The force is strong with Oklahoma Christian University alumni Jon Carroll and Corey Earwood. They played big roles in the development of Sphero’s BB-8 app-enabled droid, the hottest toy from the season’s hottest movie, Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens.
As Sphero’s director of product, Jon works with the company’s software engineering, hardware engineering, and marketing teams to make sure everything comes together to make BB-8 the best product it can be. He traveled to Lucasfilm in San Francisco and spent a chunk of this past summer in China supporting BB-8’s development.
Corey is Sphero’s director of core technology. He worked on BB-8’s software development team, making it easier for his fellow techies to write apps for the droid. He also worked on the video functionality that allows people to record their own holographic messages that BB-8 plays virtually in the app.
“The first time we saw BB-8 fully decorated with the head on, it was just this moment of ‘We’re making a Star Wars product,’” Corey said. “We just couldn’t believe it. It was incredible.”
Based in Boulder, Colorado, Sphero launched just four years ago and quickly became the leader in the app-enabled robot market. The company had just nine months to develop and deliver BB-8 after Disney gave the go-ahead, meaning its “Jedi masters” had to quickly make the jump to lightspeed.
“We spent a lot of sleepless nights, a lot of long hours, and a lot of weekends working to make this a reality given the really tight timeline we were under,” Jon said. “A lot of love and blood, sweat, and tears went into this product.”
After starting with just a couple of prototypes in 2011, Sphero now sells tens of thousands of units per year. It’s heady stuff for two OC alumni who have, as Jon says, “achieved the pinnacle of nerddom.”
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A new hybrid course in Oklahoma Christian University’s College of Engineering and Computer Science opened to rave student reviews in the fall.
OC partnered with premium online learning solutions provider NextThought, LLC, to offer students this hybrid course, a combination of online and in-class delivery.
“We achieved a high level of student engagement. Students liked the approach and felt like they learned more about computer science,” said David North, OC’s director of computer science advancement.
Most of the 35 students enrolled in the Software Engineering I course were freshmen. This unique educational experience was the first of several new courses in OC’s newly revised Computer Science curriculum.
The course featured about 150 graded assignments, more than 80 short videos to view and 50 short articles to read outside of class. In addition to the software features, the students benefited from weekly online discussions with 30 OC alumni on topics ranging from cybersecurity to web app development.
“The experience was fantastic and dynamic, from start to finish,” junior Jonathan Troyer said. “I honestly appreciated the hard work put into the content and the hard work put into presenting the content. The level of accessibility was amazing and helped immensely. The fluid structure of the course helped me stay focused and on track.”
The NextThought partnership is the latest initiative to connect OC computer science students with local industry. Students in OC’s advanced Software Engineering courses have developed projects for Hobby Lobby and Adfitech in recent years.
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Oklahoma Christian University (OC) has launched its seventh graduate program, a master of science degree in computer science that is nationally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
“Today, every business needs computer scientists. We’re in the business of training future computer scientists that will meet the demands of the digital world,” said David North, OC’s director of computer science advancement. “We’re excited to provide opportunities for computer professionals and recent graduates to enhance their skills and knowledge.”
Oklahoma Christian designed the program for working adults, who can take classes one or two nights a week and earn their MSCS degree in as little as one year. OC also offers a BS/MS option that allows aspiring computer professionals to earn both their bachelor’s and master’s degrees in computer science in just five years.
“The huge need for highly-skilled computer professionals in this digital age is clear. We see it in the headlines and we hear it in our conversations with industry leaders,” OC president John deSteiguer said. “Oklahoma City’s growth as a center for big-league technology companies puts OC graduates in a prime position to make an impact in the field.”
Computer science is one of the most lucrative and fastest-growing job fields. CNN, Money Magazine, and U.S. News and World Report list multiple computer science professions – including computer systems analysis, database development, information security analysis, software architecture, software development, and video game design – among the nation’s top 10 jobs in salary and availability.
Over the last year, Oklahoma Christian added two full-time computer science faculty members in North and Nix. Other full-time faculty members include Don Leftwich, chair of OC’s Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, and Andy Harbert. OC’s adjunct faculty members in computer science include Kelly Crawford, Ralph DeBoard, Nic Grounds and Peter Patton.
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Animation Career Review ranked Oklahoma Christian ninth among all colleges and universities in the southwestern United States for game design and development.
Other schools on the top-10 list included the University of Utah, the University of Texas, Southern Methodist University, and Baylor University.
Criteria included academic reputation, admission selectivity, depth and breadth of the program and faculty, value as it relates to tuition and indebtedness, and geographic location.
This honor came on the heels of OC being ranked 21st in the nation by SuccessfulStudent.org on its list of Best Video Game Colleges. That list is generated from students’ points of view.
Oklahoma Christian was the only school from Oklahoma and one of just three universities from the southwestern United States to be honored.
“We’ve worked really hard to have an outstanding program so I’m glad OC has been picked up on the radar again as a quality education in the gaming and animation industry,” Professor for Art and Design Jeff Price said.
OC’s game design program has received multiple awards in the past, and is one of the university’s fastest growing areas of study.
For more information about OC’s gaming and animation program, visit www.oc.edu/gaming.
David North brings four decades of experience and expertise to his new roles as director of computer science advancement and associate professor of computer science at Oklahoma Christian University (OC).
At Oklahoma Christian, North is working to enhance the undergraduate curriculum and add a master’s degree in computer science to the university’s graduate offerings.
Click here to read the full article about North’s role and the exciting updates to OC’s CS program.
A $1 million gift from Benton and Paula Baugh is serving as startup capital for the university’s newly reorganized College of Engineering and Computer Science.
“Our society desperately needs talented, Christian engineers, mathematicians and computer scientists as leaders for tomorrow. The generosity of the Baugh family will help grow OC’s influence in these fields,” said Dr. Byron Newberry, dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science.
Benton Baugh, from Houston, Texas, is an energy engineer and inventor with 50 years of experience in oilfield and sub-sea systems. He holds more than 100 patents and founded Radoil, Inc.
Click here to read the full article about the Baughs’ $1 million gift to OC’s College of Engineering and Computer Science.