Graduate Stage Automation

Graduate Stage Automation

Stage Automation is the art of moving scenery and equipment, and often performs as if by magic. Movement created through machines is used in live and immersive entertainment to set the stage for a production or to propel the narrative into an entirely new direction. UNCSA Stage Automation students master installation, programming and operation of these highly impactful elements within a production.

Coursework revolves around designing, developing, fabricating, installing and operating automated systems. Students build skills and hone their craft alongside their peers in student-led productions each year. Graduates of the Stage Automation program have a strong foundation that enables them to distill each automated element down to three important questions. How heavy? How fast? How far?

View Curriculum

Master of Fine Arts

First Year
The first-year curriculum focuses on building a strong foundation that will support an automation professional throughout their career. Your hands-on program focuses on necessary skills and processes, including mastering the equipment housed in our 5,000 square-foot motion control laboratory. Coursework includes Fundamentals of Automation, Computer Aided Drafting, 3D Modeling, Welding and Metalworking and Strength of Materials. You will apply what you’ve learned in class in theaters and performance spaces, both on- and off-campus.

Second Year
During your second year, knowledge and skills are explored more deeply with the goal of enabling you to confidently continue on the path towards becoming an automation professional. Coursework builds upon the concepts of automation that further support an automation system. Additional courses include Technical Direction and Rigging and Research Projects. Production responsibilities continue, and you will assume leadership roles on productions teams.

Third Year
You will take advanced courses focusing on automation control and programming tasks during your third year. In addition, you will choose a thesis project and complete self-directed stage automation work that focuses on your chosen research piece. In your final year,  you’ll move into positions of designing, developing and managing automated solutions across several UNCSA productions and projects.


Stage Automation is an essential part the entertainment industry. Alumni from our program are working nationally and internationally in regional theatres, Broadway, super-sized spectacles and stadium rock concerts. They are forging unique professional paths in various performance venues and professional shops, or in management positions at the industry’s leading production companies such as Fly by Foy; MADE First; Oregon Shakespeare Festival; Showman Fabricators; Showmotion, Inc.; Tait Towers; Texas Scenic Company; The Metropolitan Opera and Verendus Industries.

Stage Automation Faculty
Dedicated to creating artists, entrepreneurs and leaders.


Stage Automation News
Learn more about the Graduate concentration in Stage Automation through these features and news stories.