When people hear the word engineer, they usually picture a career that requires a lot of advanced education -- a master’s degree or maybe a PhD. While this is certainly true for most, it was not the path for Alex Okita.
In high school, Alex was into metal music and even played guitar in a metal band himself. When he wasn’t thrashing on his guitar, he was spending a lot of time on his computer, which sounds pretty typical for a high schooler until you realize that it was the late '80s and early '90s.
“I was the only person that had these computers. I didn’t know anyone else that had any of this stuff,” says Alex.
Back then, personal home computers were not common. In fact, it was somewhat of a luxury. Luckily for Alex, his mother’s boyfriend at the time worked for IBM. So, he had access to a powerful computer in his own home. Alex began playing around with 3-D modeling applications, using a stylus and plastic pad to design objects and characters.
Because of these computer skills, right out of high school, Alex was able to work on small projects for video game companies like Atari. At the same time, he was studying art and 3-D animation at a community college. He soon found that he was getting a better education at work than at school. The video game companies he worked for had high performance computers and 3-D software that the community college simply couldn’t match. So, Alex left college before getting his degree.