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“Is the Real-Time Interactive Simulation degree usable only in games? What does it take to be a Computer Scientist? How can a Computer Scientist make an impact on the world?”

These were some of the questions DigiPen’s Chief Technology Officer (CTO), Samir Abou Samra, sought to answer at a series of talks he gave to some 560 students at St Andrew’s Junior College, Saint Joseph’s Institution, and NUS High School of Science and Mathematics from Nov 11-14, 2014.

Samir’s talks are part of DigiPen’s regular outreach programmes to Singapore junior colleges and schools. These talks give students a better understanding of DigiPen and its programmes and, more importantly, a clearer idea of what’s entailed in entering the field of Computer Science.

Samir spoke candidly to the students, sharing details about his work on video games and other key industry projects. With Samir’s insight, students gained an appreciation for the diversity of skills necessary to create a hit game — for example, Samir stressed a grasp on basic psychology when creating games like Super Mario Bros. or Mario Kart in order to understand what keeps players interested. Students found it amusing that game designers would programme games in such a way that the software would assist players at strategic times to give them a sense of satisfaction and to keep them wanting to play more.

The students also learned about DigiPen projects aside from games, such as Alpine, a data analytics platform DigiPen designed for the Lotus F1 Team, and DigiPen’s work with The Boeing Company using digital simulation to solve logistics and manpower problems.

When students posed questions to find out if Computer Science could be applied in industries like architecture, medicine, and even food, Samir gave examples to illustrate how Computer Science could resolve a range of real-life problems.

Commenting on his interactions with the students, Samir said, “These talks were a great opportunity to share my experience and passion with young minds. More importantly, it was a time for me to inspire more young people to consider entering into the fascinating fields of Computer Science and Real-Time Interactive Simulation. I hope that what I shared with them will give them a better idea and help them make the right decision for their future.”

Students who attended these talks were invited to participate in DigiPen’s Student Shadow Programme as well as workshops and information sessions. Students who sign up for the Student Shadow Programme get a chance to experience a day in the life of a DigiPen undergraduate at DigiPen’s Singapore campus.

Information and workshop sessions allow prospective students and their families to learn first-hand about the various undergraduate degree programmes offered at DigiPen, meet key members of the faculty and staff, and get a chance to try their hand at designing a game through fun and interactive activities.