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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

January 28, 2010 at 8:00 PM

DigiPen gets new campus, teaching kids game development

DigiPen Institute of Technology, the Redmond college dedicated to training game developers, is about to get bigger.

The privately owned school is creating a new campus in a former Microsoft building on Willows Road in Redmond with more than 100,000 square feet of space. It’s announcing the plan Friday, moving in the summer and starting classes there in the fall.

DigiPen is planning to use the new space to expand its degree programs and the science and technology education programs it offers to high school students in the region.

Graduates, sprinkled through the region’s game industry, have produced a number of major titles, including Valve Software’s “Portal,” which was based on a student project called “Narbacular Drop.”

DigiPen now splits between two Overlake-area buildings, a former warehouse adjacent to Nintendo of America that’s been its main campus since 1998 and a satellite space on 154th Avenue Northeast.

Amenities at the new facility include a cafeteria, auditoriums with tiered seating, library, recreation area and general store.

“The new campus has been designed to fit DigiPen’s unique way of teaching, which balances a very rigorous academic curriculum with practical projects from start to finish,” founder Claude Comair said in a release.

With additional space, DigiPen’s bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in game design and computer engineering may eventually increase to 1,200 matriculated students from the current 900, according to Raymond Yan, chief operating officer.

DigiPen will use part of the building for its Technology Academy program, which is funded by the state’s vocational education program.

Also in the works are after-school and weekend classes in computer science and production art for Eastside high school students that are designed to prepare them for advanced-placement exams.

The school has been looking for space to expand for the past five years but had trouble competing with Microsoft for large complexes in the area, Yan said.

Now Microsoft is cutting back on leased space and consolidating at its enlarged campus, freeing up buildings like the three-story one DigiPen is leasing, across the street from Overlake Christian Church.

DigiPen also is expanding its reach abroad, with a campus that opened in Singapore two years ago and another it’s planning to open in Bilbao, Spain.

Comments | Topics: digipen, Education, education

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