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Pullman students developing app to help local businesses

Local Cougs team photo

Pullman students developing app to help local businesses

RJ Wolcott, WSU News & Media Relations

The original story was published in the WSU Insider on 4/8/2022. You can check it out here.

The app – Local Cougs – will allow users to learn more about the businesses around them and ideally generate a vital wave of support coming off of two years of struggling through the pandemic.

A team of Washington State University students is developing an app that’ll help connect members of the Pullman community with local businesses.

The app – Local Cougs – will allow users to learn more about the businesses around them and ideally generate a vital wave of support coming off of two years of struggling through the pandemic. Local Cougs is currently in the prototype stage, with plans for beta testing this summer.

The five-student team is led by Marley Schneider, a web development and advertising senior, and Jennifer Espin, who is majoring in civil engineering with a minor in mathematics. Three other students – Daniel Chia, Stephany Lamas, and Roshani Shiwakoti – assist with the coding and development of the app.

The idea of finding a way to better connect the Pullman community – particularly students – to local businesses was pitched to Schneider and Espin by Ray Combs, director of entrepreneurial studies at Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture’s Harold Frank Engineering Entrepreneurship Institute. Combs told the pair that Elizabeth Chilton, who’d recently started her tenure as provost and executive vice president, was particularly interested in finding a way to help local businesses emerging from the pandemic.

“The biggest barrier we’ve identified is people not being knowledgeable about what businesses have to offer,” Schneider said.

Whether it’s finding a place to get a tire patched or a cup of coffee, the Local Cougs team is determined to get local businesses front and center in the minds of students and Pullman community members. The project is also a valuable learning opportunity for the team that’s bound for the workplace in the years to come.

Local Cougs prototype
The app – Local Cougs – will allow users to learn more about the businesses around them and ideally generate a vital wave of support coming off of two years of struggling through the pandemic.

“I was really excited for the opportunity to learn more about the business and marketing aspect of engineering,” Espin said. “That’s really where the entrepreneurship center came in and presented this opportunity to talk with local businesses and get better connected with people in the industry.”

In the past year and a half, Schneider and Espin have met with local business owners and advocates to get a sense of their situations and what they can do to help them thrive. Conversations with students have also netted valuable insight into the perceived barriers between them and the businesses right on their doorstep.

“We identified a lack of enthusiasm among students for going downtown, so we’re looking to create an incentive within the app that rewards people who use the app at downtown businesses,” Schneider said, citing examples like a free smoothie at Sanctuary after attending two yoga sessions.

While Schneider is on track to graduate in May, she plans to continue to be involved with frequent visits and remote collaboration with the team.

“Because we have a big cohort, we’ve been thinking about bringing more people onto the team, to be able to get as many hands working on the prototype as possible,” Espin said. “We need to grow to get this project out, and we’ve been fortunate to have great advisors helping us out.

Combs has been particularly impressed in the team’s efforts to understand the problem that the app aims to solve – local businesses’ lack of marketing horsepower compared to larger chains.

“They’ve done good boots on the ground research, talking to local business owners and commerce people to understand what business need for this app,” Combs said. “It’s really encouraging that they’ve done this kind of work, because it’s the kind of effort that engineering teams fail at – understanding the problem their technology aims to solve.”

In addition to preparing the app for beta testing in the months to come, members are also gearing up for the university’s annual business plan competition later this semester.

HOP Participates in National Day of Service

Humanities on the Palouse Participates in
National Day of Service

By: Esmeralda Solis Garcia

Inequity is something that is present in many different communities. However, with the help of the newly founded Humanities on the Palouse (HOP) program, WSU students can help these marginalized groups and build their humanities and art-based skills while participating in compensated internships.

