When Back to the Future Part II was released in 1989, it boasted some bold predictions for October 21, 2015.
Flying cars, hover boards, holograms and even power laces all brought imagination to life. Despite the huge growth in technology since the movie’s release, that 2015 deadline is steadily approaching with nothing to show for it.
Although those specific science fiction novelties have yet to make a real life appearance, other ones have and are sitting right under our noses here at Springfield College.
“They say that science fiction is the way that we predict our future,” stated Springfield College professor Harold Indelicato. “A lot of modern inventions derived from science fiction. The 3-D printer and Oculus were once that way.”
The Computer Graphics/Digital Arts program is littered with science fiction has-beens turned into modern-day marvels. Two stand out novelties they boast are the 3-D printer and a program called Oculus.
Introducing new technologies almost every year, the department’s main import last year was the 3-D printer. The printer is able to bring images and objects from a computer screen to the real world by layering levels of heated plastic.
This year’s big installment was Oculus. It is a program in which the user is engulfed into the world of gaming simply by putting on a headset. Still in its infancy, Oculus puts the gamer in the game, a virtual reality.
“We were a little behind the eight ball when we got the 3-D printer technology but for Oculus we are way ahead of the curve,” continued Indelicato.
The type of technology used to run the Oculus program has yet to be produced commercially. In fact, the Oculus technology was recently purchased by Facebook for millions of dollars.
Indelicato, however, believes it is important for his students to work with these technologies in order to improve their marketability and knowledge of what is to come.
“It’s very difficult to teach computer graphics without incorporating these technologies,” commented Indelicato. “They are imperative. I have plans for what technologies are to come next.”
The future is something Indelicato and the rest of the Computer Graphic/Digital arts team think about on a regular basis. From marketing students, to new technologies and even to prospective students, the future is always on their minds.
This forward thinking was evident during the Game Lab program held this past October, in which high school seniors and juniors from across Western Massachusetts were able to interact and experience what the Springfield College Computer Graphic/Digital Arts program is all about.
“We had 37 people there and we set up three different labs for the students to go through with their families,” said Ruth West, Assistant Professor of Art-Computer Graphics. “Our labs included story boarding, the Monkey Tutorial and the third one involved our Springfield College students.”
West went on to explain that throughout the third station Springfield College students demonstrated and taught their visitors certain computer programs and the skills that are needed to use them.
This experience not only gave prospective students an insight into their possible future but it also allowed current students to show off what they have been working on.
“It was an encompassing day and it was exciting for everyone involved,” commented West. “It was very successful. Aside from Game Lab, Professor Indelicato has been going to local high schools and preparing their art students for what could be at Springfield College.”
“It is a very competitive field with a lot of schools across the country training students in the graphic arts industry,” said Indelicato. “ The difference is that [Springfield College] gives the students fuel for their projects.”
This ‘fuel’ flows from Indelicato and the rest of the Graphic Arts team directly into their students, inspiring them to throw away the ‘cookie cutter’ portfolios and expand the boundaries of what portfolios can be.
New technologies like Oculus and the 3-D printer coupled with a new and improved Mac Lab with Apple TVs have helped the process of making portfolios stick out much easier.
“That was a big exciting moment. We moved from PCs to this big, new Macs and Apple TVs,” said West. “It may take awhile to get use to the different software but they help us display student’s work during classes and so much more.”
The new installments are key ingredients to the success of the major. With a new Mac lab and plans to continue the success of Game Lab, the Computer Graphic/Digital Arts program continues to strive for the future.
The world of science fiction has already reached our little corner of the world. But who knows, maybe Springfield College will have flying cars and holograms some day.
When it comes to the Computer Graphic/Digital Arts program the future is endless.