Written by: Gillianne Ross ‘22
With the Spring semester coming to a close, the Emergent Media Center (EMC) is reflecting back on its progress over the past few months. We have continued to push forward and look with an eye toward future endeavors despite the change in circumstances due to Covid-19. EMC staff, student workers, and interns have been working from home since mid-March, but that has not stopped us from producing some wonderful projects. As we wrap things up for this semester and prepare to move into summer, it is a perfect time to look back and see how we have adapted and grown over the last few months.
Our project teams have been busy as usual this spring; working with a range of partners to produce ski/snowboard engagement concepts, new ways to help improve medical coding systems, and much more. Even though our usual office locations changed, our commitment to our projects and teammates did not. Here is a look at what a few of our teams are working on and how they have persevered.
When things turn on their heads it can be a challenge to stay motivated and engaged with your work. Our teams at the EMC were faced with this additional obstacle that was not in their original game plans. However, team members came together and figured out a way to stay on track and get excited about the work they were doing. Gearing to Go, a team with the mission to create engagement concepts that will get people interested and invested in learning how to ski and snowboard, was able to smoothly transition to remote work. The project needed little adjustment for remote work in order to move forward, away from “the wonderful working environment that is the EMC,” as group leader Carter Ivancic put it, but they continued to make steady progress.
One of our other project teams, DigiPets, worked through multiple readjustments to their project. Through this all, the group kept an attention to detail and an enthusiasm for their work. “Seeing how our team adapted to challenges, and began to pivot their development towards what worked, and experimenting with what we had working was really rewarding to see,” said Austin Roorda, the team’s producer. Some of the adjustments to the team’s game were made to fit the EMC’s outlook, while others were to accommodate the present situation. Regardless, the project proved interesting and engaging to team programmer RJ Bourdelais. The team artist for DigiPets, Alex Goodman, noted that, “The team provides a positive atmosphere for growing as a professional. My favorite aspect was the chance to develop my skills in the areas I’m passionate about in a constructive setting.”
Looking at the bright side of a situation can help in numerous ways. Keeping an open mind and thinking of innovative solutions is what the EMC is all about. Our team, Carbon Neutrality Reality, has been making progress with their project with just that idea in mind. Despite moving to remote work, group leader Brenna Anderson says, “As a group we are really optimistic about what we want to achieve in and beyond this semester.” The team took advantage of video calls, and while they miss the ability to consult and brainstorm in person, they continue to uphold their weekly meetings. To help with communication and to keep up team spirit they also added a short midweek check in as well.
One of our teams, Project EGG, has made tremendous progress on their game this semester. The game “combines interesting visuals with a strong message for environmental awareness, one that we all believe in spreading,” said group leader Anna Margotta. The group’s passion has been evident through the development process. Reflecting back on the semester, Anna noted, “It’s important that we work to make sure we leave those [after us] a world they can thrive on. This game is one step to making sure that message gets heard, and more people will be willing to make change happen.”
The EMC prides itself on its welcoming and community-oriented work space. Even though we cannot all be together at this moment in time, it doesn’t mean that we are not there for each other in other ways. Leah Peterson, who is a group leader for our Holy Name Medical Center team, mentioned that “the EMC remains as a way to connect with our peers, and I know the video meetings have raised my spirits on several occasions.” The team meets 1-4 times each week to plan, collaborate, and support each other. To help work around the issues of stress and to maintain morale, Leah said, “We’ve taken to making group work meetings where we all work simultaneously to try and keep each other motivated, as well as hold each other accountable.”
A new art mobile will be installed in the EMC shortly. The mobile, which is made up of flowers created from acrylic plastic, old metal side holders, and discarded CDs, will be hung in the main workspace of the Emergent Media Center. Carly Freeman, Visual Communications ‘21, came up with the concept after familiarizing herself with the laser cutter at the Generator. “I always wanted to make something bigger than just earrings [out of acrylic] and working at the EMC gave me the perfect opportunity to do that.”
By mixing old materials with new ones, Carly was able to create an up-cycled beauty. “I just love flowers and thought it’d be cool to make something that is considered soft out of a hard material.” The mobile went through a few adjustments before it hit its final form. “I changed hanging the individual flowers from chicken wire to making [three] large acrylic circles where clusters of the flowers would be hanging from copper wire,” Carly said. As the semester wraps up, the mobile is ready to be installed as soon as it is possible. Reflecting back on the creation process Carly commented that, “it is cool to recognize what I expected from the project and what it evolved into. Not everything goes to plan and that’s okay. I think that is sort of the spirit we have in the EMC. It is all about iterations and experimenting.”
Having a good workspace and planning out how to move forward on projects never fails to help productivity. Our EMC interns, like the rest of the team, are remote and had to maneuver this transition while staying positive and on top of things. Isabella King is one of our intern mentors, along with Audrey Waggoner, who helps guide the exploration and collaborations of other EMC interns. Isabella realized that the best way for her to make the most of a new work environment meant keeping to a schedule and finding a balance between work and freetime. “Removing distractions from a work area is also immensely helpful,” Isabella added.
Audrey Waggoner, Professional Writing ‘21, has found the silver lining in working from home. “I enjoy remote work because it’s nice to work on my own schedule, and everyone on my team is great about communicating and checking in to make sure we’re all on track.” With a plan already in place for projects throughout the semester, Audrey was able to stick with that framework “only with the knowledge our work was going to be 100% remote going forward.” To make the most of the work day she found a break schedule that optimizes her attention span. “On longer workdays, I will occasionally use the Pomodoro Technique, which is where you work for 25 minutes and take a break for [five] minutes, and repeat for about four intervals, and then take a longer break for about 20 minutes. It’s so helpful, especially if you, like me, are prone to getting distracted by texts or emails—when I first tried this technique I was amazed by how much I accomplished in a day.”
With spring behind us, the EMC is growing excited about the new opportunities that will arise with the summer. Even though our work environment has changed and team members are a bit farther from each other than before, the EMC community is still keeping its values close to their heart: connection, experience, and creativity.