Thirty high school students took part in "Designing a Digital Future" Career Camp, presented for the first time over the summer by Pennsylvania College of Technology's School of Business and Computer Technologies.
The two-day camp - the buzz from which makes it likely as an annual event - was designed to demonstrate an evolving assortment of platforms on which interactive games, websites and other digital-media products can be experienced.
"With websites and gaming appearing on everything from computers and TVs to mobile devices, the chances to experience interactive content seem endless," said Edward A. Henninger, Penn College's dean of business and computer technologies. "Our goals with the 'Digital Future' camp were to offer an entertaining and lively learning experience for high school students and expose them to an applied approach to digital-media education and career exploration. Thanks to our dedicated faculty, cutting-edge technology and an eager group of young adults, we feel we accomplished both."
Participants gather for a closing video-game competition at Pennsylvania College of Technology during the Designing a Digital Future’ Career Camp.
Brian D. Walton, the school's matriculation and retention coordinator, added: "It was great to see how much these students enjoyed two pretty intensive days of learning. Our faculty covered a lot of material in a short period of time, and they truly showed that they can make learning fun."
Rotating between the school's new computing labs for financial markets investment and web and interactive media, the students - all of whom are entering grades 10 to 12 this fall - explored digital-media professions ranging from web design to computer-game design, programming and simulation.
"I think the camp went really well. Most of the students walked away learning a great deal. They got a nice taste of the college experience, eating and sleeping on campus, professors teaching classes, etc.," said Matthew E. Mooney, assistant professor of web-interactive media. "I wish I had this type of opportunity when I was their age."
Using lessons gained from five Penn College faculty members during eight hands-on workshops in two days, the campers created fully functional video games and designed web pages and mobile applications.
"The Digital Camp was a great experience for both the students and the faculty who participated," said John J. Messer, assistant professor of web-interactive media. "The students arrived eager to learn and have fun, and I was impressed with their motivation to do a good job on the personal Android mobile app that they created. With a few exceptions, the students were able to create the app and see it in action on an actual device.
"The faculty made every attempt to treat the students as actual college students. This, paired with their physical on-campus experience, gave them a true picture of what college life will be like. I am looking forward to next summer already!"
Other faculty members sharing their expertise and enthusiasm during the camp were Bahram Golshan and Denise S. Leete, associate professors of computer science; and Anita R. Girton, assistant professor of computer information technology.
"I had a great time. The campers started with computer games we created together and then extended them," Girton said.
In addition to exposing the teenagers to exciting career opportunities, the camp showcased the school's two newest degrees - gaming and simulation and web and interactive media. Each provides students with hands-on experiences and skills to successfully design, develop and deliver web, gaming and interactive products for applications in business, entertainment, and education.
The students, who spent one night in campus housing, also held dodgeball and video-game tournaments during their stay.