You like music. You like art. You like tech. How can you learn what a career pathway in the arts and technology is really like while you are still in high school?
Take a play from Eddie Lee. Eddie was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. He has a deep passion for real-time graphics technology and a fascination in mending procedurally generated geometry with digital art. Eddie has an undergraduate degree in mathematics from UCLA and a master’s degree from SMU. He formerly worked as a graphics programmer in the Japanese game studio Q-Games, and now runs Funktronic Labs, located in Pasadena, California. Funktronic Labs is a funky-fresh independent game development studio that focuses on bringing creative experiences through games and other interactive media.
To give high school students a real time view of his career Eddie is participating in an innovative program with the Armory Center for the Arts. The Armory has partnered with Pasadena Unified School District’s College and Career Pathways Program and their “Industry Connection” curriculum to connect students with career exploration and training experiences like internships, job shadowing, and guest speakers from local arts industry businesses. And that’s where Eddie comes in. By collaborating with the Armory and the PUSD, Eddie is connecting with high school students as a guest artist and mentoring them, giving them the opportunity to learn and explore their passions for art and technolgy while they are still in the classroom.
Eddie says “For me, graphics technology is the closest thing to magic that I will ever be able to do.”
Public school systems throughout the country are seeking ways to support the growing demand for tech literate graduates to fill work force demands. The PUSD and Armory program is an ideal collaboration model that brings together professional connections for young people and community support for the school district through a local cultural organization that can connect with both the arts and technology industries.
Eddie sees the disconnect that students experience between classroom learning and career development. It is true that students who have a yearning to learn can always explore and look for ways to gain more knowledge about the real-world tech industry, such as with help of Tech Podcasts and videos. However, it is not always possible to build a technology career without a solid foundation. “With the explosive popularity of mobile and console games, there has been a growing interest in the game industry among young students. However, most have no idea what it means to actually develop and release a game. Our hope was to demystify the process and provide them with a glimpse of what it means to be a professional in the game industry.”
Long known for it’s nationally recognized educational and cultural institutions (Cal Tech, Art Center College of Design, Norton Simon Museum) and recently named the “Best Arts Town” by Sunset magazine, Pasadena now also boasts a burgeoning tech scene. High school students coming out of the local public schools here can find internships, higher education and begin their careers right in their own back yard. The Armory program and working professionals like Eddie, will go a long way towards preparing students to be competitive as they enter the work force.
From Eddie’s perspective, “The internship program was a great success! It has been a absolute delight to be a part of the bright futures of the wonderful students of PUSD.”
When he is not “megacoding my brain” Eddie likes to train and teach Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (he has a purple belt, 2nd degree), do photography, swim, surf, draw, and cook. But making music is still a priority. “I was formerly the guitarist for a Kyoto-based roots-reggae band called Resonation-I, and now I am the guitarist for a pretentious progressive rock band called The Electric Bends. Our albums are available on BandCamp!”
With the classroom teacher as their guide and Eddie to “talk the talk” of his industry, students can engage with him and see how their own career pathways might evolve. Eddie is the real thing. A working creative finding his way in a hot tech industry. And as the saying goes, there’s no substitute for the real thing.
FOLLOW EDDIE AND FUNKTONIC LABS
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