“Today, this building is yours. We want your imagination to be limitless.”
Bob Geolas, the president and CEO of the Research Triangle Foundation welcomed nearly 300 students from Wake and Durham County schools to the first ever Gaming and IT Expo, organized and hosted by US2020 RTP.
The Frontier at Research Triangle Park (RTP) was open for students to explore firsthand how the hobbies and technologies they utilize every day could lead to promising careers. They were encouraged to write down what they aspire to be and take a picture for the “I can be” wall. The dreams included:
An astronomer. A teacher, librarian, and architect. An artist. Mechanical engineer. Civil engineer. Doctor. Character maker. Game designer. Animator.
Students enjoyed hands-on and interactive demos from local gaming and information technology companies such as Red Storm, Microsoft, Red Hat, SAS, and IBM. Red Storm and Total Cinema 360 had virtual reality games and experiences for attendees to experience. Microsoft and the Extra-Life Raleigh-Durham Guild had popular games set up for students to play.
Representatives from North Carolina State University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Shaw University, Wake Tech Community College, Durham Tech Community College, and the Art Institute of Raleigh-Durham were also at the event to engage and encourage the pursuit of higher education in the fields of game design, web design, and information technology.
In addition to company and university participation, NC FIRST Robotics showed off robots with which attendees had the chance to interact. Students enjoyed taking control of robots to stack containers, crush trash cans, and play catch.
There was also a panel of STEM professionals that shared their personal stories of triumph with students.
The Gaming & IT Expo is a new, focused effort of US2020 RTP and is an offshoot of the larger RTP STEM Expo that was held April 24, 2015, which served nearly 800 students from across the state. The Gaming & IT Expo was graciously sponsored primarily by Fidelity Investments.
US2020 RTP is a STEM mentoring program sponsored by the Research Triangle Foundation of NC. Founded in 2013 after an award received at the White House Science Fair, the organization aims to streamline STEM mentoring in the Triangle by connecting nonprofits, schools, and universities who need mentors with STEM professionals who want to mentor.