Student Life

Coleman University offers a traditional campus experience and encourages the formation of clubs and participation in student-oriented organizations. We hold seminars, workshops, and other events to help prepare students for academic success. Keep an eye out for an occasional BBQ or radio station appearance.

We’re involved in many off-campus events, supporting local arts, armed services, and charitable organizations.

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5 facts about graphic design that will help boost your career

A career in graphic design seems to revolve around visual concepts, computer software and aesthetics trends. However, to build a successful journey as a graphic designer, you must learn much more than that. It’s crucial to acquire general knowledge about multiple topics.

At Coleman University, our Graphic Design Program provides the foundation you will need to start your career. You will learn the basics of drawing, design principles, the latest in design software, typography and vector graphics, for example. Our coursework will provide you with a well-rounded instruction that will prepare you for every challenge you will find once you enter the workforce.

You will learn those skills from seasoned instructors who have years of experience working in the graphic design field. They will share with you and your colleagues tips that will help you prepare for job interviews and, most important, for the job itself.

Here we list five facts about graphic design that will help you to understand more about the field and start your career with the right foot.

  1. Multiple career options are available

As a graphic designer, you will have multiple career options in a variety of settings, such as advertising agencies, publishing houses, marketing agencies and service industries. Designers create compelling visual concepts to communicate an advertising or informational message. Usually, people think the only way to go is to have the “graphic designer” job title. However, there are many ways to specialize and choose the career path you want to take based on your preferences and talents.

Technology is always changing, which directly affects the graphic design industry. To succeed, professionals must be aware of all the new trends, software and opportunities. Learning all the possibilities available will also present you with specialized paths that can give you financial stability and the chance to earn more money.

Some of the careers you can choose with a graphic design degree are:

  • Art Director
  • Creative Director
  • Film and Video Editor
  • Industrial/Product Designer
  • Package Designer
  • Web Designer
  • Marketing Manager or Specialist
  • Multimedia Artist
  • Software Quality Assurance Tester
  • Animator
  • Software Application Developer

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job prospects for graphic designers will continue growing for the upcoming years. In 2014, one in five graphic designers was self-employed, which shows the array of opportunities graphic designers have for their journey in the job market. Even though the job competition might be hard, there will always be openings for talented designers who are trained with the latest technologies and excellent instruction.

At Coleman University, you will find just that. Coleman’s inverted curriculum allows you to learn everything you need to tackle real-life projects during the first months of your program, preparing you to enter the job market quickly and launch your new career.

  1. Portfolios are important

Employers and clients expect to see a strong portfolio when they are looking to hire a graphic designer. A well-crafted portfolio that showcases your work and style will make a statement, and possibly guarantee you that job you always wanted.

An online portfolio is easy to build and to visit. It’s a link that you can add to your resume and will actually attest that you can do the job. The client will understand your capacity and your style, and that can even make your job easier. You will both be on the same page and well aware of what to expect.

At Coleman University, you will have a Portfolio course as part of the Graphic Design Program. This “capstone” course is the culmination of students’ associate-level design coursework. Core concepts include presenting a finished body of work in a professional context. Topics covered include designing a resume, assembling digital and print portfolios, creating “leave behinds” and learning how to best represent your skills, abilities and knowledge to gain employment in the profession.

During your studies at Coleman University, you will be able to start crafting your portfolio with hands-on projects you will work in class.

  1. Graphic designers create for clients

Remember that graphic design is a very client-oriented career. All your work will involve what the client is expecting and needing for that particular campaign. You will probably develop your signature style (which will be present in everything you do), but the client’s directions are the main guidelines for your project. You will have to understand and address the client’s requirements in order to complete the job.

Communication is very important in client-oriented jobs, which is why you must work on your communication skills. You must be able to understand what your client wants, ask questions that can improve results and avoid misunderstandings, and manage your client’s expectations about deadlines and outcomes.

Clients pay for a job that they want to see delivered. You can and must provide artistic design options for them, but sometimes this is not what they are looking for. So the graphic designer must be able to understand and follow directions. Some designers say that this is the hardest part of the job: learning that solving problems to please the client is often more important than designing a very artistic work..

At Coleman University, your classes will cover communication and professional practices that will help you develop the soft skills you need to successfully communicate with clients. Here are some examples:

DSN274 Professional Practices: This course explores standards and practices in the graphic design profession. Emphasis is placed on communication, professional relationships and the economic interests of designers. Topics covered include pricing structures, copyright protection, ethical guidelines, contracts and forms, project schedules and business taxes.

ENG200 Communications GE: Communications is designed to introduce students to the theory and use of human and public communication. Various types of communication studied include the following: perception, listening, verbal, nonverbal, interpersonal, intercultural.

  1. You must be a good writer

When you are a good writer, you are able to express yourself and communicate well. Being a graphic designer might appear to require only aesthetic and technical skills, but don’t be misled. To really succeed in this field, you must know how to write in a way that you can be completely understood when explaining ideas and projects.

Not only should your grammar be good, but your comprehension and interpretation should be exceptional as well. You will be working with clients with different backgrounds and cultures, and you will need to understand and be understood.

Occasionally, you will be required to write copy for your designs. So be prepared to show your skills and surprise your clients with strong and inspirational copy.

As part of the Graphic Design Program at Coleman, you will take part in College Composition, a course that will help you improve your writing skills. The course gives you instruction in the theory and guidelines of composition for college writing with an emphasis on the following: grammar review, rhetorical strategies, essay writing, collaborative writing and academic writing.

  1. Develop and exploit other skills that might be helpful

Let’s say you love photography. This might be the time to incorporate all your knowledge from this subject into your work as a graphic designer.

Remember that every experience you collect during your lifetime can help you to create your style and improve the work you are doing. Bring the knowledge you have about other subjects to your career. You might love to write, or really enjoy video games. This all can help. If you have a deep understanding about art or pop culture, it can help your designs to have more sophistication or target the right audience.

