guildhall at SMU, is being led by David Najjab, who previously served as director of electronic arts and new media at the University of Texas at Dallas. Najjab also coordinated the first and largest computer arts program in Texas.

According to Wired magazine, the digital games industry is seeing phenomenal expansion, with growth of 15 to 20 percent annually, requiring about 5,000 new hires a year. The industry urgently needs well-trained personnel to fill these jobs.

More information about the Guildhall program is available at For more information on the Hart eCenter, visit