The primary mission of HOP is to place WSU humanities and arts students in compensated internship opportunities at organizations in the Palouse area that surrounds Washington State University. Compensation for participation in HOP is provided in the form of an educational stipend administered at the end of service by AmeriCorps. The HOP internships are focused on exploring the link between skills developed in Humanities and Arts coursework and the professions. Skills like critical and creative thinking, adaptation, information literacy, social responsibility, working with diverse groups, empathy, writing, public speaking, translation, textual analysis, teamwork, and leadership. A secondary goal is to address inequity in compensated internship opportunity for women, students of color, queer students, and other marginalized populations.

HOP founder and faculty leader Ruth Gregory states “I read several reports that noted that uncompensated internships did not help a student place into the professions at nearly the same rate at those who did a compensated internship during their time in college. I wanted to address that inequity since service-learning is a major part of the Digital Technology and Culture program.”

In addition to their service at regional sites, AmeriCorps members also come together to do group service projects.  On January 17, 2022, the Humanities on the Palouse group and advisor Ruth Gregory came together to serve at the Inland Oasis West Side Food Pantry on  the National Day of Service to honor the memory of Martin Luther King, Jr. During their time there, the HOP Members got an orientation to the food-pantry, helped paint the walls for the drop-in center, and got some time to talk with members of Inland Oasis about their programs. HOP members also brainstormed with the Inland Oasis about future projects and events for the communities in the Palouse. Also, on hand were additional student volunteers from the WSU Center of Civic Engagement. Together the students and Inland Oasis volunteers put several coats of primer and paint on the walls of the drop-in center.

HOP Member and Inland Oasis Drop-In Center Coordinator Nick Kawaguchi states, “I never noticed that MLK Jr. Day was a service day. I always thought of it as just a day off from school.”

Teamwork, organization, and communication between each member of the HOP team made this day an amazing experience and surely put each student’s skills to work.

More information about the Humanities on the Palouse Program is on their webpage.

Student-created identity stories air on KRFP community radio and online

June T. Sanders and Benjamin Wang work with audio recording equipment in a media laboratory.
June T. Sanders and Benjamin Wang work with audio recording equipment in a media laboratory.

Student-created identity stories air on KRFP community radio and online

By Adriana Aumen, College of Arts and Sciences

The original story was published in the WSU Insider on 1/5/2022. You can check it out here.

What advice would you give to your younger self? How do you know if you’re gay? Which expressions in other languages endure in English speakers’ hearts?Exploring answers to these questions and more was the creative basis of a WSU student-led digital storytelling and technology skills-building project that recently aired on community radio station KRFP and is now accessible online.Seven students in digital technology and culture (DTC) Assistant Professor June T. Sanders’ class last fall conceived, developed and produced the project, applying what they learned about interviewing, scripting, framing and other aspects of creating nonfiction stories while gaining hands-on experience with audio recording and editing equipment.

From humorous to tender and scary to profound, the collected stories provide intimate glimpses into peoples’ actual lives and reflect Sanders’ contention that nonfiction doesn’t have to be dry or presented as documentary to be effective.

“You can work within the realm of real life while still having fantastical narratives and fantastical stories,” she said.

Each student selected their own topic within the theme of identity/identity creation and produced a professional-quality audio narrative using technology in the DTC media laboratory. Sanders, who is an experienced radio producer, combined the individual stories into a seven-part show they called “Underpinnings” as a synonym for foundation.

“We were thinking of solid foundations of identity, foundations of our community, what holds us up, what creates us and what affects how we move through the world,” Sanders said.

Through interviews with friends, family, classmates and strangers, the students examined topics ranging from the hidden struggles even outwardly successful people face to a dad’s philosophy about drinking beer.

In student Jayce Carral’s story, a woman talks about the beginning and end of a years-long friendship with a ghost. Senior Willow Yaple’s story focuses on an interview with her twin sister to explore changes in their identity relationship since they started college.

For her story, psychology senior Clara Peninger asked random passersby how they would counsel their younger selves and recorded some unexpected—and useful—responses.

“A lot of the advice received was something I could apply to my own life, which was definitely a pleasant surprise,” Peninger said.

Leigh Robartes, station manager at KRFP, welcomed the chance to broadcast the students’ work for the Moscow, Idaho–Pullman community and hopes to have similar opportunities in the future.

