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Robots roam the halls. Some people ride in a fighter jet while others face military combat missions in a virtual world — welcome to Otronicon.

Otronicon is an annual event held at the Orlando Science Center in which guests have the opportunity to interact with advanced technology, such as military and medical simulators that aren’t usually available for the public. This year the event runs from Jan. 15 to Jan. 18.

"Orlando is a really great place for gaming and technology because we have NASA, Lockheed Martin and have the second best graduate program for gaming. This is just the perfect spot to do gaming,” said Christina Parker, a 2012 anthropology alumna now earning a second bachelor’s degree in digital media.

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Parker will be a returning exhibitor at Otronicon with the company she and some former classmates founded called Cherry Pie Games. They will be showcasing their latest game, Tacopocalypse, a roleplaying game where the player is a minimum-wage delivery driver making taco box deliveries during the apocalypse, all while doing crazy stunts.

Back in 2014, Parker and her classmates competed in Otronicon’s first game jam – an event that challenges game designers to create a playable game in about 30 hours. Parker’s team won and received Oculus Rifts, which are virtual reality head-mounted displays.

This year, the prize this is a Makey Makey classic, a Makey Makey Go and a Corsair STRAFE RGB mechanical gaming keyboard.

Parker isn’t the only UCF student who will be there. Raheem Supersad, a junior computer science major, will be there representing the company he works for, TechMe Avalon Park. TechMe is an after school program geared toward kids who are ages 5-17 with an interest in learning about STEM and technology.

This will be Supersad’s and company owner, Everett Jones, a 2003 liberal arts alumnus, first time at Otronicon where they will be demonstrating programming Python with Rasberry Pi, which will help people learn more about computing.

Along with the many exhibitors, several keynote speakers will be there who have worked with UCF such as Michael Gourlay. Gourlay, who was one of the founding members of FIEA, will be a keynote speaker discussing the topic about augmented and virtual reality development.

He wants to leave a lasting inspiration for this and the next generation who are interested in getting into augmented reality.

“The people in the industry, like me, are going to be retired by the time this is happening. It’s going to be the high school students and college students of today that will make this happen,” Gourlay said.

Today, Gourlay works as a principal lead software development engineer at Microsoft on HoloLens. In the past, he worked at Electronic Arts as the software architect for the football sports business unit,  a senior lead engineer on Madden NFL and a lead programmer on NASCAR.

A strong UCF presence will be there this weekend when the UCF STEAM Exhibition presents paintings, posters, prints, photographs and 3D artworks created by UCF fine arts students.

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Veronica Brezina is a Digital Producer for the Central Florida Future. Email her at veronicab@centralfloridafuture.com

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