Tomorrow's Master of Digital Media Program invites secondary students to summer boot camp

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      (This article is sponsored by the Centre for Digital Media.)

      The rise of the digital economy has brought breathtaking changes to our society.

      Who could have predicted 12 years ago that a startup called Facebook would be worth more than $400 billion today?

      Or that Facebook and Microsoft would be pinning their futures on something called augmented reality? This has prompted San Francisco-based tech writer Matt Weinberger to wonder if this could lead to the demise of the smartphone.

      Since it was founded a decade ago, the Vancouver-based has been on the forefront of a technological revolution that is transforming not only video games, but also conventional industries such as banking, transportation, construction, energy production, and health care.

      Created as a partnership between UBC, SFU, Emily Carr University of Art + Design, and BCIT, the CDM offers hands-on, graduate-level education to students interested in applying digital solutions to real-world challenges.

      But it's not only adults who can enroll. This summer, CDM is offering a two-week intensive summer boot camp for teens called .

      It runs from July 10 to 21 at the CDM located at 685 Great Northern Way.

      Tomorrow's Master of Digital Media program is open to those entering grades 9 to 12 with a keen interest in art or technology. It's ideal for students who want to explore educational and career opportunities in video games or other digital-media industries.

      "They will be taught a variety of hard skills and soft skills," said lead instructor Jason Lee Elliott. "The main purpose is to understand how digital media can be used to solve problems."

      In the first week, Tomorrow's Master of Digital Media students are introduced to software and wire-framing tools. According to Elliott, they learn how to make a game by the end of the first day with GameMaker.

      In addition, they spend time coming up with ideas, working together in teams, and understanding how to manage the scope of projects.

      "I also focus on making sure all the software I show the students is free--or there are free light versions," Elliott said. "I want them to be able to go home and do this on their own."

      In the second week, they're placed on small teams and devise a problem that they want to solve with digital technology.

      "A couple of years ago, we had one group that was focused on being able to report crimes through an app," Elliott recalled. "That's because they were worried that it is too difficult for young people to talk to the cops. They thought this could be solved through digital technology."

      The students even developed prototypes with video appearing a cellphone that simulated a person being arrested.

      "These high school kids just blow my mind," Elliott said. "Some of their skill sets are incredible."

      On the final day, students make their presentations and they receive a certificate of completion.

      This graduation event can be attended by family members.

      Tomorrow's Master of Digital Media students are also introduced to cutting-edge technology, such as the HTC Vive virtual-reality system and the Hololens, which runs Microsoft's Mixed Reality platform.

      "As soon as you put on that headset, it opens up your brain to all the possibilities we can use it for, everything from architectural rendering to games," Elliott said.

      Virtual reality creates entirely new worlds whereas augmented reality supplements the physical environment with computer-generated sounds, videos, and graphics. And it's already caught on in the past with Tomorrow's Master of Digital Media students.

      "Last year in our program, we actually had one small team that made a virtual reality Vive game," Elliott noted.

      Yes, you read that correctly. B.C. high school students created a virtual reality game in just two weeks! Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates would be impressed.

      For more information on Tomorrow's Master of Digital Media Program, visit the . Tuition is $1,100 and students in financial need can apply for bursaries through the website. The program is sponsored by EA, Namco Bandai Vancouver, Vancity, Finning Digital, and Accenture.

      (This article is sponsored by the Centre for Digital Media.)