(August 26, 2013)

Computer Science Professor spends summer as "MoonFellow"

SHREVEPORT, LA — Dr. Mark Goadrich, Associate Professor of Computer Science, spent his summer as a "MoonFellow" at Moonbot Studios. Goadrich initially reached out to the Shreveport-based multimedia entertainment company to learn how to better prepare his students for that industry. He has had several students go on to work at Moonbot after graduating from Centenary.

Dr. Goadrich with former students
Dr. Goadrich with former students and current Moonbot developers, Nolan Baker, Kathryn Hardey and Jackson Blankstein.

"As they went off to Moonbot I didn't know exactly how that route worked...and if what I was teaching and preparing them for was what they needed to know in that industry," said Goadrich. "So I talked to some people there and we found a way for me to be there during the summer as a Moonbot fellow. I was able to go and work there every day on the projects."

During his two-month experience, Goadrich worked alongside former students in the Interactive Department on video games.

"I jumped in with them on some projects and was able to see what they loved about that industry," said Goadrich. "I saw what made it so appealing for them and saw the relationships between the computer science I teach and what they really needed to know."

Learning more about the gaming industry from these students was a unique experience for Goadrich.

"It was exciting and humbling," said Goadrich. "Really amazing to see their progress. I saw them when they walked through the door and knew nothing. Then they went on to get a minor in computer science or major in computational math and now they know more than I do about the particular thing they're working on...it was neat to see them taking what they learned and doing something really cool with it and loving it."

Although Goadrich was primarily learning this summer, he was able to offer expertise and research in the areas of artificial intelligence and agent-based modeling.

"I took my background in those areas and was able to see how that kind of stuff can fit into a video game and make what they call non-player characters," said Goadrich. Non-player characters range from the electronic player on the other side of the chessboard, to anonymous soldiers shooting fire in a video game.

In the end, Goadrich was very impressed by the careers his former students are building.

"The internships, the projects we were able to work on...let them have stories and things to tell when they went on to apply for the job," said Goadrich. "We prepare students well for those types of jobs...they are well-rounded people ready to go out into that industry. Now I know what I'm getting them ready for by being able to do that this summer."