One skill that every graphic designer should learn and develop is presentation. The power of a good presentation can catch the client’s eyes (or your director’s eyes) and generate great opportunities. You must master the art of presenting your work, adapting to each audience in order to get the best results.

Learn the best color choices, strategies and font selections to state your presence as a professional. Always put yourself in the client’s shoes. They will expect a good presentation from someone who works with aesthetics, so don’t disappoint them.

Since graphic design is an aesthetic-oriented career, prospects usually think that they should learn only about visuals, image editing and design to be an excellent designer. Don’t make that mistake. Be advised that to really succeed as a respected graphic designer, you will have to master a number of different skills that will improve the quality of your work and the perception your clients will have from it.

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Software Development student creates program to simplify search for textbooks

Starting a new semester is rarely a smooth process. From creating a workable class schedule to locating your new classrooms, the transition to a new semester often brings stress and confusion for students. However, a new application developed by a Coleman University student will alleviate one of the most problematic issues that students face at the beginning of each new semester. Ryan Jones, a student in the Software Development program, recently developed an application that will help students find the correct versions of their textbooks for each of their classes. Using JavaScript, JSON, jQuery, and Bootstrap Framework (HTML and CSS), Ryan was able to create an innovative Single Page Application. After bringing the idea to the administration at Coleman University, Ryan met with the IT department to discuss the ins and outs of the application. From there it did not take long before the application was live and linked to the Coleman University website for student use.

With new editions of textbooks printed nearly every year, students often fall into the trap of buying an outdated copy. To combat this, Ryan designed his application to display a list of required textbooks when the user enters the course ID. He used the individual ISBN numbers for almost all of the required textbooks at Coleman to build the repository of pictures and information for each book. This ensures that students are buying the correct versions rather than having to search physical shelves or a seemingly endless online database of past editions. Even more conveniently, the application has a link built in to compare process online across multiple websites. With the rising cost of college textbooks, Ryan’s application helps students find the best deal possible with the click of a mouse. Ryan’s application can be found at http://coleman.edu/bookfinder/index.html.

When asked about his motivation for creating this application, Ryan said that he saw a need and tried to fill it. With the software development industry’s focus on candidates with real life experience, Ryan’s initiative in addressing an issue in his own life that he saw as problematic will serve him well in his career. He plans to take this application framework and develop his own Japanese to English dictionary in the future.

Bookfinder desktop photo

Bookfinder desktop search photo

Bookfinder mobile search photo

Bookfinder mobile homepage photo

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Someone You Should Know: Brent Miller, Career Services Department, Coleman University

Brent Miller is a career services advisor for students in the Game Programming Development & Design (GDD), Software Development, and Graphic Design programs at Coleman University.  Miller enrolled as a student in 2011 and earned both an associate’s degree and bachelor’s degree in the GDD program. Upon graduating in 2014, Miller joined the Career Services department thanks to his exemplary work as a student and teacher’s assistant, working with more than 100 students in the GDD program.

As a career services advisor, Miller screens and submits résumés for jobs that match students’ qualifications and interests, and informs students and alumni of potential job leads and upcoming career fairs. Students and alumni are always welcome to visit the department for a copy of the career services workbook. The workbook contains valuable information about writing winning résumés and cover letters, interviewing techniques, salary negotiating, business etiquette, and more.  As students draw closer to graduation, Miller is available to ensure that their job searches are simple, efficient, and effective.  Brent also keeps abreast of industry trends and changes, and regularly meets with employers to discuss their hiring needs.

Miller is a military veteran who spent 11 years as a member of the United States Marine Corps (USMC) and held the rank of Staff Sergeant.  As an infantry platoon leader, Brent led marines into combat. During enlistment, he served as Marine Corps Security Forces (classified secret), drill instructor, and operations chief.  He also completed two tours of duty overseas.  He was deployed in combat zones to Camp Rhino near Kandahar, Afghanistan, from 2001-2002, and at Ramadi and Ar-Rutbah, Iraq, from 2006-2007. While in Iraq, he was wounded in combat and retired from the USMC in 2009.

Miller encourages students who need career advising assistance to contact him at (858) 966-3978, or e-mail at bmiller@coleman.edu or stop by his office Monday through Thursday from 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

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The Best of Coleman’s Software Development Program

If you are dreaming about launching a new career in software development, Coleman University has the best program to help you achieve your goals. Our Software Development Program awards you with an Associate of Science degree using “inverted curriculum” allowing students early access to major job-relevant course work prior to pursuing general education courses. We help get you prepared for every project and challenge you might find in your career.

In this program, you will learn the fundamentals of systems analysis, application (solution) design, website development, and e-commerce concepts. Upon graduation, students will have designed programming solutions in several languages on many popular platforms, and will have acquired an understanding of computing principles with an emphasis in application (solution) development. Coleman graduates will be well prepared to start their new career in this promising field.

If you are still not convinced, here are five reasons why our Software Development program is the best choice for you and for your career goals.

  1. Only at Coleman.

Coleman University programs are tailored to prepare students with everything they need to successfully enter the workforce. Our inverted curriculum trains students to find entry-level positions extremely quickly, and our small class sizes allow them to participate actively in every class discussion and project without getting lost in a crowd.

Our Career Services Department provides job placement for all Coleman students and graduates, along with a number of services, such as mock interviews, resume reviews, and much more.

  1. Hands-on learning.

Real-life experience is very important when starting a career in software development. In this particular field, employers look for applicants that know more than just the theory and are ready to tackle projects with true challenges. At Coleman University, students have hands-on training and in-classroom learning.

Another way to train your abilities and learn more deeply is to work on independent projects, whether through collaborating on open source projects, by attending Hackathons or Code Jams, or by participating in coding dojos.

Open source projects: Students can find an abundance of open source projects available online, and they are a good way to put all you learned into practice. You will lend the project some of your time and insights, and in return you will be able to learn from more experienced coders and gain exposure to a side of the industry that is hard to replicate in a classroom, and add all of it to your resume.

