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With the end of graduate school approaching, Jessica Trybus, didn't have a job, so she created not one, but two for herself.
The director of "edutainment" at her alma mater Carnegie Mellon University's Entertainment Technology Center (ETC) the past two years, Ms. Trybus at the same time launched her own gaming start-up, Etcetera Edutainment.
The 28-year-old Trybus embodies the Pittsburgh "boomeranger" the region is hoping to lure back.
After growing up in North Park, Ms. Trybys left for college at Cornell in the late 1990s and after graduation, moved to the West Coast to satisfy her life-long acting bug.
But Ms. Trybus soon discovered she loved the business side of the entertainment industry, and after jobs at Drew Barrymore's production company Flower Films and at Alta Vista, she and her now-husband, fellow entrepreneur and Pittsburgh-native Anthony Lacenere, returned in 2002 in search of a "better quality of life."
Ms. Trybus, who earned a Masters of Entertainment Technology at CMU in 2004, doesn't fit the bill of your typical "gamer" who designs or plays video games, said ETC director Don Marinelli. Most, he said, are "testosterone-enriched males," whereas Trybus is "wholesome and polite," though she does "bleed black and gold.''
Ms. Trybus is determined to help Pittsburgh stake a claim the booming interactive video gaming industry by focusing on "edutainment," which Mr. Marinelli describes as using animation and video gaming technology for education and training purposes. As CMU's "edutainment director," she lobbied the state's Department of Community and Economic Development around initiatives to help the university spin off companies in the field.
With her staff of 10 at Downtown-based Etcetera, Ms. Trybus creates interactive animated training and simulation programs for local employers such as UPMC.
Her hands are full juggling promoting Pittsburgh as the mecca for education-focused gaming while simultaneously trying to expand Etcetera's customer base. But Ms. Trybus said it's her calling to be a "catalyst," not just for her firm's benefit, but for Pittsburgh's.
"I'm motivated by all the great things this region has to offer," she said. "We see a ton of potential."
First Published March 21, 2006 12:00 am