Clay Damron is a Senior Arts and Entertainment Technologies Major in the School of Design and Creative Technologies at the University of Texas at Austin. Read more Q&As with AET seniors.
Why did you choose your major?
Since adolescence, I've always been really engrossed in level design, 3D modeling and technical art. When I first came to UT, there was no area of study that encompassed my interests, so I became an engineering student. However, following the inception of the AET program, I knew it was time for a transfer. As someone who is primarily career focused, I knew that the project based curriculum would prepare me to work in a real production environment. The latitude afforded to students through the independent study class and the senior thesis program encourages specialization, another important feature of the program.
What's been the biggest surprise in your program?
When I first applied, I had no idea that the construction of state of the art facilities was underway. The modernization of the library afforded students access to a recording studio, free 3D printing, 3D scanning, CNC milling, and other benefits.
What projects are you most proud of during your time at UT, and why?
Throughout my time at the University of Texas I've had the opportunity to tackle many interesting projects. The large-scale mobile game environments and VR/AR experiences I created while working at Mixer are certainly the most memorable. I also had the opportunity to help debug MathCraft, an educational game that will be distributed to millions of students.
Throughout my studies I also undertook a number of freelance/contract projects. These projects ranged from architectural visualization to industrial design, and even visuals for theater productions. As a 3D artist, it is useful to be able to draw from experience in a number of different industries.
In collaboration with six of my capstone classmates, I also had the opportunity to develop and publish a 3D puzzle-platforming game called Hostile Work Environment on PC. Our multi-disciplinary team worked on this project over the course of a semester.
Additionally, I participated in the Global Game Jam as well as a variety of Major League Hacking events. I was happy to claim victory at the UT DesignHacks competition. Some of my models were also featured at the annual SIGGRAPH conference, where they were used by Stanford researchers to demonstrate VR technology that reduces eye fatigue. Over the course of my academic career, I have also maintained an online portfolio that contains personal projects.
What do you hope to do after graduation?
Upon graduation in May, I will be pursuing full time employment. I am incredibly honored to be a member of the pilot graduating class of the school of Design and Creative Technologies.
Any advice for upcoming freshmen in AET?
Take advantage of the excellent facilities across the forty acres. Join student organizations like the AET Student Committee and EGaDS! Apart from that, just remember that health comes first. This includes working out and eating your vegetables, but it also includes maintaining your sanity and moral character.