The AIMS Difference

AIMS is unique in its structure and intent.

The networked world expects what the innovative design firm IDEO calls “the T-Person”, with both breadth of knowledge and experience (the top bar of the “T”) married with some area of specialty (the vertical bar of the “T”). This distinctive “shape” requires a distinctive approach to learning as well as a distinctive academic structure. Thus, AIMS students are taught by faculty from all perspectives who work to carefully craft exceptional experiences in and outside of the classroom. This transdisciplinary nature also allows AIMS students to collaborate across all disciplines. 

Specifically, we have found the following core values are what makes AIMS so special:

  • Whatever-it-Takes: We believe success in the 21st century is tied to a comfort with ambiguity and the ability to adapt to changing circumstances. We exemplify that when building the educational experience. We do not believe the only way to learn is through watching a professor stand in front of a class and lecture. Instead, we take a “whatever-it-takes” approach to our program. Some classes look fairly traditional. Some are online. Some are working with industry. Some of our educational experiences aren't even "classes"—like when we take students to meet and greet at the annual Game Developers Conference.
  • Agile Student-Centered Approach: Building on Miami University’s commitment to excellent undergraduate education, AIMS faculty work with students to advise them in a tailored path through the curriculum. Faculty also run various international programs to work with clients in other cultures (past trips have included workshops in China, Ireland and the United Kingdom). Faculty coach students during key industry networking opportunities. Miami is committed to excellent undergraduate instruction, advising and mentoring. So, while we are a research institution, faculty are deeply committed to helping our students growing into successful professionals making a positive impact on their industries.
  • Collaborative and Cross-Functional Structure: The first (and to a large extent, still the only) digital media studies program in the country that crosses schools of business, engineering/computer science, arts, education and liberal arts. Nearly all other digital media programs are in a single department or school/college. This is not true at AIMS. We believe our cross-functional structure represents a new model for higher education and is liberal education for the 21st Century.
  • Project-Based Learning: We believe theory is important, but real transformation happens when students synthesize theory with practice. As such, most of our courses are project-based where students are learning theory and then applying it through making. Those projects run the gamut from small personal projects to large semester-long collaborative group projects for real-world clients.
  • Breadth and Depth: Programmers learn how to talk to designers. Designers learn how to talk to business students. Business students learn how to work/talk to both designers and programmers. AIMS covers a broad range of digital media coursework including classes in Interaction Design and Development, Game Design and Development, Usability, Social Media Marketing, Project Management, etc.
  • Engaged with Industry: The program engages with innovative new start-ups, non-profits, and established multi-nationals to give students experiences across the broad section of where disruption is happening everyday. AIMS students don’t do “think pieces” for clients, but do projects that will actually get used “as-is.” Teams have student project managers and team leads, as well, who develop strong leadership and communication skills. Clients have included Coca-Cola, P&G, The US State Department, dunnhumby, Bank of America, Convergys, Cablevision, HP, Cintas, Gensler, Weber-Shandwick, Cardinal Health, J. Peterman, The Tibetan Government in Exile, Hulu, Pearson Learning and various startups.
  • San Francisco and Cincinnati Digital Innovation Centers: In 2011, AIMS began a lab based in the heart of San Francisco’s “startup alley” that focused on digitally-based startups and their innovations. Students “study abroad” by spending 3 days per week embedded within a startup company as an intern and 2 days per week in intense lectures and personal interactions with some of the brightest and most innovative thinkers on the West Coast as well as tours of companies and facilities in the Bay Area. In 2014, AIMS received a nearly $1 million grant to will launch a similar initiative in Cincinnati. Cincinnati is known as a Top 5 Consumer Marketing Region in the world, is home to 10 Fortune 500 Headquarters, and was recently named one of the top unexpected hubs for tech startups. The Cincinnati Digital Innovation Center began placing students in spring of 2015.
  • Inverted Classroom and Online Education: In 2010, our director, Glenn Platt, co-wrote a research article on the inverted classroom. The idea was that the classroom would become more inclusive as technology allowed content typically reserved for lectures to move online so that the in-class time of the course could be better spent in discussion, mentoring and helping students overcome particularly difficult problems. Since then AIMS has been employing this technique throughout our program. Related to the “whatever-it-takes” value, we view online courses not as a brand-new way of approaching education, but as yet another context learning can take place in. So, we comb our curriculum and identify which courses would work best in a traditional setting, which would work best as a lab, which would work best inverted, and which would work best fully online.

This unique approach has led to many accolades. The Princeton Review consistently ranks AIMS’ Game Program as being in the top 10% in the country. AIMS has been nominated to be a State of Ohio Center of Excellence. Our partnership with the Entrepreneurship program in the Farmer School of Business has yielded Miami being ranked third in technological entrepreneurship in the country.

However, the most important metric of success is our students. Our alumni are embedded in best-in-breed digital product companies and agencies around the world, doing meaningful and rewarding work.