Michael Zyda is the Founding Director of USC's Computer Science Games Program, and a Professor of Engineering Practice in the USC Department of Computer Science. At USC, he founded the Computer Science Games Program and the year-long advanced game projects course that forms the core of USC Games and took that program from no program to the #1 Games program in the world. That program has been rated #1 by the Princeton Review for ten of the last eleven years. His alums have shipped games played by over 5 billion players, about $250B in revenue and $2.5B in payroll to those alums. Zyda is an ACM Fellow, IEEE Fellow, an IEEE Virtual Reality Technical Achievement Award winner, a Senior Member of the National Academy of Inventors, a Fellow of the Asia-Pacific Artificial Intelligence Association (AAIA) and a National Associate of the National Academies. Zyda is a member of the Editorial Board & Games Column Editor, IEEE Computer magazine. Zyda is a Distinguished Collaborator for the Stanford Human Perception Laboratory affiliated with the Institute for Human-Centered AI.
From Fall 2000 to Fall 2004, he was the Founding Director of the MOVES (modeling, virtual environments, and simulation) Institute located at the Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, and a Professor in the Department of Computer Science at NPS as well. At NPS, Zyda’s NPSNET Research Group built the first networked virtual environment with fully instrumented body suits that played across the Internet. His work on the networking of virtual environments contributed to the development of the IEEE 1278.1 standard for distributed interactive simulation. He helped found the subspecialty in modeling and simulation for the United States Navy, the simulation operations functional area (57) for the US Army and the simulation operations area (MOS-9625) for the US Marine Corps. While at NPS, Zyda was Associate Editor and then Senior Editor for the MIT Press Journal Presence: Teleoperators and Virtual Environments from 1993 - 2004. With Fred Brooks, Henry Fuchs and Mary Whitton, he co-founded the ACM SIGGRAPH Symposium on Interactive 3D Graphics in 1990.
He was a member of the National Research Council Committee that put out the report “Virtual Reality - Scientific and Technological Challenges”. He chaired the NRC Committee that put out the study “Modeling and Simulation - Linking Entertainment and Defense”. That NRC report changed the entire Department of Defense towards the usage of games and entertainment technology for its future modeling and simulation systems. From that report, Zyda wrote the operating plan and research agenda that founded USC’s Institute for Creative Technologies.
For the National Research Council, he has served on committees for the Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education Commission, the Computer Science and Telecommunications Board, the Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board, the Mathematical Sciences and Their Applications Board, the Naval Studies Board, the Air Force Studies Board, the Army Research Laboratory Technical Assessment Board, the Board on Higher Education and Workforce, the Board on Behavioral, Cognitive, and Sensory Sciences, and the Board on Earth Sciences and Resources.
Zyda holds a lifetime appointment as a National Associate of the National Academies, an appointment made by the Council of the National Academy of Sciences in November 2003, awarded in recognition of “extraordinary service” to the National Academies.
On the 13th of January 2021, he was promoted to ACM Fellow “for contributions to game design, game and virtual reality networking, and body tracking”.
On the 11th of February 2020, the National Academy of Inventors elected Zyda as a Senior Member for “success in patents, licensing, and commercialization” and for producing “technologies that have brought, or aspire to bring, real impact on the welfare of society”. In May 2017, Zyda was appointed a member of the National Academy of Inventors in recognition of advanced technological development and innovation as issued by the United States Patent & Trademark Office.
In March 2017, Zyda was awarded the IEEE Virtual Reality Technical Achievement Award "for fundamental work in virtual reality networking, body tracking & institutionalizing the application of virtual reality".
Zyda is a member of the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences. He served as the principal investigator and development director of the America’s Army PC game funded by the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Manpower and Reserve Affairs. He took America’s Army from conception to three million plus registered players and hence, transformed Army recruiting. The creation of the America’s Army game founded the serious games field. He co-holds two patents that form the basis for the nine-axis sensor in the Nintendo Wii U.
Professor Zyda has consulted for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, NASA AMES, the Ministry of Industrial Development Sabah Province, Malaysia, Japan Tech Services Corporation, Tokyo, and Paramount Digital Entertainment, among others. He is a speaker with Celebrity Speakers, International. He is the founder and Chairman of Happynin Games, and 411 Productions DTLA. He is co-founder, with Qingyun Ma, of Great Wall Tiger, Xi’an, China. He is consultant to the Ministry of Culture & Shaanxi Cultural Group, Xi’an, China – entertainment technology advisor for AR & VR & theme park projects in/around the historic sites of Shaanxi Province, including the Terracotta Warriors Museum, the e-Pang Palace and the Zhaojin Red Army Base, 2015 – present.
Zyda is advisor to a number of start-ups including Concurrents (Redwood City, CA), We Are Robot (Dallas), Athanos3D (Los Angeles), Eternal Fantasy Land VR Technology (Nanjing), Versusgame (SFO), Equally (SFO), Muoee (Shenzhen), Chia Interactive (Nanjing), EON Protocol (EOT) (Singapore), Movyl Technologies (Oakland), Primal Space Systems (Raleigh, NC), Starcoach.tv (Beijing), Vizzario (Venice Beach), Mira Labs (Los Angeles). See https://www.linkedin.com/in/mikezyda/ for additional information on these startups.
Professor Zyda began his career in Computer Graphics in 1973 as part of an undergraduate research group, the Senses Bureau, at the University of California, San Diego. Professor Zyda received a BA in Bioengineering from the University of California, San Diego in La Jolla in 1976, an MS in Computer and Information Science from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in 1978 and a DSc in Computer Science from Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri in 1984.