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University IT program takes flight after win at Missouri Academy of Science competition

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From left to right: MU IT team members, Chad Godsey, Adam Kunkel and Erica Brewer pose for a photo at the competition last April at Southern Missouri State University.

The University of Missouri College of Engineering’s Information Technology department captured their first student award, and the win has boosted more than just the competitors’ morale.

Four MU students participated in the Missouri Academy of Science collegiate division paper competition last April at Southern Missouri State University. Undergraduate students from universities and colleges in the state of Missouri are annually invited to participate in the contest by presenting a paper of their interest from one of the fields of agriculture, biological sciences, biochemistry, chemistry, geosciences, physics-engineering/computer science, or social and behavioral sciences.

University seniors Adam Kunkel, Chad Godsey, Bob Murell, Erica Brewer and Advisor Chip Gubera entered the Physics-Engineering/Computer Science division. The team composed a presentation of their capstone class assignment titled “2-D animation in a 3-D environment using videogame design and visual effects technology.”

The topic was chosen because of the success of adult-oriented cartoons such as South Park, The Simpsons, and Family Guy. The team stated in their introduction, “With this growing demand for content comes the need for innovative methods of production that offer flexible tools so that animation can be created faster while retaining production values equal to or higher than current television production values.”

According to Brewer, the team placed second out of five teams.

“It felt great to know that research in IT can compete with other areas of engineering,” Brewer said.

Brewer said the team started working on the capstone project in December of 2007 and were approached by their mentor, Gubera, who suggested they enter the competition.

“We worked to create a process to integrate the different forms of multimedia more seamlessly,” Brewer said.

The MU IT program was first offered in the fall of 2005. Brewer said that she felt privileged to be a part of the competition that she believes will continue to contribute to a growing IT program at MU.

“Everyone was really excited. This win really boosted the morale and encouraged more students to get involved in MU’s IT program,” Brewer said.

“We are on the right path.”