Customer Success Story
Esports engage students at University of Michigan-Flint
Engaged students. A strong, inclusive community. Higher graduation success rates. Fun with friends. These are the goals of varsity Esports at University of Michigan-Flint (UM-Flint).
UM-Flint’s Esports team practices and competes over a high-performance Juniper network that’s designed for the split-second, glitch-free interaction that gamers need.
|Company||University of Michigan-Flint|
|Products used||EX4400, AP43, Wired Assurance|
Varsity Esports team in the University of Michigan system
Created a community and sense of belonging on campus
More student athletes playing varsity Esports in second year of program
Low-latency, microsegmented network for gaming practice and competitions
Gaming can attract and retain students
Jason Gooding took the lead. Gooding, an avid gamer and veteran of the UM-Flint IT services department, saw the incredible growth of playing and watching Esports and brought that power to campus.
Most of the 7000 students at UM-Flint live with their families or on their own off campus, and getting students engaged with campus life is important to their academic pursuits and graduation success.
“The underlying goal of Esports is a recruitment and retention tool,” says Gooding. “Many students game every day, and this is a way to reach them and make a connection.”
The pandemic nearly derailed the university’s goal of fielding the first team in September 2020.
“When we presented our plan to the university leadership, it happened to be during a tournament hosted by another university,” says Gooding, who is the Esports coordinator. “Kids were broadcasting safely from their bedrooms, but they were still on the world stage.”
UM-Flint became the first college in the University of Michigan system to launch a varsity Esports team.
A cool space for competitive gaming
UM-Flint has long relied on Juniper routing and switching for its campus network, and it uses the Juniper EX4400 Ethernet Switch to support Esports.
The EX4400 is an AI-powered access switch with advanced security for high-performance deployments. Juniper Mist Wired Assurance makes the EX4400 easy to onboard, configure, and manage. Juniper AP43 High-Performance Access Points deliver a better user experience on mobile devices.
“I wanted a switch that would give me the fastest bandwidth and lowest ping,” says Gooding. “We use the EX4400 switch with a 10-Gbps uplink to the Internet, and our network completely separate from the internal network, so we don’t have to worry about interference.”
An inclusive community of students
Esports served to bring students together during a time of profound isolation, when the team practiced virtually and competed in the Michigan Esports Conference.
“Students never met face-to-face, but they were having fun, building relationships, and creating a community,” says Gooding.
Gooding expects to participation to double in 2022, with multiple teams for Overwatch, Rocket League, Apex, and Valorant. Students play in a stunning space, painted in UM’s distinctive maize and blue, and outfitted with powerful gaming computers, ergonomic chairs and desks, and connectivity that rarely lags.
Esports at UM-Flint help create an inclusive community of passionate gamers as well as students who want to develop their leadership skills and expand their talents in journalism, sports management, physical therapy, and design. Many wouldn’t otherwise cross paths.
“It doesn’t matter what students’ core study is,” says Gooding. “We need non-gamers just as much as we need gamers. Everyone is included.”
Gooding is focused on community outreach for team sponsorships, student scholarships, and working with local school districts to recruit the next generation of talented players.
Published March 2022