What happens after you leave the Dragon Lair? News from the alumni!

Digital Dragon Flashback

Learn more about how some of our former students and staff keep up on their technology education!


As we approach the holiday season, there’s plenty to be thankful for! Throughout this festive period, we’ll be reconnecting with once-Digital-Dragon-hatchlings and finding out where their adventures have landed them. To kick things off, we’ll be winding back the clock to when I myself started my Digital Dragon adventure.  

After finishing my masters degree from Carnegie Mellon University, I packed up from Pittsburgh, PA to meet Seth, Laurie, and the rest of the Finn family out in Los Angeles in early 2014. From the first in-person conversation I was excited to be employee number 1 and put my passion to practice. Having the freedom to apply what I’ve learned to be effective for learning from over a decade’s experience was truly awesome. From visiting potential studios to smelling fresh paint and peeling back plastic from all crispy clean new tech, it all happened in a flash. Before we knew it, local youth were behind desks, poised in bean bag chairs, and engaging in relevant learning.


Outside of Digital Dragon, the Finn Family fueled my curiosity to explore L.A.’s vibrant food culture. Add to that one of the world’s first permanent pole disc golf courses (!), and it was truly a joy. Just as there are ups, there are bound to be downs. Due to some family complications, my journey out West had come to an end and I would move back to Ohio.  


While there were so many magical moments at Digital Dragon, I think some of my favorites were Pi Day, where we baked a RaspPi into an arcade machine, any wearables / fashion-tech workshop, and editing how Minecraft behaved using Jython.  

Since 2016, I’ve found myself back at my alma mater leading the K-12 Outreach and Engagement initiatives for the Entertainment Technology Center. I have been fortunate to present internationally and have worked with partners the world over. My current interests fall towards interactive storytelling through extended realities and of course transformational play. While I can’t share all the details yet, I have recently been tapped to grow with an upcoming center within the university with their leadership team (stay tuned!). I am a proud husband and a parent to: 1 very small human, 1 expanding corgi, and 2 various sized sibling cats.  


Next month, we’ll connect with another Digital Dragon to see where their adventures have taken them.  


TLDR; It’s an amazing thing to look back and reflect on how certain events change the trajectory of your life. It was my absolute pleasure to aid in giving flight to Digital Dragon towards its launch and look forward to catching up with some of the Dragons that have since spread their wings to find their own. 


About the Author:

John Balash was instrumental in Digital Dragon’s launch in 2013 as its first Curriculum Director and is now back in the fold as a consultant on all the latest and greatest in tech education.This is John’s latest contribution to a monthly blog series we’ve launched, Tech News from the Frontier. John is the Director of Educational Engagement at Carnegie Mellon University’s Entertainment Technology Center. John has worked on educationally-focused initiatives with clients ranging from D.A.R.P.A. to Disney. Working from both sides of the desk, you can find John in classrooms and conferences around the world exploring new uses for technologies in learning environments.