Coding dojos: This gathering brings software designers from all levels together to tackle a project or a challenge. This experiment can teach new skills and knowledge to the participants, creating an environment where people can collaborate and discuss approaches and techniques used when designing new software.

Hackathons and Code Jams: These activities are available on campus or nearby in the community to work on common challenge projects.  Hackathons usually do not have a set of programmed speakers or workshops; the idea here is that everyone will contribute in some sense. Code Jams are competitions that test programming and problem-solving skills.  Both types of activities provide a great opportunity for students to show their work and share experiences.

  1. Access to up-to-date information and software.

The software development field is constantly changing and evolving, especially nowadays with all the applications, codes, and operational systems. At Coleman University, we are well aware of that and we provide current content, instructors that are seasoned professionals, and cutting-edge facilities. Everything to train you with all the skills you need for this ever-changing world of software development.

  1. Multiple job opportunities.

As a Software Development Program graduate, you can choose between different career paths, such as: quality assurance technician, Web application developer, database developer, or programmer. This is a field that allows you to discover your talent and build your career around these paths, which means you can work developing code for iPhone applications or games, for example.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for programmers has been increasing for the last years. From 2014 to 2024, the job outlook is projected to grow 17 percent, which is much higher than average. The job outlook for software developers is promising because it is expected that new technology will demand not only new applications, but also optimized ways to develop applications that can be easily adapted to multiple platforms. This means that well-prepared professionals will have a great amount of opportunities.

  1. Core courses that allow you to learn the foundations.

Students will learn processes and technologies that are necessary to succeed in a career in software development. Our core courses include:

COM107 Introduction to Programming: This course introduces students to the basics of computer programming. Application design and development using industry standard techniques stand at the core. Emphasis is on planning, design, implementation, and testing of software solutions to a variety of real-world problems. Techniques included are IPO (input/process/output) chart development, application design using pseudocode and flowcharts, as well as implementation in a high-level programming language. Fundamental software testing techniques are used to validate the work product. Emphasis is on data (primitive and abstract types) as well as data manipulation using the standard programming structures. These are sequence, selection, and repetition. Modularization is also covered. Students gain understanding in the functioning of computers and the use of industry standard productivity software.

COM 112 Programming Logic and Design: This course introduces the fundamentals of programming logic, program flow, and the control statements needed to implement a programming solution and write an algorithm. The course covers problem analysis and definition, algorithm design, flowcharting, pseudocode, validation techniques, simple testing techniques, and the basic features of computer hardware, software, and data.

COM 122 Web Interface Development: This course provides complete coverage of HTML, CSS, and XML including up-to-date coverage of HTML5 and CSS3 for website creation. It includes document enhancement with sound, video, and applets. It describes how Web forms are created and their interaction with a Web server. The course also demonstrates using advanced CSS for designing or for the testing of mobile devices. This course introduces XML and how to create XML documents that include XML and mobile development. Finally, it describes document validation against DTDs and schema vocabularies.

COM 152 Object-Oriented Programming I: This course introduces the student to the object-oriented design/programming paradigm. The focus is on the creation of class hierarchies that provide solutions to real-world problems. Concepts covered include class-to-object inheritance, class-to-class inheritance, encapsulation, code reusability, creation and use of interfaces, and creation and manipulation of collections/lists.

COM202 Object-Oriented Programming Concepts: Best practices in object-oriented include implementing software designs with high-cohesion, low-coupled architectures. This course will provide opportunities for students to develop proficiency in high-quality code within the object-oriented programming approach. Attention to creating quality code reaps benefits for the programmer as an application matures in that it supports updating, patching errors, and extending the functionality of it. No published software may ignore best practices in the implementation phase; consumer expectations of functionality and reliability require robust programming practices to meet expected turnaround times for software system extensions and bug fixes.

COM 222 Client-Side Web Programming: This course provides an introduction to JavaScript and the related technologies, AJAX and DHTML. This course of study provides students with in-depth client-side scripting capabilities. Students will be guided through the fundamentals of JavaScript syntax as well as the jQuery basics, such as selecting and manipulating DOM elements, assigning attributes, traversing tools, and CSS/Styling. Subsequent modules will delve deeper into advanced concepts such as jQuery core, events and effects, plugins, embedding APIs, performance best practices, and managing dependencies. Industry standard software testing and debugging techniques are also introduced.

COM 232 SQL and Database Design: This course is an introduction to database design and the SQL language. The relational database model will be covered in detail, along with basic database design and the fundamentals of the SQL data manipulation language. The focus will be on data retrieval, but design concepts and data normalization will also be discussed. Database administration and security will also be introduced.

COM 239 Software Testing: This course provides an introduction to systematic and organized approaches to software testing. The goal of the course is to provide students with the skill to select and apply a testing strategy and testing techniques that are appropriate to a particular software system or component. In addition, students will become familiar with using a Web-based bug-tracking tool to assess the effectiveness of their testing activity, and to provide evidence to justify their evaluation. Students will learn the theory behind criteria-based test design and to apply that theory in practice. Topics include test case design, the various levels of testing, test management, evaluating software quality, validation of test outputs, report generation, test coverage criteria, STLC, and test metrics.

COM 242 Server-Side Web Programming: In this course, students will learn to develop applications that serve as the informational backbone for the World Wide Web and Internet services. The student will create dynamically generated webpages; draw and deliver information from database systems; secure information assets; receive validated inputs; and deliver, retrieve, and manipulate files, images, and other assets.

COM 262 Mobile Development: This course provides an introduction to mobile development. The students will learn application development on the Android platform. Topics will include memory management, user interface design, user interface building, input methods, data handling, network techniques, and specifics such as GPS and motion sensing. Students are expected to work on a project that produces a professional-quality mobile application. Projects will be deployed in real-world applications. Course work will include project conception, design, implementation, and pilot testing on an actual handheld device.

