News 2020: Summer Innovation Program expands to UMassD
Summer Innovation Program expands to UMassD

College of Engineering and College of Visual & Performing Arts students will participate in the 2020 MassDigi Summer Innovation Program, a 12-week internship focused on game development.

Computer game
(Photo courtesy Pixaby)

During a time when individuals are seeking creative outlets due to the pandemic, games seem to be entering the hearts and minds of a global audience – for game lovers and developers alike. The Massachusetts Digital Game Institute (MassDigi) Summer Innovation Program (SIP) is a 12-week internship program that provides guidance and game development tools to help student teams finalize an original digital game and prepare it for launch.

“Passion, creativity, discipline, and technical ability are core to game development,” says Timothy Loew, executive director of MassDigi. “SIP is a one-of-a-kind internship opportunity for students interested in creating games.” The highly competitive program, founded in 2011 at Becker College in Worcester, Mass., focuses on teaching students how to work together in a business environment and preparing them for the job market.

“We bring in a wide range of experienced game industry mentors who represent different roles and offer varying perspectives – all with the goal of giving our interns a deeper sense of all the goes into making a game and getting it to market,” says Loew. More than 370 students from colleges and universities around the globe applied for the 2020 SIP program, which this year, has been expanded to include a UMass Dartmouth-sponsored SIPD team.

SIP + UMassD

Firas Khatib, Assistant Professor of Computer & Information Science at UMass Dartmouth's College of Engineering and Shawn Towne, Associate Professor and Head of Animation & Game Arts at UMass Dartmouth's College of Visual & Performing Arts serve as faculty advisors for the four UMassD students selected as SIPD interns. The students will also work with a peer leader and coder on a classification known as idle games.

Idle games (titles that allow progress without interaction) are a very popular genre. Titles like Adventure Capitalist, Fallout Shelter, Realm Grinder, and Tap Titans are all designed so that players can advance even when they aren't playing.

Career success

SIP alumni have gone on to work for a wide range of game and technology companies, such as Amazon, Apple, Epic Games, Filament Games, Google, Harmonix, Hasbro, Microsoft, Philips, Sony, Warner Bros., Wayfair, Wizards of the Coast, and ZeniMax Online. Alums have also started their own studios. “This year, due to the pandemic, everything will be managed remotely," says Loew.  “It is my hope that each and every young person finds the experience be the most valuable and fulfilling internship one of their careers.” This year's program takes place from June 1 through August 14.