Sumo Digital Academy – Meet the 2024 cohorts

9th Feb 2024 Studio Life

Get ready to see some new faces at the Sumo Digital Academy as we welcome our new cohorts for 2024! 

The Academy is a talent development programme creating new pathways into the games industry and is the first of its kind in the UK games industry to be recognised by the government and the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education. 

Ten apprentices have joined our longstanding Programming Apprenticeship Programme, led by Sumo Digital’s Director of Partnerships Dr Jacob Habgood, whilst our brand-new Technical Art Programme – led by Academy Art Director Dave Wilson – sees five new faces join this year. 

Without further ado, let’s meet the new apprentices and find out what they’re hoping to get out of their time here. 


Oliver Smith – Programming Apprentice 

Oliver comes from a Physics background and has just finished his PhD in Fusion plasma simulations. His hobbies include playing board games, TTRPGs, Ultimate Frisbee and riding a unicycle. 

Oliver said: “I’m hoping to learn all the skills I need to make it in the industry. I have previous coding experience but not in C++ or in a game’s context, so I have a lot to learn! 

“I’m also keen to build professional relationships with the other apprentices and staff.” 


Carter Brooke – Programming Apprentice 

Carter Previously worked in QA for both Rare and Rockstar before joining the Academy to pursue a career in programming. They enjoy playing games of all kinds, though mostly multiplayer games like MMOs and League of Legends, as well as football and weightlifting. 

Carter said: “I am hoping to become a competent, trusted and valued member of the Sumo Programming team and help to produce some great games!” 


Erwin Tang – Programming Apprentice 

Erwin has a background in Mechanical Engineering and worked in product development prior to joining the Academy. His hobbies include badminton, turn-based games and tabletop, occasionally tinkering with his 3D printer. 

Erwin said: [I want to] Be competent as a programmer, build great relationships and ultimately release a game.” 


Arune Janusauskaite Programming Apprentice 

Arune has a keen interest in human psychology and neuroscience. They don’t have any tech background and used to work in customer service before joining the Academy. 

Arune said: “I hope to learn some cool things both from apprenticeship programme and other peers. I also hope to pass all tests and achieve the required standard to work in games industry.” 


Reece Waite – Programming Apprentice 

Reece arrived at the Academy from a Computer Science BSc. His favourite hobbies include gaming and climbing. 

On what he hopes to achieve in his time with the Academy, Reece said “Team communication skills and explore which area of game development I might be interested in specialising”. 


Ricky-Lee Carpenter – Programming Apprentice 

Ricky-Lee love games and was an indie game developer for a long time before arriving at the Sumo Digital Academy. 

On why he decided to join the apprenticeship programme, Ricky-Lee said: “I wanted to turn my hobby into a career.” 


Tom Grant – Programming Apprentice 

Tom was a QA Tester for four and a half years before joining the Academy. He’s interested in gaming, bouldering, programming, and ‘lucid dreaming’. 

Tom said he hopes to gain a: “Strong understanding of programming in games, so I can continue to work in my favourite industry, with my favourite people.” 


Isaac Carstensen – Programming Apprentice 

Isaac studied an Undergraduate degree in Maths and Music and a Postgraduate degree in Music Performance. For the past two years he’s worked in admin at Leeds University – but he found that he could quickly automate a lot of day-to-day tasks, so despite not being hired as a programmer he got into the habit of writing code on a regular basis. 

Isaac said: “I’m hoping to be able to get the skills to make some fantastic games and have the chance to make some fantastic games that I can be really proud of. I also want to meet some awesome friends that love games as much as I do!” 


Adittya Pun – Programming Apprentice 

After working in a laboratory role, Adittya was keen to be in an industry that has a progressive culture, is creative in nature and moves with the technology of its time. They took part in the Academy’s Diversity Internship Training Programme, which gives people from under-represented groups the opportunity to receive training and mentoring in game programming to see what it would be like as a career. 

“Being a DITP intern, it provided a pathway for someone like me that didn’t do a game programming course at university but was looking to pivot into games,” said Adittya, “Learning quite late on in my life that I have ADHD, the Academy provides a fantastic learning setup for me compared to my university experience, I get a lot of learning support and structure, but I also get a lot of freedom to take learning at my own pace… also I love video games. 

“I’d love to learn to proficiently write friendly, industry standard code and programmes, and be able to apply this skillset to working on game projects with other programmers. I’d like to move on to working in multidisciplinary teams with tech and audio artists.” 

Jack Howells – Programming Apprentice 

Jack graduated from the University of Bath with a degree in Physics and worked for the NHS before joining the Academy. One of Jack’s friends is part of the 2023 cohort and had nothing but great things to say about the programme. 

Jack said: “As someone with ADHD I really value an environment that is friendly and accessible to that type of thinking. Even during the interview process, Jacob and George were really inquisitive about how I approach learning and thinking about things, and I just thought this would be a comfortable environment to follow a passion that I’d always had.” 



Hollie Walton – Technical Art Apprentice 

Hollie has a background in computer science, digital media, art and product design, which fed into doing BA Game Art at De Montfort University. In their spare time, they enjoy playing D&D, Call of Cthulu, Palworld, modded Minecraft and Overwatch. 

Hollie said: “I hope to make plenty of friends, and gain skills from being in an industry-style situation. I also really hope to be a part of a game release through the Academy.” 


Mihai Dragan – Technical Art Apprentice 

Mihai is a 3D Game Art graduate from Sheffield Hallam University where he won the Rebellion North Game Art & Animation Award for his final project. His hobbies are playing video games, as well as cooking and woodworking. 

Mihai said: “I am hoping to learn new things, get the chance to work on shippable projects, network with people, and make new friends in this field, as well as hopefully secure a long-term job at Sumo Sheffield. 

“I love Sumo’s culture, and Sheffield is a city that I hold dearly in my heart.” 


January James – Technical Art Apprentice 

January joins the Academy after obtaining an MA in Game Art at Sheffield Hallam University. They like Pokémon, puzzle games and sketching/life drawing. 

During their time with the Academy, January is looking forward to “Plenty of new experiences and learning opportunities. I’m never done improving and I believe I can get a lot out of my time here. Making friends with like-minded people is always a nice bonus too.” 


Ellie Cairns – Technical Art Apprentice 

Ellie studied Game Design at Hopwood Hall College and BA Game Art at Sheffield Hallam, graduating with first class honours in 2023. She has always had an interest in art which she picked up from her grandma who was an artist, and regularly draws and writes in her free time – she hopes to create a sci-fi comic for fun! 

She also enjoys playing games like the Souls games, reading manga, and playing DnD with friends. 

Ellie said: “I hope to keep building my knowledge and skills while meeting more people I have common interests with, building friendships and experiences that will shape me professionally and personally.” 


Tashan Attawia – Technical Art Apprentice 

Tashan recently graduated from Birmingham City University where they studied Video Game Digital Art as a BA and Feature Film Development as an MA. They enjoy playing FPS games like Halo and Rainbow Six Siege, as well as writing and producing songs. 

Tashan said: “I am hoping to expand my skillset and work on exciting new projects.” 

Find out more about the apprenticeships and how you can apply to be in the next cohort on the Sumo Digital Academy website. 

9th February 2024 Studio Life