Academic board

The AIE Institute Academic Board is the peak academic body of the AIE Institute Limited. The Academic Board is responsible for academic oversight of AIE Institute’s higher education courses and provides authoritative advice to the AIE Institute Board of Directors on all higher education academic matters. Its key objective is to establish and maintain the quality of higher education courses and all associated academic matters.

Dr Gail Dennett | Board Chair and Director AIE Institute

Dr Gail Dennett

Director and Academic Board Chair

Dr Gail Dennett has over 30 years’ experience in higher education with a focus on teaching and learning.  She has held senior roles as Director of Teaching and Learning Support Services (TALSS) at QUT (1997-2003) and Pro Vice Chancellor (Teaching and Learning) at RMIT (2003 – 2005) and UTAS (2005-2009).

Although retired from full time employment, she has continued part time work as an educational consultant. Her current focus has been on governance in higher education and the evaluation of national teaching and learning projects. She has been an Independent Director and Chair of Academic Board of AIE Institute since 2018 and played a key role in securing TEQSA registration and accreditation in 2021.

John De Margheriti | Director AIE Institute

John De Margheriti

Director and Academic Board Member

John De Margheriti holds a Global Executive MBA from Sydney University and is the Chairman and CEO of The Academy of Interactive Entertainment Limited and Chairman and Producer of DEMS Entertainment.

A seasoned, highly successful businessman, John co-founded Micro Forté Pty Ltd in 1985, one of the oldest independent video games development studios in the world and produced several globally successful games. In 1995 John co-patented a system and method for creating highly scalable client-server technology and in 1999 co-founded massively multiplayer online middle-ware technology company, BigWorld Pty Ltd, which held the majority of the Chinese online games market, and was later acquired by Wargaming.net, the creators of the “World of Tanks” franchise that have since grown to employ over 5,500 people globally.

In recent years, John’s accomplishments have led him to focus on the Australian independent film industry. John is currently leading the development of the world’s first course specialising in Virtual Production technology and is embarking on the development of a multi-million-dollar campus expansion in Canberra that will feature state-of-the-art filmmaking equipment and facilities.

Films

Ladies in Black (Executive Producer) directed by Bruce Beresford, Blue World Order (Executive Producer), Me and My Mates vs the Zombie Apocalypse (Executive Producer), The Furies (Executive Producer), Sissy (Producer) currently in post-production, Tobruk, a forthcoming war film to be directed by Phillip Noyce.

Games

The Official America's Cup Sailing Simulation (Electronic Arts and US Gold), Demon Stalkers – The Raid on Doomfane (Electronic Arts), Fire King (Strategic Studies Group), Bombs Away (Emu Multimedia), Nordice (Emu Multimedia), Roy Morgan's Ultimate Survey (Emu Multimedia), Enemy Infestation (Ripcord Games), Fallout Tactics - Brotherhood of Steel (Interplay), Hot Wheels Bash Arena (THQ) and KWARI (Kwari limited).

Awards

Winner of the 2014 iAwards as the CSIRO Benson Entrepreneur of the Year for productivity and innovation, the 2006 ATS Patrons Award for Outstanding Achievement in International Markets, 2001 Cisco Innovation Award, 2002 APICTA Asia Pacific ICT Awards in Excellence in Creative Digital Industries, appointed an Honorary Ambassador for Canberra in 2000 for his contribution to the video games industry.

Industry growth

John’s journey is synonymous with the growth of Australia’s video games industry. AIE was originally founded in 1996 as a division of one of Australia’s first AAA computer game development studios called Micro Forté Pty Ltd. John was attempting to meet an industry shortage of skilled developers for his studio through a collaboration with the ACT Government and the Canberra Institute of Technology (CIT), and from this, the non-profit Academy of Interactive Entertainment Limited (AIE) was born!

After the first cohort of students graduated, John soon realised that the emerging Australian industry shared his studio’s need for skilled employees and in 1998 AIE was formally established as a non-profit to continue with a focus on expanding specialist education to meet industry demand in the rapidly growing areas of programming, 3D animation and related areas.

Through John’s vision and ongoing dedication to grow an industry, AIE now has 7 Campuses in Australia, America and Online, and alumni working in studios around the world. The AIE has gained much recognition as the leading educator for game development, 3D animation and film VFX -having twice won the Australian Training Awards.

In the late 90s, AIE provided the start-up funds and ongoing operational funding and support to further grow the Australian game development industry through the creation of an Industry Association called the Game Developer’s Association of Australia (GDAA) and an Industry Conference called the Australian Game Developers Conference (AGDC). This was instrumental in building and raising the profile of the Australian Industry and opening global networks with overseas publishers for Australian Studios and AIE graduates.

The GDAA and AGDC evolved over time and recently the GDAA merged with the Interactive Games and Entertainment Association (IGEA) forming the world’s first publisher and developer association, bringing to fruition an idea John previously pitched to the IGEA Board. IGEA now also runs Game Connect Asia Pacific (GCAP), AGDC’s successor.

