University Prepares ‘Tech Talent’ to Excel in In-Demand Careers

Through its unique programs and a recent grant, the University is playing a key role in Connecticut’s endeavor to close the skills gap and prepare students to thrive in cutting-edge technology careers.

November 17, 2022

By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications

Left to right:
Dr. Kelli-Marie Vallieres, vice chair of the Governor’s Workforce Council; Fredlyne Antoine ’24; and Gov. Ned Lamont.

When Fredlyne Antoine ’24 began her time as a Charger, she started her college career as a sophomore. She brought with her college credit she’d earned as a high school student, as well as a strong interest in computer science.

Fredlyne Antoine ’24.
Fredlyne Antoine ’24.

A graduate of P-TECH Norwalk, Antoine took college courses while still in high school, discovering the career path she wanted to follow in the process. Because of her experience, she was invited to speak earlier this semester at an event with Governor Ned Lamont. She shared her own story, describing the incredible opportunities she has had to further her education.

“I discussed what I’ve accomplished and how P-TECH Norwalk aided me in accomplishing those goals,” said Antoine, a computer science major with a concentration in game design and development. “I also had the opportunity to speak with Governor Lamont. It felt great and gave me a feeling of accomplishment to share my experience with him.”

‘Practice, learn, and develop their technical skills’

The event, which included several of the state’s leaders in business and higher education, highlighted Tech Talent Accelerator, a workforce development initiative that aims to help Connecticut reach its economic potential and close the skills gap in in-demand technology fields. Tech Talent Accelerator’s programs are designed to support students such as Antoine. It fosters partnerships between business and higher education in high-demand tech skills in areas such as software development and cybersecurity.

Fredlyne Antoine ’24 and Gov. Ned Lamont.
Fredlyne Antoine ’24 and Gov. Ned Lamont.

Last summer, Gov. Lamont announced the creation of seven new technology education programs at Connecticut’s public and private colleges and universities – including one at the University of New Haven. The program is supporting the development of an embedded game design and simulation development program in collaboration with tech companies SphereGen, Arsome, and Pleiadian.

The University’s $30,000 Connecticut Higher Education Tech Talent Accelerator grant, awarded by the New England Board of Higher Education, will support the project, “Embedding Unity Credentials to Catapult Connecticut Workforce in Game Design and Development.” Specifically, it will prepare students to earn a certification from Unity, a video game software development company based in California.

“We are among the first and best universities offering something like this,” said Mehdi Mekni, Ph.D., coordinator of the University’s undergraduate program in computer science who also leads the University’s game design and development concentration. “Students can practice, learn, and develop their technical skills and feel prepared to pass their exam and earn their certification.”

‘Bringing them to life’

This program is one more way the University is preparing students – students such as Antoine – to excel in in-demand STEM careers.

Mehdi Mekni, Ph.D.
Mehdi Mekni, Ph.D.

As a Charger, she has continued to pursue the passion she discovered while at P-TECH Norwalk, both in and out of the classroom. As part of her game design and development courses, she’s created a variety of sketches of characters. She also brought her talent to the University’s inaugural GenCyber Teacher Academy program this summer, helping to coordinate the program.

“I enjoy the design side of computer science, which correlates to why game design also interests me,” she said. “I loved playing video games growing up, and I love creating and developing ideas for games and bringing them to life.”

“Fredlyne is one of the first students in the game design and development concentration,” added Dr. Mekni. “She did so much for GenCyber Teacher Academy, including designing the banners we had on display. She’s very talented and artistic.”

Character sketches Fredlyne Antoine ’24 created as part of a game design class.
Character sketches Fredlyne Antoine ’24 created as part of a game design class.