Meet An Award-Winning Instructor Driving Technology Initiatives at Full Sail
Published on Aug 17, 2021 by Jess Reider
Full Sail Simulation and Visualization Program Director and National Center for Simulation Hall of Fame inductee Robert Catto has spent over 35 years leading in emerging technology and education.
As an instructor and Program Director, Robert Catto has laid the foundation for emerging tech at Full Sail for over 20 years. Currently leading both Full Sail’s Simulation and Visualization bachelor's and Game Design master's degree programs, Rob’s tech prowess has kept the university at the cross-section of education and technology, not only in its degree programs, but in its campus spaces that simulate real-world tech environments. As a reflection of his achievements in the field, in 2021, Rob was an inductee into the National Center for Simulation's Modeling and Simulation Hall of Fame.
From Full Sail’s Blackmoor Studios to its incredible VR/AR Lab and Fab Lab fabrication facility, the spaces that help prepare students for careers in technology are what Rob considers to be some of his greatest achievements.
“First and foremost, they’re important for the students’ education,” says Rob. “The Game Development program needed a place that was like a regular studio and had that studio environment so that when [graduates] got to whatever studio they went to, they could hit the ground running and things wouldn’t be so strange to them.”
Building spaces to help students flourish wasn’t a concept first introduced to Rob at Full Sail. In 1994, the program director oversaw the first fully immersive virtual reality lab in a high school in the world, located in Orange County, Florida. Rob and his students worked on notable projects including a space shuttle simulation in tandem with NASA and Kennedy Space Center.
The move to Full Sail gave Rob the chance to continue to include students on groundbreaking tech, but this time on a much larger scale.
“That’s why I came here, it was everything I hoped for,” he says.
Today, Rob’s contributions help prepare students across a variety of technology and game-focused degrees. “Companies want our grads because we do more than just give them Unity. We also make them program. And they come out as software developers and problem solvers.”
One of the program director’s favorite aspects of creating these spaces on campus is giving students the opportunity to fail. “The idea is that students come in, and we allow them to make mistakes,” says Rob. “And now, they’ve got to back up and figure out what they did wrong and then move forward. And that is a skillset every hiring manager wants.”
“Rob’s knowledge and foresight helped with the design and launch of most of the emerging tech programs at Full Sail,” says Full Sail Emerging Technologies Education Director Haifa Maamar, Ph.D. “Simulation and Visualization is a visual representation of emerging tech. People can walk through the simulation labs and see what we can do.”
Celebrated in the Full Sail community for his commitment to creating environments that prepare students for careers in technology and gaming, Rob credits those he works alongside more than the spaces, saying, “I realized early on, one person can’t do it all. If you surround yourself with people that are like-minded but have skillsets in the areas that you don’t, you can do all kinds of stuff.”