Digital Entertainment Technology
Adrianna Mott from Booneville, AR is a student who has shown real initiative when it comes to her education. Although this is only her first year at ACU, she is already a junior by hours thanks to a program which credited students at both the high school and college level.
Before entering high school, Adrianna knew she was interested in pursuing game design. While searching for colleges, ACU reached out and offered her a scholarship. When she visited the campus, she got to talk to professors in the department. The department had begun working with VR, which not many other colleges were doing. Adrianna knew that the courses ACU was offering would help in the pursuit of her passion.
One of those courses focuses on creating AR/VR in a variety of game engines. It teaches coding in game engines such as Unity, Unreal, and BabylonJS. This provided a challenge for Adrianna because she didn’t learn any coding languages before college. Thankfully, she took a course on Scripting her first semester. It introduced her to the fundamentals and helped in the preparation for more advanced classes. It wasn’t long before, she gained confidence in her ability to code.
Adrianna also gained experience when she participated in a Mechanical Engineering internship. It involved measuring machines and creating a 3D model of it using Autocad. She also worked as a tutor and a teachers assistant in the department. Lately, she has been working on advertising for DET, making videos for prospective students.
There is a variety of chapels across campus for students to participate in. One of Adrianna’s favorites is DET Chapel. It is a small group on campus that talks about ways they can connect with God through their work. She is also helping the DET Chapel group on a virtual reality church. She has created 3D models as well as conducted research on the impact the virtual church could have.
As a personal project, she is working on a VR educational game for kids. The concept is that users get to “walk through the alphabet.” They can interact with objects, see the letters, and hear the words. The hope is that this type of visual and auditory experience will help kids with different learning types. ACU is sponsoring her to conduct research on its effect. A few other students have pitched in to create trailers and splash screens for it.
When it comes to her faith, Adrianna enjoys the atmosphere that ACU provides. “It is a strong community. I have met so many like-minded friends.” She also appreciates the variety of worship opportunities such as Praise Day and DET Chapel, stating, “It is such a different atmosphere, but you are still connecting to God.” To learn more about ACU and is Digital Entertainment program, click here.
Drake Pamplin (’19)
Digital Entertainment and Technology
Meet Drake Pamplin, a senior Digital Entertainment and Technology major from Abilene. Drake’s family has a strong legacy with ACU. In fact, his father, Dr. Kim Pamplin, is chair of the ACU Chemistry and Biochemistry department.
When asked about courses that he has really enjoyed, Drake says that the animation course whose curriculum was created by Bryon Caldwell, an industry animator, is at the top of the list. Caldwell’s course allows students to talk to and get opinions from a professional in the field. On the coding side, Drake has really benefited from classes such as Programming (one and two), which teaches C++, a core language that is close to old programming languages that most programs are based on. Game engines such as Unreal and Unity are based on C++ and C# (which is similar to C++). Drake said, “You can’t make a game without writing code. Learning C++ was integral to my success.” Another course that is a favorite of Drake’s is Object Oriented Programming, which he believes will prove very useful in the field of game development as he moves into his professional career.
Drake is planning on working with USAA this summer in a software development internship. He will be working on developing and publishing software for their website. “If you are a DET student in your junior or senior year with a good GPA, then they (USAA) will want to talk to you.” When asked about the interview and recruitment process for the internship, Drake described it as “very natural” saying that USAA came to campus and talked with interested students. Most students were then invited to dinner that evening where they could see how students interacted with their peers. The next day, USAA conducted a formal interview where they discussed technical skills with the interviewees.
During his time at ACU, Drake has worked on-campus as a tutor for classes such as Computer Organization and 3D Modeling. He also worked for Wildcat Central and now works at Wildcat Software, developing software for clients in the Abilene area. A recent Wildcat Software project had him working on updating a website for Rainbow Bible School. Drake is also involved in DET Club where he currently serves as the President of the game development section.
In his free time, Drake is working on many different projects including a recently completed game for Global Game Jam. He was approved for funding to get a Steam license and is now in the process of getting the game on Steam. Drake is also working on a survival style game stating that he has a tendency to stay busy with projects. “When I see a new thing I want to do, I start it, so I’ll have a hundred different projects open.”
ACU has taught Drake not only the skills to make it in the industry, but also the skills to integrate his faith into everyday life. “Not every job you do is going to be something divine, most jobs are going to seem pretty menial. However, here you learn how to make your work reflect your faith.” We wish Drake luck in his future endeavors and look forward to seeing his next completed project. To learn more about the DET program, click here.
3D Fence Model created by Drake Pamplin
3D Cushion Model created by Drake Pamplin
3D Glass Model created by Drake Pamplin
Computer Science and Political Science
Kevin Shurtz is a senior double majoring in Computer Science and Political Science from Southlake, Texas.
Some of Kevin’s favorite classes have been Operating Systems, Programming Languages, Philosophy Religion, and Science as well as Theory of Computation. Kevin says, “Theory of Computation with Dr. Homer is one of the best classes offered by the University.” The class introduces some of the academic thought and literature that underlies a lot of the advancements in the field of Computer Science. From that class, Kevin learned about finite state machines, regular expressions, multiple categories of languages, and limits of computability. Kevin explained that the class touched on subjects that exceed the scope of vocational purpose, stating, “I don’t think I could have gotten that knowledge outside the context of college.” Kevin said that the class really frames the limits of the field, which is valuable in students’ holistic intellectual growth.