“It’s rare that we get to air such a densely produced local production,” Robartes said. “It flowed in the podcast-style of storytelling that’s popular these days. For local, volunteer-driven community radio, it’s one of the ideal types of local programming.”

Among Sanders’ goals for the project was providing her students with professional experience and insights about the role of community media and other forms of broadcast and production, including online platforms, that operate outside of giant media conglomerates and corporations.

“It was also intended to encourage thinking about the broader implications of whose story is being told and why—in everything from documentaries to radio stories, video games and TV shows—and understanding how to be contemporary, fresh, critical and poignant when it comes to telling those stories,” she said.

“We live in a pretty saturated media landscape where everyone has a platform and everyone broadcasts their own image most of the time. ‘Underpinnings’ allowed the students to use their skills and abilities and their own life experiences to highlight other people’s stories and lift up other voices—a very useful and important skill to have.”

Yaple, an advertising major minoring in DTC, said the project experience will be useful in her future career.

“Of course, there are the objective skills I gained, such as familiarity with audio editing and interviewing. However, I was also able to develop my narrative-building skills more, which is very appropriate for any creative field I go into. I am currently working toward a career in advertising and graphic design, and both rely on creating stories that audiences will be interested in.”

Students Have Their Portfolios Reviewed at AIGA

DTC Students Have Their Portfolios Reviewed at the
2021 AIGA Portfolio Festival

SIGA Portfolio Website

In July 2021 two DTC Students, Paige McNamara-Pittler and Ciara Parkhurst, were given scholarships to participate in the 2021 American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) Portfolio Festival. On their site, AIGA describes the festival as a chance for: “…students, recent graduates, emerging designers, and those looking to refresh their portfolio. Focused on mentorship, collaboration, and learning, the Portfolio Festival features content from design practitioners, influencers, educators, and partners, who can help you tailor your portfolio to your next opportunity.” The 2021 festival was online, but both Paige and Ciara still found the experience interesting and engaging. Below they elaborate a little more on their personal experiences.

Ciara Parkhurst

The 2021 AIGA Portfolio Festival was filled with insightful presentations and support for emerging students and seasoned professionals alike. Specifically, I had the pleasure of receiving constructive feedback from Oona Stern, VP Design Director at Nickelodeon. Her experience as a creative professional brought a refreshing perspective and critical perception to my constantly changing portfolio. Some memorable feedback relayed includes suggestions for enhancing my professional portfolio, such as scaling back on the number of works included in my portfolio. As we further discussed the portfolio, she mentioned that some works were more memorable than others because of their uniqueness and creativity. Often in visual communication, there are layouts and compositions that are mundane or predictable – she encouraged me to extend past the obvious or expected and take a project “as far as it can go.” Overall, Oona’s responses have propelled my design and visual communication comprehension, while also posing critical advice necessary for acquiring a positive future in the design community.

Paige McNamara-Pittler

I recently had the privilege of attending the 2021 AIGA Portfolio Festival. As a designer, my portfolio is a very important part of my job application. During my time in college, I was able to create many pieces that demonstrate my design skills. At the AIGA portfolio festival, I was given support from professional designers, educators, and industry leaders to enhance my portfolio. The festival included a week-long series of keynote speakers. After each talk, there was the opportunity to have a live review of your portfolio. I found these sessions especially useful because I was able to get inspiration from other designers and learned about different critique processes. The best part of the festival was my private review session, where I was matched with a professional designer and given feedback on my portfolio. We discussed aspects such as page layouts, and the content that I should edit. In the session, we also worked on a new User Interface (UI) for my portfolio that will optimize the employer experience. Lastly, the reviewer and I also discussed how to create case studies for my UI/UX projects. Overall, the mentorship, feedback, and advice I have received on my portfolio has given me the confidence to apply for high-level jobs.

