female student in graduate commencement regalia, black cap and gown

As WPI’s inaugural graduate of the Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree program in Interactive Media and Game Development (IMGD), Laurie Mazza says merging technical and artistic approaches is the way of the future. And she’s more than happy to be on the leading edge of the untapped potential in technology—particularly when it comes to creating immersive and interactive experiences.

The MFA, a terminal art degree, is something that is helping Mazza push technology to its limits and experiment with,using it in new ways. Doing so, she continues building on a foundation of professional technical and artistic skills gained from her three other WPI degrees—a bachelor of arts degree in IMGD (’18) and a bachelor of science (’18) and a master of science degrees in computer science (’22).

Mazza’s graduate advisor, Farley Chery, associate professor of teaching in IMGD, influenced her decision to pursue graduate studies at WPI after she spent time working in industry. She also credits WPI with shaping her style to be more adaptable. “In the rapidly growing and changing field that I am in, it is crucial to be able to adapt my work and practices to match new standards,” says Mazza, noting her MFA focus areas included creating interactive experiences, particularly utilizing Extended Reality (XR) technology, and technical art. “Through interdisciplinary coursework and hands-on experiences, I have learned to be open to new ideas, think critically, and apply my knowledge in different contexts.”

Chery says the MFA has distinct benefits in a tech-focused school. “While the MFA uses science and the scientific method, we use it for expressiveness,” he says. “It isn't about proving a hypothesis. The technical focus is on how to get the most out of the tools to become the Leonardo Da Vinci of our time, by blending art, science, and technology.” But the teaching mentorship aspect of the MFA program encourages students to explore creativity and leadership leading to entrepreneurial pursuits, he says.

That freedom to explore, both with individual pursuits and through the collaborative project-based work with teams of students, was essential to Mazza as a full-time graduate student. While earning her MFA, Mazza gained additional innovative and educational skills with work in WPI’s Intentional Design Studio and also as a teaching assistant and instructor for the Pre-Collegiate Outreach Programs.

“Achieving success in artistic practice is particularly meaningful to me,” she says. “It has demonstrated that technical skills and creative skills are not mutually exclusive and can be combined to create unique and innovative solutions. I hope that my achievement in this degree program will inspire others to explore their creative potential and contribute to various fields blending art and technology.”

With her MFA, Mazza plans to continue to push creative bounds using technology as a tool. The approach, she says, lets her bring worlds that only existed in imagination to life—and create a bridge between the two. Inspired by her own mentors, Mazza plans to pass her knowledge on, whether it is through a formal academic role or through professional mentoring. She believes strongly in using her knowledge and skills to inspire and educate others. 

“I am proud to have been part of a program that recognizes the impact of the arts on technology,” says Mazza, who is currently weighing career possibilities in the field. “I look forward to a future where creativity and innovation are valued equally, and where the arts and technology are seen as complementary rather than mutually exclusive.”