Taylor Ripke is no stranger to hard work. As an undergraduate at CMU, he was accepted into the prestigious McNair Scholars program and began research into making video games more accessible to visually impaired individuals.
After graduating with his bachelor’s degree in computer science, he’s continuing his research while pursuing a master’s degree. And, according to Taylor, none of it would be possible without the McNair program.
“Applying for the McNair Scholars Program was one of the best decisions of my life. The McNair Scholars program has given me the confidence I need to achieve my dreams,” said Taylor. “My McNair cohort is my second family and throughout the program I've had the opportunity to learn and grow with them.”
For the past two years, Taylor has been working with computer science professor Anthony Morelli to develop games that will be more accessible to those with visual disabilities.
“We want to lower the barriers that people with disabilities face, creating universally accessible games and technology. Working on these projects means so much to me as it is one way that I can take the skills that I have learned to help people in my community and around the world.”
His current focus is on “exergames” which require some sort of physical activity to play, such as Wii or Kinect games. By creating enhanced audio and vibrational sensations within the game, he hopes to make these types of games more enjoyable for visually impaired individuals.
While he’s found a niche among his fellow McNair scholars, Taylor maintains that without the supportive atmosphere at CMU, none of this would be possible.
“My favorite thing about CMU is the supportive community. Although we all have busy, separate lives, I feel connected with everyone as we all share our CMU Chippewa pride. From the moment I stepped foot on campus I knew this was my next home. CMU has a very positive, uplifting community with incredible faculty that really care about your success. I couldn't imagine being anywhere else.”
Taylor is the president and co-founder of the undergraduate RSO Computer Science Research and Graduate Preparation.
After graduation, he hopes to continue pursuing his research and ultimately become a college professor.
Upon completing the games he’s developing, Taylor plans to release the source code publicly so others can create similarly accessible games.