Student Profile

Reuben Rogak

Reuben Rogak earned his film degree in Media Studies at Northern Illinois University before taking a break to explore careers options and deciding to pursue his Emerging Media MFA in Digital Media at UCF. Merging his film degree with aspects of digital media has inspired some interesting projects for Rogak.

During his time at UCF, Rogak has worked on the Story-Telling Jacket, a wearable computer for kids that tells stories and interacts with its users. Rogak presented this project with his professor at the 2011 CHI conference in Vancouver. Rogak also taught an experimental “choose your own adventure” style distance learning class with video game achievements and a self-directed learning program. He was also part of the Interactive Expeditions team who traveled to India to bring the classroom experience anywhere in the world. Rogak created his own interactive movie, available online, for his thesis project which researched ways to improve interactive movies through a new mechanic aimed at increasing immersion.  In addition to his academic projects, Rogak has been working on an online reality show called My Raw Deal and is in the process of starting a film festival specializing in interactive movies. The advice and mentorship of professors like Phil Peters and Si Jung Kim, PhD contributed to Rogak’s success in the program.

After graduating in Spring 2014, Rogak plans to teach at the university level while continuing to work in the film industry.

Shabnam Sabbagh

Shabnam Sabbagh was drawn to UCF by the Video Game Design and Development graduate program after completing her bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering with a software specialization in her native Iran. She is currently in the Emerging Media MFA Digital Media track, studying the intersection of arts, technology, and entertainment.  Her research in this broad area of study focuses on using video games in education, specifically digital games as an assessment method to match the next generation of tech savvy students.

Sabbagh’s diverse interests are fulfilled at UCF with the variety of programs, people, and events on campus. Her range of interests inspired her to enroll in two courses with Dr. Ciuchta in Business Administration whose interactive teaching style and interesting class material led to one of her most enjoyable class experiences. Sabbagh has been involved with the International Students Center and received the Internationalization Award from the International Students Center for her volunteer work helping new Iranian international students through an online group she created to facilitate assistance for these students such as free airport pickup, temporary housing, and ride sharing.

Sabbagh plans to graduate in summer 2014, taking a week or two to celebrate her accomplishment before diving into the job search.  Meanwhile, she plans to brainstorm ideas for the business she hopes to start in the future.

Michael Eakins

Michael Eakins finished his undergraduate degree in Digital Media at UCF and sought to build on relationships already established with some of the faculty and continue at UCF for his graduate degree.  

The Master of Fine Arts in Emerging Media allows Eakins to “exercise his creative research muscles” and apply his interests in digital media to a number of industries. His initial interest was specifically in game design and production, but after working at the UCF Institute for Simulation & Training’s Research and Development Lab, Eakins became less interested in media as purely entertainment. His lab work led him to become more enthusiastic about the research components and what impact gaming can have on the simulation industry.

Eakins’ current research involves interactive stories and the various ways in which emotional impact affects audiences across various media and devices. As the Creative Lead in his lab at IST’s Mixed Emerging Technology Integration Lab, Eakins is able to apply his understanding of digital media to researching ways to improve human performance, training, education, and well-being for a mobile society.

While the chance to do research was a considerable factor in determining where Eakins continued his education, the other significant factor was his relationship with mentor Rudy McDaniel, PhD. “Dr. McDaniel helped me to grow my network of colleagues and provided me with opportunities to build my portfolio for my professional career.”

Eakins plans to graduate in the Summer of 2017 and hopes to continue working at the UCF Institute for Simulation and Training’s Mixed Emerging Technology Integration Lab. 

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