Kennesaw State graduate helps VR lab develop next-generation business training games

KENNESAW, Ga. | Dec 13, 2022

Kennesaw State University senior Bonga Maswanganye said it was an often-misunderstood hobby that led him to his now promising career path as a programmer and virtual designer.

Bonga Maswanganye
Bonga Maswanganye

The Marietta resident and computer game design and development major is set to graduate Dec. 15 and go to work in the video game industry after picking among several offers.

“I’ve always loved video games. I loved playing them, but I was also intrigued by the graphics design, the terrain, the development of the game’s physics – all of that,” Maswanganye said. “It’s exciting to see a passion and a lot of hard work translate into being able to do something I love.”

Maswanganye has not only prepared for his career through coursework and theory at KSU. For several semesters, he worked at KSU’s Realities Lab within the College of Computing and Software Engineering, developing virtual reality games on which local businesses train their employees.

“For me, programming is cathartic and gratifying. It’s so satisfying to envision something and then work hard for weeks until you’ve created this piece of technology that’s just like you’ve seen in your head,” he said. “There’s so much more to game design and programming than most people realize.”

Kevin Markley, virtual reality software developer and Realities Lab manager, said Maswanganye wasn’t just a worker at the lab – he was a major part of its success during the coronavirus pandemic’s disruptions and beyond. When students and employees alike had to shift in a weekend to work from home, the lab’s team still had project deadlines looming with three companies.

Markley said Maswanganye was one of the main reasons those projects for companies, including Cobb EMC, stayed on track.

“The Realities Lab would be a completely different place without him. He was the only one to stay after the departure of most of the workers in the lab, so he was invaluable for information regarding past projects and equipment,” he said. “Bonga was also the largest contributor to every project since I arrived and without him, none of the projects would have had nearly as much code or be as stable.”

Markley said Maswanganye, who he called an “avid seeker of knowledge,” kept working over the summer, even as he’d traveled to South Africa to visit family, to make sure any project bugs were addressed and lab needs filled.

“I’m extraordinarily happy for Bonga, and I’m a little jealous of those who will work with him in the industry,” Markley said. “The lab will be completely different without him, from the meetings and discussions to the vast array of equipment calibration and usage, and project work, there isn’t anything he hasn’t had a hand in. I think it will give a new crowd a chance to shine, and I hope as brightly as he did here.”

Kennesaw State’s Fall Commencement ceremonies are Dec. 13, 14 and 15.

– By Thomas Hartwell
Photos by Matt Yung

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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 43,000 students. Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia with 11 academic colleges. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 7 percent of US colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.