Student Multimedia Research Contest winners visualize sustainability

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Grand prize group prize winners Megan Pendell and Malia Moscatello

The NCSU Libraries is proud to announce the winners of its third annual Student Multimedia Research Contest, sponsored by Gale Cengage Learning. The winners enjoyed refreshments at a public reception on Wednesday, May 3 in the Assembly Room in D. H. Hill Library before moving to the Visualization Studio for a showcase of the winning projects.

Now in its third year, the Student Multimedia Research Contest calls for projects taking the form of 3D visualizations, games, animations or other creative formats that communicate research insights in a visual or interactive manner. Open to both graduate and undergraduate students, the contest provides an opportunity for students to develop skills in presenting research visually, while taking advantage of a variety of technologies for communicating ideas. Projects may take any number of different forms, including websites, 3D visualizations, games, animations, or other creative formats that communicate research insights in a visual or interactive manner.

“Scholarly research and new scholarship is something that’s really important to us—it’s our lifeblood,” Gale account executive Lou Palmer said to the winning students. “We’re really happy to support it.”

The 2017 theme was “The Sustainability Balancing Act,” which was inspired by NC State's commitment to and achievements in sustainability. Sustainability centers on balancing the needs of society, economy and environment, and ensures that future generations will have the resources they need to survive and thrive. Colleges and disciplines across the university engage in research designed to make improvements in these areas.

Samantha Pace, a senior studying Industrial Design, is this year’s Grand Prize Individual winner for her project “Sustainability in Project Design.” Pace created a Sway—a dynamic, horizontal slideshow—that advocates for immediate action to stem climate change, incorporating action graphics, statistics, and even the trailer for Leonardo DiCaprio’s documentary “Before the Flood.”

Megan Pendell, an Environmental Sciences senior, and Malia Moscatello, a Civil Engineering junior, took this year’s Grand Prize Group prize for their project “South Africa's Sustainable Water Balance.” The 20-minute video shows the experience of NC State Study Abroad students working through the university’s IMAGINE South Africa program. Combining stills and documentary footage, they focus on life in HaMakuya, a cluster of villages in northern South Africa. Pendell and Moscatello use sensory-rich storytelling that conveys details like the sound of dripping faucets and the sweet smell of baobab fruit.

“The program required us to create some sort of project at the end,” Pendell says. “We decided to do a documentary but it was a little rough at the beginning. We turned it in and did well on it, but we wanted to perfect it because we really wanted to have a product that respected our experience.”

While in South Africa, the pair diligently shot a lot of extra random footage and took lots of pictures to be prepared for their documentary to take unexpected directions.

“Going into it we just knew that we wanted to have the project focus on water quality and HaMakuya,” Moscatello says. “From there it expanded through what we learned in classes, our experiences with the people, and our convictions and insight formed through all that. We had to figure out the sustainability problems there, the histories of those problems, and then how those problems should be attacked in the future.”

An honorable mention went to College of Design professor Emil Polyak’s class of 20 students, who created “Gamification of Sustainability,” a set of games and a website that contest judges found well thought-out and visually engaging.

Alex Carroll, Research Librarian for Engineering and Biotechnology, and Danica Lewis, NCSU Libraries Fellow, served as judges. Other Libraries staff that provided support for the students throughout the contest process were Shaun Bennett, University Library Technician; Debbie Currie, Collections & Research Librarian for Agricultural and Environmental Sciences; Cindy Levine, Research Librarian for Humanities and Social Sciences; Markus Wust, Digital Research and Scholarship Librarian; and Darby Orcutt, Assistant Head for Collections & Research Strategy.