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Using Ingenuity: ACU Team Wins in Destination Imagination Competition

In May, ACU’s SITC had its first team compete at the Global Finals tournament of Destination Imagination in Knoxville, TN, winning first place in the Maze Craze category at the university level.

Destination Imagination, or DI as its most often referred to, is a gathering of over 8,000 elementary through university aged students from more than 15 countries around the world. Centered on creativity, the event allows student finalists the opportunity to display their inventive solutions in the areas of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics), as well as service learning and improvisation. Collin Blanchard, one of the ACU team members who participated, talked to us about the experience.

“DI is essentially, to my understanding, a place to participate in challenges of various types and to grow as a team. I had never heard of DI before, but Korbin Ancell had participated in it for something like 10 years. He told us about it and we decided we could do it at the university level.” Collin went on to explain how the challenge works.

“Each of the levels of competition was pretty similar, especially for us. At each level, we decided to keep our project mostly the same. The part that changed the most was our maze solver, the robot. At the regional level, a last minute change broke the robot entirely, so we had to resort to a remote controlled toy to complete the challenge. At state, our full solution was still not working, so we just controlled our robot with a remote, but at least it wasn’t a toy this time. At global, we had the full solution working, with a camera connected to a raspberry pi and codes that the camera would read to solve the maze and drive the robot for us. Unfortunately, when we arrived at the actual location, the noise from all of the Bluetooth and the glare from a light on our camera meant that we had to resort to driving the robot with a remote again. Our skit stayed the same through all of the levels, aside from missing Isaak at Globals since he started a new job. One last change was the song that we sang during the skit. At regionals, the song was our own lyrics to the tune of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”. At State and Globals, it was a completely original song that Virginia Pettit and one of our teammates, Matt, wrote together. The skit told the story of unlikely pirates finding buried treasure and teaching a real pirate that friendship is the greatest treasure of all.”

Collin encourages others to participate in this event. “This was a really fun opportunity. If other students have a group that they get along well with and have an idea for one of the challenges, they should go for it! Even if they don’t win, it is a really good chance to build teamwork and use skills outside of the classroom setting.”

Learn more about Destination Imagination here.

 

SITC Celebrates Graduates at Senior Dinner

Faculty and staff of the SITC celebrated with graduates and their families at a dinner at Lytle Land & Cattle Company on Friday night. It was a time for those in attendance to celebrate milestones, reflect on their educational journey, and recognize talented students and faculty.

Faculty awarded outstanding seniors for the following:

Charlie Velazquez, Digital Entertainment Technology major, received the Inspiring Leadership Award with faculty members saying, “Over the last two years, he has distinguished himself with his attention to detail in creating incredible 3D models.  He has inspired an entire group of underclassmen to a higher standard of game development.”

 

Collin Blanchard, Computer Science major, received the Award for Commitment and Resiliency. When asked about Collin, faculty said, “During his time at ACU, this student has shown great determination and willingness to learn whatever was asked of him. He has approached difficult problems with a consistently positive attitude and has made a positive impact on students around him.”

John Wolfe, Information Technology major, received the Pursuit of Excellence Award. Faculty said about John, “Over the past four years, he has distinguished himself among his peers as someone with a positive attitude and a persistent drive to search for and find answers. His motivation, perseverance and relentless pursuit of excellence has been evident in all that he does. He never gives up, even with the most complex problems and serves as an example to many.”

Korbin Ancell, Computer Science major, received the Application and Ingenuity Award. Faculty said of Korbin, “He is always involved with multiple projects both inside and outside the classroom in addition to working 2 to 3 part-time jobs. His exceptional curiosity has made him both a great student in the classroom, as well as leading him to accomplish a wide range of inventive projects of his own inspiration. He has developed a reputation around campus as the “go-to student” who can help with a wide range of technical projects.”

Alani Peters, Computer Science major, received the Research Dedication Award. Faculty said this about the final award recipient, “During her time at ACU, she has rigorously applied herself to the pursuit of research. She has contributed to each project through countless hours of hard work and has seen the fruits of her labor as publications in highly respected conferences with her professors and her peers.”

University Scholars, George Bush, Caleb Martin, and Nevan Simone were recognized at the dinner as well. These students were nominated by department faculty and recognized overall by the university as “excelling in scholarly activity appropriate to their disciplines.” Only fifty ACU students are recognized each year and this year, three of them are graduating from SITC.