COM 290 Systems Design and Implementation: Students will apply the fundamental concepts of systems analysis and design in a comprehensive capstone project. Students will use the concepts and skill sets acquired in the previous classes to design and build an IT solution in a real-world business scenario. The comprehensive capstone project will require students to work cooperatively in designing and implementing all aspects of an IT system.

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Alumni Spotlight: Rick McElroy

Photo of Rick McElroyRick McElroy, 1998 Alumnus

Rick McElroy is a Security Strategist with Carbon Black, Inc., an organization that delivers the industry’s most complete next generation endpoint security platform. McElroy graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Information Systems. Prior to Carbon Black, McElroy spent four years in the U.S. Marines Corps.

What is your role at Carbon Black?

I am a security strategist and an evangelist for Carbon Black. I work with customers of all sizes to help achieve their Information Security strategy. I get the privilege of flying all over the world to help educate cybersecurity professionals on advanced attack methods and how Carbon Black can help solve their end point security challenges. I also develop internal employee education courses and manage the Carbon Black research partner program. In addition, I regularly speak about cybersecurity issues at tech conferences around the country.

How did Coleman University prepare you for a career in cybersecurity?

Coleman provided a deep foundation covering topics like networking, storage and endpoints. I chose Coleman because it offered hands-on classes that explained how all of these things worked together in real world situations. I was able to complete my degree and immediately get into workforce. Today, Coleman’s cybersecurity program offers a capstone course where students can role play as hackers or defenders and allows students to apply what they learned in class to both scenarios. I’m not aware of any other San Diego area universities that provide this type of learning environment.  I’m also impressed with the new cybersecurity club called “Team Antikythera” and have spoken to this team of Coleman cybersecurity students who are building a room for competitions related to red vs. blue team penetration testing.

How did your military career prepare you for a career in cybersecurity?
In the military, you need to be able to improvise and figure how to work things out with the tools you have available. Adapting to constant change as well as the ability to be fast and agile are critical job skills to have in cybersecurity. It’s an ever changing world and being able to adapt to things outside of your control is critical to success in this field.

What alumni activities are you involved in at Coleman?
I enjoy visiting the classroom and speaking with cybersecurity students. We talk about changes in the industry and career opportunities after graduation. I occasionally provide input on curriculum and was chosen as the keynote speaker for the Fall 2016 graduation.

Are tech certifications important?
Yes. The certifications available differ, depending on the path you take in you’re career. Employers don’t have time to vet everyone, so being able to demonstrate you have successfully passed a certification test is important. Certifications are not the end all be all to being a successful security professional but they are necessary to show the competence behind the classroom.

What is your involvement with the San Diego tech community?
Since 2012, I have been the program chair for Securing Our eCity’s annual security event, CyberFest. As the program chair, I plan the conference program, select the speakers and assist in marketing the event to the public. Every year, business leaders are becoming more interested in the state of cybersecurity and our attendance has increased.

Why don’t more students decide to pursue a technology degree?
I think students often believe that tech classes are too hard and they won’t be successful. But, there are many tech jobs available that are not necessarily related to cybersecurity. The industry also needs database experts, coders, and systems administrators.

What career advice would you give to students currently enrolled in technology programs?

We definitely need more cyber defenders. There are 1.6 million jobs out there that have gone unfilled. The great thing about having a cybersecurity degree is that you can have fun and make a good living, and the security industry provides endless opportunities to learn something new, and that is one of the aspects I like most about this industry. In a nutshell cultivate cybersecurity skills and you will have a much easier time staying employed.

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Getting Started in Software Development

Are you considering a career in software development? Our Software Development degree program at Coleman University can prepare you for an exciting career in a booming industry! Coleman University offers students the tools and foundational knowledge of programming languages, software architectures, and paradigms to create and manage software applications. With coursework in systems analysis, application design, website development, and e-commerce concepts, Coleman graduates are well prepared to enter the workforce with the skills and knowledge to develop their very own software packages! Though Coleman can offer you the training and foundational knowledge to become a software developer, potential software developers may be unaware  of the various pathways into the industry.

With a wide array of potential career options for software developers, it behooves you to determine which path is right for you, based on your interests, skills, and abilities. From there, you must choose which coding language would best suit the job desired. Though used to accomplish similar tasks, different platforms necessitate different coding languages. The initial language that you choose should be based on your short- and long-term goals. For example, Java is the primary language used for Android applications. You would not learn Java if your goal is to develop iPhone applications. In that case, you would learn either Objective-C or Swift. Due to the small differences across platforms, you often cannot write one master code and expect it to work on every platform. You must understand the nuanced differences that affect how your software will run. Luckily, many of the major coding languages are primed to allow developers to port code to other platforms rather quickly. With that said, a developer still needs a thorough understanding of the impact that hardware has on software. Though falling under the software development umbrella, the distinct job destinations in your software development career all possess their own necessary skills and experiences. Like to play video games? A career in video game development may be for you. Are you a coding whiz? You may be on your way to become the next great software engineer! Let’s look at a few possible jobs within your career as a software developer  and explore what they look for in a candidate.

Game programmers take the outline provided by the game designer and bring it to life through code. Since video games are essentially self-contained software packages, game programmers must be familiar with various coding languages, such as C++ (the most popular), Java, and C#. Another option that game studios utilize when developing a new game is the use of game engines. Game engines are basically pre-built software templates that programmers use to expedite the development process. They generally contain the game studio’s preferred physics engines, rendering engine, and animation bundles, among other things. The Coleman University Gaming Development and Design program will prepare students to master arguably the two most popular game engines available today: Unity and Unreal. Though used to accomplish similar tasks, these game engines possess different attributes, strengths, and limitations that prospective employers expect applicants to navigate. With these tools at their disposal, game programmers can dictate how characters interact with the environment, with commands from the player, and with other characters.

Software Programmers or Developers are the backbone of computer science. They are involved in the development of many types of software, including operating systems, networking systems, and compilers (the software that converts code to executional commands on a computer). Though many software programmers and developers  spend a great deal of time writing code, their main priority can also include  system maintenance and optimization. With feedback from users and test groups, software programmers  frequently work to improve existing algorithms to make them more user-friendly.

