Michael Grant '04
Areas of interest when you graduated from DPA: My areas of interest initially joining the DPA program were 3D animation, user interface design and computer generated special f/x for motion picture and video games.
What have you been up to since you graduated from DPA? During my last year in the DPA program, I was fortunate enough to be chosen to a highly selective graduate fellowship (GK-12) program through the National Science Foundation (NSF) where I was assigned to work with a middle school (6th grade) math teacher in Anderson, SC to assist with integrating more technology into the lesson plans and curriculum to increase STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) awareness.
Leveraging that opportunity with the middle school students, the idea for my DPA thesis project was spawned, "Integrating 3D animation Into K-12 Educational Curricula." I discovered the industry of Serious Games where I could use my training and skills in 3D software programs such as Maya, 3D Studio Max, After Effects, Flash, and Fireworks for rich media learning solutions and simulations for educational, corporate, and scientific instruction. - A serious game or applied game is a game designed for a primary purpose other than pure entertainment. The "serious" adjective is generally prepended to refer to products used by industries like defense, education, scientific exploration, health care, emergency management, city planning, engineering, and politics.- Wikipedia.
After graduating with my MFA in DPA in 2004, I became an instructor at ITT Technical Institute teaching interactive multimedia and later became Department Chair of the Multimedia and Digital Entertainment & Game Design program. In 2006, I won National Department Chair of the Year across all 120+ campuses nationwide.
My career evolution has been in the world of high-end interactive eLearning and serious games for corporate, educational and non-profit entities. I was a contractor for the National Science Foundation on two large projects to create 3D interactive virtual worlds with Flash based lessons teaching Algebra concepts to inner city youth in Chicago.
I have presented my research and projects at numerous world conferences for learning and development and won many awards for the serious games / high-end eLearning training programs that integrate 3D animation simulations and case studies that put technical information and concepts into context for adult learners.
Currently, I am the Senior Manager of Instructional Systems Design at the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). I currently manage a team of 20 diverse professionals ranging from Learning Experience Designers, Graphic Designers, Interactive Media Developers, and Digital Production Specialists. My team just won our 3rd Global eLearning Program award at the Learning Solutions Conference in March in Orlando Florida.
Typical day at work: My team designs and develops premium interactive learning solutions (eLearning courses) for our 400,000 CPA members worldwide in the profession of accounting. We generate revenue in the high end courses we sell, using Maya, 3D Studio Max, After Effects, Flash, Captivate, and Photoshop to create rich media learning experiences working alongside Subject Matter Experts to create meaningful, memorable and compelling learning experiences that put concepts into context.
What are you working on now if you're allowed to say? We continue to explore new innovative learning technologies to fulfill course demands for the variety of portfolio topics in the profession of accounting. I absolutely love my career and am appreciative of the top notch education I received at Clemson University.
How did DPA help prepare you for your current career? My educational experience in DPA was amazing. It was an intense interdisciplinary curriculum that improved my foundation in computer programming, supercharged my existing knowledge of multimedia programs, and introduced me to new dimensions of learning in topics such as stage lighting and professional communication. The large scope team animation projects in DPA mirror the highly collaborative production model that my current team follows for high quality interactive animation based eLearning programs. Creativity is key once you know how to code and create/render computer graphics and leverage software tools. Creativity has always been one of my strengths. It has a strong link to strategic problem solving and I have been fortunate to marry my artistic creative talents with technical programming skills and mastery of interactive media software to transform the learning experiences for a variety of end users across many diverse industries and win some awards along the way.
Advice for DPA students? Follow your passions, diversify your learning opportunities, and gain as much exposure to any creative outlets as possible. Admire and follow creativity in art, music, programming, science, engineering, and technology. Watch the TedTalks, take some MOOCs on various topics, follow some innovators in the area you want to specialize in on Twitter and LinkedIn. So many valuable resources are tweeted and shared through social media channels. Be disciplined so that your focus is on your projects in the DPA program and the top notch education you are receiving. Maintain relationships and contact with your classmates, as these powerful skills will help give all of you a competitive edge in whichever industry you choose.
Where can we find more about you and/or your work? Linkedin