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Transportation, Clean Water Films Among 1st Round Contest Winners

The prize-winning video in the first-ever CEEatGT foreCAST competition suggests using consumer and mobile-phone data to improve the way we plan our transportation systems.

(Read more from all of the winners and see their films below.)

Recent graduate Josephine Kressner, Ph.D. ’14, suggests that combining those two sources of data could provide a cheaper, more accurate picture of how and where people travel than the current approach, which involves expensive household travel surveys collected every decade or so.

“Videos create buzz. Everyone enjoys watching an entertaining video. I have an idea that I want others to hear about, so when the competition came up it made sense to make one,” Kressner said.

She had produced a similar video before, which she said gave her a head start. And now Kressner plans to use the $3,000 prize money to invest in Transport Foundry, a company she has created to research how feasible her idea is in the real world.

Three other video-makers received $2,000 each as runners-up in the foreCAST competition. They showcased a clean-water project in Uganda, a safer and less-polluting way of cooking in Nicaragua, and the need for sustainable transportation solutions. (See the four winning entries and read more from the filmmakers below.)

Anika Dhamo and Heidi Vreeland used their video to highlight their Engineers Without Borders (EWB-GT) project creating a new cook stove for Nicaraguans.

“We needed to acquire funding and increase awareness of what we will be doing,” Vreeland said. “The video competition has been a great opportunity to address some of our needs in successfully launching our new EWB program.”

Vreeland and Dhamo donated their winnings toward a return trip to Nicaragua, where they will assess how their new stoves are working. Annie McGrew and Jessie Spruill also gave their prize money to EWB-GT to support the clean-water project in Uganda that was their film’s focus. The other runner-up. Jonathan DiGioia, paid student fees with his winnings and supported friends on a summer mission trip.

The second round of the foreCAST initiative is now open. Each qualifying team receives a $1,000 initial stipend to support the production of their video.

 


“Transportation Planning: The Idea” by Josephine (Josie) Kressner
Why did you want to do a video in the first place?

Videos create buzz. Everyone enjoys watching an entertaining video. I have an idea that I want others to hear about, so when the competition came up it made sense to make one.

Did you have any experience with film or short videos beforehand?
I created an 8-minute video previously for a similarly-motivated competition: George Mason University's Outside the Box Competition. It was a very rewarding experience. Learning how to create the video that first time was a bit chaotic. I didn't leave enough time to learn the Adobe software products so it was a lot of trial and error surrounded by Google and YouTube searches.

How did you select your topic?
The video I created summarizes an idea I've been working on for about a year now in my spare time. I graduated last May and have started Transport Foundry to actually research the feasibility of the idea.

What was the experience like? How long did it take?
I spent about three solid days on it. Given that I had created a similar video before, I'd say I had a head start though. It also helped that my significant other has a lot of experience reading scripts for radio! That saved a lot of time.

What will you do with your prize money/stipend?
I plan to use the money as capital for Transport Foundry, purchasing computers and other equipment that will help my team and I actually test the idea I presented in the video.

What would you say to someone who’s considering participating in Round 2? Why should they get involved?
It is a great creative outlet, fun and rewarding. If you have a great idea but feel like you lack the creative skills, team up with someone who has them.



“Nicaragua: Clean Cooking Solutions” by Heidi Vreeland and Anika Dhamo
Why did you want to do a video in the first place?

Heidi: This past spring semester, our Engineers Without Borders chapter added a new program in Nicaragua, and we will be taking our first assessment trip to the community this August. To prepare for our trip, we needed to acquire funding and increase awareness of what we will be doing--this is especially challenging for a new project. The CEE foreCAST video competition has been a great opportunity to address some of our needs in successfully launching our new EWB program.

Did you have any experience with film or short videos beforehand?
Neither Anika nor I had ever worked with videos before, but Anika thought it sounded like a lot of fun and she took on the responsibility of directing the video. Luckily, she discovered that Jimmy Tang (a member of our EWB-GT Nicaragua program) had edited videos before. Jimmy and Anika are the central contributors to the video's completion.

What was the experience like? How long did it take?
The experience of creating a video was really enjoyable. Early on in the semester, a small group led by Anika was created to work on the video initiative. During these group meetings, we determined video concept, music, the schedule for filming. The actually filming occurred during one of our stove tests over a period of about four hours. Jimmy edited the video within the next week.

Would you do it again?
Absolutely. I think it would be really interesting to follow up on how our understanding of the project has changed and grown after taking the assessment trip this August.

What will you do with your prize money?
All of the money was donated to fund our August assessment trip.

What would you say to someone who’s considering participating in Round 2? Why should they get involved?
The CEE foreCAST video competition is a fantastic exercise for anyone interested in using their skills to make the world a better place. It could be a platform for exploring a new topic of interest or for telling your story.



“Stop motion: Sustainable Transportation” by Jonathan DiGioia
Why did you want to do a video in the first place?

I hadn't taken many opportunities to exercise my creativity through video-making since being at Georgia Tech, and this sounded like a fun chance to do it again. It certainly didn't hurt that the contest offered a stipend just for entering, which I saw as a great way to help afford my last semester of mandatory student fees without dipping into the red. The stipend is honestly probably what pushed me over the edge to make the time commitment to actually enter, and once I made up my mind, I really got into it and wanted to make something that would be really good and that I would stand behind.

Did you have any experience with film or short videos beforehand?
I had made probably 10-20 short videos before, mostly during high school. Genres ranged from advertisements to lip-sync videos to action/adventure to documentary. Nearly all were comedic in one form or another. I had made only one stop-motion video before my CEE foreCAST submission, and it was for a Georgia Tech construction management class.

How did you select your topic?
I wanted to make a video about sustainable transportation because that's what I'm passionate about. Transportation is my focus as a civil engineering masters candidate, and this video sums up many of the things I have learned and thought about over the past few years.

What was the experience like? How long did it take?
This video probably took about 20-25 hours to make. My wife will tell you it involved lots of cutting little shapes out of construction paper, and she graciously helped me, too.

What will you do with your prize money?
I used the stipend [and] prize money to pay my summer student fees and to support some friends of mine who are going on an overseas mission trip.

What would you say to someone who’s considering participating in Round 2? Why should they get involved?
I would encourage them to do it if they think they are willing to put the time into making a good submission. If you're just interested for the prize money, forget it. But if you've got something good to say and want to use your creativity to say it, then go for it. Just get organized [and] allow plenty of time for trial and error.

 


“Oloo, Uganda: Solar-powered Clean Water Distribution System” by Annie McGrew and Jessie Spruill
McGrew is an intern this summer in Washington D.C. and was unavailable for an interview.