Dr. Brian Burton (’92), associate professor of Digital Entertainment Technology (DET), has a passion for helping his students beyond the classroom. Maintaining relationships with students post-graduation, mentoring current undergraduate research students, and modeling what it means to integrate students’ Christian faith in game design are just some of the ways that Burton goes the extra mile for students. While teaching at the college level might seem like a natural fit for him, it wasn’t what he originally planned to do for a career. Believe it or not, Burton had planned to become a high school principal. And while Burton has been a blessing to his students and peers, he and his family have felt equally blessed by coming to ACU.
While completing his master’s degree and then beginning his doctorate, Burton was a full-time faculty member at Missouri State University. Stemming from a need to create more interest in the computer science and computer information systems programs at MSU, Burton helped create a game design degree at the university. Having successfully established these programs at Missouri State, he was recruited to come back to his alma mater at ACU to build the game design program. When deciding to come back to ACU, he said that he felt God gave him some very clear signs that it was the right decision to move his family to Abilene. Since then, he’s worked hard to teach students the fundamentals, and hopefully, to impart some of the love for game design and research that he has to them. Burton is passionate about teaching and finds satisfaction when he helps students connect the dots saying, “It’s that lightbulb moment when we have been fighting and struggling with a concept, and suddenly you see the moment when a student gets it.”
Recently he mentored students for ACU’s Undergraduate Research Festival. The festival is held every spring and prizes are awarded to outstanding presentations and faculty mentors. Students create exhibits and research in poster and oral presentations. This gives students an opportunity to see what graduate school and research intense jobs might be like. Why does Burton mentor students in undergraduate research? “It is fun because I did the research for my masters and doctorate and I am passionate about research…it is part of who I am; to get to share the process and how to do proper research and doing quantitative v. qualitative, and how you go about that, its a learning process.” This opportunity inspires students every year to pursue graduate school as they have a better understanding of the research process and how to support other team members.
In addition to mentoring students through undergraduate research opportunities, Burton takes great pride in the fact that the ACU DET program is consistently ranked in the top 50 of the Princeton Review Undergraduate Game Design programs in the U.S. ACU is currently ranked as the #1 Christian game design program in the country. This is the sixth year the university has been eligible, competing against major universities and outranking many of them. Burton reflected on what it means to students to be part of the top-ranked Christian program. “It is meaningful. It makes sure that your values are aligned.” The ACU DET program is teaching more than just game design. The program is teaching students how to live out their faith and mission in their future career fields. ACU is a place that challenges students but also supports and develops not only their skills but their Christian beliefs. Prospective students can be assured that during their time in the DET program, professors will not only know their name, but they will know their skill set and help guide them towards the industry that is right for them, working to help ensure that they have the skills to be competitive in the industry. And that’s exactly what keeps Dr. Brian Burton passionate about teaching each new class of students. If you’d like to learn more about the DET program, click here.