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Sunset student lives every nerds dream

Senior Jake Messer heads to Microsoft campus for career insight
by: Jaime Valdez, Sunset High School senior Jake Messer shows off a level of a video game he’s designing for his 3D Design and Technology class at the Capital Center High School Technology Institute.

Jake Messer could spend two days of his spring break rubbing shoulders with the world's richest man.

The Sunset High School senior recently won an all-expense-paid Microsoft Dream Field Trip to explore the Microsoft campus in Redmond, Wash.

During his visit he will have the chance to meet with Microsoft's Education Products Team, programmers, animators and X-Box testers and developers as well as chat with company executives over dinner, tour a model home of the future and visit the Microsoft Museum and company store.

'It's every nerd's dream,' Messer said of the opportunity. 'I get the chance to go behind the scenes and meet game creators and game console creators.

'This is a cool opportunity. It's also a good way to secure a foundation for a possible job opportunity in the future.'

Messer dreams of one day creating 3-dimensional fantasy worlds for gamers to explore as a computer game designer.

Technology vision

He shared that dream in an essay he wrote about how the use of technology would affect his future.

His essay inspired the Oregon Department of Education and the Software Association of Oregon Foundation to select him from a competitive pool of students across the state to receive the Microsoft Dream Field Trip.

Messer also earned recognition from Beaverton Schools Superintendent Jerry Colonna for successfully juggling his studies while working 10 hours a week and living apart from his family.

Messer moved to Beaverton in January 2006 to live with a longtime friend of the family, after living two months with friends in the garage of a Bend home he refers to as 'The Shack.'

'I was considered homeless,' said Messer.

Since moving to Beaverton, Messer has thrived, joining Sunset High's Anime Club and Dungeons and Dragons Club and enrolling in computer graphic and design classes with the Capital Center High School Technology Institute.

'My life is a lot more stable,' Messer said.

Colonna nominated Messer for the University of Oregon College of Education Alumni Association's Student Achievement Award.

Messer was presented with the award March 13 at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry for his 'vision in the use of technology.'

Stopping time

When talking about computer graphics and design, the soft-spoken 19-year-old lights up.

'I've always liked computers and always wanted one,' said Messer.

Last summer he worked as a ranch hand to save money to pay for a friend to build him a computer.

Since then, he's used his computer to complete school work, network with gamers all around the world, keep in touch with his family and design his own video games.

'I have a fun time designing fantasy worlds and drawing maps,' he admitted. 'Time feels like it stops, when in reality it goes incredibly fast.'

It's not uncommon for Messer to spend several hours designing his 'Mage Keep' game world.

He's perfecting details of a game level for his peers to test in their 3D Design and Technology class at the Capital Center.

When he's in his creative zone, he loses track of time.

When he surfaces from his work, Messer said he usually wonders, 'Where did the day go?'