Play Games with DTC During Family Weekend

Play Games with DTC During Family Weekend

By: Ruth Gregory

The Digital Technology and Culture program at WSU is proud to present video games and interactive media created by our students on Friday April 9th from 5pm – 6:30pm during the Spring 2021 Family Weekend. All the games can be played on a computer from the cloud, no additional hardware is required. The event will happen over Zoom and you can join the meeting here.

The Digital Technology and Culture (DTC) program emphasizes creative production and critical exploration of digital technology across multiple contexts. Students in DTC develop skills in web design, animation, graphic design, video production, augmented and virtual reality, and other emerging technology while integrating cultural, social, and historical perspectives, diverse methodologies, and inclusive frameworks.

More information about the games and interactive media will be posted on this page closer to the event.

D.L.S.

Created by Evie Caldwell, Aache’ Howard-McDaniel, Laurel Kroschel, and Maren Martin

 

Course
DTC 475: Digital Diversity

Assignment
For the final assignment in the spring 2018 version of Digital Diversity, students were placed into small groups and asked to create a game that addressed an intersectional issue.

Winner – DTC Award for Excellence in Interactive Technology and Development (2019)

 

 

DTC 492 Video Games

Embracing the history of interactive cinema, choose your own adventure stories and text-based adventure games students utilized Twine, the open-source tool for telling interactive, nonlinear stories to create their own interactive branching narratives or text-based games. Each work focused on giving the viewer some sense of agency, even if it is a false sense of agency and breaking from a linear structure.

“Staying with Grandma”

Created by Kristine Zorn

 

“Archeology Adventure”

Created by Bethany Loomis

 

“The Pearl”

Created by Melissa Hookey

Alumni Virtually Visit Senior Seminar

DTC Alumni Virtually Visit the Senior Seminar to Talk

About How the Pandemic Has Changed the Workplace

Alumni virtually visiting the senior seminar class on Microsoft Teams

By: Ruth Gregory

Four different Digital Technology and Culture Alumni popped into the Senior Seminar on October 28th to provide insight into how the global pandemic has affect searching for and securing a job. Brandon Sanders (middle left in the photo), Rachel Ring (middle center), Julia Midkiff (center right), and Lillie Williams (lower right) all graduated in December of 2019 with degrees in Digital Technology and Culture and have been working from afar at their first jobs out of college.

Rachel Ring is the Marketing Assistant at GLY Construction and spent exactly one week in the office before being sent home to work from there in March of 2020. She said that although it has been challenging getting acclimated to a new position without much face-to-face training time, she still finds it very possible to have a great working experience virtually.

Julia Midkiff is a Junior Graphic Designer at PitchBook Data, a job she interviewed for and got after the pandemic had begun. Julia noted that the interview process included more pre-hire testing than during a normal year. This is because it is difficult for future employers to pick up on a candidate’s body language during an interview over a videoconference. Companies are keen on finding a candidate that is a good fit before they hire; especially since new employees will be working from afar right off the bat for the time being.

Lillie Williams, who graduated from WSU with a double major in Digital Technology and Culture and Strategic Communication, just started a position as a Digital Advertising Coordinator at Tavour, a craft beer gifting company. Lillie also completed an internship with Boeing during the pandemic. From her own experience, Lillie noted that there are vast differences between workplace cultures, even when you work from a distance. Some of her advice to the seniors was to make sure that you match the company culture and tone as much as you can in your application materials.

Brandon Sanders is an Associate Marketing Manager at HubSpot, a company specializing in marketing software and support. This is actually his second position that he has acquired since the pandemic started. He noted that you don’t need to take the first offer than comes along. You also don’t need to stay if you don’t feel that the company culture or city fits your needs. His overall message was to really think about what you want before you start searching for a position and to value yourself during the process.

It is always great to hear from our alumni, new and old. If you have a story you want to share then please reach out to us at dtc@wsu.edu.

