Current Members

Jeremiah Blanchard

Jeremiah currently serves as Director of Computer Engineering and is an Instructional Assistant Professor at the University of Florida, where he also researches computer science education as the Co-Director of the Engaging Learning Lab. Previously, he served as Program Director over Game Development at Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida (in the greater Orlando area), where he worked for 10 years and taught the Artificial Intelligence for Games and Game Networking courses before moving into administration. Before coming to Full Sail, Jeremiah worked as a freelance game and application developer and lived, worked, and studied in the Osaka region of Japan. He speaks fluent conversational Japanese. Jeremiah holds a PhD in Computer Engineering from the University of Florida. He has a passion for the education and computer science fields and is particularly interested in the nexus of these important topics (and game development as it relates to these topics.) Jeremiah studied 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. His work convinced him that we frequently underestimate the abilities of children, and that motivation is a key determination of success. Prior to this, he have worked on educational and serious games. This includes work with the National Flight Academy in Pensacola, Florida, with whom he worked to develop flight simulator scenarios to help teach at-risk middle and high school students mathematics, physics, and history. He 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.

Joe Del Rocco

Joe is an Assistant Professor of Practice of computer science and programming courses at Stetson University. He is also a PhD candidate at the University of Central Florida and member of the SENSEable Design Lab. Formerly, he lectured on computer science, programming, and software topics (and sometimes did admin work) at Full Sail University. He has authored and taught various courses over the years pertaining to computer science, programming, computing history, engineering, senior projects, etc., and mentored many undergraduate university students. According to Joe, “Teaching computer science and programming to many age groups is the most important thing I’ve ever done.” He’s taught university students for years; hosted Code.org‘s Hour of Code events 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 this one). His 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, he still codes scripts, tools, and programs to help with day to day maintenance and automation, and to provide real examples for his students.

Former Members

Haifa Maamar

Haifa Maamar is currently the Education Director for Emerging Technologies at Full Sail University. She joined them in 2014 as a Course Director for the Mobile Gaming Masters of Science degree program, and was promoted to Department Chair of Game Development in 2016, and Program Director in 2017, overseeing four degree programs including the Game Development Bachelor of Science, Game Design Bachelor of Science, Software Development Bachelor of Science and Mobile Gaming Masters of Science programs. In 2019, Haifa became the Education Director for Emerging Technologies, overseeing all technology and gaming programs at Full Sail University. She leads the emerging technologies education initiatives at Full Sail University. Haifa lived, worked and studied in Ottawa Ontario, and Montreal, Quebec, Canada. She completed her PhD in Computer and Electrical Engineering from the University of Ottawa, Ontario Canada in 2012 with a focus on mobile networks and augmented and mixed reality. Prior to coming to Full Sail University, Haifa was Software Solutions Architect at the Montreal TMX Stock Exchange and was responsible for designing software solutions for the trading systems of Montreal Exchange, Toronto Exchange, Boston Exchange, New York Exchange, Milan Exchange and London Exchange. Prior to her position at the Montreal TMX Exchange, Haifa was Research Assistant at the PARADISE Research Laboratory at the University of Ottawa and was fortunate enough to be part of different research projects such as wireless multimedia, collaborative virtual environments (CVE), Augmented Reality, Vehicular Ad-hoc Networks (VANET) based class of applications as well as Network Security. Haifa’s research and teaching interests have been strengthened by several years of undergraduate and graduate teaching at the university of Ottawa. She has had considerable teaching experience in several types of classes, including Distributed Systems, Computer Networks, Computer Architecture, just to mention a few. In addition to her teaching experience, she has supervised several master students on appropriate research topics and directed and evaluated their research projects. Her ongoing mission and passion is to promote women in Computer Science and Emerging Technologies. To achieve this, she has contributed and delivered computer science outreach programs in the community to engage women in Computer Science topics. She is also the co-founder of the Women of Full Sail Group dedicated to engendering empowerment for women, by creating a space of support and mentorship for the women attending (and working at) Full Sail University.

Volunteers!

Simply put, volunteers run Cacti Council. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to reach as many students as we do. Our volunteer staff is made up of university students, teachers, and local industry professionals and mentors. If you’d like to join us, please let us know!