Not Your Average Teenagers: ProjectFUN Students Dedicate Multiple Summers to Pursuing Their Passions

By Silas Chu, Editorial Intern [This post was originally published on September 11, 2013.]

Sleeping in late, breakfast at noon, sitting on the couch all day – these all sound like classic summer activities for the typical teenager. However, ProjectFUN students aren’t interested in burning their summers away aimlessly. Instead, they head to DigiPen’s campus every summer morning, driven by their enthusiasm to learn and create.

One such student is Allegra Knox. Last summer, Allegra was in search of a way to spend her vacation wisely and apply her passion for art. For her, ProjectFUN’s Fundamentals of Animation workshop was the perfect choice.

“I was looking for something to do over summer and I was looking at art and animation programs,” Allegra says. “I chose Fundamentals of Animation because I really like to animate.”

After taking that workshop in 2012, Allegra returned to DigiPen this summer for ProjectFUN’sCharacter Design & Sculpting workshop. While Fundamentals of Animation teaches students how to work with traditional and computer animation, Character Design & Sculpting challenges students to get physical with their art using clay. For Allegra, it offered a chance to experiment with her art style in an entirely new way.

“I wanted to change the medium that I use because I sketch a lot,” she says, “and I thought sculpting would be a fun thing to try.”

After two workshops and weeks of animating and sculpting experience, Allegra hopes to return to DigiPen next summer for another workshop.

Caitlin Schaefer is another repeat ProjectFUN student with four workshops under her belt:Introduction to 2D Video Game Programming,Traditional Game Design, Digital Game Design, and Mobile App Development. An avid gamer herself, Caitlin found an opportunity in ProjectFUN to look behind the scenes at how her favorite games are made. But her workshops didn’t just teach her about game development – they helped her in the classroom as well.

“It’s given me a potpourri of different skills,” Caitlin says. “During my junior year of high school in astronomy class, we had to design an astronomy-based board game, and after taking Traditional Game Design, I was the most prepared student! You never know when you’re going to need some of these skills.”

Included in the skills Caitlin acquired at ProjectFUN’s workshops was the ability to solve problems more efficiently. After attending multiple programming classes, Caitlin concludes that sharp problem solving skills are crucial for success.

“If you’re coding, you’re almost automatically good at problem solving. You think about problems critically, you think of what solutions could work and you try them out,” says Caitlin. “If it doesn’t work, you try something else. Taking those problem-solving skills and using them to enhance other areas of your life is very important.”

As Caitlin heads off to university this fall, she plans to study for a career in physics and math, but she’s also excited to find new and creative ways apply what she’s learned at ProjectFUN.

Like Caitlin, Gabe is another ProjectFUN student who is passionate about games, but his interest goes a step further: he wants to make them for a living.  Gabe returned to DigiPen this year for the second summer in a row to learn more about how to develop the video games he loves to play.

“I took [Traditional and Digital] Game Design last year and [2D Video Game] Programming this year because I thought that those would give me the best chance for entering a game development career,” says Gabe. “I’m not a very skilled artist, but I’m good at math, so I thought programming would be my best chance to get into the game design industry.”

Along with preparing him for a future career in game development, Gabe observed that his ProjectFUN workshops helped give him a head start for the following school year.

“Usually in the summer you relax your brain, but taking ProjectFUN workshops means that my brain is already working,” he says, “so I find that I’m able to get into school faster.”

Gabe also found that his Game Design workshops helped him improve his reading and writing skills. In those courses, students are required to examine how game designers brought their games to life. Gabe found that this same process applies to analyzing and writing about literature in his English classes.

“[Analyzing games] really helped me in my English class when we were trying to figure out what authors’ purposes were in writing, and I feel like I can express myself better,” Gabe says. “Since I took a course about learning how to express myself, this really applied to my speech, writing, and how I interact with people.”

Having obtained a plethora of skills from his time at ProjectFUN, Gabe looks forward to apply them in his schoolwork and in his quest to become a game developer.

Allegra, Caitlin, and Gabe exemplify what it means to be a ProjectFUN student. They aspire to learn and dedicate time and patience to achieving their goals. Learning how to become better problem solvers, discovering how to breathe life into art, uncovering the power of technology to create – that is what motivates ProjectFUN students long after summer vacation is over.

