IMGD at WPI—one of the earliest gaming programs in the nation—spans diverse topics such as digital painting, 3-D modeling, writing for games, game audio, artificial intelligence, and virtual reality. Smith takes over the department at an exciting time for IMGD and for WPI. Last year two new graduate programs were approved—the first Master of Fine Arts (MFA) at WPI, and a PhD in Computational Media. These programs, along with many other initiatives, are helping to grow and diversify the student body.
“I am thrilled to be taking on this new role. IMGD is such an important area of study because so many different fields collide in one place, including tech, art, design, social justice, writing, audio, and user experience design,” says Smith. “I’m very much looking forward to leading the program and supporting our amazing students and faculty in the coming years.”
Game creation opportunities have also been greatly bolstered with the recent addition of the Massachusetts Digital Games Institute (MassDigi). Founded at Becker College, the award-winning center for academic cooperation, entrepreneurship, and economic development across the Massachusetts video games ecosystem moved to WPI this summer.
“We are very excited to work with Gillian,” says Tim Loew, executive director of MassDigi. “She’s brilliant, creative, and exactly the right person to lead IMGD at a moment when the cultural, technological, and economic impact of games and interactive media has never been greater.”
In addition to leading IMGD, Smith will continue her interdisciplinary work, which merges technical research in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) with creative practice in textiles and games, with a view toward addressing social issues and broadening participation and perspectives on computing.
Prior to joining WPI, Smith was on the faculty at Northeastern University. She earned her PhD in Computer Science from the University of California, Santa Cruz, where she was a student in its Center for Games and Playable Media.