Dallas Pushes for Student-Athlete Rights

DTC Student Dallas Hobbs Pushes
for Student-Athlete Rights

By: Ruth Gregory

WSU Football Defensive Lineman Dallas Hobbs blocks an opposing player on the fieldOver summer 2020, Digital Technology and Culture senior and Washington State University football player, Dallas Hobbs made waves nationally as student-athletes started asking questions about the safety protocols the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) and individual schools had in place for sports during the COVID-19 pandemic. The questions about the health and safety of the players then spurred additional conversation about student-athlete rights and the responsibilities of the NCAA and college athletic departments towards their participants.

Around July 1st, after training had begun for the 2020 football season, Dallas was contacted by Dylan Boles, a former football colleague from Dallas’ home state of Iowa who plays for Stanford. He wanted to know what WSU was doing to protect the safety of football players against contracting coronavirus; especially since football is such a high contact sport. Together they started reaching out to other players they knew across the nation to see what protocols were in place in their programs to ensure their health and safety. Large discrepancies immediately emerged and it became apparent that there was no uniform plan in place to protect athletes.A graphic covering the #weareunited and #wewanttoplay demands for the 2020 college football season

Simultaneously, players on two seemingly different sides of the issue started expressing their feelings and concerns about the upcoming Fall 2020 season via social media. One group wanted to play (and used hashtag #wewanttoplay) and the other wanted to sit the season out because they were concerned about their safety and the rapid spread of the virus (#weareunited). Dallas said that this was a false dichotomy. After discussion amongst the players, who were starting to talk more and more across programs behind-the-scenes, Dallas ended up creating a graphic that showed how the two sides were actually united at their core. The graphic spread like wildfire over social media to the point it was even retweeted by Donald Trump.

Since the release of the graphic, Dallas has emerged as a leader in the movement for student-athlete rights. He’s been interviewed by The Seattle TImes, NPR, profiled in Sports Illustrated, and appeared twice on ESPN “Outside the Lines.” He’s also been in contact with Senator Cory Booker from New Jersey. Dallas and several of his colleagues were asked to give feedback about their experiences as collegiate athletes; including proposed legislation that would allow them to make money off their name, image, and likeness. Currently, any money made off of jersey sales and other items linked to a player goes back to the school they play for or the NCAA. The College Bill of Rights, amongst other things, would allow players to earn money off their likeness. Booker is, himself, a former high school All-American and Stanford football player and understands the issues well.

Ultimately, Dallas and other collegiate football players want to create a College Football Players Association so they have representation at the table while big decisions are being made, like whether to play in a pandemic. This is not an unusual request, professional sports like the National Basketball Association and the National Football Association already have Players Associations. Creation of a Players Association was just one on a long list of requests that included things like: health insurance coverage up to 6 years after a player graduated and the promise of 6 years of scholarship funding so athletes had more time to finish their degrees since taking a full load during their athletic season is difficult and often delays graduation. One of their other requests is also important to Dallas: “End racial justice and inequity in college sports and society… Since the Pack-12 is a non-profit and they do have a lot of money coming in… we wanted them to give away like 2% of what they make to non-profit or community initiatives or after-school programs or something in lower income communities. That 2% could go a long way.”

Several conferences have decided to move forward with fall sports. However, on August 11, 2020 the Pac-12 CEO Group announced the cancelation of the 2020 football season as well as all sporting activity through the end of the year. That means WSU athletes will not be competing this Fall. The Big 10 conference has cancelled their fall sports as well. Football practice at WSU has been suspended.

However, the connections made during this time will live on. Dallas says that he and many college football players are now in a 450+ group member chat where they discuss a lot of things, including their love of football and desire to get back on the field when it is safe to do so again.

Dallas states that his time as a double major in the Digital Technology and Culture program and Fine Arts program at WSU prepared him well for the challenges of working with a wide variety of people to get out a clear message about their concerns. Aside from putting the graphic design skills he’s learned to use, Dallas also used his skills analyzing data that he picked up in DTC courses to make sense of the massive spreadsheets that the players were using to track peer responses to a survey. “We tracked what schools were wanting to participate and what schools were agreeing to things,” Dallas said, “[Data analysis] is not one thing that I ever really liked. My main goal was to get a graphic design degree. But the variety of courses in DTC is really helpful.”

