My professional life started in the power generation industry. For the first half of my career, I operated nuclear power plants, installed fuel cells, fixed instrumentation and control systems, and kept natural gas flowing to millions of customers.
I had a “Road to Damascus” moment in 2006. Mark Rosewater, the lead designer for the game Magic: The Gathering, held a contest for a game design internship. I was not surprised when I was eliminated by the written exam in the second round; I had been in and out of the game for a while, and it was a hard test. What surprised me was the magnitude of the disappointment that followed. That is, I was advancing in my career field and making good money in a stable industry, but I was genuinely disappointed that I had lost out on a 6-month internship in a more volatile industry. It was a catalyst for change that made me rethink my long-term career goals.
In the years that followed I reignited the love of art, design, and games from my childhood. I volunteered at game conventions and discovered the joy of European board games. I started learning 3D animation, and I began developing video game reviews on YouTube. I learned to use Photoshop and sold artwork at gaming conventions. While continuing to work in instrumentation, I began integrating these new skills into my day job.
The combination of technical aptitude in instrumentation and media development allowed me to transition into technical training and adult education. I pursued a second master’s degree in educational technology from Boise State University. In that program I learned about teaching and learning in virtual worlds, games and simulations in education, and general edutainment. Eventually, I transitioned from technical training into instructional design, and I am doing the work that I love.
Today, it is at the intersection of media, art and education that I’ve found my home. I took the long way around to get here, but I think it was worth it.