A visiting Assembly Member was "blown away" after visiting a college's computing facilities, speaking with enterprising students, and realising the scale of the department's commercial operations.
Llŷr Gruffydd, who is a Plaid Cymru politician and a Member of the Welsh Assembly for the North Wales region, dropped into Coleg Llandrillo's Rhos-on-Sea campus to learn about the continuing success of its 3D Animation and Games Development sector.
He was joined by Magnox representative Mair Jones, socio-economics lead for Wales and Scotland, whose company has sponsored the purchase of three state-of-the-art PCs for the college. The Computing department has also secured £10,000 from UK Games Talent and Finance CIC (UKGTF), which is funded by the UK government.
The department has had an "unbelievable" start to 2019, after securing partnerships with some of the world's most successful electronics and gaming brands.
It recently announced that it has been registered as both Xbox and Nintendo developers, which is a possible first for any college or university in the UK! Further to this, it is now part of Sony Interactive Entertainment's global academic programme - PlayStation®First. Run by Sony Interactive Entertainment Europe (SIEE), it provides access to professional development hardware and software tools for both staff and students.
This means that students get to use the same hardware that games studios around the world are using, thus enabling them to create ground-breaking, innovative games on PlayStation…in their own classrooms!
One group of students have set up their own business already, with a studio name of 'Get Triggered'. Their first product is a game relating to mental health, which is made all the more poignant as one of the talented trio has dyspraxia, and another, dyslexia.
The team, Jess Roughton, who is 19-years-old and lives in Towyn, near Abergele, Oliver Rowlands, 21, from Glan Conwy and Joseph Lloyd-Williams, 19, from Denbigh, are all studying on the Foundation Degree 3D Animation and Games Development course at the college's Rhos-on-Sea campus. They had help with the marketing and entrepreneurial aspects from the college's enterprise officer, Karen Aerts.
Also, Coleg Llandrillo is the only college in Wales to have been appointed as a hub for a UK-wide talent programme for budding games designers, where teams can win up to £25,000 to fund their gaming project. Tranzfuser, the graduate talent development competition from UK Games Talent and Finance CIC (UKGTF), and funded by the UK government, recently launched the call for applications for this year's competition.
Llyr Gruffydd AM said:
I am extremely impressed with the college's computing facilities and the students that I have met today. I was blown away; it was a big eye-opener. Today's visit has given me an insight into the wider set of skills needed to excel. It was extremely pleasing to see their animation, design, gaming and business skills all come together to produce the final product. They are developing skills for business which will be transferable.
Nigel Monckton, Magnox socio-economics manager, said:
Magnox and the NDA (Nuclear Decommissioning Authority) are committed to supporting the communities in which we operate. We are pleased to support this pioneering programme through the Magnox socio-economic scheme. It's great to see local, young students having the opportunity to work with world-class software, developing companies with their ideas, and hopefully in the future, pursuing careers locally within the digital industry.
For more information on our courses in Games Development, or Computing courses in general, please call the college's Learner Services team on 01492 542 338.