Posts Tagged ‘video games’

Game On!

Friday, November 5th, 2010

Video Games

When ATETV launched its web program last year, our first Episode included a segment on the Simulation and Game Development Program at Wake Technical Community College, where we heard from a student who was coupling her love of video games with her scientific and medical interests to develop a simulation program to help people learn how to perform CPR.

Video simulation programs are widely used in the field of medicine, helping to train nurses, technicians and doctors. But as we’ve discovered, today’s video simulations are rapidly evolving to help users better understand a wide variety of the scientific and medical issues and challenges that we face today.

At the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies, for example, the LA Times reports that computer-simulated “humans” are being created by groups of psychologists, engineers and scientists to help train military troops about post-traumatic stress disorder. These virtual soldiers are also helping real-life soldiers to transition back into civilian life.

Another example of a program looking at the issues of the day is “Inside the Haiti Earthquake,” a first-person simulation based on documentary footage from Haiti. The program is designed to help users to understand the perspective of three individuals – an earthquake survivor, aid worker, and journalist – and to deepen their understanding of the challenges and conflicts involved in each of the roles, and the complexity and difficulties of relief work in disaster situations. You can read more about this unique project in this interview with the Huffington Post.

Still another new video game helps players better understand global climate change. Called “Fate of the World,” this “global strategy game” enables players to decide how the world will “respond to rising temperatures, heaving populations, dwindling resources, and crumbling ecosystems….” As adviser Diana Liverman of the University of Arizona’s Institute of the Environment noted in an interview, “This [game] is another way to improve climate literacy….in order to destroy the world you would have to know a lot about climate change, emissions, world geography and politics and how they combine with other factors to create a catastrophe.”

If these examples have left you curious about a career in Simulation and Game Development, check out this special issue of Community College Week published last spring. There you can learn more about the industry, the job opportunities, and some of the community colleges where programs in Simulation and Game development are offered.

Game On!

ATETV Episode 46: Creating Marketable Skills for Cutting-Edge Industries

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

This week, we look at a program that is enabling students to bring their creativity to life, see how older and younger students can learn from one another, and hear from employers how Wind Energy Technology careers are soaring.

In our first segment, we talk with Brian Simpson, a student in the Simulation and Game Development Program at Wake Technical Community College. Brian’s lifelong love of video games is translating into a marketable skill as he studies Video Game Design. “It’s great to actually be doing [video game design] instead of just imagining doing it,” says Brian. “It’s like bringing your imagination to life and it’s just an amazing experience.” Incorporating math skills, programming, graphic design and, yes, imagination, Video Game Design is much more than fun and games — for students like Brian, it’s a promising future.

In our second segment, we visit Sinclair Community College where students in the Green Building Technology program are also embarking on fascinating future careers — some for the second time. As Sinclair’s Bob Gilbert tells us, “We’ve had some people who’ve been [working] in the building industry for a number of years, but when they find out how much they can benefit from weatherization programs [and other new building programs] they’re amazed.”

As a result, the program at Sinclair is made up of a mix of younger and older students who not only learn from Bob and other instructors, but also learn from one another. As 58-year-old student Howard Drucker explains, “I found my experience with the younger students very enjoyable — they’re bright young, excited about getting started. So it’s been very enjoyable, almost inspiring at times.” Adds Bob Gilbert, “The older people bring life experience to the classroom and that adds a lot…it makes things very realistic.”

Finally, in our third segment, we look at another relationship that’s working extremely well, this time between students in the Wind Energy Technology Program at Laramie Community College and area Wind Energy employers in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

“Our relationship with Laramie County Community College began during the construction of our facility,” explains Tom Bailey of Duke Energy Generation Services. “Wind energy is an important career track because of climate change regulations. People are more interested in renewable energy, and [wind energy] is a cutting-edge sort of field.”

It’s also a field full of opportunity, according to employer Mark Guilloz of enXco. “In the last four years or so, we’ve seen exponential growth throughout the industry,” says Mark. “It’s growing so rapidly that the manpower, the knowledge, the expertise that we’re reaching for is very difficult to find.”

But, as both Mark and Tom note, their companies’ close relationships with Laramie have enabled them to find top-notch students with up-to-date knowledge of today’s Wind Energy industry — and given students a chance to literally climb to new heights.

Let the Games Begin!

Saturday, July 24th, 2010
Useful Tools for Employment?

Useful Tools for Employment?

This week, we heard from Wake Technical Community College student Steve Hardister, who is enrolled in the college’s Simulation and Game Development curriculum. Steve told us that one career area he’d like to pursue after graduation is producing computer simulations for educational purposes.

It turns out that simulation development and “gaming” are not just for amusement anymore. Far from it. Today, video games and “virtual worlds” are being used in fields from medicine and health care to the automobile and aerospace industries. Computer simulation is widely applied throughout academia and computer modeling is used to help safeguard our country against terrorism.

Last year, Bill Waite, chairman of AEgis Technologies Group (a Huntsville, Alabama company that creates simulations for both military and civilian applications) told the New York Times, “It almost doesn’t matter what kind of world you care about; you can use simulations. If you’re a defense agency, you want to create a simulation that will allow a missile……to detonate. [These] same tools and same set of skills are used in the pharmaceutical industry to figure out how the little beads in [an aspirin] are going to get from your stomach to your brain.”

What it boils down to is that designers of computer simulations are sought in a wide variety of fields to help understand complex, multifaceted ideas that are too expensive or dangerous to study in real life. In fact, US News & World Report predicts that job opportunities for Simulation Developers will continue to grow with the wide availability of broadband and ever faster mobile Internet access.

It also turns out that gaming skills are now highly valued by employers in general as the new book, Total Engagement describes.

Now, you may ask, how can a video game like World of Warcraft make you more marketable in the workplace?

Well, just ask Stephen Gillet, a gamer who became Chief Information Officer of Starbucks while he was still in his 20s. According to an article this week on Forbes.com by playing World of Warcraft, Gillet developed the ability to influence and persuade people through leadership rather than trying to order them around. Other important job skills that video games can help you develop: Dealing with unexpected challenges and new situations; managing and organizing information; entrepreneurship; and, of course, mastering competition.

Let the games begin!

ATETV Episode 16: ATE in Virtual and Real Worlds

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

Technology is changing the way we interact with the physical world; it even lets us create entire digital realities that exist only within a computer. This week we look at three ATE programs operating at different spots on the spectrum between reality and virtual reality.

First, we visit the simulation and game development program at Wake Technical Community College, where students are immersed in virtual worlds of their own design. The curriculum is intense; student Ryan Snell recalls a class where he had to make a new video game every two weeks. “It was the greatest experience I’ve ever had,” he says. Another student, Aisha Eskandari, is adding a side project to her course load, coding a simulation to teach people CPR. Her work is a good example of virtual reality having a positive impact on the real world.

Another blending of the real and virtual is geospatial technology, which creates digital maps of the physical world. Central Piedmont Community College is spreading the word about this growing field by reaching out to high school students. “Students can take our courses free of charge while in high school, and get college credit as well as high school credit, and earn a certificate before they ever come here as a college student,” says Central Piedmont’s Rodney Jackson.

If geospatial technology straddles the real and the virtual, civil engineering is all about building the infrastructure that makes the real world work. That’s the appeal for Bristol Community College student Vittorio Pascal, who’s come back to school to change careers. “I like the possibility of a work environment where I’m not necessarily crammed into a four-by-four cube.”

Whether you want to work out in field like Vittorio or are more comfortable in front of a computer, chances are there’s an ATE program that will appeal to you.