ProjectFUN Students Impress at Friends & Family Showcase

By Silas Chu, Editorial Intern [This post was originally published on August 21, 2013.]

Time flies when you’re having fun, and this summer’s ProjectFUN workshops are no exception. After two weeks of programming, drawing, sculpting, and animating, ProjectFUN students have learned firsthand how much fun it is to bring their game and animation ideas to life – and they have plenty to show for it.


Need proof? Look no further than the Friends & Family showcase at the close of each session, where students show off their work to their parents, siblings, and peers. I stopped by the event on August 2 to see what ProjectFUN students are really capable of.

My first stop was the Art for Gamesshowcase. One of three new workshops for 2013, Art for Games lets students expand their horizons in art as well as providing them with skills for building 2D and 3D games.

Art for Games instructor Michael Owens highlights the need for “creativity, hard work, and direction” to create a good game. All of those qualities can be found in student Amy Zhang’s Free Ice Creme. The premise of the game is simple: drive around a lavishly decorated town in a run-down white ice cream van to feed hordes of hungry children. The amount of detail in Free Ice Creme is striking: trees, fountains, shops, and buildings line the sidewalks, and clear blue skies stretch as far as your eye can see.

Zhang started drawing at age six but hadn’t made the connection of how her doodles could turn into epic landscapes for video games until she entered DigiPen’s ProjectFUN workshops. After taking Art for Games, Zhang says she can’t wait to take another workshop.

“I loved it,” she said. “The instructor was great and the class was really nice. It made me really want to come back to ProjectFUN.”

Free Ice Creme is one of only two 3D game projects in the entire class – most students created 2D game projects. Zhang says she decided to stray off the beaten path because she found 3D “more challenging” and with “more possibilities.” 

Looking back on the class, Owens found that the most enjoyable part of being an instructor was “seeing the students going from not knowing anything to being able to use the technology and make their own things.”

Next, I stopped by the Introduction to 2D Video Game Programming showcase. In this workshop, students poured their hearts into creating fun 2D games in the short amount of time provided to them.

One such game is Mine-venture, an adventurous platformer created by student Michael Chalmers. Mine-venture stars an unfortunate miner who must brave the dangers of poisonous snakes and deadly spikes to escape from a treacherous mine. By adding spectacular camera effects such as casting the player into darkness with only a small ring of light around the protagonist, Chalmers made sure that the challenge of beating the game on the first few tries was no easy task.

While Chalmers managed to complete his game in the time he spent on campus, student Kevin Chen worked additional hours at home to finish his 2D game, Frustration Squared. A total of almost 48 hours was spent working on the last level of Chen’s game. Even with simple graphics and straightforward gameplay, Frustration Squared draws in players and keeps them glued to their seat until they accomplish the feat of navigating their cursor through a seemingly impossible maze. Countless hours of hard work ensured that every student of ProjectFUN had something to be proud of.

Finally, I visited the 3D Video Game Programming showcase, which featured the work of more experienced ProjectFUN students like Evan Brossard, who created the 3D game Rumble Crash.

Brossard explained the premise of his game: “In Rumble Crash, you grab cubes from the center and bring them back to your base, knock everybody else off, and dodge mines.”

Sounds simple enough, right? Not quite. As I picked up the Xbox controller lying on Brossard’s desk, I quickly learned that winning at Rumble Crash would be no easy task. You move your spaceship with thrusters attached to both sides, and every thrust threatens to spin your spaceship out of control.

Rumble Crash is a perfect example of how ProjectFUN students can create great games in only two weeks. It’s visually impressive and fun to play. With colorful backgrounds and sophisticated 3D animations furnishing each level, the game is given a complete, yet not distracting appearance.

In each of the workshop showcases I visited, I saw a recurring theme of dedication and learning in the students’ final projects. Whether it was finding a missing curly brace in a line of C++ code or trying to create a pause menu for a game, students plowed through obstacles in their projects and worked until they were polished.  No matter how little experience a student has in programming or art, everyone leaves ProjectFUN with new knowledge and confidence in their abilities to create.

ProjectFUN Teacher Profile: Curtis Eichner, Mobile App Development Instructor

By Silas Chu, Editorial Intern [This post was originally published on August 9, 2013.]

