North Carolina Economic Development Guide


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But the Simulation and Game Development Lab is not just any computer classroom. Nor is Rotenberry just another programming instructor. Taken together, the two are at the heart of what has become one of Wake Tech's most popular programs: its associate of applied-science degree in simulation and game development. Created four years ago with fi nancial support from the National Science Foundation, the lab is one of the most advanced in the country for training digital-game and simulation developers. The new computers cost about $90,000 in total, and industry-specifi c software runs roughly $250,000 each year. Roten- berry pieced together the curriculum in 2006 based largely on experience and contacts honed during a 20-year career that included military service, college teaching and programming work. Input and assistance from leading simulation and game companies also went into establish- ing the curriculum and lab. "We were one of the fi rst programs in the country, and we believe we are the best when measured by the placement rate of our graduates," he says. Last year, 80% had job offers by graduation day. The rise of Wake Tech's simulation and game-development program mirrors the emergence of this industry cluster in the Research Triangle Regional Partnership, which encompasses 13 counties surrounding Raleigh, Durham Challenge: The video-game cluster in the Triangle got off the ground when Epic Games moved to Cary in 1999. But the industry still needed support and trained workers. Solution: Universities and community colleges, collaborating with the gaming industry, produced the workers. Meanwhile, recruiters and others learned the value of playing.

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