Business Application Developers combine their knowledge of various coding languages with expertise in database management to help businesses build websites, mobile apps, and custom software packages. Due to the myriad of operating systems that can access certain apps, business application developers must have a strong understanding of multiple coding languages. Different projects will require different platforms, and a candidate that has a strong grasp on the necessary languages is very attractive. Companies would prefer to have one person with a diverse skillset rather than to hire multiple software developers to work on the project. Two of the most important abilities to possess in this position are the ability to safeguard software and the ability to make it user-friendly. Though network security professionals often step in and preserve sensitive information, companies rely on their software developers to build software packages that have an inherent defense. It is much easier to write code without exploitable holes than it is to find a hole and fix it later on. The other necessity is making sure that the software package is user-friendly. Software developers have to keep in mind that most end users are much less technologically adept and must be walked through new software packages.

Though education is important, experience is the most crucial requirement for a career in software development. In an effort to provide additional hands-on experience, Coleman University encourages students to work on independent projects, whether through collaborating on open source projects with other software developers across the world, by attending BarCamps, or by participating in coding dojos.

  • Open source projects are a great way to take the next step from fledgling coder to more advanced coding. There are hundreds of open source projects available at any given time that require software developers around the world to lend their time and energy to solve problems, build infrastructure, and give feedback. In return for contributing to these projects, you have the opportunity to learn from more experienced coders, gain exposure to a side of the industry that is hard to replicate in a classroom, and add it to your resume. As is the case for many creative roles, a portfolio of projects that you have contributed to can set you apart from other applicants.
  • Coding dojos are gatherings of programmers based around a common challenge. Though the event centers on a shared challenge, coding dojos are not meant to be competitive. Much like a game jam in video game development and design, coding dojos bring coders of all skill levels together to tackle a project in an attempt to glean new knowledge and skills in the process. The goal is to create an environment where people can collaborate and discuss approaches and techniques used when designing new software.
  • BarCamps are informal conferences put on by groups of individuals that wish to have an open forum to discuss the issues facing the industry. However, unlike most conferences, BarCamps do not have set speakers. Rather, everyone present must participate in some capacity – whether giving a demonstration, leading a workshop, or volunteering in a general capacity. The purpose of these events is to bring like-minded people together to learn in an open environment.

Due to the ever-evolving nature of technology, software developers must make continuous learning a priority to stay relevant. Through the use of industry periodicals, conferences, books, etc., programmers can learn the newest tips and trends that will shape the industry for the foreseeable future. Unfortunately, the technology that you spent countless hours mastering will eventually become outdated. When that happens, you have to evolve or risk becoming outdated yourself.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for programmers is projected to increase 17 percent from 2016 to 2024. With an average rate of job growth of 8 percent across all professions during that time frame, it is clear that qualified software developers are, and will continue to be, a hot commodity in the job market. This fact is supported by the average salary of a software developer, which, at just over $100,000 per year, is close to three times the average rate of pay across all professions at just over $36,000 per year. The cause for optimism surrounding the growth of software developers is the expectation that new technology will demand new applications. In the past, programmers would develop separate mobile apps for each platform (Apple, Android, Blackberry, and Windows). This would require multiple teams of software developers utilizing multiple programming languages to replicate the same app. Not only was this time-consuming and expensive, but each platform’s respective app store would tap into the profits made off of the app. However, programmers are starting to shift toward developing mobile web apps for convenience and cost-effectiveness. Rather than building the same app multiple times, software developers are able to build one HTML code and port it to a website. That way, when a user accesses the website from a mobile device, regardless of the operating system, he or she sees the same content.

With a degree in software development from Coleman University, you will have every opportunity to learn from industry leaders in the software development field. Due to the varied nature of the industry, a fledgling programmer has a multitude of opportunities to explore the myriad of paths before settling on one, based on his or her goals, interests, and talents. Though a degree from Coleman University can position you for an exciting career in software development, the onus falls squarely on you to continue learning and expanding your skills in an ever-evolving industry. But by developing a portfolio of completed work, building a network of fellow software developers, and possessing the right tools and knowledge, you will be well positioned to obtain a career in software development.

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Software Development Tips and Tricks

Are you considering a career in software development? At Coleman University, we offer a program that will prepare you for a promising career in a booming industry. Coleman University’s Software Development degree program gives you the tools and foundational knowledge to learn new programming languages, software architectures, and paradigms to create and manage software applications. With coursework in systems analysis, application design, website development, and e-commerce concepts, Coleman graduates are well prepared to enter the workforce with the skills and knowledge to develop their very own software packages! Below are some tips, tricks, and trends that can help you succeed in a career in software development:

