N.C. A&T College of Engineering Receives $1.4M Gift from Zynga

By Alexander Saunders / 09/22/2021 Research and Economic Development, College of Engineering

College of Engineering archival photo

EAST GREENSBORO, N.C. (Sept. 22, 2021) – The College of Engineering (COE) at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University has received a four-year, $1.4 million gift to expand the gaming capabilities of the Department of Computer Science (CS) and to create the Zynga Scholars program.

“Zynga’s investment in the students and resources of the computer science department will further deepen the ways that department applies programming and artificial intelligence to gaming development and projects,” said Robin N. Coger, Ph.D., COE dean. “I anticipate that the successes Zynga and N.C. A&T create together will serve both organizations well and lead to many years of collaboration between us.”

The partnership between one of the world’s leading gaming companies and COE is designed to address racial disparities in the gaming industry, as well as establish a pipeline between the company and the university. Additionally, Zynga Scholars will receive robust support to strengthen their gaming development competencies throughout their undergraduate education.

“We are honored to work with and recognize the College of Engineering at N.C. A&T through Zynga’s Social Impact Fund as one of our premier university partners in a joint effort to elevate Black representation in the gaming industry,” said Frank Gibeau, CEO of Zynga.

As students immerse in the world of gaming from the development side, the results of the collaboration will be visible through projects, competitions, and outreach activities designed to foster innovation. Zynga will provide mentors and other pathways and opportunities for students to pursue careers as game designers, software developers and computer programmers, among others, in the immensely popular field of computer gaming entertainment, such as game designers, software developers and computer programmers.

“Our CS department at N.C. A&T has been very successful at engaging our undergraduate students in a broad range of research interests including machine learning, cyber security, internet of things, and software engineering,” said Kelvin Bryant, Ph.D., associate professor of computer science. “Gaming is a rich area that combines core competencies from these research areas, so this Zynga opportunity will provide a pragmatic platform for our students to expand their experiences and engage with industry experts.”

Bryant adds that opportunities are created when students are exposed to new possibilities and provided the resources and encouragement to make those possibilities a reality.

“Through our Zynga Scholars program, we are helping to empower future Black leaders to achieve their potential and break new ground within the games industry,” said Gibeau. “Zynga is honored to support these students on their journeys and to create a partnership that will shape the future of gaming.”

Zynga’s Social Impact Fund was established in June 2020 with a $25 million investment to be used to address equity for underserved and marginalized communities globally in order to shape the future of the gaming industry.

Media Contact Information: uncomm@ncat.edu

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