Geek of the Month: Monica McGill, Ed.D.

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Geek of the Month

 

Name:  Monica McGill, Ed.D.

Nationality:  US

Age Range: What?

Marital Status:  Single, yet quite preoccupied at the moment and happily unavailable

Hometown?  North Pekin, IL

How did you end up in Peoria?

I grew up in the area, but early on I knew I needed to leave. I felt that Peoria was not the most progressive place at the time, and I felt I wanted to experience a different environment that was more open and welcoming. I moved out east, where I felt women were treated much more as equals and there were also greater opportunities in the area of technology. While there, I worked for the Department of Defense for many years, followed by Computer Sciences Corporation. I moved back to the Peoria area to be closer once again to family.

What makes you a geek?

I have always found computers fascinating, more so the "making them do things" on the software side rather than the hardware side. It never ceases to amaze me how the right combination of characters--syntax--can make an electronic box come to life.

How long have you been teaching Interactive Media?

I've taught at Bradley University for the last nine years, four of those years in the Department of Computer Science & Information Systems, and the last five in the Department of Interactive Media. I am now the Game Design Lead for the Department, and our program is one of only a few schools in the U.S. that are nationally-recognized by the Princeton Review for the quality of their program. My colleagues (Jim Ferolo, Chair, Scott Cavanah, and Matt Nelson) and I have worked and continue to work to improve the quality of the program on what seems to be a weekly basis.

In addition to teaching and advising, I engage in research in the areas of serious games, diversity in the game industry, and computer science education research. My favorite projects are those in which I can perform research and development work with students, which gives them an opportunity to experience production work with a client/collaborator or games research with an analysis of game design.

How did you get started?

I have a pretty wide and varied background, but nearly all of it has been focused on software development. Making the move to games has been a natural transition for me, since digital games typically require functionality and the logic required to create that essentially remains the same. The game industry does quite a few things very well, including user experience and aesthetics, two critical pieces of any good software project. Many focusing on strictly computer science seem to forget these key elements. It has been great to work in an area that values these elements.

Who shot first?

Well, I'm not super huge on violence in games or in real-life.

Favorite bearded person?

On the fun side, I'd say, "sorry, I'm not into beards". One of my peers in the UK, Ian Ufting, is a very interesting person with much facial hair, so I'll choose him. On the more serious side, since a great deal of my work is about the lack of minority representation in the tech sector, I can only say that this question is slanted towards the predominantly male viewpoint. So I'll throw in his super partner, Sally Fincher, who does amazing work in computer science education research. She, however, does not have a beard.

Favorite movie(s)?

The Count of Monte Cristo, BBC version of Pride and Prejudice, The Matrix, Madagascar: , Mama Madea flicks (really), The Notebook (of course!), Second-hand Lion, so many more.

Favorite book(s)?

With all the reading I do for work, I honestly don't read much for pleasure.

Favorite band?

I like lots of bands, but no particular favorite. As far games, though, the last game I downloaded on my phone and started playing was Limbo.

Guilty pleasure?

Wow, I can't say I feel guilty about my pleasures. Life is too short for the guilty part.

Favorite place in Peoria?

The game lab in the Caterpillar Global Communications Center at Bradley University!

Do you have any pets?

A Coton de Tulear, or as I describe her, a little, white, foofoo dog, Tippy. She is 12 years old with Type I Diabetes, so she requires insulin shots twice a day.

Hobbies?

Spending time with my fantastic daughters, working on my house, traveling, and playing games here and there.

What events does the Department of Interactive Media have?

We hold several events for students to get them acclimated to industry. This year we are running a Practicum series and bringing in guest lecturers locally and from around the country, both digitally and in person. All of our students are required to attend, and we believe the pay-off of such collaborations and exposure to industry is invaluable. We have a large Portfolio show at the end of the academic year as well, where our top students will be presenting their portfolios and showcasing the games, animations, and related projects they have created during their time at Bradley. We welcome those from industry to attend and learn more about what our very talented students are doing.

Favorite facial hair design?

For women?  Shaved, plucked, waxed....

Your question for yourself and future geeks to answer?

Where do you think technology has the most potential for helping others in the future?

I think that one of the great areas that continues to be explored and help individuals and society is in the area of medicine and health. Technology has helped in the more critical stages of diagnosis and treatment of diseases, but there is great potential for it to serve as a motivating function for patient self-management. Doctors and medical staff can't be with a patient 24/7, so between doctors' visits, a personal digital health assistant could provide a customized way for individuals to manage their own care.