Curtis Eichner got a head start at DigiPen through the help of Washington State’s WaNIC (Washington Network for Innovative Careers) high school program. After taking five WaNIC computer science classes at DigiPen, Curtis took the leap into DigiPen’s computer science degree, the Bachelor of Science in Computer Science in Real-Time Interactive Simulation.

Entering DigiPen as a freshman this year, Curtis Eichner teaches ProjectFUN’s Mobile App Development workshop. With the know-how to create games for both mobile and PC platforms, Curtis helps students find solutions to overcome their programming obstacles. We spoke with Curtis about his entrance into DigiPen and his experience with mobile applications.

How did you discover DigiPen?

My counselor told me about DigiPen, and we went to the orientation and there I saw Claude Comair, the founder of DigiPen. I remember him saying that it was going to be the hardest college you’ll ever go to but you’ll learn a lot, so I decided to take on the challenge.

What computer science classes did you take before coming to DigiPen?

I went through the WaNIC program at DigiPen during high school and I took five classes at the college. I already have most of the first semester of the degree program complete. The WaNIC classes I took were Game 100, Game 150, Math 140, CS 120, and CS 230.

Did your hobbies influence your choice to go into programming?

Definitely. I love playing video games and I’ve been playing since I was five years old.

What is your experience with mobile applications?

I developed a couple apps as an experiment for the Android platform before teaching the ProjectFUN Mobile App Development class, but teaching this class helped me get a lot more information about developing mobile applications because I didn’t know much about them before.

How has teaching ProjectFUN helped you as a student?

It’s made me think about things in a different way, because when you teach something, you really need to know what you’re talking about. It helps me learn the subject better.

What are the biggest challenges of your degree program?

Between all the classes together as well as the game class, RTIS is very time consuming. Every year you have to take game class and from what I’ve heard, it takes up all your time.

Where do you hope to work after graduation?

I was thinking about Valve or Disney Interactive, but I am also considering doing my own stuff, maybe independent development, but it’s safer doing that on the side while working for a company.

What are your favorite mobile apps?

Fruit Ninja has got to be my favorite! I play Fruit Ninja all the time.

What are the most important elements in making a mobile application?

The very first thing you want to have is the user interface. Once you’ve got a base down, then you make the game. Another important thing is making sure your application doesn’t crash.

With hundreds of thousands of mobile applications, how do you create one that stands out from the rest?

You have to think of something that hasn’t been done before. I believe that if you’re making a game that’s similar to another game, you shouldn’t make it. Each game should have something new to offer and it has to be fun.

How does mobile app development tie into RTIS?

RTIS is about knowing how to handle all the programming components of a game, such as physics, AI, and graphics. All of these concepts can be applied when developing mobile applications.

What is the one piece of advice you’d give to a student wanting to come to DigiPen?

Don’t come here to play video games all day – it’s a lot more than that. But if you like solving puzzles, I strongly encourage you to check out the industry.

ProjectFUN Teacher Profile: Ian Shores, Sound Design Instructor

By Silas Chu, Editorial Intern [This post was originally published on July 19, 2013.]

Ian Shores took an unusual path to becoming a ProjectFUN instructor. While working as a bread baker in Seattle, Ian discovered DigiPen through a job opening at DigiPen’s Bits & Bytes Café. Three years later, he plunged into the DigiPen community when he entered the BA in Music and Sound Design degree program.

Ian is currently an undergraduate student at DigiPen as well as a tutor for fellow college students and manager of DigiPen’s Sound Lab. We recently sat down with Ian to talk about his musical interests, his gaming pastime, and his experience as a DigiPen student and ProjectFUN instructor.

How long have you been playing music and what instruments do you play?

I’ve been playing piano since I was 4 years old, so that’s 18 years now. I also play many other instruments, but all are secondary to piano.

What experience do you have as a video gamer?

My first game was on a N64 I got when I was 6 years old. My parents got me Super Mario 64 and pretty soon I fell in love with a bunch of N64 games. My favorite was Super Smash Brothers.

I really love games that have a good art direction, sound, and story design. Games I really like areSkyrim, Uncharted, and Journey. I’m not a hardcore gamer, and I realize that I’ve been sitting outside of the gamer community for my whole life. I realize I have a lot of work to do if I want to call myself a gamer. 

How big of a role does audio play in conveying emotion in media such as animations and games?