  • Determine which coding language you should learn. Though used to accomplish similar tasks, different platforms necessitate different coding languages. The initial language that you choose should be based on your short- and long-term goals. For example, Java is the primary language used for Android applications. You should not learn Java if your goal is to develop iPhone applications. In that case, you would learn either Objective-C or Swift. Due to the small differences across platforms, you often cannot write one master code and expect it to work on every platform. You must understand the nuanced differences that affect how your software will run. Luckily, many of the major coding languages are primed to allow developers to port code to other platforms rather quickly. With that said, a developer still needs a thorough understanding of the impact that hardware has on software.
  • Learn multiple coding languages, but stick with one language while you are starting out. Oftentimes, fledgling software developers will get ambitious or impatient and try to simultaneously learn multiple coding languages. Due to the technical nature of software development, learning multiple languages simultaneously may spread novice programmers a bit thin. It is much more beneficial to develop a deep foundational knowledge of one coding language than to learn multiple ones superficially. When you have a thorough understanding of how a specific coding language works, you can branch out. You will find that in most instances, it is much easier to learn subsequent coding languages than it is to learn that first language. Many coding languages have similar frameworks and structures, which allows a programmer to understand a majority of code, even if he or she is not entirely familiar with the language. It becomes a snowball effect as you learn and grow more familiar with the languages. Today, many programmers know multiple coding languages, because it reduces the chance they will be pigeonholed into a certain type of project. Employers are looking for programmers who can accomplish a variety of tasks, and you can set yourself apart by offering a varied skill set.
  • Keep abreast of new developments in the industry. Due to the ever-evolving nature of technology, software developers must make continuous learning a priority to keep relevant. Through the use of industry periodicals, conferences, books, etc., programmers can learn the newest tips and trends that will shape the industry for the foreseeable future. Unfortunately, the technology that you spent countless hours mastering will eventually become outdated. When that happens, you have to evolve or risk becoming outdated yourself.
  • Practice coding in the real world. With the increase in demand for software developers, more and more opportunities to gain real-world experience have presented themselves. There is no clear-cut route into a career in software development, so aspiring programmers are able to explore the entirety of the landscape before plunging into a set course. There are multiple ways to obtain real-world experience, but three of the most popular are detailed below:
    • Open source projects are a great way to take the next step from fledgling coder to more advanced coder. There are hundreds of open source projects available at any given time that require software developers around the world to lend their time and energy to solve problems, build infrastructure, and review their peers. In return for contributing to these projects, you have the opportunity to learn from more experienced coders, gain exposure to a side of the industry that is hard to replicate in a classroom, and add it to your resume. As with many creative roles, having a portfolio of projects that you have contributed to can set you apart from other applicants.
    • Coding dojos are gatherings of programmers based around a common challenge. Though such events center on a shared challenge, coding dojos are not meant to be competitive. Much like a game jam in video game development and design, coding dojos bring coders of all skill levels together to tackle a project in an attempt to glean new knowledge and skills in the process. The goal is to create an environment where people can collaborate and discuss approaches and techniques to use when designing new software.
    • BarCamps are informal conferences put on by groups of individuals who wish to have an open forum to discuss the issues facing the industry. However, unlike most conferences, BarCamps do not have set speakers. Rather, everyone present must participate in some capacity, whether giving a demonstration, leading a workshop, or volunteering in a general capacity. The purpose of these events is to bring like-minded people together to learn in an open environment.
  • Strongly consider learning Javascript. Though touted as the easiest coding language to learn, Javascript is the backbone of many of the most popular websites on the Internet. As a result, programmers who have a strong grasp of Javascript are very attractive to potential employers. The reason for this is the shift to more interactive websites that respond in real time to commands given to them by their users. For example, when you open your email inbox and click on an unread email, you are automatically brought to the full message. Javascript is the driving force behind that interaction.
  • Embrace frameworks. Used heavily in video game development and design, software frameworks are prebuilt code infrastructures that allow programmers to simply instruct an existing library of code. With libraries of code like Unreal and Unity, game programmers can worry less about minute details and focus their efforts on game play, animation, etc. By not having to build every game from scratch, game studios can dedicate fewer resources to each project, resulting in more efficient (and streamlined) production. The only real downside to this approach is that a studio’s offerings may all look a bit similar since they are all produced from the same piece of code. However, most studios combat this by using separate physics engines, graphics, and animations to distinguish the games from one another.
  • Focus on mobile web apps over native mobile apps. In the past, programmers would develop separate mobile apps for each platform (Apple, Android, Blackberry, and Windows). This would require multiple teams of software developers utilizing multiple programming languages to replicate the same app. Not only was this time-consuming and expensive, each platform’s respective app store would tap into the profits made off of the app. However, programmers are starting to shift towards developing mobile web apps for convenience and cost-effectiveness. Rather than building the same app multiple times, software developers are able to build one HTML code and port it to a website. That way, when a user accesses the website from a mobile device, regardless of the operating system, he or she sees the same content.

With a degree in software development from Coleman University, you will have every opportunity to learn from industry leaders in the software development field. Due to the varied nature of the industry, a fledgling programmer has many opportunities to explore the numerous paths before settling on one, based on his or her goals, interests, and talents. Coleman University can position you for an exciting career in software development, and with continuous  learning you can expand your skills in an ever-evolving industry.

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Coleman University Students Volunteer for CyberFest 2016

Coleman University students recently donated their time and talent for the Securing Our eCity® Foundation’s CyberFest 2016 event at the Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines in October. The students decorated 500 gift boxes for CyberFest 2016 attendees. For these efforts, Coleman received a bronze level sponsorship and recognition in the event program.

CyberFest is an annual single-day program for professionals, business leaders, and technologists, representing who’s who in the world of cyber. This year’s theme was “The Future is Now.” Topics included panel discussions on surviving a cyber disaster and securing the Internet of Things.

The keynote speaker for the event was Eric O’Neill, former counter terrorism and counter intelligence operative for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Mr. O’Neill is credited with playing a major role in the arrest, conviction, and eventual sentencing of FBI agent, Robert Hanssen for spying on behalf of the Soviet Union and the Russian Federation. He speaks regularly on topics such as cybersecurity, espionage, fraud, corporate diligence and defense. The closing speaker was Ambassador R. James Woolsey, former lead for the U.S. Central Intelligence and former director of Central Intelligence. He frequently contributes articles for major publications, media interviews and presentations on the subjects of energy, foreign affairs, defense, and intelligence.

Students packing boxes.

Finished boxes stacked.

Student spray painting boxes.

Close up shot of spray paint stencil.

Student working on packing boxes.

Three students smiling after the project is complete.

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How To Get Started in a Career in Game Development and Design

Do you want an exciting career in game development and design? Unfortunately, it takes more than just a love of video games to be successful. Luckily, a Bachelor’s degree in game programming development and design from Coleman University can open the door to the myriad of opportunities the gaming industry has to offer. While many video game development careers may seem similar, a vast array of roles exists in the industry, ranging from creative functions (story development, artwork, music, etc.) to technical functions (coding, modeling, animation, etc.). At Coleman University, we offer a unique program that will prepare you for a rewarding career in game development and design by teaching you the skills and technologies that prospective employers look for in an applicant.

