Part-time adjunct instructor Rich Harrington (Art and Design) has forged a relationship between SUNY Broome and the Koffman Southern Tier Incubator through his ART 106: Introduction to Three Dimensional Design course. In September, Rich first met with Matt Gill, the founder of Enhance VR, a start-up business focusing on integrative Virtual Reality applications located in the Koffman Southern Tier Incubator. The incubator is located at 120 Hawley St. in downtown Binghamton.
After a tour of the facility, the two sat down to discuss the incubator and the possibility of engaging art students from SUNY Broome. It turned out Matt was looking for a student interested in 3-D rendering and virtual reality, with some experience with software in these areas. Harrington presented his experience to his ART 106 class and found that Jordan Paugh (’20) was interested in pursuing a career in game design. Jordan had some experience with Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, and was currently taking coding and programming courses along with the Intro to 3-D Design course taught by Harrington.
A meeting was set up and Jordan began learning the program “Blender,” an open-source 3D modeling program at the direction of Matt Gill. During the course of the past two months, Matt and Jordan have worked together weekly on developing the skills needed to move Jordan onto the next level of engagement: working on content and design. Jordan’s first project was creating a three-dimensional digital rendering of two doughnuts and a mug on a table. Learning about “heat mapping,” texture mapping, lighting etc., Jordan began learning the ins and outs of 3D rendering, using concepts he was also learning in his ART 106 course. For Jordan, some of the main takeaways were “rendering takes a while…(the tutorials were) very informative, and with each individual step I was learning something new… I would definitely be able to render a room by myself now.”
Jordan is benefiting from Matt’s knowledge and expertise as well as having the experience of working toward common goals in a team environment — a step into the real world. Jordan will possibly be working on the creative aspects of new projects based on feedback from local educators and administrators on integrating VR within the classroom.
Jordan has taken to the experience quickly: “Matt has made it pretty easy. He takes his time, explains everything, makes sure that I know everything and so far I’ve learned so much. It feels like another class I didn’t even have to pay for.” When asked about juggling college and work, it hasn’t been a problem for Jordan. Matt adds, “and that’s how we want to kind of transition this: instead of you working at Wegmans, you work for us.”
With aspirations of learning game design and eventually working in that capacity, Jordan remembers, “when I was growing up in 11th or 12th grade I was like, ‘Maybe I’ll go for engineering, maybe I’ll go for math or accounting’ and then I was just like, ‘No, I think I want to go for something a little more fun, I don’t know what yet.’” He is currently looking into transferring to Champlain College in Burlington for Game Design at the suggestion of Harrington. Champlain College was recently named one of the top 20 game design study programs in the country by the Princeton Review.
From Matt’s perspective: “I wanted a student to be able to come in that doesn’t do this normally, but maybe has an inclination to it beyond the artistry or the game dev side of things; to kind of be creative…do it at your own pace. In the future we will develop better lesson plans based on what we’re learning from your (Jordan’s) experiences.” In the future, Matt’s working to make the experience of working with Enhance VR an internship for credit, possibly with a stipend.
His plans for the future include developing VR platforms for the entertainment, education and medical industries. He wants to make a “public lab” for people who use this technology. He sees the potential of the incubator as a shared space with shared resources used by talented innovative and forward-thinking people to realize their creative vision.
Jordan continues to apply his creative skills to projects Matt gives him; next semester he hopes to apply these skills to projects directly related to Enhance VR’s program initiatives. For more information on the Koffman Southern Tier Incubator, see below: