Annual Tech Expo Celebrates Fifth Year at Seminole State College of Florida

By Melissa B. Merkler

The rain didn’t stop kids, teenagers and college students from flocking to the Sanford/Lake Mary campus of Seminole State College of Florida on Saturday, February 22, 2014.

Numerous giveaways and a chance to win a $500 Foundation scholarship were just a few reasons why people showed up to the event.

An onsite gaming truck allowed students to try different kinds of video games. Classrooms were filled with eager parents wanting to learn how to write game apps for their children. Even Game Stop was setup in the breezeway displaying the new generation Xbox One.

The green Ultimate Video Game Party truck purred in the parking lot as the generators ran to keep the mobile gaming truck running.

Parents, kids and  college students waited anxiously in line outside of the trailer as they looked on watching others play.

People line up for a quick play on the lush couches and air conditioned gaming truck.

People line up for a short play time on a favorite game console while enjoying the on the lush couches inside the air conditioned gaming truck. Photos by Melissa B. Merkler

Jose Perez, a S/LM student studying law said he attended the event today because he is trying to get more involved in school activities.

He said his favorite video game is Call of Duty, although he admittedly said as he waited in line for his chance to play a video game, “I hate technology, but like what they have done with it.”

Jose Perez waits in line to play a video game in the gaming truck.

Jose Perez waits in line to play a video game in the gaming truck at Seminole State College

Jeff Chiafone, has owned the Ultimate Video Game Party truck for more than three years and said it is the only franchise in Orlando.

“Kids used to go to the arcade for the day with $5 and play video games with their friends,” he said.

“Now they all sit at home on the couch and play games alone,” he added.

“This brings kids together,” Chiafone said, pointing tothe gaming truck.

Mobile lazer tag is the newest addition to the mobile gaming truck, he said.

“I’d like to buy a second truck in the future,” he said.

The truck can be rented for $299 which includes 90-minutes of game play.

Winter Springs High School freshman Jason Mercer, said his favorite video game is Mario Cart as he sat on the couch and played a Super Mario Brothers video game.

Winter Springs High School freshman Jason Mercer, said his favorite video game is Mario Cart as he sat on the couch and played a Super Mario Brothers video game.

Multiple tables lined the breezeway leading up to the doors of the Wayne Densch Partnership building.

It was no surprise to see Game Stop at the technology event. Store manager, Matthew Barrett, said he attended Seminole State College in the past and his company has job opportunities and is “looking for talent.”

Matthew Barrett said the new Xbox One is "the best all-in-one system on the market."

Matthew Barrett said the new Xbox One is “the best all-in-one system on the market.”

Meanwhile,  inside the building, classes were held offering lessons on several different topics.

One particular topic was geared toward children. It was a full house at the 9:30 a.m. class on how to write gaming apps for kids.

Krishna Balwalli held the attention of quiet parents as they learned how to convert a child’s simple pencil drawing into an interactive Android application.

During the lecture children were handed a blank piece of paper and a pencil and asked to draw any character. Later, one little girl stood up and told the story of a girl and her horse she had created in the short lecture time.

“It all starts with your imagination,” one presentation slide explained.

Balwalli’s two young daughters became his muse after spending more than 20 years in the computer science industry.

“My goal is to give it justice in a sense,” he said referring to the gaming lectures and the book he published about the topic.

“I want to spread awareness and education about game apps,” Balwalli said.

The book Make Your Own Game Apps for Kids is available for purchase on Amazon.com.

Ria Balwalli, 10-years-old holds her father's book. Ritika Balwalli, 4-years-old holds her tablet and shows off her app.


Ria Balwalli, 10-years-old holds her father’s book.
Ritika Balwalli, 4-years-old holds her tablet and shows off her app.

Although the technology event was held on a college campus, it was not just meant for students.

“It’s about getting the community excited about technology,” Associate Dean of Information Technology, Lenny Portelli, said.

“It gets kids exposed to technology in a fun way,” he added.

Seminole State College offers several Information Technology degrees both in two and four-year programs.

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