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New Mexico State University

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NMSU animation program ranked among top 25 in nation

Date: 03/10/2021
Writer: Minerva Baumann, mbauma@nmsu.edu

New Mexico State University's Creative Media Institute animation program is again ranked among the top programs in public colleges in the country. NMSU has placed among the top schools in Animation Career Review's rankings over the past 10 years. The organization considered nearly 200 programs across the country this year. The 2021 rankings list NMSU's animation program 22nd nationally, seventh regionally and number one in New Mexico.

"CMI offers a very high-quality education at a very affordable price," said Eddie Bakshi, who specializes in teaching 2-D animation production at CMI. "We offer access to industry standard software, taught by highly skilled professors, many of whom have worked on popular movies or TV shows."

"What we do at CMI is a really fun delivery system for a variety of skills that are useful in all areas, including entertainment," said Amy Lanasa, professor and department head of NMSU's Creative Media Institute. "One of the reasons the animation program is so popular right now is that there are a lot of students who understand that the future will be a place where we need the skills you can learn in this program."

Animation Career Review considers animation programs in degree-granting institutions with the exception of two-year community colleges. The criteria evaluated include academic reputation, admission selectivity, depth and breadth of program faculty, value as it relates to tuition and indebtedness, graduation rate, geographic location and employment data. Since 2020, the employment data is now given significantly more weight in the ranking formula than in previous years.

The criterion of geographic location is considered because students who attend school in cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Orlando, New York, Chicago, Boston, Austin, and a few others have a distinct advantage over students in other parts of the country in terms of employment opportunities.

Mazatl Aguilar will be graduating in May with a CMI degree in animation from NMSU. Aguilar was drawn to the animation program and the variety of skills that come together in 3-D animation. NMSU's affordability was also an important factor in that decision.

"Honestly, I did not know what I was getting into when I chose to go to the animation program at NMSU," Aguilar said. "I had no experience, no knowledge of the animation world. I could never have gotten where I am now without being surrounded by instructors who have put in the time and energy to learn their skills and had the passion to share it with me. I am very lucky to have gotten into CMI. My life would've been very different."

Bakshi explained the animation students who graduate from the CMI program can apply the skills they have learned to a wide variety of fields. They are not limited to entertainment, but are useful in almost any profession dealing with visual media.

T.J. Cousler will graduate from NMSU's animation program at the end of this semester and plans to pursue a career in the gaming industry. "I chose the animation program at NMSU because I wanted to tell stories. CMI delivered on that hope tenfold. I now have a solid footing in a craft I'm deeply passionate about and am also equipped with the technical and professional skills I need to push forward in my career."

Lanasa is proud that NMSU's animation and visual effects program has grown in popularity every semester. She said the demand for the animation program is so high she has to waitlist more students than they can accept during every application period. In addition, there are a number of students in other majors at NMSU who want to get a minor in animation.

Brandon Trevizo will graduate with a degree in animation in May 2022. He applied to schools across the country but chose NMSU to avoid what he called "crippling debt."

Once he entered the program, Trevizo found it was the right place to learn animation.

"The NMSU animation program has so many resources, from the labs to your peers. The program also respects your emphasis but will ultimately make you a jack of all trades, preparing you for various careers and opening even more doors for you," Trevizo said. "You always hear about these giant art schools that cost and arm and a leg to attend, but honestly, they can only do so much; it is really up to the individual. At NMSU, you as an individual feel like you are part of a great talented network.

"It really makes me glad to be a part of it all and I would recommend it to anyone who asks if it is worth it. I am grateful for my peers and professors and would choose the NMSU animation program again."