Jessica Trybus
Founder and Chief Games Officer of Simcoach Games; Special Faculty at Carnegie Mellon University’s Entertainment Technology Center

From the time she was a child, Jessica Trybus was drawn to computers.

“My favorite thing was when we would go to the library and use the computers in the first grade,” says Trybus, 40, of Highland Park. “And my father had a business that used computers, and I was like, ‘Wow, I want to use that thing.’ I got my first computer, an IBM PC for Christmas in 1986, and it was this amazing thing. I loved it. I loved tech, not just computers, but video games, too.”

She founded Simcoach Games, which develops game-based learning software to help organizations train workforces, and Kids and Creativity, which creates digital learning projects for students.

“I’m really careful to point out that I probably get too much credit for starting it, because there were a lot of people involved,” Trybus says. “I’ll take credit for having coffee with Gregg Behr (head of The Grable Foundation), who wanted to engage the community. We kept asking, ‘What can we do for the kids in this region? How can we expose our kids to learning high-tech, and how can we connect the whole region, so people who don’t live in well-endowed districts can be a part of this?’

“We just kept having breakfasts and it continued to grow. I’m just really passionate about the region and education and being engaged with what was going on with the community, and I was even before I had kids.”

She enjoys working on tech initiatives for kids, she says, because tech made such a huge impression on her as a child that she wants today’s youth to experience the same thing.

“Sometimes the role of any of these things we’re doing is to give someone exposure so they have that spark,” she says. “One of those sparks — experimental sparks — might motivate someone on any given topic, and then they will dig deeper.”