A new one-year diploma program at Vancouver Film School will produce a fresh group of computer programmers each year. The first cohort of students in Programming for Games, Web & Mobile started in early March at the VFS game-design campus on East Pender Street in Chinatown.
In a phone interview, program head Dave Warfield told the Georgia Straight that the program was developed in response to demand from the creative digital industries for more coders.
Peter Walsh, a senior instructor at VFS, created the program. Looking at students who graduated from the game-design program, he realized that those with computer-programming expertise found jobs more quickly, earned higher salaries, and showed faster career progression.
There wasn’t space for additional courses in the game-design curriculum, however, so Walsh sold Warfield on the new program. The main objective, according to Walsh, was “to create a dream candidate that knew everything across the whole spectrum of programming”, including games, the web, and mobile.
Students start with the basics, learning C# and HTML, then add more sophisticated programming languages, including C++, Java, and Ruby. They also learn how to work with web application programming interfaces (APIs) and develop for cloud computing. By the end of the year, students will have completed at least three projects in each of the program’s core areas. So they’ll not only know what C++ is; they’ll have built something using that programming language.
While BCIT, SFU, and UBC all have computer-science programs, Warfield said they tend to focus on the programming languages and core knowledge. “What we’re doing,” he explained, “much like what we do for game design and digital design, is we’re focusing on not only the knowledge, but also the creation.”
Walsh said that at the rate technology is evolving, graduates of a four-year program can find that the technology they’ve learned is already out-of-date. “We want to produce a student that’s ready to get hired, that is up-to-date on the latest techniques and coding standards,” he said. “So when they go for a job, whatever job they’re going for, they can show off their skills in games, web, or mobile.”