March 9, 2023
Jonathan Reynolds found success networking in the gaming field while at Shawnee State University, leading to an internship with the National Aeronautics & Space Administration (NASA) his senior year and after graduation before moving on to work at Aptima, Inc. in Fairborn, Ohio.
Choosing a university to attend was easy for Reynolds. Once he stepped onto SSU’s campus for his first campus tour, he knew he had found the place to spend the next four years for his education.
“My family and friends had told me I would know when it was right, and that was true – I knew the moment I stepped on campus,” he said. “It was the best decision I’ve ever made because I’ve met some of the best people and professors here.”
Pursuing the programming track of SSU’s Game Design programs, Reynolds started working as a lab technician in the Advanced Technology Center on campus. Within his role he was able to work with and study different technology in the Gaming Commons area to gain experience. Becoming familiar with this equipment led him to becoming more social on virtual reality platforms.
“I ended up networking with someone who works at NASA and they suggested that I apply for an internship,” he said. “I worked entirely remote as a VR Developer through their Langley Research Center for two semesters, and they then renewed my internship for a third time, which is very rare.”
In his internship, Reynolds worked both with a team and on his own to develop different software for new projects within NASA including developing a data visualizer for the HoloLens and working to improve the interface on the MRET – the Mixed Reality Exploration Toolkit.
“As a VR Developer I’m not really developing the technology, I’m developing the software that utilizes those technologies,” he said. “One project I worked on was entirely intern-oriented and the other I contributed on was a bigger project that can prove to be super useful for simulation trainings.”
Graduating with his degree in Digital Simulation & Game Engineering Technology in Spring 2021, Reynolds’s experience in his internship was heavily related to his degree.
“It’s still game design, just with a different focus,” he said. “You’re no longer focused on creating an experience for a player, but you’re focused on creating an experience for an engineer or user to build something and hopefully have some sort of revelation or notice something they haven’t noticed before that allows them to expand their horizons.”
After graduation, Reynolds continued his internship with NASA before being offered a job as an AR/VR Software Engineer at Aptima, Inc. in Fairborn, Ohio. He has been hopeful that as he continues to build his experience and skills in virtual reality within his role, he’ll be able to pursue similar paths in the engineering field.
“It’s one thing to do a senior project in my classes that shows the design process, but then it’s another to go through it,” he said. “The knowledge that the university has given me has been very valuable. Almost every bit of knowledge I got while working on my degree I’ve used in this internship and in my first year of work. It’s nice to know that I have developed a base that allows me to market myself and present myself and the skills that I have to a future company I want to work with.”
SSU’s Game Design programs were ranked for the 12th consecutive year on The Princeton Review’s Top 50 Game Design Programs in the U.S. & Canada in 2021, landing in the Top 10 for the third year in a row. To learn more about Game Design at Shawnee State University, visit shawnee.edu/gaming.
This feature was originally released in the Shawnee Magazine 2022 issue. To view the full magazine online, visit shawnee.edu/magazine.