With such a wide array of potential career options, it befits you to determine which path is right for you, based on your interests, skills, and abilities. Though falling under the video game development and design umbrella, the distinct career paths all possess their own necessary skills and experiences. Can you draw? Concept art may be the right path for you! Are you a coding whiz? You just may be the next great game mechanics engineer! Let’s look at a few possible careers and what they look for in a candidate.

Game Designers are the architects of video game creation. They develop a vision of what the game will look like, how it plays, and how the various teams of developers will work together to bring that vision to life. First and foremost, game designers have to understand what gamers want and how to bring that demand to the screen. Once an idea for a game has been pitched, it is the game designer’s responsibility to determine which genre, platform, and game engine would suit the concept best. Once the foundation has been built, the game designer will lay out the fundamental concepts of the game, including characters, setting, and story. Each of these concepts will then be broken down further to include levels, landscapes, missions, and other central models that will ultimately shape how the gamer will interact with the game. Simply put, game designers see the big picture for every project.

Game programmers take the outline provided by the game designer and bring it to life through code. Since video games are essentially self-contained software packages, game programmers must be familiar with various coding languages, such as C++ (the most popular), Java, and C#. Another option that game studios utilize when developing a new game is the use of game engines. Game engines are basically pre-built software templates that programmers use to expedite the development process. They generally contain the game studio’s preferred physics engines, rendering engine, and animation bundles, among other things. The Coleman University Gaming Development and Design program will prepare students to master arguably the two most popular game engines available today: Unity and Unreal. Though used to accomplish similar tasks, these game engines possess different attributes, strengths, and limitations that prospective employers expect applicants to be able to navigate. With these tools at their disposal, game programmers can dictate characters interaction with the environment, commands from the player, and other characters.

Animators are responsible for the movements and interactions of characters and the environment. Much like game programmers, animators utilize a specialized software package to determine how things interact in the game. Though some games have cut scenes (a short movie within a game) that animators must design, most of the work comes from determining how the playable character moves within the environment. Early 2D games (like Mario and Pong) had fixed settings, because the hardware was not equipped to render advanced environments. However, with the advances in technology over the years, animators possess more freedom to explore the boundaries of what is possible within the construct of the game. With that said, animators are relied upon to portray the simulations as effectively as the hardware and software will allow. As a result, animators must be cognizant of the platform’s strengths and weakness, as well as the physics engine’s capabilities. With that said, this allows animators to create a cache of standardized character models that he or she can pull from in the future, rather than starting from scratch every time.

Video game tester may be the most sought after position in the video game industry, due to the nature of the role. Game testers provide quality assurance for studios by playing through upcoming games and discovering bugs or glitches. Generally, these positions are more entry-level than the others on this list, but still require the knowledge necessary to identify technical problems in the game. Video game testers also serve as the first focus group for a new game, as they are asked to give feedback about the strengths and weaknesses of each new project. Since video games are meant to be vessels of enjoyment, studios count on testers to determine if the gameplay is conducive to fun.

Though an education is important, experience is the most crucial requirement for a career in game design and development. In an effort to provide additional hands-on experience, Coleman University encourages students to work on independent game projects, as well as participate in two “Game Jams” per year. A game jam is a game development marathon that can last up to 48 hours and is meant to be collaborative. Generally, game jams bring people together in a single location, and participants are given a theme on which to base their game. By bringing people together, students have the opportunity to bounce ideas off of each other, ask questions, and receive feedback from their classmates and instructors. Though they only have 48 hours to produce a prototype, many developers go on to complete their games afterwards. By designing and programming their own games, students receive the opportunity to experience the responsibilities and tasks that accompany a career in game design and development. It also allows the students an opportunity to create a portfolio of their work, which can set an applicant apart when applying for jobs after graduation. As a matter of fact, some of the assets created are used in actual games!

Though the gaming industry encompasses many roles, the most basic (and valuable) skill is the ability to code. Many industry experts would recommend learning C++, as it is the most widely used. When pursuing careers in the industry, being able to present a game (even a rudimentary game) that you produced will be invaluable, as it proves to employers that you have the skills and knowledge to do what they are looking for. From there, more often than not, you will begin as a game tester. This role allows you to display your understanding of how a game should play and how to fix glitches. It also comes with the added benefit of playing video games for a living! Once you prove your worth, you have the opportunity to branch out to any of the jobs listed above (and many more). Unlike many professions, the foundational knowledge and skills allow designers and developers to dabble in multiple roles. Though some people do specialize, there is simply more crossover in the video game industry than others.

The video game business is ever-evolving due to its reliance on technology. As new technologies are developed, new breakthroughs in video gaming will follow. With an industry larger than that of Hollywood, studios are pouring more and more money into blockbuster titles. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 6% increase in video game designer and developer jobs over the next eight years. Advancements in virtual reality or similar technology may cause a massive boom for an already promising industry. Though a love for video games is not sufficient for a career in the gaming industry, Coleman University’s Game Design and Development degree program can equip you with the tools and knowledge to pursue your passion for the world of video games.

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Coleman University Game Programming Development and Design Degree Program

Introduction

Considering a career in video game development and design? At Coleman University, we offer a program that will prepare you for the ins-and-outs of the video game industry beyond just playing the game. The video game industry is a multi-billion dollar enterprise that shows no signs of slowing down. With more and more major studios investing billions into new blockbuster titles, as well as startup indie studios pumping out fan-favorite mobile games, the industry has never been stronger. The scope of games is widening to include new platforms and technologies, and gaming companies are looking for bright new programmers that bring a high level of industry-specific knowledge, creativity, and passion for what they do. Now is the right time to turn your passion into your profession with a degree from Coleman University. With coursework focused in animation, coding, modeling, and more, Coleman graduates enter the workforce with the skills and knowledge to design and develop their very own games!

