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December 3, 2018

A Textbook Mentorship Creates a Student Author

Evan Leider

Behind almost every successful student at Adelphi is a committed faculty mentor.

That’s certainly true of the relationship between current senior Evan Leider and mathematics and computer science professor Lee Stemkoski, Ph.D. But one thing makes their connection unique: They’ve worked together to write and publish a textbook.

“It’s called Game Development with Construct 2, and it’s based on worksheets and handouts Dr. Stemkoski and I put together for his Video Game Programming course,” Leider explained. “I’d been a T.A. [teaching assistant] in the class a number of times, and I had a lot of experience creating games with Construct 2.”

The two worked together on the book for six to eight months. Published by Apress in the summer of 2017, it teaches students how to make 12 different kinds of games using the game engine Construct 2. The book begins with very simple games, proceeding step-by-step to more advanced takes on classic games like PAC-MAN.

“I helped create diagrams and screenshots illustrating the game development process, wrote entries and provided feedback to Dr. Stemkoski on programming techniques,” Leider said. “Dr. Stemkoski uses it in his Introduction to Game Programming course, and it’s available on Amazon and at Barnes & Noble. High school students can use it to learn game development, too.”The cover of Game development with Construct 2

Working on the book was also a valuable learning experience for Leider. “It helped me polish my game development skills, and it definitely reinforced the idea that I need to be meticulous as a programmer and as a writer,” he said. “It even helped me improve at breaking projects down into specific goals, and it taught me to become better at explaining concepts in a step-by-step way.”

Leider has used these lessons over the past year and a half while majoring in computer and management information systems (CMIS) and minoring in computer science and video game design.

For his senior thesis, which he completed last spring, he and friends created a three-dimensional game using the Unity game engine, which requires sophisticated coding ability. This semester, he’s working with Dr. Stemkoski on an independent study, creating a web-based virtual reality game that can be played with the Oculus Go headset.

Graduating at the end of this month, Leider hopes to get started quickly on a career in software engineering. While he’d like to land in the game development industry, he’s also interested in coding for companies in other fields. “I love to code and work collaboratively,” he said, “so I’m excited about both options.”

When interviewing with employers, he’s sure to stand out with his published textbook on his résumé. He’ll also benefit from his experience working with, and learning from, Dr. Stemkoski.

“I’ve known Dr. Stemkoski for years now—I actually met him when I was a high school student in Adelphi’s Summer Pre-College program,” he said. “He’s so enthusiastic and passionate about video games, and that’s what made me decide to go to Adelphi. And, since then, he’s always shared his vast knowledge with me and other students, helping us reach our potential as game and software designers.

“Looking back these past years,” he added, “it’s been a very productive and exciting experience working with him and my friends in the math and computer science department.”


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