More than anything else. Watch a sappy love scene or a sad crying scene in a movie and turn off the sound. It’s not going to affect you at all. The visuals, the story, these aren’t affecting you, whereas if you listen to just the sound, it alone is enough to evoke that emotion. Sound has way more potential than art, story, mechanics, or gameplay to evoke emotion.

How did you discover DigiPen?

I worked on Capitol Hill as a baker’s assistant and the baker moved here to work at DigiPen’s Bits & Bytes Café. I asked the baker if they had a job there and they only had a dishwasher’s job, but I took it anyway. Eventually, I became head baker, and the founder of DigiPen, Claude Comair, mentioned to me that DigiPen was going to start a music program, and that’s how I heard of the program.

What motivated you to enter DigiPen’s Music and Sound Design program?

I’m a musician and it’s perfect for me because I’m a video game nerd and I’ve always wanted to write music for films. I’ve actually found that since I’ve come here it’s not just music that I like, but all sound in general.

Is the ProjectFUN Sound Design for Games and Animation course a good preview for the college course?

Yes, when I saw the curriculum of the ProjectFUN course, I was very surprised that the students have to learn so much content in two weeks! The ProjectFUN course is a light version of what we do for all of the first year of the degree program. 

How has teaching ProjectFUN helped you as a student?

What I do as a sound lab manager and ProjectFUN instructor helps me with learning the material. We have a ton of material we have to learn for our degree program and I was originally pretty nervous about having to work full time and at the same time, try to learn all these things. But because I’m tutoring students during the year the same curricula that I’m learning in all my different classes, it makes learning a lot easier. The students ask questions that I haven’t thought of and it makes me think in different ways.

Robotics Students Rise to the Challenge

This post was originally published on March 19, 2013.

Each year, thousands of teams of high school students from around the globe voluntarily tackle an engineering challenge that would baffle most adults: Design, program, and construct a robot in only six weeks.

Called FIRST Robotics, the event challenges participants to build robots that can perform a series of automated and remote-controlled functions in a competitive, sports-like environment. And this year, seven students of the DigiPen Robotics and Future Technology (DRaFT) course — an educational program offered through Washington Network of Innovative Careers (WaNIC) at DigiPen’s Redmond campus — are getting in on the action.

At the start of the competition, each team receives a kit that includes the basic components of their robot. Teams may also purchase and create their own parts while conforming to a strict set of contest rules and safety guidelines. After the end of a six-week construction period, teams compete head-to-head at live regional events. The robots are let loose on an arena playing field and must perform the required functions to earn points.

This is the first year that the DigiPen-based team (which goes by the name FIRST DRaFT) will compete. While previous class assignments have ranged from building a Lego-kit Mars rover to programming a robot battle maze, the FIRST robot is their most advanced project yet.

“We’ve gone from using AA batteries to a motorcycle battery, which is kind of a huge power jump,” Brian Tugade, the class instructor, said. “The upper weight limit on this thing is 120 pounds versus the two pounds we’ve had in other robots.”

The theme of the 2013 competition is “Ultimate Ascent,” and teams can earn points by performing two types of robotic functions — throwing or dropping Frisbees at targets and climbing a 90-inch jungle-gym pyramid.

“When we first started talking about it, we were pretty much sure that we wanted to climb and get to the top, because you can get the most points out of that,” Austin Zimnisky, a junior at Juanita High School, said. “And we kept going back and forth on designs.”

To accomplish their goal, the team built a robot that scales along the outside corner of the pyramid. By using a tilting mechanism, the robot leans into the structure and then relies on sets of extending arms that latch onto the horizontal rungs — each spaced 30 inches apart — to pull itself upward. Team members tested the device on a replica pyramid built to the same specifications as the competition pyramid.

As with previous assignments, students had to apply their knowledge of physics, mathematics, programming, and mechanical engineering. This time, however, the additional rules and time constraints required an entirely new level of project management.

“I created an Excel sheet that tracked weight, so it wouldn’t get over 120 pounds,” Zimnisky said. “Right now I’m working on the cost sheet, because you can’t exceed $4,000.”

To help fund their robot, the DRaFT program received grants from both NASA and FIRST, with additional sponsorship from Forward Mobility and DigiPen Institute of Technology.

But with the exception of a couple DigiPen staff members who helped the team with welding and fabrication, Tugade said the project was a student-directed effort.

“I didn’t design or build this thing. They did it all,” he said.