Dr. John Homer received this year’s SITC Teacher of the Year award, presented by last year’s winner, Dr. James Prather. The Teacher of the Year award is voted on by all students in the School of IT and Computing. Students had this to say about Dr. Homer: “He is an incredible professor who cares about his students and takes the time to make sure the information is understood. He is an example of humility, Christian leadership, and quiet compassion. He’s also brilliant, an avid learner, and incredibly funny (but don’t tell him that). Dr. Homer somehow makes running the department, delivering polished lectures, and leaving time for family look easy.  His professionalism and kindness toward both students and faculty is truly inspiring.  I can think of nobody more deserving of this recognition.”

Congratulations to the award winners and to all of the graduating students in the School of Information Technology and Computing. Go change the world, Wildcats!

For a complete look at the pictures from the SITC dinner, click on this link.

 

The Graduating Class of 2018 Gives Advice to Incoming Freshmen

Graduation is nearing and it’s the time of year we sadly bid adieu to our graduating seniors. We are proud of their accomplishments and we’d like to introduce you to a few of them on this blog, letting you know how their time at ACU has molded them, where they are headed after graduation, and what advice they have to the new freshmen class coming in the fall. 

 

Darius Bell, Computer Science major from Frisco, Texas

After graduation, I am moving to Indianapolis, Indiana to work as an Associate Software Developer for a company called Infosys. I am mostly excited about the new adventure set before me along with its challenges.

My favorite memory at ACU was during the spring semester of my sophomore year. My friends and I would go to Lake Fort Phantom and have bonfires on Friday nights.

My favorite class was the Digital Photography Course with Nil Santana. Photography is a hobby of mine and getting a chance to expound upon that hobby has been really fun.

Advice I would give to freshmen would be two things. The first is that they should make the most of their opportunities with their professors. Go to the professor’s office, attend their tutoring sessions, ask all the questions – even the dumb ones…okay, not all of the dumb ones, but you get the point. Maximize your learning potential. The second piece of advice I’d give is that God can be found anywhere. It doesn’t take a private Christian university for one to find him, just seek and you will find. That being said, it is really easy to get comfortable and complacent in this Christian environment and if one is not careful, you might miss the chance to experience genuine relationship and community while you’re here. Be alert and ever seeking His face.

 

Alani Peters, Computer Science major from Montgomery, Texas

I will be a Software Developer for USAA in Plano, Tx. I am excited to apply all that I have learned in my four years here at ACU & for no more homework.

My favorite experience at ACU would be Study Abroad. I went to Leipzig, Germany and absolutely loved being immersed in the culture.

My favorite class was HCI 1 and/or 2 (Human Computer Interaction). These classes gave me a passion for HCI and lead to me doing research in this field of work.

I would advise freshmen to get to know the people around them. Whether it is in the dorms or in classes, the people you surround yourself with is so important and will have such an impact on your time at ACU and in the future.

 

Isaak Ramirez, Computer Science major from El Paso, Texas

I’m moving to Denton, TX to begin my exciting job as a Software Support Analyst with a company called Austin Lane Technologies. I am extremely excited to be able to be completely self-sufficient! Also, being able to afford an apartment that I can have to myself sounds amazing.

I have had so many fond memories with the people I have met at ACU, that it is basically impossible to just pick one. Meeting my SITC friends at the DeLano house was definitely a staple of my ACU experience.

Dr. Homer’s Algorithms class was one of the most challenging classes I have ever taken, but it was extremely educational. While I may have not always “enjoyed” doing several weekly homework assignments, I am able to look back at the class fondly.

For any freshman, do not be afraid to ask for help, especially at a place like ACU. Many of your professors and classmates are very willing to help you through any problem you may be facing!

 

John Wolfe, Information Technology major from The Woodlands, Texas

I’m currently interviewing with a few companies and am hopeful that I will have a job soon! I am most excited about having no more homework.

My favorite memory of ACU is actually about to happen: graduation.

My favorite class at ACU was Intro to Philosophy with Randy Harris. It was the most enlightening course that has helped me in my walk with Christ.

My advice to incoming freshmen would be to find your passion as soon as possible. Once you do, you’ll want to do nothing but strive towards the dream.

 

Congratulations to the class of 2018! As Minor Meyers said, “Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.”