Earlier this year, Epic Games announced that it had set up a $5 million program called Unreal Dev Grants with the intent to help developers with no-strings-attached money that will be used to fund promising early-stage projects created using Unreal Engine. To date, the fund has distributed over $450,000 to developers working on games, films and experiences in 3D and VR. Today, Epic announced the first round of funding being distributed under the program with the express purpose of education.
Epic Games has hand-selected 10 individuals to receive a share of over $75,000, distributed in recognition of their contributions to the Unreal community. Epic said that each of the 10 people being awarded a grant have proven that they consistently create educational content for Unreal Engine 4.
"The talented educators and developers recognized today are receiving the first Unreal Dev Grants for education thanks to their tireless contributions to the UE4 community," said Luis Cataldi, education evangelist at Epic Games. "I've personally seen the fruits of their efforts and generosity of spirit make significant differences for those seeking to master our tools and technology. We are excited to recognize these leaders for helping to bring up the next generation of UE4 developers."
Epic has chosen the following people to receive funding from the Dev Grant Fund:
- Kyle Ackerman – Runs the game design program at the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts, which has been ranked the top game design program in the country (opens in new tab).
- James Butcher – Responsible for the partnership behind the Epic Games center of Staffordshire University in Trent England.
- Aram Cookson – A game development professor at Savannah College of Art & Design. He is writing about Unreal Engine to be used in university courses.
- Christina Lee (opens in new tab) – She and her colleagues at the Academy of Interactive Entertainment are publishing components of the academy's secondary education curriculum for Unreal Engine development to online learning portals, to be accessed for free.
- Dr. Cynthia Marcello (opens in new tab) – Developed a quest-based learning curriculum based on UE4 for State University of New York, Sullivan, which was presented at SIGGRAPH 2015. The complete curriculum will be hosted for free on unrealengine.com.
- Elhoussine Mehnik – Created and released many UE4 templates to the community for free. Currently working with EPIC to create new learning resources.
- Rama – Rama has been contributing to the Unreal Engine Community since the earliest days. He created the Victory BP Library Plugin, which offers over 100 nodes to developers to use with Blueprint, UE4's visual scripting tool.
- Marcos Romero – Author of a blog called Romero Blueprints that provides learning resources for the scripting tool.
- Ryan Shah – Ryan works for Kitatus Studios and has written a number of books on UE4, as well as sample projects that are available for free on Kitatus's website and physical books that are available through Amazon.
- Tesla Dev – The first Unreal Engine 4 trainer to make this a full-time career. Tesla Dev runs a YouTube channel that offers high-quality training and tutorials for UE4. Tesla is also contributing to more than one book on UE4.
Epic said that the recipients are free to do what they please with the money. There is no obligation to Epic attached to the grants, and the funds are intended to recognize contributions that have already been made to the Unreal Community.