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Posts Tagged ‘gaming’

ITN sponsored Seed Assistance Grant creates ongoing collaborations at Harrisburg University.

Posted June 19th, 2014 by admin

A start-up company was in need of development services to advance their product prototype in order to attract venture funding. The company president contacted ITN in search of funding and expertise to get them to the next step of the development process. As a company they specialize in envisioning educational games to enhance class room learning. Specifically, for this project they were interested in a cardiac physiology activity which would teach how the cardiac system functions and assess students on their grasp of this knowledge. The company had illustration and physiology expertise but needed gaming, social media and pedagogy expertise.

I am Spike Moyer a faculty liaison with ITN and I travel among our network of 15 colleges and universities to acquire a 10,000 foot view of academic expertise in Central PA. No one does educational gaming better than HU and I was sure this collaboration would create a win-win situation. HU has a Center for Advanced Entertainment and Learning Technologies and an undergraduate degree in Interactive Media. I met with Professor Charles Palmer, Executive Director of the Center at HU and he immediately recognized several synergies and was interested in collaborating.

One important synergy is a philosophy: “Changing perspective improves understanding.” HU has been experimenting with a virtual reality simulator called the Virtusphere. So far they have used the tool to develop a training module for an industrial plant and a prototype of an “inner space” style game called Plasma Runner. The game uses a racing mechanic to facilitate physical locomotion through a virtual body. The race cumulates with a “walk through” the heart but also quizzes players on their knowledge of the various systems in the human body. Another synergy is experiential learning. HU has a requirement for undergraduate experiential learning and this collaboration was good opportunity to engage students in a real project. http://www.harrisburgu.edu/faculty-staff/research-centers/virtusphere.php

I arranged an informal meeting with Mr. Palmer and the company president; they shared goals and interacted well. Within a few weeks, they developed a work plan and were ready to write a Seed Assistance Grant proposal. The time frame was short. It was November 2013 by now and we had a deadline of Dec 15 to submit the grant proposal. HU would provide their gaming and educational pedagogy knowledge and the company would provide an illustrator and subject matter expertise. The project would then start with the beginning of the Spring 2014 semester.

The proposal was accepted and the grant was awarded. HU hired an undergraduate student and alumnus to work on this project. The deliverable was mutually defined after the team began taking a closer look. It was completed on time and it demonstrated that a classroom process like a laboratory exercise can be converted into a game. The company is using the result to attract funding and expects an award in July. The company plans to continue this collaboration and would like to fund the HU team in the Summer and Fall semesters to carry their product development to another funding round. The next phase is including multiple players using social media so that an entire class could compete in the game environment and digitally share their achievements with the outside world. Sounds like interactive media to me.

Who wins what?
HU now has a full featured prototype that is getting polished and can be used as a teaching tool. A student and an alumnus are benefiting from experiential learning and receiving an income. The alumnus is acting as a mentor to the undergraduate student. HU’s primary mission is to educate students. ITN acted as an advocate to introduce a company to HU they would not have encountered. Aside from Professor Palmer, staff member Tony Ortega serves as the team’s project manager and lead designer managing all client and team interactions as well as designing the game’s mechanics and visual aesthetics.

This program is expected to continue generating experiential learning opportunities. The client wins by completing the demonstration phase. They have used this result to attract additional funding. They are growing a collaboration relationship with HU and at least two HU graduates may be hired.

Does it Stink, Glow or Burn?

Posted November 3rd, 2009 by admin

This is a guest post by ITN’s Faculty Liaison, Malcolm Furman

Greetings All! Over the past couple months we all have been pretty busy with the website, a few events, and meeting new people. If you haven’t yet done so, have a look at my new grant highlights page, “Mal’s Picks.” If you don’t see your particular interest in that short list, give me a call – I have a reserve in the file. 

In my travels around the region, I have renewed contact with Lebanon Valley College – meeting four professors over the summer and meeting their new Dean, Michael Green and a few more faculty for lunch. So far we have seen Chemistry and Biology faculty and recently Jennifer and I had a great meeting with the Digital Communications group. Moving south to Franklin & Marshall College, I met Curtis Hare and Claude Yoder. As it turns out, these folks comprise only a small fraction of the Chemistry talent in the ITN community. I am also working with a few faculty on Requests for Research [RFRs], a pathway to sponsored research for which our Out of Cycle Seed Assistance Grants may be particularly useful.

ITN has received referrals from industry, including Ben Franklin Technology Partners, DCED,  and from HACC. These range in purpose from heat sinks, to concrete, materials recovery to computer and electronics applications, and maybe a power plant. I am encouraged by the alternative fuels work being done at Penn State Harrisburg and Dickinson College. There is great opportunity for collaboration among the schools for these and other projects.

The IT and computer science connections I have made so far span Shippensburg Univeristy to Millersville University. The sophistication in gaming and simulation technology in the region is commendable.  Jennifer met the guys from VGI Phila (VideoGame Growth Initiative) and they’ll be coming to meet ITN for what we hope will be a lively discussion. Call me (717.948.6455) if you want to join the meeting.

For many of our faculty I am finding links to federal grant solicitations, not only in gaming, but in materials, devices, and human factor developments. As we move forward I believe these grant programs will become important components in the commercialization process – providing sufficient resources to the project partners to reach the critical mass needed to go to market. Having spent three days at the Federal Laboratories Consortium regional meeting gave me a sense of the opportunity that exists in making those connections work. I will be writing about that in more detail later.

In addition to my activities with faculty, I’ve also met with Fred Botterbusch of MANTEC, our regional IRC. Being able to expose our faculty to the wider connections in the business community, and vice versa will be a great advantage. While I haven’t listed all of the meetings, calls and letters fielded from my cubicle over the past couple months; please know that one way or another, I have made some connection with all of the schools. I do enjoy projects that “stink, glow or burn” but I am also involved and excited about the many opportunities I find here. In addition, when I have spoken of our activities to the business community or organizations, like the FLC, there is much interest in what we are doing – and usually a request to become involved or stay informed. Until next time….