Every summer since 2016, Stetson has partnered with UCF’s Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy to provide students with a unique opportunity to gain new skills. Officially known as The FIEA Undergraduate Summer Research Experience, this program fosters collaboration between intellectually motivated Stetson students and the Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy (FIEA) graduate game-development program.
Students interested in studying and immersing themselves in any aspect of game-development, interactive entertainment or simulation go through a rigorous application process. Those who receive the opportunity are provided with access to the facilities, curriculum, faculty and students found at FIEA’s downtown Orlando campus. These facilities include FIEA’s motion capture studio, recording studio, sound stage, concept rooms, VR/AR labs and game room. Students are exposed to the latest game-development processes for producers, artists and programmers and pursue a self-designed research project.
Digital Art students Jordan King and Yolanda Patino were both granted the FIEA Undergraduate Summer Research Experience for 2018. They discussed their time with the program at a presentation on October 23rd to a distinguished audience that included Todd Deery, Communication & Admission Director at FIEA, Daryl Holt, Senior Executive at EA Sports, and Ben Noel, Executive Director of FIEA.
Jordan King’s Experience
On FIEA’s Resources:
“Utilizing the resources we were offered at FIEA was invaluable, not only to my project but to my professional development. We were given access to industry software that I had never used before. Getting a chance to immerse myself in new software for the summer was a very helpful way to add on to my existing skill set as well as give me a better idea of which software I need to focus on using to later achieve my goals.”
On Improved Skillsets:
“This summer felt like a graduate school crash course. Throughout the program, I improved both hard and soft skills. Regarding my hard skill set, I’ve never had my technical skills improve more quickly than in my few months at FIEA. I significantly improved my existing skills in 3D modeling and texturing, while also adding ZBrush and Substance Painter to my software toolbox. I also used C# for the first time and I feel like my understanding of programming and my ability to code has improved a great deal. Although I didn’t start the program with the intention of improving my soft skills, I believe that my time at FIEA helped improve my communication skills. I have a lot to learn and I had to ask a lot of questions to a lot of different people to help me achieve my goals for the project. Also, having to present my work at the end of the summer, as stressful as it was, is the only way to improve my skills in oral presentation.”
On Future Goals:
“I had an amazing experience at FIEA and my time there helped me regarding a few decisions for my future, in addition to helping me achieve existing goals. I loved sitting in on the classes at FIEA, as well as the graduate school environment as a whole. This has helped me cement my decision to attend graduate school. It has also helped to reinforce my choice of career. I want to be a medical illustrator and make scientific computer graphics and animations. FIEA helped me to begin achieving my career goals.”
Yolanda Patino’s Experience
On Exploring New Tools:
“Most of my work was done with Unity and Maya, two programs I had learned to use in the previous school year. While at FIEA, I also learned the starting basics of Substance Painter and Zbrush to improve the quality off a few of my assets. I was introduced to different aspects of Unity that I had not previously used before, such as coding with C#, adding fog to the atmosphere, and using the Polybrush tool to add mountains and vegetation to the scene. These methods, along with various other techniques, came to my attention either through extensive research via the internet and some of FIEA’s library books, faculty advice, or through the help of a passing by FIEA student. Even so much as a small tip from the students that have been working on game design for the past year at FIEA made working on the project more manageable and enjoyable.”
On Learning More:
“After working on this project and speaking with various FIEA professors about their areas of expertise and what they teach at FIEA, I realize that I still have a lot to learn and that I definitely will need to pursue further studies after graduation. I was initially unsure of whether or not I wanted to apply to FIEA, but now I can say with certainty that I will absolutely be applying to FIEA in the coming year.”
On Motivation and Inspiration:
“Getting advice from FIEA professors has given me significant motivation and inspiration to work on my portfolio even more. I feel that being in an atmosphere among friendly and talented students and faculty while getting to work with my preferred craft for two months straight has had a positive influence on my work ethic. I find I have been making a more consistent effort to practice my 2D and 3D art so that I may improve my portfolio and prepare myself for my upcoming senior project.”