Whether or not the FIRST DRaFT team wins enough points to advance beyond their regional tournament, which takes place March 28-30 at the CenturyLink Event Center in Seattle, Zimnisky said the experience has been worthwhile.

“Since we started, we’ve come here almost every day,” he said. “We’ve learned a lot about teamwork.”

Pre-College Program Students Present Final Game Projects

This article was originally published on August 14, 2012. 

What do a marooned space explorer, a psychokinetic lab mouse, and an army of zombified gingerbread men have in common? They all make up the cast of a collection of PC games created by the 31 students of the inaugural ProjectFUN Pre-College Program, which participants presented to faculty, family members, and each other in a Student Games Showcase on July 28.

The first group of students, who went by the name WMN Studios, described their final project, Bobo Shipwreck, as “casual catching game.”

“This is our character, Bobo, and he’s a space junkman who basically builds ships and fixes ships for a living,” said team artist Praew Jantaphao as she showed slides of the game’s artwork. “He has to catch all the falling debris to build the ships, and he has to avoid the meteors.”

After taking turns highlighting various elements of the game, team members booted up the actual program to demonstrate their bucket-wielding protagonist racing back and forth across a space-themed environment, collecting the falling items. After their presentation, senior lecturer Douglas Schilling led a panel with two other DigiPen instructors, giving critical feedback and some final words of advice.

DigiPen Executive Raymond Yan, who spoke to the audience before the presentations, described the original idea for the program.

“What we really wanted to do was to try and provide an experience that was a step closer to what life is like here at DigiPen,” Yan said.

As opposed to the more exploratory nature of the ProjectFUN Summer Workshops, Yan said the Pre-College Program was designed for advanced students who might be close to deciding on a career in game development.

“I just wanted to make sure that before you take that step into this field, you understand how much work and how much knowledge and skill is really required,” Yan said. “When you look at the product that we have to make in this industry — a product that has the complexity of real-time graphics, networking, artificial intelligence, and animation — all of those pieces have to work together.”

Students in the Pre-College Program chose one of three tracks — art and animation, game design, and programming — taking track-specific courses taught by DigiPen’s undergraduate faculty. As with DigiPen’s bachelor’s degree programs, students from the three tracks came together for the lab portion of the program, with each of the eight game teams made up of at least one programmer, designer, and artist.

For the Bobo Shipwreck team, which in addition to Jantaphao included student game designer Jacob Salemi and programmers Annie Lace and Laura Khoo, one of the early goals was to keep things manageable. Whereas some other teams worked on shooters, puzzlers, and action adventure games, a catching game seemed to Jantaphao, Salemi, Lace, and Khoo like a premise they could execute in a short amount of time.

“We started with a really simple idea, and as we started doing it we realized it could be done really fast,” Salemi said. “So we were actually able to get in all the original things that we wanted to, which was really cool.”

During their demonstration, Salemi pointed out a number of Bobo Shipwreck‘s central game mechanics. By collecting more ship parts, for example, a player could achieve higher point bonuses. The heavier bucket, however, made the player move more slowly. Salemi said his team worked on their game for at least three hours each day on campus, not counting the additional time spent at home on both the game and other homework.

“At first it was hard to find the time for everything, but in the end it all came together,” Salemi said. “It’s pretty interesting to have multiple people work on different parts at the same time, and see what it’s like when they all come together later on.”

As instructor of game software design and instruction, Schilling said the Pre-College Program offered a good taste of the DigiPen game development experience.

“If you’ve got a bright, motivated group who can communicate effectively, you will have a good game come out of it,” Schilling said. “Most of the teams worked very closely together, and the resulting games greatly benefited from that close collaboration.”

ProjectFUN will offer the Pre-College Program again in the summer of 2013. For more information, visit the Pre-College Program page on ProjectFUN’s website.

Former ProjectFUN Workshop Student Follows Passion for Games

This post was originally published on July 30, 2012. 

Growing up, Jordan Curd thought he wanted to be — of all things — a hand doctor. But after putting his own digits to use during ProjectFUN Summer Workshops in 2004, 2005, and 2006, Curd found a new calling: He wanted to be a game developer.

