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A keen interest in computing and design from an early age prompted Kerri McCusker to study Multimedia Computing and Design at the University of Ulster. 

This led to a position as a Research Associate with the Serious Games and Virtual Worlds team at the Intelligent Systems Research Centre at Magee.  

Today Kerri, who is from Dromore in County Tyrone, graduates with MSc Computing and Creative Technologies (Distinction). She was also named Best Student on the MSc Computing with Specialisms, a prize sponsored by 8over8.  

Kerri says she thoroughly enjoyed studying at Magee and the theoretical and practical approach to the subjects in first and second year really appealed to her.

In her third year, she secured an industrial placement in Hewlett-Packard and was based in Leixlip, County Kildare as Specialist Support to ICT Operations. 

She said: “Working in a multinational company in such a busy environment was a great but very demanding experience. When I returned to Magee for my final year, I was really determined to use all the new skills I learnt during the placement. My final year project, supervised by Michael Callaghan was to investigate the use of virtual worlds for teaching and learning applications. It was a new and exciting area as I explored virtual worlds and applied my skills and expertise in design, 3d modelling and programming.”   

After graduating in 2008 with a first-class honours degree and diploma in industrial studies with distinction, Kerri became a Research Associate in the Serious Games and Virtual Worlds team and decided to enrol on the MSc Computing & Creative Technologies course at Magee on a part time basis.

”This course was a natural progression and I gained an advanced level of understanding and skills in other aspects of creative technologies which I could explore in more depth."

Kerri’s research into the practical and effective use of virtual worlds for teaching and learning applications has quite literally opened up a whole new world for her.   

“As part of the duties of the post, I had an opportunity to travel to the Games Developers’ Conference in San Francisco," she said.

"I was also part of the Serious Games and Virtual Worlds team invited to Monterrey Institute of Technology (Tecnológico de Monterrey) in Mexico City to do a series of workshops and seminars on our research.

"I was a joint founder of Immers[ED] 2009, the first National Workshop on Teaching in Immersive Worlds hosted by the School of Computing & Intelligent Systems at Magee. The workshop is now an annual event and was held again in 2010."

Michael Callaghan, Kerri's final year project supervisor said that Kerri was a dedicated and hardworking student who fully embraced the new and existing opportunities offered by virtual worlds and has very quickly become a recognised expert in this area.  

"Even at this early stage of her career she has started to fulfil her obvious potential and has already achieved so much in such a short time," he said.

In June the Serious Games and Virtual Worlds research team was nominated for the Times Higher Education, ICT Initiative of the year award for the Engineering Education Island project.

A gallery of images from the 2010 Winter Graduation ceremonies can be viewed at: