Orlando, FL (September 6, 2023)– The Games and Interactive Media (GaIM) program in UCF’s Nicholson School of Communication and Media’s is among the recipients of a $150,000 grant that will help empower the next generation of diverse games professionals.

The 2023 Unity Workforce Grant from Unity Social Impact and Jobs For the Future (JFF) prepares future creators for in-demand careers games, XR, and the metaverse. NSCM was among those selected from more than 700 submissions to support the next generation of real-time 3D creators.

Grantees were selected based on their proposals’ attention to inclusion, impact, viability and career development.

“Now, more than ever, we have a responsibility to equip young people with the skills necessary for future jobs – providing them with learning that translates to earning,” said Jessica Lindl, vice president of social impact at Unity. “I’m thrilled with the winners of the Unity Workforce Grant and am confident that these institutions will continue to provide equitable access to education and workforce opportunities.”

This grant will support the purchase of additional hardware, software and the creation of new course content and programs for both GaIM and the central Florida community through partnership schools.

The work supported by the grant is led by three GaIM faculty: Undergraduate Coordinator and Industry Liaison David Negrin, Deputy Assistant Director Peter Smith and Assistant Professor John T. Murray.

“Our team in GaIM is thrilled to embark on this project with support from JFF and Unity, the vanguard of digital innovation and a transformative force in the global game development landscape. With this grant, we will expand our program and bring the craft of game development, cutting-edge extended reality (XR) technologies, and the promise of the metaverse to the communities of Orlando and Central Florida,” said Negrin.

Murray authored the first UCF undergraduate course dedicated to XR. He also launched an enrichment program with help from UCF student volunteers that introduces Orlando area high school students opportunities to and game design.

“The success of generative artificial intelligence and XR technologies depends on the vision of those who create with them,” said Murray.

By expanding curriculum offerings in XR GaIM can leverage its existing facilities and faculty to bring emerging technologies and techniques to their students.

“We look forward to integrating more of the available technologies and ensuring our students are workforce-ready in emerging virtual reality fields,” Smith said.

A key volunteer for the Evans High School VR Creators program, UCF Digital Media Senior Jasmine Darman said: “We intend to reach out to as many students as possible and make the largest impact we can. Those who love game design should not be held back by lack of opportunity.”

About University of Central Florida, Nicholson School of Communication & Media (NSCM), Games and Interactive Media (GaIM)

University of Central Florida (UCF) is a nationally recognized Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI). Games and Interactive Media (GaIM) is an undergraduate program at UCF focused on game design, game development, games research, web and social technologies. The undergraduate program teaches more than 1,200 students annually. With this grant, GaIM will further their mission to produce the next generation of diverse games and interactive media professionals.

UCF intends to expand their existing undergraduate program to include advanced education in VR/AR & The Metaverse and leverage their resources to introduce these skills in a professional training program for the community of Downtown Orlando, including 270 high school students and adult learners.

Published to Nicholson News on September 12th, 2023.

If you have any news, accomplishments or highlights about your work or life, please be sure to share them with us, by emailing us at NicholsonNews@ucf.edu.