MENOMONIE – Two UW-Stout undergraduate programs are receiving national recognition.

In March, the Princeton Review announced its 2013 rankings of the top game design programs at U.S. colleges. The list included the top 15 programs while another 15 programs, including UW-Stout’s, received honorable mention.

UW-Stout’s program is the only one in Wisconsin or Minnesota ranked in the top 30. A total of 150 programs were surveyed in the U.S. and Canada.

“This is a great acknowledgement of the quality of the program and reflects the type of cutting-edge, career-focused academic offerings at UW-Stout,” Chancellor Charles Sorensen said.

The school’s packaging degree also is earning acclaim. The Daily Beast, part of Newsweek magazine, recently included the degree on a list of Most Overlooked schools. The list was based on nominations from website readers.

According to a report recently released by UW-Stout’s Career Services office, all of the school’s packaging graduates from 2011-12 found jobs. The average starting salary for those graduates was $55,000.

“Graduates from our packaging program have a long history of going on to highly successful careers, including (working) for companies such as General Mills, 3M, Medtronic and IBM,” said Jeff Anderson, dean of the College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. “This program is a perfect example of how UW-Stout students are prepared to meet today’s needs of business and industry.”

Students in UW-Stout’s game design and development program can concentrate on art or computer science aspects of video games.

Art-and-design skills, such as drawing, digital imaging and animation, are needed to create interface components, 3D environments and 3D characters, while math and computer science skills are required to develop 3D graphics, artificial intelligence and game engines.

The program director, Diane Christie, a computer science and math professor, said national recognition “is always very important and confirms that we are providing our students with the skills and experience that employers desire now and in the future.”

Christie said the computer science and art concentrations are the equivalent of full majors in those fields, with a common core of game design courses.

“We combine the students to apply their technical and creative skills in upper level classes, which are set up as industry simulations, team taught by faculty from each of the disciplines,” she said.

Faculty serve as producers of the projects, managers of the interdisciplinary teams of students, and technical leaders. Students create 2D and 3D games, both for entertainment and educational purposes, for clients who bring industry projects into the classroom, Christie said.

Dave Beck, assistant professor in the School of Art and Design, is the art coordinator for the program. The program was approved in 2009 by the UW System Board of Regents.

UW-Stout’s packaging program is the only one of its kind in the University of Wisconsin System and one of just a handful in the nation.

Students in the program learn various aspects of product packaging, including design, research and development, manufacturing and quality management, food packaging and graphic design.

Packaging is one of 28 majors that reported 100 percent job placement for 2011-12 graduates at UW-Stout, which has a total of 44 undergraduate programs.

Overall, 97 percent of UW-Stout graduates from the 2011-12 class had either found jobs or were furthering their education, the report said, citing a 91.5 percent survey response rate from graduates. Of those, 79 percent of those graduates had found work in their field of study.