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Liberal Arts and Engineering Studies Program

Freedom to Choose / Freedom to Create / Freedom to Travel

Dr. Michael Haungs

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E-mail: Michael Haungs

Engineering side of LAES • Senior Project • Change of Major • Career Paths • Engineering Course Substitutions • Adding a Minor • LAES Studio

"How I Found My Way To LAES"

The best present I ever received was an Atari 2600 when I was 10.  It came with Space Invaders and Asteroids.  Back then, games were not sophisticated and to provide hours and hours of entertainment they tended to be very, very hard.  I would look deep into the game system and try to find optimal strategies that would allow me to get the next high score.  These early games taught me that something hard and challenging can be fun and rewarding and looking for this magical combination guided many of my academic and professional decisions.

When looking at a major for college, I discovered Industrial Engineering and Operations Research (IEOR).  I was able to study robotics in this major and loved every minute of it.  When I graduated, I got a job with Pacific Bell as an outside plant engineer.  If I had been searching for job security and stability in my life, I would still be working there.  After four years, I decided to go back to school and get a PhD in Computer Science.  I decided to study operating systems and networking as they seemed low-level hard and were the foundation of building things I thought were amazing.  It was hard but I never quite achieved “fun” in my studies and research.  I still enjoy operating systems and periodically teach it during the fall quarter for the CSSE department, but it falls just short of my ultimate goal.  Over a decade ago, I decided to change my focus from operating systems to game implementation and design.  Working on games led to working more generally on interactive entertainment right about the same time that the College of Engineering needed to appoint a new co-director for LAES.  I accepted the new position and started working with David and LAES students and found the opportunity to collaborate with many different faculty and students across campus. 

Yes, I find directing LAES and working on projects for this major to be both challenging and fun.  But I also found something I didn’t expect.  I found that I also enjoy helping LAES students create an educational experience that will help them find their own version of my “magical combination”.

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