Choosing risks worth taking

Originally published in the 2015 edition of Innovation magazine

by Angela Petrie

Over the course of his career, Dale Jackson has transformed his professional life by finding and connecting with his passions.

“My story is about taking risks when they felt right, and everything working out,” Jackson says.

As a fresh grad, Jackson (BS ’92, technical graphics) and his wife ventured to Florida where he began work in an entry-level position. After a few years, he caught the eye of a small independent game developer, Tiburon Entertainment.

“After meeting the driven people at Tiburon, I knew that they were going somewhere in gaming,” Jackson says, “and as a lifelong gamer, I wanted to help them get there.”

Jackson started as an artist, but quickly moved to a position managing the art schedules and hiring artists. A few years later, when Electronic Arts (EA) bought Tiburon, he started managing entire teams of programmers and artists.

Jackson’s role continued to change as the company grew, and eventually he became vice president of EA SPORTS. In this role, he created an innovation lab to incubate new ideas for games. Though Jackson left EA following a subsequent company reorganization, many technologies that his team produced are still in use at EA today.

With a taste for what he really loved at EA, Jackson searched for other similar opportunities. Today, as director for the Texas Instruments (TI) Innovation Lab at the University of Central Florida (UCF), he says he is doing work that has an even greater impact: “The goal of the TI Innovation Lab is to help students discover their burning desire and confidence to create, innovate and collaborate, to deliver world-changing solutions. At UCF, I am able to help many students and might be able to help create bigger and better futures for more people and companies.”