Cacti Council was founded by educators to promote critical and creative thinking.
I’m currently an instructor at the University of Florida in the Computer & Information Science & Engineering Department, where I am also researching computer science education. Previously, I served as Program Director over Game Development at Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida (in the greater Orlando area), where I’d worked for 10 years and taught the Artificial Intelligence for Games and Game Networking courses before moving into administration. Before coming to Full Sail, I worked as a freelance game and application developer and lived, worked, and studied in the Osaka region of Japan. I speak fluent conversational Japanese. I graduated from the University of Florida with my MS in Computer Engineering and am currently working on my PhD there (estimated completion in 2018.) I have a passion for the education and computer science fields and am particularly interested in the nexus of these important topics (and game development as it relates to these topics.) I am currently studying how young children can effectively learn programming languages by analyzing the languages themselves in an attempt to identify, test, and mitigate built-assumptions that may limit or hinder the learning process at early ages. My work has convinced me that we frequently underestimate the abilities of children, and that motivation is a key determination of success. Previously, I have worked on educational and serious games. This includes work with the National Flight Academy in Pensacola, Florida, with whom I worked to develop flight simulator scenarios to help teach at-risk middle and high school students mathematics, physics, and history. I’ve also worked with Design Interactive on CogGauge, a game-based cognitive battery system developed on grant funding from NASA with the intention of testing brain injuries in space.
I am Professor of Practice of computer science and programming courses at Stetson University, and a Graduate Research and Teaching Assistant at the University of Central Florida, pursuing my PhD in computer science. Formerly, I lectured on computer science, programming, and software topics (and sometimes did admin work) at Full Sail University. I’ve authored and taught various courses over the years pertaining to computer science, programming, computing history, engineering, capstone projects, etc., and mentored many students, mostly undergraduate and a few graduate. Teaching computer science and programming to many age groups in many facilities has been the most cherished/rewarding part of my career. I’ve taught university students for years; participated in Code.org‘s Hour of Code with K-12 students and faculty; spoken to middle and high school students about computer science, software engineering, and STEM; and contributed to outreach programs with the same focus, like the one you’re visiting now! My industry programming career includes independent and commercial game development, Department of Defense simulation and visualization, power diagnostics for the power generation industry, and eDiscovery. As a teacher, I still develop scripts, tools, and programs as needed to help with day to day maintenance and provide good examples for the students.
Most of our volunteers are university students and teachers, while some are local industry programmers, mentors, etc. Some of our previous student volunteers include: Pablo Bernal-Alarcon, Josh Stevens, John Sermarini, Kris Soto, Brennan Rodriguez, Matt Moody, Mike Lillo, Jessica John, Tyler Yeary, Anthony Benito, and many more! Quite frankly, without volunteers, we wouldn’t be able to reach as many people as we do. So if you’d like to contribute to our cause, we’re always looking for more volunteers!