Featured Faculty Profile
Assistant Professor - DeVry University Irving
Teaching Field: Game & Simulation Programming (GSP)
"We have students going on great internships already; they're not even juniors yet and they are already working part time for a gaming company. Companies tell us that what they want to see in job applicants is a portfolio of work and an internship. At DeVry we work hard to make sure you graduate with a full portfolio to start your career."
Where I come from
I started my bachelor's course work in physics, and then I went into the Navy. When I came back to school, I realized that I wanted to do something with more application than physics. I thought electrical engineering was one of the hardest fields, so I chose it. I completed the BS degree in 2002, and got my master's the same year.
When I started college right out of high school, my grade point average (GPA) was 1.2 after the first semester. I had no money and I was not eligible for any financial aid, so I went into the Navy to get education benefits. I graduated college with a 3.9 GPA. I didn't get any smarter; the difference was that I learned how to learn. I now have my Ph.D. in electrical engineering, with a focus on simulation, from the University of Texas in Arlington.
After college I went to work for a small research and development (R&D) firm, and did research on advanced technology projects. Most of the projects were from the Department of Defense. In the process, over the next two years, I was awarded over $1 million in funding for various research projects that I led. The projects ranged from the airborne laser program flexible electronics to micro-electrical mechanical vibration and energy harvesting systems. From that I have one patent pending; my Ph.D. work generated another which is also pending.
This is a tremendously exciting time for electronics engineers. I try to bring that excitement into the classroom by telling my students what I see as a consultant in various areas such as operations research - where I use things like artificial intelligence, neural networking, expert systems, and 3D modeling projects. The kind of modeling and simulation work I do includes financial systems - for example, modeling foreign exchange markets. Right now I am working on an expert system to be used in electronic design as well as a business simulation tool which looks at work flow to help maximize efficiency and revenue generation. In addition, I am an executive in a start-up firm designing and developing portable electronic test equipment. We expect to be in production by the end of 2007.
"It's my job to make your brain hurt."
I have a drive to learn. Part of it is just me and part I owe to my teachers, especially Mrs. Lawrence, my fifth grade math teacher. She made me understand everything right down to the foundation level. That really helped me understand problems and how to solve them. I try to do the same for my students. I start the semester by warning them, "It's my job to make your brain hurt. You don't have to memorize anything. I want you to understand this topic down to the core." I take no excuses, they can do it.
You have to have an intrigue and interest in how to make something. You have to have the drive. That does not mean you have to do it all yourself. I encourage students to come to my office if they have questions. I have an open-door policy.
Students coming up see the projects my current class is doing and that's usually why they sign up for my classes. For example, last semester in a simulation class the students built a realistic 3D sniper simulation that accounted for such affects as wind drift and drag; you could also call it a realistic projectile motion simulator. We also ask local companies to identify projects they really want done but don't have time or resources to do themselves. We've done simulations that show the flow pattern of customers - one for a dental office, one for a restaurant - to determine what changes could be made to improve efficiency of their employees, customer seating wait time and revenue.
See the value
The students who do well here recognize the value of the education they are getting. They may be older students, already working in the industry and trying to move up, and need the degree. They may be students straight from high school that are excited about working in the gaming field and realize that it's a competitive market. The only way they are going to get into it is by going somewhere like DeVry University, where they can get a foot in the door.
See the difference
At other four-year universities, you are going to be on your own. Faculty members usually have a primary focus on research, not on students. Our job at DeVry University is to teach. We're able to keep consulting or working in a sideline business if we want, but our primary focus is always on the student's education. I am on the GSP focus committee, with administrators, faculty and students. The committee is tasked with making sure that students don't fall through the cracks as well as ensuring they are getting their needs met.
If you want to work in the gaming industry, I believe DeVry University Irving is one of the top schools in the nation for this program due to our curriculum, faculty, staff and the outstanding record of graduate employment for our students. The GSP program in Irving is growing rapidly. The chairman of the department, Ed Magnin, has such broad knowledge and deep understanding of the gaming industry. He has been in the industry for over 20 years and has many connections which in turn help our students and the program. The connections and credentials of our faculty in artificial intelligence and simulation are excellent as well.
We have students going on great internships already; they're not even juniors yet and they are already working part time for a gaming company. Companies tell us that what they want to see in job applicants is a portfolio of work and an internship. At DeVry University we work hard to make sure you graduate with a full portfolio to start your career. If you go to another university, there's no real help on that. You're on your own to come up with a portfolio. Here you add something with almost every class you take.