Kevin has been very involved in and out of SITC. Describing tutoring as a great job opportunity for students, Kevin tutored for Computer Organization, as well as Object Oriented Programming. Kevin has also served as the President of ACU’s chapter of ACM (Association for Computing Machinery) and as the Chief Financial Officer for ACU Student Government.
Kevin has completed two internships while at ACU. During his sophomore year, he interned at Faithlife as a software developer on their platform team writing in C#. The next year Kevin interned at USAA on their Enterprise Data Insights team. His team was responsible for making back end java services that would be deployed in containers to a new deployment platform. While there, Kevin worked with Python and participated in a coding competition to help learn how to use Angular. Kevin plans to work for USAA following his graduation this May.
In his free time, Kevin has a few projects that he is working on the first of which is a React tutorial. For ACU student government, he has a few projects in the research phase one of which involves improving the system of recycling around campus. The group wants add Amazon IOT buttons to each recycling bin, so that the bins don’t have to be constantly checked unless they are actually full. Another project is tailored towards improving the student election system. They are currently trying to set up a resource group and back end solutions.
One of Kevin’s favorite aspects of attending ACU is the relationships that you can build with professors. He says, “The professors aren’t just here to teach technical skills, they are here to help you grow on a personal level”. Kevin really respects the faculty, how well versed they are in the Bible and their diverse experiences with their own faith. He says that being able to interact with the faculty throughout the last four years has been incredibly valuable for his own faith. Congratulations to Kevin on his graduation and future work. To learn more about the Computer Science program, click here.
Class of ’22
Wyatt Witemeyer is a freshman with majors in computer science and math from Abilene. He started learning to code in high school, but first learned C++ while taking Programming I and Programming II with Dr. Homer which soon became some of his favorite classes, not only for the subject matter but also for the relationship he developed with Dr. Homer. “Dr. Homer’s dry humor makes me laugh. The joke often ties back into the lesson, making the class more interactive and fun.” These classes teach students how to think like a programmer, which has helped Wyatt with his problem-solving and communication skills. “The computer will do exactly what you tell you to do. So, it’s a matter of being able to lay out those instructions is a clear and concise manner.”
Despite this being his first year on campus, Wyatt has already become a tutor for Programming I, a class he enjoyed and further sparked his interest in computer science. He sees this a good opportunity to help others as while also building relationships. He also attends department chapels including 3:16 Chapel, where he enjoys continuing getting to know his professors on a deeper level and engaging in scripture with them. He is also involved in ACU’s E-sports team for Hearthstone.
In his free time, Wyatt enjoys hanging out and playing video games with friends, including a game he designed and wrote himself. His game is about five years in the making and he has been slowly adding to it since he first learned how to code in high school. Wyatt described it as a role-playing adventure game similar to Dungeon and Dragons, but without dice. However, just because it’s functional now, doesn’t mean he’s done improving it. “As I learn more about programming, I am applying it to the game,” said Wyatt. He uses the game as an opportunity to apply what he is learning in school to something he is passionate about outside the classroom and the more he learns, the more he is able to improve the game.
Wyatt chose ACU because he loves Abilene and is very close to his family. Not only do both his parents work at ACU but his older sister, Bethany, is also a student in the SITC department. “The opportunities that ACU offers are amazing. It’s a local Christian School and my family is here, so I couldn’t say no.” Wyatt has had a great experience in his freshman year and looks forward to growing in knowledge, skills, and relationships as well as experiencing as much as ACU has to offer in the next few years.
Dr. Brian Burton
Associate Professor of Digital Entertainment Technology
Dr. Brian Burton has always had a heart for ministry and it was his desire to preach that initially brought him to ACU in 1990. At the time, his plan was just to finish his undergraduate degree and the fastest route for him to do that was to major in education. At first, Burton saw teaching as a side job while he focused on ministry. However, after beginning his student teaching, he had a change in attitude – teaching became his new ministry. Burton says, “I come home happy every day knowing I made a difference.”
Burton graduated Cum Laude, double majoring in Secondary Education and Business Administration as well as minoring in Computer Science, earning his Bachelor of Science degree in Secondary Education as well as a certification in Business Administration and Computer Information Systems. After graduation, he went on to receive a masters of Science in Secondary Administration as well as a doctorate of Education in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis.
This educational and professional background set the backdrop for his current project. About 15 years ago, Burton had the idea of creating a virtual school environment intended for students that are homeschooled or for those who live in remote locations or have health issues that prevent them from attending a brick and mortar school. Burton is now ready to start the first phase of testing which involves researching the effects of different types of avatars and the impact that they could have on learning. If he can find a correlation between the environment and quality of learning, avatars could be used to improve students’ experiences through this virtual school.
Burton currently teaches three courses at ACU: Digital Entertainment Technology II, Real Time CGI, and Digital Entertainment Development. Through teaching these subjects, he hopes to help inspire students to further the field and its possibilities. Off-campus, Burton is very involved in the community. Burton and his wife, Rosemary created an online school, Burton’s Garden of Schools, for children of missionaries. They are currently working on creating a virtual church environment where those without physical access can participate in a church community.
We seek to inspire, equip and connect our students in many ways, especially in finding a way to have their vocation and calling bless others. Dr. Brian Burton has found his vocational ministry in teaching DET students at ACU and inspires his students to use their gifts to make a difference in the world. When asked why he thinks ACU is a great place for DET students to study, Burton stated, “ACU is one of the few places that are teaching these subjects, and one of even fewer that are doing it in a Christ-centered environment.” Want to learn more about the DET program and the School for Information Technology and Computing? Click here.