Scope of Study

Coleman University’s Game Programming Development and Design degree program is designed to be completed in 15 ten-week modules, with undergraduate program classes starting every ten weeks. Degree requirements include satisfactory coursework in Programming, Animation, Writing, Mathematics, Modeling, and Typography, as well as a Capstone project. The comprehensive Capstone project requires students to work cooperatively to design and develop a game. Students are able to apply the concepts of game architecture and design acquired in previous classes to create at least one level of a comprehensive game that will include an opening, game play, credits, and documentation.

The skills and technologies learned from the Gaming Development and Design program encompasses multiple disciplines of software development, lending core concepts to careers in modeling, computer graphics, product demonstration, film, marketing, and crime scene reenactment. Technology is continually evolving, so people in this particular profession need to be kept abreast of new developments and trends. Coleman University utilizes the most up-to-date hardware and software packages in an effort to prepare students for an ever-changing industry. Coleman University’s Game Programming Development and Design degree program coupled with Coleman’s career support prepares students for success in all facets, including industry skill and knowledge development, résumé assistance, , portfolio creation, interview preparation, and career guidance.

Curriculum

The Game Programming Development and Design degree program encompasses a multifaceted understanding of various processes, skills, and technologies that are necessary to succeed in a career in game development and design. Students are given foundational knowledge on which to build proficiencies in design theory, development principles, and programming.

Students will start with preparatory courses to introduce them to the core tenets of game design and development. The three introductory courses are:

COM 103 – Introduction to Game Programming

This course introduces the field of game programming, giving students a solid grasp of the concepts required to write a game. Students will learn and apply the basics of computer programming and key components, including input, sound, and graphics, while developing a framework that will be applied in future gaming coursework.

DSN 123 – Game Development

This course covers the basic elements of game design, including what a game is, how a game works, and what decisions must be made before the start of any project. The student will learn about user experience, core mechanics, and different game genres, conventions, and pitfalls.

COM 153 – Game Programming Concepts C++

This course introduces object-oriented programming in C++ using DirectX in the field of game programming. Students will learn the importance of game design, modular coding, and using the APIs of graphics engines and DirectX to draw and display images, manipulate 3D meshes and objects, play Sounds and Audio files, use scripts and templates, and implement a peer to peer networked FPS game. Students will learn how to use an existing framework and how to apply it to future applications in an object-oriented manner.

After these foundational classes, students will be prepared to engage in more specialized coursework, ranging from Typography to Level Design. Because the video game industry is market-driven, Coleman also requires students to take Business 200 – Information Technology and Management. This course introduces the consumer-driven business environment, with an emphasis on the use of information technology and information systems as used by businesses today. It describes the basics of information systems and discusses how computer technology will be utilized in the 21st century. It also provides an overview of competitive strategies, ethics, global issues, and organizational responsiveness. The goal of the Game Design and Development program is to produce well-rounded graduates that are able to seamlessly integrate into a variety of different positions in the video game industry. By exposing students to multiple coding languages, game engines, and physics engines, we are confident that our graduates possess the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed.

Skills Learned

Though a passion for video games is important for a career in the video gaming industry, there are certain proficiencies that most employers expect their designers and developers to possess:

  • An in-depth understanding of the various coding languages. Since video games are playable computer software, you must have a thorough knowledge of how computer software works. The typical programming language is C++ due to its strength in infrastructure building. When creating massive virtual environments, C++ helps lay the foundation upon which you can build your game. It is one thing to have an idea for a game, but a whole other thing to be able to put those ideas into action and create your vision on the screen.
  • Familiarity with various game engines. More likely than not, any large video game company that a graduate will join will have a game engine. Some use the existing mainstream engines (Unity or Unreal, for example) and others develop their own. A game engine is a prepackaged software framework that allows designers to layer their game over the existing code. Rather than starting from scratch, developers use these game engines to speed up the production of their games. Game engines usually contain a graphics modeling agent, a physics engine, animation controller, scripting interface, artificial intelligence regulator, and video support. As a video game designer or developer, you must have a comprehensive understanding of how each one of these components will affect your game.
  • An understanding of the differences between consoles. Due to hardware differences across consoles, you often cannot write one master code and expect it to work on every platform. You must understand the nuanced differences that affect how your game will run. Luckily, many of the major game engines are primed to allow developers to “port” games to other platforms rather quickly. With that said, a developer still needs a thorough understanding of the impact that hardware has on software.
  • A sense of creative direction. Video games are an immersive medium, in that the designer is able to lay out his ideas, but the player has the ability to explore the world without strict constraints. As a result, designers and developers need a clear understanding of the theme, tone, and style of their games. Consistency is key. Much like Hollywood movies, video games are subject to plot holes and confusing undertones that can betray the overall message of the game. Developers have to be vigilant in crafting a clear and unified concept that will be both enjoyable and easily followed by the player.

Job Prospects for Game Designers and Developers

Designing and developing games is a massive undertaking, often requiring teams of people working on a particular section of development (animation, graphics, storyline, etc.). Due to the varied responsibilities of game design and development, many programmers specialize in a particular area (Graphics Designer vs. Animator). Like many careers, specializing in one particular area of expertise may set an applicant apart from an another that is competent in everything but spectacular in nothing. Though major video game studios hire the majority of designers and developers, a rising amount of startup indie gaming companies are providing an alternate avenue into the industry. Though mostly focused around mobile gaming, these indie companies provide employees with greater potential for creative control over their creations.

According the Bureau of Labor Statistics, video game designer and developer jobs are projected to increase 6% over the next eight years. Although, with new technologies constantly emerging, the growth of the video game industry is tough to project. You never know what the next big technological advancement will do for the industry. Advancements in virtual reality or similar technology may cause a massive boom for an already promising industry.

Recap

The video game industry is rapidly growing and in demand of qualified individuals who can apply industry specific knowledge and skills for its development. And while the average fan cannot fathom the intricacies of designing the interactive worlds that they explore on a superficial level, many avid gamers-turned-video game programmers develop a deeper appreciation for the games that they love. With a degree in video game development and design from Coleman University, you can turn your passion into your profession.

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