Louisiana Tech Wins First IEEE-USA Student Video Contest

Contest challenged student members to create a 90-second video to show that engineering is exciting

7 April 2008

IEEE Student Members Emile Frey and Ben Toler, electrical engineering undergrads at Louisiana Tech University, in Ruston, took first place in a new video contest sponsored by IEEE-USA.

The contest challenged student members to create a 90-second video to be posted on YouTube, aimed at youngsters aged 11 to 13, that would show that engineering is exciting and beneficial. Frey and Toler’s film portrayed engineers not as suspender-wearing, pocket-protector-clad geeks but as “normal people who want to change the world,” says Toler. For their efforts, Frey and Toler will split a $2500 prize that will go toward their tuition.

Frey is an electrical engineering major and a computer science minor, and Toler is double majoring in electrical engineering and physics. They plan to graduate in 2009.

Toler penned the script, and Frey edited the footage they filmed as well as clips freely available on the Internet, using skills he picked up over the past few years from online video-editing tutorials. Their video, which features careers in amusement-park design and automotive design, gaming robotics, and space exploration, turned out to be just what the judges were looking for.

The deadline for submissions was 18 January, and winners were announced on 21 February during National Engineers Week. Frey says that he and Toler created their video the weekend just before the deadline.

“Our entry took us an entire weekend to film,” Frey says. “We were aware of the contest around Thanksgiving, but it wasn’t until the pressure hit us that we decided to finally begin filming.”

The clip sends an important message about engineering, Frey says. “I wanted the audience to realize they have the ability to choose a career that can lead them to improve the world they live in.” The duo’s entry can be seen at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UZM779jJJFo.

This isn’t the first film created by the pair to promote engineering and the IEEE. They made one last September to generate interest in their student branch (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2dBlP-_heYQ). The video combined information about the benefits of joining the IEEE with funny skits performed by Frey, Toler, and student members Matthew Bean and Livia Cruz.

“It was definitely exciting when an entire room full of people broke out into laughter at one of our skits,” Toler says about the film’s first screening at the Louisiana Tech’s student branch’s first meeting of the year. “We were pretty nervous because it was our first production.” The branch attracted about 40 new recruits in 2007, double the previous year’s total.

However, these films won’t be their last. Frey and Toler are adding more skits to the student branch video, and they also plan to enter next year’s IEEE-USA video contest.

“This time we’ll start a lot earlier with writing and filming so that we can produce an even better video,” Frey says.

HONORABLE MENTIONS Yi Lien Pei, a civil engineering undergrad at the University of Florida, in Gainesville, took second place and received a $2000 scholarship. Her entry was set to a poem that highlighted engineering careers in automotive design, cosmetics, fashion, and structural design. You can see the video at http://www.youtube.com//watch?v=f6r10TMVJ3w.

Samuel Chanjaplammootil, Kevin Hooper, and Michael Jaco, electrical engineering undergrads from Texas Tech University, in Lubbock, came in third. They received $1500 for their video demonstrating their work with robots, electric automobiles, and other technologies. To view it, visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iaHmU0wT0Rg.

Student members Nate Ball, Suzette Presas, and Andrew Quecan judged the videos on content, delivery, and creativity. Ball hosts PBS’s engineering TV show, Design Squad, which will feature the winning video on its Web site, http://pbskids.org/designsquad/. Presas and Quecan are electrical engineering grad students at the University of South Florida, in Tampa.

IEEE-USA will present the awards at its annual meeting to be held from 25 through 27 April in Indianapolis. The three videos are available at http://www.ieeeusa.org/communications/video_competition/. Members who want copies of the videos may contact IEEE-USA’s senior public relations counselor, Pender McCarter, at p.mccarter@ieee.org.

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