Junior Strengthens Audio Interest Through Student Organizations, New York Field Experience and Music

Posted on: April 21, 2017

arthur

Over spring break on the New York Field Experience trip through the College of Communication Arts and Sciences, Arthur Jones, media and information junior, was not only able to observe audio, video and music industries individually, but he was also able to see his interests work together in the media industry as a whole.

His interest in audio started his senior year of high school, when he took a class with someone who owned a local recording studio.

“I knew I liked to play music and thought the class looked neat at first, but I happened to really like the recording aspect of the class,” Jones said.

The one visit that Jones found particularly interesting during the New York City Field Experience was the group’s stop at MTV.

“We learned how important their social media teams are,” Jones said. “Because their demographic is early to late teens, they constantly have to stay up-to-date with new app trends. Whenever something new comes out, they have to learn how to best apply it to their audience.”

The biggest thing he learned from alumni on the trip was the fact that, in college, you never truly know what city you will end up in.

He also learned a lot about careers in the audio industry.

“I knew New York was a big media market, but I really learned so many valuable pieces of information related to all things audio,” said Jones. “Whether it’s in TV or radio, doing something in audio would be my dream job.”

The market in New York City made Jones aware of potential job opportunities.

“I definitely am more open now and saw the possibilities of different careers in the media industry,” Jones said. “The New York trip really broadened the potential I saw in the different jobs I could do.”

A change in tune

Jones first came to MSU as a student in the James Madison College. When he discovered that he wasn’t passionate about what he was studying, he left MSU to study at a community college in his hometown. He pursued a music degree and learned how to play an instrument – the double bass. When he returned to MSU, he decided to major in media and information with a minor in music.

“Even though there aren’t a ton of audio classes, MSU has so many students making student-films and other projects as well,” Jones said. “I was pulled into the fiction film class and Theatre 2 Film. I also work at Recording Services in the music building.”

In addition to all of those commitments to expanding his craft, Jones also plays in the concert orchestra at MSU.

Valuable skills learned

Jones doesn’t regret taking the time away from MSU to learn what he wanted to do. He said the experience was “valuable.”

“I thought I wanted to do international relations, but I realized the reason why was to be on NPR,” he said. “It’s still a dream job of mine to work on an NPR special, but I feel like I can accomplish that with what I am doing. By leaving and coming back, it made me very secure in what I want to do.”

His advice?

Jones suggests if students don’t know what they want to do, to think about an interest and pursue it more.

“You have to think, ‘Could I do this for years?’” Jones said. “College is the time to figure out your interests and experiment with those interests. At MSU, there are so many clubs, which makes it fun and easy to try out anything and everything.”

By Meg Dedyne

 

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Bob Albers prepares for retirement from MSU, premieres film at CCFF

Posted on: April 18, 2017

MSU Media Sandbox photography exercise; with Zydecrunch, performing atop the Comm Arts & Sciences parking ramp. 9/17/12. photo: w.r. richards/CAS-MSU

After a 35-year career teaching at MSU’s College of Communication Arts and Sciences in the Department of Media and Information, Senior Video Specialist Bob Albers will retire after the current spring semester.

Albers teaches one of the Communication Arts and Sciences classes that many ComArtSci students choose to take as a part of their degree programs. The course is called Story, Sound and Motion, which explores the central role of storytelling, sound and editing in media communication. That being said, the number of students that have had the opportunity to learn from Albers reaches into the thousands. He has had a particular impact on students who have taken his documentary capstone class. In fact, last year, a film produced by students in Albers’ class, From Flint: Voices of a Poisoned City, earned entrance into several film festivals and even won a Student Academy Award.

Before he retires, Albers has been able to cherish the relationships and connections made during his time at the college. The department recently celebrated the sixth Albies Awards, an Oscar-like awards ceremony recognizing students for their work in production and film. It simultaneously commemorates Albers and his name for the impact he has had on the program.

At this year’s Albies, Albers was celebrated with a plaque from the students, “It was one of those bittersweet things. I think, ‘Why am I leaving? I’ve got this group that I’m a part of that I am still connected with and I can tell they care about me’ ... So, I’ll miss that.”

Celebrating his craft and most recent film

You have likely experienced that moment when you’re doing the thing you love and you enter this state of being where you’re absorbed in the action or performance, commonly referred to as being “in the zone.” Albers’ recent documentary film, Chasing the Moment, follows 11 individuals who have experienced those moments and continue to seek them out in their lives every day.

The film features a chef, a marine sniper, a pulitzer prize-winning photographer, dancers, an Olympic Silver Medalist and more. It recently premiered at the Capital City Film Festival in Lansing on April 8. 

“(The film is) about how do you get to that place where everything goes away and you’re not thinking about anything, you’re just being whatever it is that you do,” said Albers.

Like the people in his film, Albers said he has experienced this sensation, too. Before entering the classroom, he was a college basketball player at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Kentucky, where he studied psychology. He said the feeling was present as an athlete, but it also happened later when he picked up the classical guitar and when he went to art school to study sculpture and photography, too.

Throughout the course of his life, he’s been a teacher of various subjects and crafts, including teaching science to junior high school students, giving guitar lessons and, today, mentoring and educating future directors, editors and other industry professionals about all aspects of film and documentaries.

Albers’ teaching went beyond the classroom during the 4.5-years of production for Chasing the Moment. He selected a handful of MSU students and two faculty members to assist him.

“Some of them were involved in the shooting (process) and so I feel as if that’s a window into the professional world for those people,” said Albers. “They get to do classes, but then they get to work on a big project."