Today, as a junior at North Carolina State University, Curd is pursuing a computer science degree with a concentration in game development. Curd made a large career step this summer when he landed a programming internship at Mighty Rabbit Studios, an independent developer based in Raleigh, NC. Their most notable title, Saturday Morning RPG, is an episodic role-playing adventure steeped in the zany style of 1980s pop culture, currently available on iOS and Android.

Curd recently talked with the ProjectFUN team about his internship and how his early experiences with ProjectFUN have helped forge his career aspirations.

Q: What kind of work are you doing at Mighty Rabbit Studios?

I was taken on to be a programming intern, although I did express interest in design as well. I’ve been programming new content and functionality into Saturday Morning RPG, such as new attacks, new enemies, and even an entire promo code system!

Although I’m an intern, I’ve been given the freedom to create and expand upon existing ideas. Almost everything I’ve done is being used in future episodes of the game. It’s awesome to be able to have left a fingerprint on an already successful title, which is something I don’t think would happen at a large developer as an intern.

Q: What do you most remember about your experience participating in the summer workshops at DigiPen?

The most memorable experience that I have of DigiPen is the community of the summer sessions. Everybody is there for the same reasons and because they have the same interests. You can talk with anybody — literally anybody — and have some of the most fun conversations that you’ll ever have. A lot of the people I met actually became long-term friends.

The first workshop I attended really laid the foundation for my interests in game development. I worked on a game called Ninja Showdown with my friend Ron. Ron and I would skip lunch or eat very quickly in order to keep working on our game. That’s how fun it was (and still is) to make games. All of my friends were working on games too, and their games were so much better than mine was! It created a competitive environment amongst friends that really pushed everyone to work that much harder.

Q: What would you say was the most beneficial aspect of the workshops?

It wasn’t until I got to college that I realized how much I had gained from attending the workshops. In every programming class that I’ve been in, I always feel like I have a leg-up.

The most important quality that I learned was the power of combining patience and perseverance. There’s always going to be an obstacle to overcome when programming or designing anything that only patience and perseverance can get you through. The mark of a good programmer and/or designer is the ability to surmount these obstacles effectively. Every obstacle you overcome only makes you a better problem solver.

Q: Any plans for what you would like to do after you graduate? What would be your ideal job?

After graduation, I’m planning on either taking a full-time position at Mighty Rabbit Studios or some other game company in the Raleigh area. Being a computer science major, my options after graduation are vast, so if I don’t succeed in the game industry then I have something else in mind.

My ideal job is to be a lead designer at Blizzard Entertainment. I enjoy programming, but what I really dream of doing is designing games. Ideally, I would have my own office that’s decorated with game posters and riddled with actions figures to help kindle creativity. I wouldn’t enjoy being the boss of many people, but I would love to be a leader.

DigiPen Begins Offering Summer Camps at Bellevue Microsoft Store

This post was originally published on July 21, 2012.

This month, DigiPen kicked off a new series of youth summer day camps at the Microsoft Store in downtown Bellevue, WA.

Offered through Bellevue Parks & Community Services, the weeklong programs give students ages 6 to 12 a chance to build and program robotic cars, as well as design, animate, and program games – all while learning about the history and scientific principles behind digital technology.

Subjects for the different day camps include:

  • Adventures in Game Design
  • Digital Visual Effects
  • Exploring 2D Video Game Programming
  • Exploring Art & Animation
  • How Robots Work

For more detailed information about each of the classes, including camp schedules, you can download a copy of the summer camps brochure from the City of Bellevue website. The Microsoft Store is located at the Bellevue Square shopping center.

Seattle Times Highlights Ways for Kids to Explore Computer Programming

This post was originally published on February 16, 2012.

The Seattle Times recently published an article highlighting ways for young students to learn about computer programming – an activity that, in addition to improving students’ career outlook later in life, helps them develop critical thinking skills that are “completely transferable” to other pursuits, according to the paper. 

The Times offers a number of suggestions, including online games about programming like Light-Bot and RoboZZle, books like Hello World: Computer Programming for Kids and Other Beginners and Invent Your Own Computer Games with Python, and programming tools such as Scratch (for beginners) and DreamSpark (for more advanced students). The Seattle Times also recommends ProjectFUN’s Summer Workshops “for kids who benefit more from classroom instruction than learning on their own.”

Read the whole story at the Seattle Times‘ website: Lots of options for getting students into computer programming.”

New Look, Same FUN!

This post was originally published on December 9, 2011.

