The Charger Blog

University Receives Grant to Expand Game Design and Development Education

A new grant and a proposed project endeavor to create exciting new opportunities for current and future students while helping to fuel Connecticut’s innovation and tech-talent pipeline.

May 2, 2024

By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications

The Bergami Center for Science, Technology, and Innovation at the University of New Haven.
The Bergami Center for Science, Technology, and Innovation at the University of New Haven.

For Timothy Fraedrich ’25, majoring in computer science with a concentration in game design and development isn’t only enabling him to study something he’s passionate about. It’s also laying the foundation for him to pursue his dream career. He says he’s always been “amazed” by what games have to offer, and he dreams of helping to create a game that people around the world will enjoy.

As a Charger, Fraedrich has had exciting opportunities to build his skills – including the unique opportunity to earn a certification from Unity, a video game software development company based in California. The University, in collaboration with Unity, is endeavoring to integrate the company’s framework and certifications into its in-demand bachelor’s degree in computer science with a concentration in game design and development (BSCS-G2D).

This collaboration is already creating invaluable opportunities for students such as Fraedrich. He had the materials he needed to prepare for the exam – including a prep course and a practice exam – available to him free of charge. The certification will make students more marketable as they apply for jobs, and the skills they develop will ensure they are prepared to excel in their careers.

Timothy Fraedrich ’25
Timothy Fraedrich ’25

“Through working on personal projects, taking my courses, and doing the entire courseware, I was able to feel adequately prepared for the exam,” Fraedrich said. “Having the certification shows employers I am familiar with Unity as an entire system and engine, and not just a programmer who happens to be running their code in Unity.”

‘The tools they need to hit the ground running’

The University has been awarded a grant from the State of Connecticut, funded by the New England Board of Higher Education and Business-Higher Education Forum, as part of the state’s Tech Talent Accelerator (TTA). The workforce development initiative aims to help Connecticut reach its economic potential and close the skills gap in in-demand technology fields. The University’s was among seven technology education programs in the state to be selected in 2022 as part of an initiative to rapidly increase the competitiveness of the state’s postsecondary institutions and to meet growing business demand for tech skills, and is among a dozen institutions to receive funding during the second cycle of the grant.

The funds will be used to strategically refine the BSCS-G2D curriculum in collaboration with SphereGen, Arsome, and Pleiadian, leading companies in the field with which the University has relationships. They will also develop, implement, and assess industry-recognized instructional materials, credentials, and certificates, enhancing students’ educational opportunities at the University.

Mehdi Mekni, Ph.D., coordinator of the University’s undergraduate program in computer science who also leads the University’s game design and development concentration, hopes the proposed project will attract new students to the program. He’s excited about how the University’s collaboration with Unity is already powering students’ education and career preparation.

“I'm thrilled to witness how integrating Unity certifications into our BSCS-G2D has empowered our students,” he said. “By blending academic rigor with industry-recognized certifications, we've equipped talented individuals with the tools they need to hit the ground running in their careers.”

Dr. Mehdi Mekni (right) is passionate about creating educational opportunities for students.
Dr. Mehdi Mekni (right) is passionate about creating educational opportunities for students.
‘Everything I would need to know’

The idea is to bridge the gap between education and employment, growing Connecticut’s technology sectors, fueling innovation, and establishing a pipeline of skilled professionals. The proposed project would strengthen the University’s position as a hub for game design and development education while helping to address the growing need for skilled professionals in the field. It would also endeavor to increase diversity and inclusion in the field, particularly among underrepresented populations.

The proposed project would establish critical collaborations with community colleges to create more pathways for students to continue their education at four-year schools such as the University of New Haven. It would also co-create curriculum modules that would focus on competencies that are increasingly important in technology, such as cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, and data analytics. Dr. Mekni also imagines creating new opportunities for workforce development through a gaming-focused state conference and career fair.

“This initiative not only enhances students’ academic journeys but also propels them toward success in the dynamic field of game design and development,” said Dr. Mekni. “None of this would have been possible without the support of the Tech Talent Accelerator funds and our invaluable collaborators, including Unity Technologies, Pleiadian Systems Corporation, SphereGen, and Arsome, all of whom have been instrumental in bringing this project to fruition.”

For Fraedrich, the computer science major, the support of the Tech Talent Accelerator program and the University’s collaboration with Unity have already created rewarding and important educational opportunities that have been preparing him for the career of his dreams. It’s a field that needs his talent, and thanks to the University and initiatives supported by the state’s Tech Talent Accelerator, he is receiving the tools he needs to excel.

“My courses learning Unity have been my favorite during my time as a computer science student,” he said. “I would love to become a game developer or Unity developer once I graduate, and these courses have taught me everything I would need to know to do so.”