December grad follows computer science passion straight into his future

Senior Alex McRandal is set to graduate early on Friday, and during his time at Heidelberg, he has definitely kept himself busy. 

Discovering his passion for computer science in high school, Alex chose to major in Computer Science and Video Game Production.

“I took a class my junior year of high school where I got to learn about the mentality of being a computer scientist and was able to learn my first programming language,” he says. “That’s what really hooked me. I took a follow-up class my senior year, and that’s when I knew I was going to college to be a computer scientist.”

Alex originally chose Heidelberg to play collegiate baseball while pursuing his computer science degree. “It started out as a conversation with my baseball coach as a part of the recruiting process. Once I knew I had an interest in Heidelberg, I attended the Scholars Day, and met Professor Joyce and (former Heidelberg professor) Dr. Palmer.” 

Alex explains that his interview with Professor Sean Joyce, associate professor of computer science, and Dr. Lucia Palmer, former assistant professor of communication helped him officially decide to attend the Berg. 

“As a part of that conversation, that’s where I got to learn about Heidelberg’s program, as well as its reputation and the types of graduates that come out of Heidelberg.”
Since his first year on campus, Alex has been hard at work learning everything he can about the world of computer programming. 

For his senior project, McRandal teamed up with fellow seniors Nate Jimenez and Matthew Perry to create a fully functioning, strategy-based, first-person shooter video game. 
“I serve as the lead programmer,” Alex says. “Matthew assists me with programming and Nate works as the 3D artist for the game.” 

In the Fall 2022 semester, Alex knew that if the three of them were going to create a video game, they would have to start working on it as soon as possible. 

“We built what’s called a framework,” he says. “As amateur developers, we don’t really have a lot of resources, so we built this initial project that could be sculpted into anything.”
“We knew we wanted our game to be multiplayer. We wanted to bring people together for something to play, so that’s where we started. We built a multiplayer 3D game framework.” 

Alex and his team had the foundation laid for their project entering the Fall 2023 semester. 

“That was huge,” he says. “Had we started the planning and framework in August, we wouldn’t have finished it in time.” 

Alex has exciting future plans. He is applying for his intern-level security clearance for government work, as he will be starting a position at Tech Wizards Inc. in King George, Virginia, this January. 

“During my time there, I will be working full time as a software/game developer for this company who is contracted by the Navy to make their training simulations,” explains Alex. “Our job is to create virtual simulations of anything that could happen while on a Naval vessel.”

Alex has a very bright future ahead of him. He has been a crucial member of the Heidelberg community for the last four years, and the university is excited to hear all about his future endeavors.

This article was written by Ellis Herner, ’24, a communication major who is serving as co-editor-in-chief of The Kilikilik. The article originally appeared in the November 2023 edition of the Kil.

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