Today is an important day for DigiPen and ProjectFUN: after months of hard work and preparation, we are excited to launch a new version of ProjectFUN’s website.

It’s easier than ever to learn more about ProjectFUN’s technology programs for kids. Visit ourSummer Workshops page for more information about our Video Game Programming, Game Design, Multimedia Production, and Engineering courses for middle and high school students. These two-week courses, held each summer at DigiPen’s Redmond, WA, campus, combine academic curriculum with hands-on projects that let students experience a range of high-tech careers.

New for 2012, our Pre-College Program helps high school juniors and seniors prepare for college while exploring careers in Game Programming, Game Design, and Game Art. These rigorous four-week courses, also offered in the summertime at DigiPen’s campus, are taught by the same instructors as DigiPen’s undergraduate programs, and participants can even learn college credit while reinforcing their knowledge of advanced mathematics, computer science, and fine arts topics.

Not able to visit Redmond this summer? Visit our Online Courses page, where you can learn about ProjectFUN’s online programs in Video Game Programming and 3D Animation. We offer a range of online courses, from 30-hour exploratory courses to a 540-hour, year-long courses in Video Game Programming.

Finally, learn about ProjectFUN’s partnerships with high school educators at our ProjectFUN in Your School page. Here, you can view curriculum that ProjectFUN offers to school districts in Washington State, find out more about whether your district offers ProjectFUN courses, and learn how educators can bring ProjectFUN to their school.

We’ll be posting more news and announcements about our programs as we count down to the summer. In the meantime, if you have any questions about ProjectFUN, the courses we offer, or our new website, don’t hesitate to contact us at


The ProjectFUN Team

GeekWire Interviews “Rock Star” ProjectFUN Programming Student

This post was originally published on August 4, 2011.

Seattle tech industry blog GeekWire recently spoke with Jeanette Yu, a 15-year-old attendee of one of ProjectFUN’s Video Game Programming workshops, who “despite having little background in programming, created one of the most popular games of the camp.” Her instructor, David Grayson, says Yu’s game, called Fast Fruit Chain, stood out because “not only did she put a lot of work into her art, but the game didn’t have any bugs—and it was addictive.”

Read more about Yu’s story at GeekWire: “Meet the 15-year-old whose game wowed the crowd at DigiPen’s summer camp.”

Redmond Patch Profiles ProjectFUN Animation Student

This post was originally published on May 16, 2011.

Local news blog Redmond Patch recently featured a story about Redmond High junior and ProjectFUN student Jasmine Keith, whose artwork was selected by Microsoft to be the mascot of the company’s Hunt the Wumpus game design competition. Jasmine is currently enrolled in ProjectFUN’s Animation Academy and plans to enroll full-time at DigiPen after she graduates from high school.

Read the whole story at Redmond Patch: “Whiz Kid: Redmond High Student Designs Art for Microsoft.”

This post was originally published on April 18, 2011.

DigiPen Founder and President Claude Comair, along with former ProjectFUN student and current instructor Reggie Meisler, visited KING 5′s New Day Northwest on Monday, April 18, to discuss the benefits of ProjectFUN’s Summer Workshops in giving kids a hands-on introduction to the fields of game development, animation, and engineering.

Comair demonstrated an MP3 player that ProjectFUN students built during the Electronics Summer Workshop with help from current Computer Engineering students at DigiPen. Meisler talked about his own experience as a former ProjectFUN student, then as a DigiPen student teaching the ProjectFUN Summer Workshops to others.

Watch a video of the interview at KING 5′s website: “Videogame Design Workshops for Kids.”

ProjectFUN Highlighted in New York Times’ “Summer Camps for the Tech Set”

This post was originally published on March 16, 2011.

Thinking of sending your technically minded son or daughter to summer camp this year? The New York Times recently published an article on “Summer Camps for the Tech Set,” which puts ProjectFUN’s Summer Workshops on the short list of programs where “children design video games and Web pages, explore robotics, learn three-dimensional animation,” and much more. TheTimes also highlights DigiPen’s science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) initiatives, including our online courses and high school programs in video game development and animation production.

Read the full article at the New York Times website: “Summer Camps for the Tech Set.”

DigiPen's ProjectFUN offers workshops, camps and college prep courses for kids and teens. Technology courses are held in Redmond, WA (near Seattle and Bellevue), and online.