Maryland-based HBCU Bowie State University (BSU) has secured a historic partnership with stop-motion innovator LAIKA to build a first-of-its-kind animation studio for its students.

According to a press release, LAIKA — the Oscar®-nominated and BAFTA and Golden Globe Award-winning feature film animation studio — has teamed up with BSU to build the nation’s first stop-motion animation studio. The aim is to enhance the school’s animation curriculum and offer students an alternative career path in the creative space.

“This is a great opportunity for students to learn valuable skills that will carry them into the professional world of animation,” said Tewodross Melchishua Williams — chair of the BSU Department of Fine & Performing Arts — in a statement. “There are a lot of storytelling and narrative elements that have yet to be brought to life via stop-motion animation, especially in the arena of children’s programming. We are looking at this partnership to be an internship and career pipeline that can help diversify the animation industry, which has been a traditionally underrepresented sector when it comes to the voices of people of color, women, LGBTQ and other communities.”

In addition to this partnership, LAIKA will be donating funds to help upgrade Bowie State’s green screen studio which will allow for stop-motion animation production.

The eclectic art form, which is considered one of cinema’s oldest techniques, involves the incremental movement of objects, such as puppets, that are filmed 24X per second to create the illusion of movement.

This newly-forged partnership is not only a way to create future career opportunity for BSU students, but also introduce new internship opportunities as well.

LAIKA is reportedly interested in making a long-term investmentsin the university’s animation efforts to help better prepare students for success in the animation industry.

According to LAIKA’s head of production Arianne Sutner, the company is thrilled to be partnering with Bowie State University’s prestigious institution.

“At its heart, LAIKA is a community of artists, craftspeople and scientists committed to expanding the technological capabilities of our animation medium in order to tell everyone’s stories with boldness, compassion and excellence. Helping BSU students to express their experience, their artistry and their potential through the stop motion art form speaks to our creative and corporate mandate. We’re so excited to explore their talents and to provide mentorship and tools that will enlarge the scope of their filmmaking vision.”

Bowie State’s animation & motion graphics concentration — which is a part of its visual communication & digital media arts bachelor’s degree program — is regarded as one of the university’s fastest-growing majors.

Moreover, BSU was recently recognized for having one of the nation’s top HBCU art programs by The Hundred-Seven, which specifically highlighted the five concentrations in the VCDMA program, a press release shares.

This new animation studio isn’t just a win for HBCUs across the country, but Black artists at large creating more representation in creative spaces across the animation industry.