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Maia Dupuis: Undergraduate

Computer Science and Engineering
Degree Program: 
BS in Computer Science & Computer Science: Game Design
Antioch, CA
Undergraduate Institution: 
UC Santa Cruz

What do you like about UC Santa Cruz?

I like the environment, and not just because of the trees and the location but also because of the supportive community I’ve found here, especially within the Baskin School of Engineering. I’m a member of the MESA Engineering Program (MEP), as well as Educational Opportunity Programs (EOP), and I believe it’s important to find those sub communities in a large school. It’s helped support me and push me toward doing my best in a very competitive engineering major.

Why did you decide to double major in computer science and CS: game design?

I’m glad I’m doing both computer science and the game design major because they’re both computer science degrees, so there’s a lot of overlap but there are significant differences, one being that game design is focused on designing games while computer science has a lot more theoretical, academic focus when it comes to the work of computer science. So I get a lot more practical experience that I can apply toward industry with game design, but because of the academic focus of computer science I also get that foresight on technology and where I should be applying my insight. I feel like a much more well-rounded person doing that.

Have you made any games while at UC Santa Cruz?

I’ve made a few games during my time at UC Santa Cruz. The one I’m most proud of is actually a card game called Gay Penguins. It’s meant to be played as a partner game, so you play in pairs. Your partner is your gay penguin partner and you two play against other partners to try to adopt this very wonderful egg. The entire penguin community hates you because you’re gay, so you have to struggle against the prejudice of the penguin community as well as compete with other gay couples for the sake of starting a family. There’s a bit of social commentary but it’s also a fun game to play. The game I’m currently working on for my senior design project is called Without a Trace and it’s designed as a post-apocalyptic recycling game and it kind of originated with the Santa Cruz Recycling Center because we’re under such a recycling crisis right now due to China no longer accepting our recyclables. This is a national issue and UC Santa Cruz is affected as well. It was brought to our attention that maybe a game people could play on their phone and we could educate the general public about recycling. That’s what the goal has been and we’ve presented this idea and what we hope to accomplish with the project.

How have you like your professors?

My favorite computer science professor has been David Harrison. He taught my Advanced Programming class. I remember having a hard time understanding an assignment but first I was afraid to go to his office hours because I thought he would wonder how I even got this far in my degree without knowing this stuff. But I went and he taught me how to do it in two minutes so I could get started on programming and made me feel welcome to come to him for help. I ended up doing really well in the class which was very difficult, because the professor was so helpful and now I’m confident in my programming ability. I also really like Nathan Altice. He’s hilarious. Every day at the beginning of class we all put snacks on his table and he does a snack review and he either disses them, gives them away, or actually eats them. It’s entertaining and his lectures are very interactive.