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Job opportunities in the esports and gaming industries abound. That’s great news for WilmU students, who benefit from an exciting new partnership.

A new collaboration between the College of Technology and a Delaware esports startup aims to introduce high school students to the possibilities of STEM education and careers through video gaming.

Signed in April, the partnership teams WilmU’s experienced instructors and career-focused degree and certificate programs with the tech-enthusiast entrepreneurs of Futures First Gaming. The Wilmington-based company organizes esports tournaments, informational events, and training workshops that prepare students from under-resourced communities for jobs in technology, including the business of games.

For Stephen Sye, CEO and co-founder of Futures First Gaming, the WilmU partnership is an ideal match. “One of the most crucial priorities we identified from the outset of our company’s launch was the need for educational credentials in our programming,” he says. “We accomplished this by identifying a university partner who shared our vision to provide innovative STEM education to today’s youth that also shares our commitment to providing equitable opportunities to under-represented groups and the industry’s growth in this region.”

Scott Shaw and Stephen Sye

Adjunct Scott Shaw and Futures First Gaming CEO Stephen Sye

WilmU, which established the first Game Design and Development bachelor’s degree in Delaware, will host Futures First Gaming events at locations throughout the state while highlighting the opportunities its College of Technology degrees and certificates offer.

The partners’ agreement “leverages the capabilities of both to ensure that there’s academic rigor around learning that benefits students, and opportunities for students with credentials in esports and game design,” says Adjunct Professor Scott Shaw.  “There’s so much more to it beyond programming and game design,” he says, “and this agreement provides pathways to educational credit for skill building as well as opportunity to gain a wider perspective of the industry.”

Founded in 2020, Futures First Gaming aims to increase diversity in technology and entrepreneurship fields while promoting esports in Delaware. Its Workforce Development program, a job-skills training and paid internship program for 14- to 18-year-olds that covers coding, game design, business management, marketing, and event production, has received the approval of the state Department of Health and Social Services. Its Girls Who Game event, held at WilmU’s Pratt Student Center in June, featured competitive gameplay, panel discussions featuring tech industry women, and hands-on PC building and video editing workshops.

These efforts go hand-in-hand with WilmU’s mission to make higher education accessible to all students, says Lindsay Rice, the University’s senior director of Academic Partnerships. “We’re committed to expanding opportunities for more high school students to connect, learn, earn credit for what they’ve learned, then explore all the opportunities that await them in the rapidly growing esports and gaming industries.”

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