During Richard Fry’s high school experience in the 1980s, he said that he often felt like the odd one out. Computers were first coming onto the market, and Fry said he could finally be creative and solve problems in a safe environment while on his computer.
Fry’s passion and skills translated into an enjoyable career. He holds a doctorate and is a professor of computer science for the school of computing at Weber State.
Fry has taught a coding boot camp at WSU with his colleagues, Jeremy Stott, a computing specialist in the department of visual art and design and Eric Mathews, adjunct professor, .
The Bootcamp: Coding and Creativity Series for Super Beginners event took place from Jan. 30 to Feb. 1. ClearView, a local tech company, sponsored the 3D Video Game Development event.
The boot camp was open to WSU students and members of the community, ages 16 and older. For 20 hours over three days, students received lunch, dinner and snacks while learning the coding needed to create a 3D video game.
At just an $18 fee for the experience, Fry said that it is a good deal for students.
“Coding is a tool to achieve a creation. It’s just another tool, like clay or paint,” Mathews said.
Fry believes video gaming is a medium that bridges art and science. He noted that the video game industry surpasses the movie industry in how much money it makes.
Fry said that while computer science and coding are behind the multibillion dollar video game and movie industries, coding also touches people’s lives in everything from Google Assistant and GPS navigation to vacuums and microwaves.
Stott emphasized that the development of skills from both art and science to create something beautiful and functional was a unique takeaway from the boot camp for students.
Cortland Russel, a local high school student, signed up for the boot camp. He said that he has always loved creative writing. He has always wanted to go into video game design because his creativity is not bound to pen and paper, and through it, his stories become interactive.
According to Stott, Utah’s technology industry is booming. Stott believes that with Adobe, Pluralsight and other “Silicon Slopes” companies coming to Utah, the state is becoming a national spotlight for technology.
Representatives from ClearView came to the boot camp to tell students about Utah’s opportunities in technology, including jobs and internships with their company.
Fry believes that he learns a lot from Stott’s artistic side, including why people find certain things beautiful. He said that he hopes students from the computer science side leave with the same kind of appreciation.
Fry also believes that coding can also help society solve its problems and improve the lives of people, especially in areas like transportation and air quality.
“These are just lay people off the street that do not necessarily have a technical background. They are able to just do some fantastic work,” Fry said.
Students walked away from the experience with swag, coding skills and interactive 3D environments that they created, which are portable to personal computers and gaming consoles.
Fry expressed that the boot camp is intensive. It covers what would usually be covered in an entire semester in just three days.
“I’m amazed at what they were able to accomplish in such a short time,” Fry said.
According to Mathews, these coding boot camps do not happen often enough. He believes that although it is difficult to commit to 3 days in a row, it is worth it.
For upcoming boot camps in the Coding & Creativity Series, visit www.weber.edu/cs/bootcamp.