The creation of this core industry infrastructure that helped place Australia on the emerging video games industry map, was a herculean effort led by John and supported by his AIE team and many Australian development studios. John and the AIE have received many industry awards for their combined efforts, and they continue to lead the industry in Australia by actively changing the shape of the industry to respond to rapidly changing needs. Most recently through the establishment of the Game Plus collaborative workspace for game developers and related specialist technology start-ups (Adelaide, Canberra, Sydney) and Film Plus collaborative workspace for filmmakers and related specialists (Canberra).

Professor Manolya Kavakli | Academic Director AIE Institute

Prof Manolya Kavakli

Academic Board Member

Prof ManolyaKavakli is an expert in Human Computer Interaction (HCI), Virtual and Augmented Reality and Computer Games. Her research involves the use of virtual reality and motion tracking technologies for the development of simulations targeting the improvement of human performance and expertise. Prof Kavakli is an architect who gained her B.Sc., M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees in 1987, 1990 and 1995 respectively, from Istanbul Technical University. She was awarded a NATO Science Fellowship in 1996 for postdoctoral research and a Postdoctoral Fellowship from the University of Sydney, Australia in 1998.

Between 1989 and 1999 she worked as an Associate Professor at the Faculty of Architecture, Istanbul Technical University. In 2000, she started lecturing in Game Design at the School of Information Technology, Charles Sturt University and became the Acting Course Coordinator of the first Bachelor of Computer Science (Games Technology) degree in Australia. In 2003, she became a Senior Lecturer in Computer Graphics and Game Design at the Department of Computing, Macquarie University, and established the Virtual Reality Lab in 2005, where she was promoted to Associate Professorship in 2010.

Prof Kavakli was the Director of the Virtual Reality Lab between 2005-2020 and the Director of Postgraduate Program between 2014-2018 at the Department of Computing, Macquarie University. She became the Academic Director of AIE Institute starting from 20 August 2018, reducing her involvement at Macquarie University first to a research only position and then to an Honorary Professorship in 2020.

Prof Kavakli is the founding member of VISOR (Virtual and Interactive Simulations of Reality Research Group) and a member of CEPET (Research Centre for Elite Performance, Expertise, and Training) at Macquarie University. She supervised 11 postdoctoral fellows and 133 postgraduate students (21 PhD, 4 MSc, 7 Honours, 34 MIT projects, 24 MIT Special Topics, 11 French MEng internships, and 32 MIT/MEng internships). Currently, she is the Associate Supervisor of a PhD student at Macquarie University.

Prof Kavakli has strong links to European research organisations. She was a Visiting Research Professor at the Virtual Immersion Research Group, Image Institute - Laboratory Le2i, Ecole Nationale Superieure d'Arts et Metiers ParisTech, Chalon Sur Saone, France in 2013 and 2014, and in AIX Marseille Universite, Marseille, France in 2019. She has reviewed grants for the ARC Linkage, Discovery, Decra, and Linkage Infrastructure Schemes, New Zealand Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, The Marsden Fund Council, Royal Society of New Zealand, The Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development, Government of Canada Convergence Portal, Austrian Science Fund, and The Research Council for Culture and Society at the Academy of Finland.

Prof Kavakli has been the recipient of 24 awards, including 6 fellowships and 10 Best paper and Education awards and nominations in the last decade. She received 34 research and infrastructure grants from a number of scientific international organisations including the Commonwealth, the Australian Research Council, the Scientific and Technical Research Council of Turkey, Turkish Republic State Planning Organization, 3 teaching grants, and 11 other grants, totaling over $5 million. She has given 11 keynote speeches and produced 227 peer reviewed publications including 20 book chapters, 55 journal articles, 130 conference papers. She has more than 2200 citations. Her h-index is 21 and i-10 index is 44. Prof Kavakli’s research has been profiled in international media 45 times including ABC TV, ABC 7:30 Report, ABC and SBS Radio, and Sydney morning Herald.

Dr Geoff Mitchell | Director and Academic Board Member AIE Institute

Dr Geoff Mitchell

Director and Academic Board Member

Geoff is currently a Digital Strategist with the Brisbane City Council. He has over 30 years’ experience as an academic, and IT professional in government agencies, private sector organisations and Higher Education institutions. Geoff has more than 18 years’ experience in the Higher Education sector across Australia and New Zealand including roles as the Director of Learning Environments and Technology Services at QUT, Director of the University Teaching Development Centre at Victoria University of Wellington, and the Manager of the Educational Products and Services at Griffith University. Prior to Council he was the Digital and Emerging Technology Manager at Virgin Australia.

Geoff has been involved with the AIE Institute since 2019 and is the Chair of the Course advisory Committee and a member of the Academic Board.

Dr Gary Buttriss | Director and Academic Board Member AIE Institute

Dr Gary Buttriss

Academic Board Member

Gary is an educator and researcher in sustainable business and marketing at The Australian National University. His research has focused on how technology transforms business and currently innovation strategies as business pursues net zero and beyond in response the climate change and other wicked problems.

Prior to moving to academia, he ran his own hospitality business in Sydney’s iconic Queen Victoria Building.

He is also a certified Foresight Practitioner at the Institute for the Future in Palo Alto California.

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Student representative from 2023

To be advised