TAMPA, Fla. — It's no secret careers in STEM are booming, but not all students get enough industry exposure to know their options.

Marcus Howard of Project MQ aims to change that.

"When we grew up, our parents used to just tell us to stop playing video games because there was no future in it. That's not the case anymore,” he said. “We just want [students] to see there are so many opportunities in the gaming industry that encompasses everything that makes up STEM: science, technology, engineering and mathematics, all goes into everything in the gaming industry."

Howard and his twin brother run their own platform for independent video games while working full-time jobs and teaching students coding basics through Junior Achievement Tampa Bay.

"We're using video games, which kids enjoy, to get them excited about making games, which is them actually building their own businesses and learning to code because those skills sets are transferable,” he said.

This is especially important for kids who don't always see themselves pursuing tech careers.

“Usually, I don't really see a lot of African American males get into this sort of thing,” said Cameron Cumberbatch, 16. "When I was younger, I really wanted to make my own web design ... I couldn't figure anything out at all. So, it really made me shy away from tech-savvy things."

It’s a common fear Howard hopes his training will change.

"There's just not a lot of representation for African Americans in the industry. So, I think it's important for these kids to see they can have a career in the technology field,” he said.

Emerald Morrow is a reporter with 10News WTSP. Like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter. You can also email her at emorrow@wtsp.com.

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