Education: New Game Plan at the University of North Florida
UNF's new computer gaming and mobile applications development programs are in demand.
University of North Florida computing professor Arturo Sánchez-Ruíz wants to give students broader training. [Photo: Jon M. Fletcher]
University of North Florida computing professor Arturo Sánchez-Ruíz is not a big fan of the certificate programs that define many information-sciences departments. "We don't want to send the message that Microsoft is the only way or Apple is the only way or Google is the only way," he says. "This is an ecosystem."
That philosophy is at the core of the university's new gaming and mobile applications concentration. Most information-technology departments offer a specialization in games or one in apps, but not both. Many also narrow offerings to certificate programs that train students for a very specific function at work.
Sánchez-Ruíz wants to back up and "give students the skills that allow them to adapt to changes in technology."
Sánchez-Ruíz, who has been at UNF for 11 years, proposed the gaming/mobile apps concentration as a way to attract students who are motivated by games. The idea is to train all students in two areas of particular demand while enabling them to understand a range of physics, networking, computer security and other computer-science basics that will be useful regardless of the next trend.
The offerings, which began as individual courses and became a concentration this year, have attracted more student interest than any computer-science area since the dot-com bubble burst, Sánchez-Ruíz says. After taking a course called Development of Gaming and Mobile Applications in the fall and another called Wireless Networks and Mobile Computing in the spring, students will spend two semesters working on a hands-on project in the local community.