Lawrence Technological University accepted a grant from “Fortnite” creator Epic Games, which the university plans to use for, in part, an Unreal Engine training program for both students and working professionals.


SOUTHFIELD — Like it says in the name, Lawrence Technological University is making strides in the technology world.

The university recently teamed up with “Fortnite” creator Epic Games and received a $50,000 MegaGrant to establish the Epic Center for Unreal Technology on campus.

Lawrence Tech plans to use the grant money to do two things. The first is to fund extracurricular workshops that will be utilized by students and local developers. The second is to sponsor the studio space that will house the workshops.

The studio space will be equipped with high-performance computers with dedicated virtual reality and augmented reality access to support core courses, recertification and summer camps.

The workshops that LTU will be putting on center around an authorized Unreal Engine training program. Epic Games’ Unreal Engine is an open and advanced real-time 3-D tool. Developers across all kinds of entertainment and transportation avenues use the Unreal Engine to deliver cutting-edge content and interactive experiences.

“The news is great because it’s the start of something really awesome,” said Marshall Ashton, the assistant professor of game design at LTU. “We’ve already got a really great culture. The students are wonderful, so to be able to provide for them and the community around us is amazing.”

A little over a year ago, Epic announced it had a large amount of money set aside and would be accepting grant proposals. At the time of that announcement, Ashton said, LTU was already looking for a dedicated studio space and had also been talking about doing workshops trying to integrate the Unreal Engine into the curriculum for the students.

With the help of Mark Brucki, LTU’s executive director for industry research and business outreach, Ashton and his proposal were connected with Epic Games’ Detroit office, and a relationship was formed.

“We are thrilled to support Lawrence Technological University and the broader education community on their mission to develop programs and initiatives that will prepare new generations of creators for the opportunities ahead,” head of Epic’s Detroit Lab Heiko Wenczel said in a press release.

Ashton said he got the email of approval on the grant in March.

“Anything like this where I can bring in external funding is huge,” Ashton said. “What’s great is that this is kind of the start of a connection or relationship. I’m very confident that we’re going to be able to pull off these workshops and show that we’ve got this down.”

Philip Plowright, the chair of LTU’s art and design department, has also been pleased with the relationship Epic has formed with LTU, citing how supportive the game developer has been.

“It’s been phenomenal. They’ll meet with you whenever and connect you to anyone they have in the network. They want to support you and they want you to succeed. It’s been a really good experience with them.”

According to the press release, the current plan is for Lawrence Tech to begin offering the program in the spring of 2021. Ashton noted that his hope is for workshops to begin in the spring, with test runs taking place in January and February of 2021.