P&G alum revs up gaming scene in UC Esports Lab

Engineer brings innovative mindset to gaming industry

In September 2021, Brad Walsh started his second act and became the coordinator for the University of Cincinnati Esports Lab, which opened the following August inside the 1819 Innovation Hub.

Prior to this role, Walsh had 30 years of experience in process development as a technical director managing intellectual property at Procter & Gamble.

Given the popularity surge of video gaming — currently estimated to be worth $178.73 billion — the forward-thinking Walsh is excited to be at the forefront of esports at UC, where 55% of students identify as gamers. 

What attracted you to the university and UC Esports?

As a subset of the video game culture, esports represents a new generation of competition for non-traditional athletes. The video game culture on campus is huge. Being part of the broader esports community, UC can play a role in shaping the future of the industry.

Students share that the Esports Lab provides a sense of belonging and the opportunity to compete with other universities worldwide in a non-traditional sport. It’s a diverse campus, and I feel fortunate to be a part of it.

Talented UC students in esports apply critical leadership skills as they think strategically and tactically, gaining an advantage over opponents.

Brad Walsh UC Esports Lab coordinator

As a “non-traditional” sport, can you share some insights for those who challenge esports being a “real” sport?

It’s a sport in terms of the psychological demands made on the players. Please think of the board game chess, considered an official sport by the International Olympic Committee, as it entails significant physical exertion and a highly competitive discipline.

Esports tournaments are a game of skill that can also last for hours, requiring high levels of concentration and focus, which can be physically and mentally taxing. Talented UC students in esports apply critical leadership skills as they think strategically and tactically, gaining an advantage over their opponents. The joy of overcoming a challenge is universal.

Do you have a favorite video game?

Ha, I can’t even compete with the pro players we have at UC. I have played a lot of the Borderlands series; I really enjoy a great storyline. Half Life: Alyx was probably the best game I’ve played (and that was a few years ago; that is how good it is).

How do you see your work contributing to UC as a whole?

Integrating the esports community into the general campus can enhance the overall experience for students. I’ve worked with a wide spectrum of people and enjoy bridging the gap between older and upcoming generations. 

What do you find most rewarding about your role?

 Interacting with college students and fresh perspectives. Sometimes “mature” adults like myself tend to think life is a certain way. My experience at UC confirms life is whatever you want to make it.

Switching gears, who would you choose if you could "job shadow" anyone at UC for a day?

Likely some of the amazing simulation researchers. I completed my undergrad at the University of Florida, earning my degree in mechanical engineering. Back then simulations took days to complete. Now systems give results in seconds. At UC it amazes me when I observe results real-time.

Can you share a fun fact about yourself that might surprise people?

I raced cars before our son was born. I won my car class in the Cincinnati autocross season in the mid-1990s. I am also named on 18 U.S. patents, many for laser modification of material at high speed (cutting), ultrasonic bonding of material and accelerating discrete patches to insert on a product.

When you reflect on your career, is there a business lesson or mistake you’ve learned from or words of wisdom you could share with students?

Yes. Being afraid of an opportunity, especially early in your early life/career. I had the chance to work in Germany but turned it down because we had just moved to Cincinnati. Looking back, I realize it would have been a great experience. It is OK to take risks. Especially when you are young, life can change in a heartbeat. Losing a college roommate to a brain tumor unexpectedly helped me realize this. Enjoy where you are and work toward getting where you want to be before additional life restrictions such as children, responsibilities, health, etc. emerge. 

Featured image at top: Brad Walsh inside the UC Esports Lab, Photo/Greg Glevicky

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