Already an honor roll student and with the football season cancelled, Dallas now has a lot of time on his hands. To help fill his schedule, he has decided to buy a rug gun and start designing his own textiles. To check out more about Dallas Hobbs’ football career, creative work, and possibly some examples of his new hobby making rugs, you can follow him on Instagram or Twitter.

Message from DTC Director Kim Christen

Message from DTC Director Kim Christen

By: Kim Christen

Welcome back students, faculty and staff! I know that this semester is different in form than others, but I can assure you that we are all dedicated to providing the same great DTC experience! All DTC faculty spent the summer gearing up for remote instruction, updating and adapting existing courses. DTC faculty are adept at moving between platforms and they know the value of human interaction and engagement through and with technology. We got this! And we are here to support you in every way we can.

We have 34 sections of DTC classes with offerings across all of our tracks that fulfill both major and UCORE requirements. We continue to make student success our highest priority. Over the Fall semester we will take care to provide opportunities to celebrate our passions and creativity and to connect with one another.

My takeaway from living in this time of uncertainty and change is to continue to remember what makes DTC so valuable: our humanity. Technology can be mobilized to lift people up, connect us over distances, and provide solace from stressful situations. Take care of yourselves. Be safe. We are here and ready to go!

Go Cougs!

New Faculty Member June T Sanders

DTC Welcomes New Faculty Member June T. Sanders

By: Max Ciot

A portrait of June Sanders from a computer screen with purple around it

This fall, the Digital Technology and Culture program gained not only one, but two new faculty members. One of these faculty members is June T. Sanders, who has years of experience in topics such as community outreach, online platforms, digital spaces, photography, graphic design, and more. 

June got her undergrad degree in Media studies. Afterwards, she studied at WSU to get her Master’s degree in Photography and Digital Media.

This semester, June will be bringing her rich personality to the DTC department by teaching DTC 201: Tools and Methods for Digital Technology. She will also be teaching DTC 354: Digital Storytelling and DTC 476: Digital Literacies. In the future, June wishes to teach a variation on a digital literature course pertaining to queer/trans culture and how issues on identity interact in the digital space. 

Before coming to WSU, June worked for KYRS (Spokane’s Community Radio Station) as an Event Coordinator for a year and a half. June also did community outreach and fundraising for the arts at the same time for an amount of time. June has many different backgrounds. She is mainly an artist, writer, and curator. She also writes reviews, journals, and curates different shows from around the country. Furthermore, she is a photographer and graphic designer for a multitude of years. Her media studies degree combined with contemporary art culture and online platforms for creative works will fit together well within the DTC department.

June’s favourite project that she has worked on is still in progress. It is being put together with a collaborator and is focused on contemporary photography online. She also did a few bigger shows and took pictures in Boston and Spokane. June uses her platform to fundraise money as well, such as for marginalized folks within the COVID-19 epidemic. Her current curatorial project can be found at: https://fromhereonout.net/.

For fun, June enjoys picking flowers, riding motorcycles, reading and writing poetry, sending letters to friends and loved ones, swimming in big, vast bodies of water, and playing banjo.

June also has a website which can be found at JuneTSanders.com.

Recent tragedies a call for self‑examination

Recent tragedies a call for self‑examination

Washington State University entrance sign at sunset

Denouncing racial violence and the ugliness of historic, systemic inequality, President Kirk Schulz and the university’s executive leadership pledged greater accountability in confronting racial and social justice failures.

“We must consider our own roles in maintaining systemic racism and accepting racial violence, even when it makes us uncomfortable,” a letter from the university system’s executive leadership team reads. “When our actions are informed by the truth of others, we can move forward, together, courageously and realize the aspirations of racial and social justice. Only then can we begin to create an authentic space from which to proceed.”

In addition to Schulz, the letter was signed by interim Provost Bryan Slinker, incoming Provost Elizabeth Chilton and all chancellors and vice presidents.

The complete message can be viewed online.