Otronicon Ignites Lifelong Passion for STEM

Mackenzie Liezert has always wanted to know how things work. She, like many native Central Floridians, visited Orlando Science Center several times throughout her childhood. This was the perfect way for her to unleash her curiosity and learn about the world around her. These visits were an enjoyable part of her childhood, but the Science Center took on a whole new meaning once she began her college career at the University of Central Florida. In January 2019, Mackenzie attended Otronicon as a volunteer with her fraternity. There, she was enthralled with the amount of science and technology available to discover.

 

“People underestimate how much there is to do,” says Mackenzie. “It isn’t just for people who are tech-obsessed. It’s a fun way to hang out and try something new.”

 

One of her favorite parts of volunteering at Otronicon was seeing how much attendees were enjoying the event. This passion, along with extra free time in the upcoming summer, inspired her to become an Orlando Science Center volunteer. Now, she’s a valuable member of the Visitor Experience volunteer team, stocking and managing supplies that make every guest experience exciting and memorable. Her favorite part of her role is that it encourages her to try new things and be an integral part creating unforgettable guest experiences.

 

As someone who grew up loving science but not feeling it was the right path for her to pursue, volunteering with the Science Center is a perfect way for Mackenzie to stay involved with science and continue discovering. As she continues pursuing her Bachelor’s degree in public administration, we can’t wait to see how far Mackenzie’s passions and thirst to continue learning will lead her in life. 

Otronicon 2020 is currently looking for enthusiastic volunteers ages 13 and up! To learn more, or to register click here. 

Admission: Otronicon is free for OSC members, $21 for adults, $19 for seniors and students, and $15 for youth (ages 2-11). Click here to purchase Otronicon tickets.

 

Otronicon Hours: 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. daily.

 

Science Night Live Featuring Otronicon: Saturday, January 18 from 8:00 – 11:30 p.m., Science Night Live is a 21-and-up event, and requires a separate ticket. Click here to purchase Science Night Live tickets.

 

For more information, please call 407.514.2000.

From Otronicon Attendee to Event Producer: An OSC Intern’s Story

Jesslyn Parrish walked into Otronicon 2019 to see some of her professors’ STEM research projects in action. She walked out as a future Orlando Science Center intern, a potential gamer and reconsidering her plans to leave Orlando to pursue a tech career.

 

As a first-time Otronicon attendee, Jesslyn had no expectations for the four-day STEM expo. However, upon attending the event, she was blown away by the sheer number of experiences, workshops, speakers and exhibitors that filled the Science Center. Instead of simply checking out some research, she was faced with rooms and rooms of the most cutting-edge technology in gaming, entertainment, science and medicine.  

 

“It really showed me how many opportunities there are to get involved in the tech world right here in Central Florida,” Says Jesslyn. “I had originally thought I would have to consider moving to California after graduating in a few years.” At its core, this is what Otronicon is all about. Showing Orlando residents that there are countless ways to become involved in the future of STEM that’s being built right in our own backyard. Otronicon provides guests of all ages the resources they need to start a STEM career.

 

Only at Otronicon can Orlando residents speak directly with leaders in their field, get invaluable advice from expert-led speakers and learn new STEM skills in engaging workshops. From the major companies at the forefront of innovation, to the start-ups that will shape the future, Orlando hosts some of the top organizations to start a STEM career with. This was particularly exciting for Jesslyn, who is exceptionally familiar with the importance of networking as a graduate student. At Otronicon, she was able to interact directly with leaders of tech organizations that she could one day be working for. 

 

If Jesslyn could describe Otronicon in one word, it would be “inspiring.” Not only did it inspire her to change the way she views Orlando’s tech industry, it also inspired her to become an Orlando Science Center events intern. Now, Jesslyn is responsible for coordinating and implementing events just like Otronicon at the Science Center. While this step in Jesslyn’s professional development is impressive and inspiring enough, there’s still one unexpected part of her Otronicon experience that can’t go unmentioned. Jesslyn, a self-proclaimed uncertain gamer, was tempted into picking up the controller and testing out the newest video game technology at Otronicon. Now that’s inspiring!

Orlando Science Center is looking for enthusiastic volunteers (ages 13 and up!) to help at this year's Otronicon. Fill out the form below to register.

Admission: Otronicon is free for OSC members, $21 for adults, $19 for seniors and students, and $15 for youth (ages 2-11). Click here to purchase Otronicon tickets.

 

Otronicon Hours: 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. daily.

 

Science Night Live Featuring Otronicon: Saturday, January 18 from 8:00 – 11:30 p.m., Science Night Live is a 21-and-up event, and requires a separate ticket. Click here to purchase Science Night Live tickets.

 

For more information, please call 407.514.2000.

Competitions: They’re More Than Just a Game

For one Kissimmee teen, a love for gaming has turned into much more than just a hobby or passing interest. It became a way to earn some extra cash, and since then has even inspired a potential future career in technology.

 

Connor Rose’s father introduced him to video games when he was growing up. Rose usually played Super Smash Bros. with his dad and brother, and his competitive nature was evident even in the early years. Rose’s grandparents took him to Otronicon for the first time almost a decade ago, but it wasn’t until 2014 that he competed in the Super Smash Bros. tournament — his introduction to competitive gaming.

 

“I didn’t think I was going to do super great, and I didn’t,” Rose said about his first tournament. “I just knew it was a game that I loved to play.”

 

But Rose was fueled by the love of the game and a strong motivation to come out on top, and he returned to the Otronicon competitions the next year. He’s been on a winning streak ever since.

 

“The rest of the years after that were kind of natural,” he said.

 

Rose has taken his gaming skills on the road beyond Otronicon. He has been competing in tournaments around Florida weekly for about two years, and he hopes to eventually travel out of state to participate in others. Cumulatively, Rose estimates that he has earned a few thousand dollars in these tournament — quite a sum for someone who has only recently reached the milestone of adulthood.

 

The payoff (both financially and emotionally) is a nice perk, but all this gaming has Rose keeping another, longer-term goal in mind. Inspired by his interactions with indie game developers at Otronicon, he wants to study technology in college and pursue a career in IT or something similar. He might even create his own indie games someday.

 

“It was something I would like to do, but it wasn’t super realistic for me until I went and saw it in person [at Otronicon], getting to meet people who actually do that,” Rose said. “I realized it’s just as attainable as anything else.” Check back closer to the event to learn more about Otronicon’s gaming competitions hosted by Powder Keg Games, and register in advance to secure your place!