Fundacion Area Andina brings world class education to Colombia

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Jose Luis Leon Rodriguez

Director of the Animation and Visual Post-Production program

Type:  University

Country: Colombia

About:

Fundacion Universitaria del Area Andina is a University located in Colombia with 3 campuses and 51 training centers.  We are members of the Colombian association of universities (ASCUN). In 2012 we started the first degree granting program at a master’s level -  Master in Public Management and Health. In 2015, we achieved the first sustainability report from the global compact and the GRI methodology.

In 2016 we presented ourselves to the national accreditation committee to seek institutional accreditation, to have the three nationally accredited locations in the highest category. And in 2019 in our animation program received, as you know, the highest accreditation in Colombia making it the single University that holds a fully accredited Animation program.

What were your main challenges before using FAME?

Before we became a FAME partner, we were putting together the core competencies for our animation program, we were familiar with the animation field in our country, however; through consultations with other experts in the field, they pointed out that the best animation schools are located in Canada.
We already had an introduction with Mario Pochat, CEO of Vancouver Animation School, and were discussing to establish a joint program to offer Canadian education and international certifications within Colombia.
As our conversations continued, Mario Pochat offered us the opportunity to be part of the FAME Partner Schools Network (FPSN),  in which opened not only a possibility of modules in art and technology, but it also comprised a joint certification and future academic collaborations such as, student mobility, curriculum alignment and a bridge to bring Canada and Colombia together in the short and long term.
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Please describe your role, what do you do?

I’m the director of the program at the Bogotá headquarters and nationally. I am responsible for ensuring the quality standards of our program, everything that has to do with curricular management, academic, curriculum, students, teachers, international agreements, national agreements and internships.

Everything that has to do with globalization, social projection, accreditation standards.  In a nutshell, all areas that have to do with the program at a national and international level

"To offer Canadian education and international certifications within Colombia"

What was the motivation to use FAME?

The initial motivation came from our initial consultations with the animation experts, where they encourage us to look outside Colombia, in particular for Canadian academic partnerships, to expand our horizons.

Another important motivation was to be able to offer to our students an international profile on each animation specialization.   An international profile was needed because the animation industry in Colombia has undergone so many changes, for instance; small animation studios and their daily operations are somewhat informal, they didn’t have a proper academic production background except through spontaneous courses or simply through software exploration.  This is the reason that prompted us to look for specialized education for our students.

FAME offers to our students to have that door to the world and learn what the animation processes really are at a global level and not just at a regional level.  And that’s the main difference in program compared to other animation programs in the country, because thanks to FAME, and thanks to the international alliances we’ve made in Argentina, Chile, Mexico, in this case, in Canada; our students have a global vision of everything what training and performance are in the different areas of specialization.

What was the criteria you used when making the decision to become a FAME partner?

We had different criteria while evaluating if FAME was for us.  1) Not only the software but the competency, the competency reflects the knowledge that directly impacts the student to have international training; that was the first item, to say that our students could be fulfilled not only in Colombia but at an international level.

Because with the knowledge they had, as you know it was limited, they could only be an animator in Colombia because they had no other knowledge in other areas such as Houdini, or Nuke, and this is something that the international industry requires.

2) Another criterion that influenced us to come to FAME was the academic credentials, faculty and the reputation FAME has.  We saw that you are an accredited institution in Canada, respected, validated by different academic high-quality institutions in Canada and abroad.  This gave us the confidence to actually continue our conversations and become a FAME Partner School.

"FAME as a learning tool is great, we already have many graduates who are hired by local production companies"

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How has the experience been of being part of our FAME Partner Network?

The experience as a FAME Partner has been great. Our students can share their work with different students in other parts of the world.  This also makes it possible to evaluate their own work and see where they rank internationally, not only with regional standards that we have here in the country but with standards to other international projects developed at a global level.

Another aspect of being a FAME partner that we find interesting is that, in addition to this, the workshops allow us to evaluate the students’ processes in an interdisciplinary way, that is, there is a part where you evaluate them in FAME and another part we do it directly in the classroom with our teachers, this allows us to have two visions and two ways of evaluating the same work. This allows our students to have real feedback from their work and allows them to improve many aspects.

In addition to having these training micro modules, having a certification with FAME, this allows the student to have an encouragement that it is not simply an online resource but actually has an impact beyond his knowledge and training.

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How has FAME helped you to address your challenges?

The challenges that have been solved with the help of FAME have been quite great, for example the first, an experiential learning with the use of these new software.

Another challenge that was achieved thanks to FAME, was that the students lost that fear of sharing their work with people from different parts of the world.  In addition, a challenge that also helped to meet in this case, the demands that the country was making because somehow FAME is helping our region Area Andina and Colombia as a country to improve their local animation processes.

FAME as a learning tool is great, we already have many graduates who are hired by local production companies, design agencies, animation studios, and we owe this to the training they have received from FAME.

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How has FAME impacted your success?

Let me tell you that the number one impact was that Área Andina, thanks to the international animation festival, was granted the highest accreditation level in the country.  That’s the biggest impact because the Ministry of Education and the National Accreditation Council realized that our students have a high-quality education in animation, something that’s not in the other institutions. They understood, for example, that our students are capable of facing the big challenges of an animation production at a global level, and that was also thanks to FAME.

So being part of the FAME Partner Network has positively impacted us so much that thanks to the training that FAME brings to our students, our accreditation was achieved.

Recently we were surprised on how now our school appears on the map - so to speak. Área Andina remained among one of the top 100 Visual Effects (VFX) schools in the world.  For the world to know that there is an academic institution in Colombia that offers world class training it’s a great feeling for us.  And it is thanks to this that our companies are known for their production and animation studios, and we also owe it all to that international edition of the program and all this thanks to the partnership with FAME.

How do you measure the value FAME provides?

I would say there are three ways we measure the value of being a FAME partner:

1)Vision 2) Quality of training; and 3), interdisciplinarity animation studies. We didn’t have these three points on our end before FAME.

To expand on each of the points:

1) We didn’t have a global vision; we just knew what was happening in Colombia.

2) Training Quality because FAME’s learning resources are truly high quality and allow our students to go deeper into all the different areas of animation.

3) FAME allows our students to be recognized not only in Colombia, but it also allows us to be part of that list of the best VFX schools. This is how we see and measure the value of FAME, it recognizes that the FAME Partnership has transcended far beyond of what we expected.

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What do you love about your job? Your company?

One thing that I love about this Fundacion Universitaria del Area Andina is that it supports the talent of all the students. And that is the reason we are here, preparing our students for the challenges ahead.  We now understand that animation, visual effects, video games, and any other interactive arts and technology techniques; are in continuously growing.  Area Andina has supported and will continue to support this development in Colombia.

I’m a graphic designer by trade and let me tell you that ten years ago there was no animation career in Colombia, I had to travel to Spain to learn this. At a time that no one thought you could learn animation in Colombia.

Today thanks to FAME and thanks to this university; we have achieved together many things together in such a short time.  Our students are well regarded, since they have proven that they are capable of creating high quality animated productions in Colombia and South America.

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"As a FAME Partner we have achieved other international partnerships"

Is there anything you would like to add?

When I arrived here in 2016, we didn’t have Wacom Cintiq rooms, we didn’t have virtual reality hardware, we didn’t have software like Houdini or Unreal or Nuke.  We only had Maya because it was what the industry here knew.

Based on all that we have achieved as a FAME Partner and with the other international partnerships, with the support of different experts. Our institution has invested in a set of laboratories such as green screen labs, visual effects labs, motion capture, cintiqs, mac, and a virtual reality lab fully loaded.

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