Wilmington University adds an esports program

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — Wilmington University will continue to prioritize science, technology, engineering, and math education as the university announced its partnership with Futures First Gaming.

WilmU’s partnership with FFG will create pathways leading to degrees and certificates for students in the esports and gaming communities. The partnership announced on April 11 will provide students with education and training in various fields related to the esports industry.

“The agreement between WilmU and FFG leverages the capabilities of both to ensure academic rigor that benefits students with and without esports and game design degrees,” said Scott Shaw, Assistant Professor and Academic Director of the Game Program. Design by WilmU in a press release.

“There’s so much more to programming and game design, and this agreement provides pathways to educational credits for skill development and opportunities to gain a broader perspective of the industry.”

FFG was co-founded in February 2020 by CEO Stephen Sye, who said the company’s goal was to expand the reach of esports, short for electronic sports, a form of competition using video games, in the State of Delaware. The organization soon entered into a partnership with Microsoft’s Christiana Mall site, where FFG would facilitate esports programming and host an in-person event at the store. The pandemic prevented the FFG event from taking place, but thanks to the organization’s relationship with Microsoft, FFG was able to plant the seeds of their partnership with WilmU.

“After the pandemic put everything on hold, we continued to work on our Futures First programming. Thanks to Microsoft, we were able to connect with Scott Shaw from WilmU, but given the circumstances, nothing materialized. We knew that to achieve our goals, we were missing a big piece of the puzzle, and that was a college relationship. said Mr. Sye.

Although the pandemic put initial plans for FFG on hold, the organization continued to work toward its goal of partnering with a university. Mr Sye said he was able to meet with Mr Shaw and Lindsay Rice, senior director of university partnerships at WilmU, to discuss the organization’s programming and the two parties ultimately decided that a collaboration was the best decision. .

Through this partnership, WilmU and FFG will create a pathway program using FFG’s Futures First programming. The Pathway program will encourage students to pursue career paths in esports beyond just competing. WilmU instructors will provide students with a variety of pathways including coding, game design, entrepreneurship in the esports industry, esports training, and skills development.

WilmU’s Game Design and Development program was the first of its kind to offer students an undergraduate degree in Delaware, and through this partnership, FFG will help WilmU create a pipeline for students to pursue opportunities in areas related to sports.

The partnership will align with FFG’s current workforce development program and provide high school students under the program with access to instructors, facilities and WilmU program content for college credit.

FFG’s current workforce development program is in partnership with the Delaware Department of Health and Human Services and targets qualified youth ages 14-18 from low-income communities who are interested in the esports community. In the program, students are fully trained to study a curriculum centered around web development, computer science, cybersecurity, and game design. Students also complete an esports entrepreneurship curriculum, and upon completion of the program, students are tasked with a team project in which groups will produce their own esports tournament from start to finish.

Mr Sye said he had many ideas to complement WilmU’s partnership with FFG, including a skills-based certificate program that would allow students interested in the esports industry to pursue careers if these students decide not to attend university. He said it was just one of many ideas on how both sides could make the most of each other’s strengths.

“The possibilities are endless with esports. We could consider developing an esports degree program at WilmU, we could host our own esports events, tournaments, workshops and camps at WilmU facilities across the world. “State, whatever. I think that’s the ideal solution,” says Mr. Sye.

The popularity of esports has exploded over the past five to 10 years according to Sye, who says more than 5,000 high schools across the country have launched esports programs and more than 200 universities offer combined scholarships from $15 million to esports athletes.

WilmU’s partnership with FFG will provide high school and college students the opportunity to pursue a variety of careers in the esports industry, and according to Sye, expanding access to this type of education will be a great advantage for Delaware students. , FFG and WilmU students and staff.

“We’re starting to really realize how big and important this industry could become,” Sye said.

“There are so many job opportunities and so much economic potential behind esports, and we’re glad WilmU sees that too.”

About Irene J. O'Donnell

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