Sherman Oaks, California (PRWEB) April 30, 2014
Exceptional Minds, the breakthrough vocational school that seems to be taking on the world as the first and only digital arts academy for young adults with autism, has hired from inside the visual effects industry for its new vice principal role.
Shish Aikat joined Exceptional Minds last week to manage its three-year program for an expanding student body, which has grown three-fold since the school’s founding in 2011. He brings to his new role an extensive background in education and post-production, including experience as a digital arts instructor at Loyola Marymount University and as the global learning manager for post-production studio Rhythm & Hues near Los Angeles.
Shish has worked on such films as Snow White and the Huntsman (2012), Life of Pi (2013) and Night at the Museum (2006).
“Shish has a rare mix of experiences that are needed at this critical time when we’re launching a new working studio – and just months away from graduating our first class and starting our new school year with even more students on our rolls. His perspective and his talents are invaluable at this next stage of growth,” said Ernie Merlán, whose role as Exceptional Minds’ program director will expand along with that of Yudi Bennett, the organization’s director of operations, to oversee the daily operations and direction of Exceptional Minds and its new Exceptional Minds Studio (EMS).
Exceptional Minds’ three-year vocational program prepares young men and women on the spectrum for careers in movie post-production and related fields. Its first eight graduating students will enter the workforce this June with working experience and proficiency in at least six software programs considered to be the gold standard in the digital visual effects industry, including Adobe ACA certifications.
The graduation coincides with the official launch of Exceptional Minds Studio (EMS), a working studio co-located with the school that was established last year and is now gearing up to provide post-production services by professionally certified young men and women with high-functioning autism who have completed, or are in the process of completing, the requirements of the Exceptional Minds program. Already, Exceptional Minds students – all in their 20s and on the spectrum − have performed post-production work for a half-dozen movies, including Oscar-nominated motion picture American Hustle.
“My goal for Exceptional Minds students is to create a lifetime of learning, and it all starts with this very symbiotic relationship between the school and the studio,” commented Aikat, who is a firm believer in the concept and practice known as global learning – an all-encompassing term for employee development that goes beyond technical skills to prepare individuals for life-long learning. “In many ways, Exceptional Minds students are facing the same challenges as when I managed movie projects across a team in six geographically disperse locations, each with divergent cultures and skillsets,” explained Aikat, who likens the often misunderstood visual cues of autism to the often misunderstood stereotypical head bob of his native India culture.
“We can overcome those misperceptions through training and technology. This is the perfect environment because we are able to match our program to the Hollywood contracts we’re getting and the actual work being done. There is no better way to prepare our students as well as our faculty for the real world,” he added.
Roughly 750,000 young adults with autism are expected to reach adulthood in the coming decade, many destined for unemployment or underemployment. Exceptional Minds is the first and only three-year vocational program for young men and women with autism who are pursuing careers in the digital arts.
About EMS and Exceptional Minds (http://www.exceptionalmindsstudio.org): Exceptional Minds is a non-profit vocational center and working production studio for young adults on the autism spectrum. It was chartered in 2011 to provide the training necessary for creatively gifted individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) who may not otherwise be able to make the transition from high school to careers. Located in Sherman Oaks, California, Exceptional Minds is both an instructional learning facility and a working studio with hands-on student involvement in production projects, many for the film industry. Operating separately and independently, the Exceptional Minds Studio (EMS) provides contract services in web design, animation, rotoscoping and visual effects cleanup on an as-need basis.