Like many freshmen, Adam Kling began his Penn State career unsure of what he wanted to study. Eventually his interest in cartoon animation led him to the Interdisciplinary Digital Studio (IDS) major in the School of Visual Arts, where he found his “home.”
The IDS major—established in 2006—gives students the opportunity to gain experience in digital art and design through courses in graphic communication and computer programming. It also integrates education in landscape architecture, graphic design, visual arts, theatre design, music and photography. Some topics taught in IDS courses include shot composition, physical installations and animation.
Kling, now a senior, plans to use his IDS degree to pursue a career in cartoon animation and animation shorts. He said he would not have had the opportunity to learn about 3D modeling and other skills necessary for his area of interest in most other majors.
“The classes are difficult, but very interesting. If you have a determined personality, I would say IDS is perfect for you,” Kling said.
A 300-level course all IDS majors have to take requires students to work together on a project for an outside client—in Kling’s case, Penn State’s Center for Pollinator Research. Kling and his group developed a video game titled “Pollinator Panic,” intended to teach kids about the intricate structure of pollinator communities.
Kling was able to put his skills learned in video game design and programming courses to use in the real world. That, he said, is invaluable.
Students with a background in IDS have gone on to work for companies like DreamWorks Animation.
Kling recommends this major to anyone who has an interest in any kind of computer programming. Being a motivated and ambitious person, Kling said, is necessary in order to excel as an IDS major.