Inspiring Future Innovators

Prescott student Paige Cody visited her alma mater to inspire the next generation of innovators.

Cody visited students at her former high school in Kingman, Arizona, to introduce them to ERAU and opportunities in programming and game development.
Cody visited students at her former high school in Kingman, Arizona, to introduce them to ERAU and opportunities in programming and game development. (Image: Paige Cody)

The summer before her freshman year of high school, Paige Cody (’24) took a free online course that introduced her to scratch, a universal programming language used to make games and other software.

“It was pretty simple stuff, but at that age, it was an eye-opening experience,” she said.

It didn’t take long for Cody to realize her passion for programming.

She researched and toured several schools during her college search, but nothing felt like the right fit – until she heard about Embry-Riddle’s new Simulation Science, Games and Animation (SSGA) program.

“There are degrees that involve math and degrees that involve creativity,” Cody said. “This one has both, which I found fascinating.”

Cody has gained more knowledge and experience than she ever thought possible in her first year. She has especially enjoyed being able to jump right into hands-on projects that are directly related to the field.

Many courses in the SSGA program are structured to allow students to create a reel at the end of the semester to showcase their work to future employers. Cody has been able to explore ideas for personal projects as well, having teamed up with a classmate to build their own game in just two months.

“Seeing my own ideas and growth – and that of my peers – is so inspiring,” she said.

Cody’s passion for the program also extends beyond the classroom.

She recently heard that students at her alma mater, Lee Williams High School, had been learning about games and programming before their teacher left mid-year. So, she took matters into her own hands.

With the guidance of Professor Derek Fisher, Cody visited the school and spoke to students about opportunities in programming and game development, as well as her experience in the SSGA program.

“I have never seen so many students interacting, raising their hands and asking questions,” she said. “It was great to see so many of them interested in STEM.”

From her own experience in rural Kingman, Arizona, many of the classes she needed to take weren’t offered at the school and had to be taken online.

“Ultimately, I wanted to give them a little bit of hope and inspiration to pursue their interests,” Cody said.

She hopes to work with the university to expand her outreach to other nearby schools in the future.

With so much opportunity in the growing field, Cody’s career interests include animating shorts, working with CGI and anything in between. She looks forward to honing in on her specific goals and eventually interning with companies like Pixar or Disney.

“When I tell people I attend Embry-Riddle, they immediately say something to the effect of ‘you must be smart,’” she said. “Being an Eagle is so much more than that – Eagles find creative solutions.”