The 2016 Albies attended by over 200 members of Telecasters, alumni, staff and guest. 04/23/2016. Photo Credit: Amanda Pinckney

Leaving a legacy

Albers’ ability to connect with his students dates back to the 90s when Bob Gould, a professor in the School of Journalism, was a student of Albers’. When Gould later returned to ComArtSci as a professor, he said Albers was a friendly face to see walking the halls.

“The first semester teaching here, I leaned on him a little to get some professional advice, but every time I would see him in the ComArtSci building, I would smile and was a bit nostalgic. In fact, even today, 10 years later, I still feel that way when I see him or talk to him,” said Gould. “He had that kind of impact on me and so many other students. His kind soul and quiet demeanor always creates a calming effect when stress levels are high. I’m sad to see him retire, but it is so well deserved.”

Gould said one of the last things he did as a student at ComArtSci was create a small documentary as an independent study with Albers. Now, 30 years later, Gould’s daughter, Ilene, a freshman media and information student at MSU, is doing the exact same thing.

“He knows how to teach creative, out-of-the-box thinking and I’ve definitely learned better ways to approach storytelling," said Ilene. "He’s just a genuine and kind person and shows a lot of care for his craft, but most importantly for his students."

His daughter’s work with Albers has impressed Gould and he is happy to know she had the chance to learn from one of the greats.

“When I heard Bob might be retiring, I told my daughter that she should take an independent study with him and learn as much as she can from him. I thought it would be a really cool thing for two generations to share that special mentorship,” said Gould.

Just as Gould and his daughter have enjoyed learning from him, Albers has taken equal joy from teaching, “I really do like teaching a lot and I enjoy being around young people. You know they say it keeps you young, but I don’t think that’s true, maybe a little bit younger than you would be if you weren’t involved with young people. They see the world differently than I do, maybe clearer in some ways than someone like me does. That’s a thrill.”

What’s next?

Albers, a Kentucky native, looks forward to moving back to his home state after 37 years away to build a home with his wife and “get to know Louisville again,” especially through his photography.

By Savannah Swix

 

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Film by MSU professor and WKAR producer to air on PBS

Posted on: April 7, 2017

LATIN MUSIC USA (1)

 

 

 

 

 

 

A groundbreaking documentary on Latin Music from WKAR producer and Michigan State University professor John Valadez will air nationally in primetime on PBS this May.

His film, The Chicano Wave, is the third hour in a four-part series, called Latin Music USA. This entertaining and insightful documentary dives deep into the history of Mexican American music to showcase how the Latino culture is a part of all of us. Featured in Valadez’ film are musicians and performers like Selena, Ritchie Valens, Los Lobos, Linda Ronstadt and more.

John Valadez

John Valadez

“In America, we are all interconnected in ways that are complicated, often subtle, unseen, and unarticulated, and so this series, Latin Music USA, that’s kind of what it’s about. It’s about making unexpected connections that are actually very beautiful and surprising,” said Valadez. “The show is about music, but in a sense it is really America. It’s about what it means to be American.”

Valadez believes a film like this would not have been possible without the expertise and thoughtful research of scholars from Chicano/Latino Studies Programs like the one at MSU’s College of Social Science. He states, “You do not get something like Latin Music USA unless there are dedicated folks writing the books; unless there are people exploring and elucidating the history; unless there are talented musicologists who are placing it in context.”  

Valadez has often been called “the hardest working Chicano in the Doc Biz,” and in this case the dedication has certainly paid off. The series will be shown on primetime national television in May, with Valadez’ film broadcast on May 5 on PBS at 9 p.m. – Cinco de Mayo.

In addition to his role with WKAR, Valadez has joint appointments as professor of practice with the Department of Media and Information and the Film Studies Program at MSU.

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MSU Game Design Ranks among Princeton Review’s Top 20 and #1 in Big Ten

Posted on: April 3, 2017

One day, you’re at home playing your favorite video game after school. The next, you’re stepping into a classroom to learn how to design the next generation’s go-to game.

With a brand new multi-million dollar media space and technically-skilled faculty, Game Design students at Michigan State University are receiving an education that ranks among the Princeton Review's top 20 and number one in the Big Ten conference.

At number 10 for undergraduate programs, and with a graduate program right behind that at number 11 in a separate ranking for graduate schools, MSU is making its presence known.

We have made significant investments in our program in the last year including hiring three new games faculty, creation of the interactive media and motion capture studio and revising our curriculum within Media and Information to add several new game art and design courses,” said Brian Winn, director of undergraduate studies and an associate professor in the Department of Media and Information.

gelStudents who enroll in classes for the game design program, housed in the College of Communication Arts and Sciences, come from a variety of majors including studio art, computer science and engineering as well as media and information.

“Our program is very interdisciplinary,” said Winn. “Students collaborate on teams (in classes), assuming the role most closely related to their major, to build game projects. This gives them a very authentic game making experience that closely resembles the real-world.”

The program and its courses enable students to graduate with priceless knowledge, which translates into an impressive portfolio of creative work completed as classwork or for external clients.

The curriculum offers students the option to work with both games for entertainment and serious games. Johannes Bauer, chair of the Department of Media and Information, explained that serious games are strong at the graduate level.

He added that the program’s students show immense talent for furthering the industry, “The students have a very deep knowledge in game design and game development. Some of them come from more of a creative side, others come from a technical and programming side. Our curriculum offers them both opportunities.”

With spaces like the Games for Entertainment and Learning Lab and the recently opened Immersive Media Studio, fit with the technology to design and produce virtual reality gaming experiences, the program at Michigan State University continues to help students use and build upon their individual skill sets and support them to excel in their future careers.

For Peter Burroughs, media and information senior, the program has taught him new ways to evolve his talent for traditional art that he discovered in high school and apply it to 3D modeling, concept art painting, visual effects, art direction, project management and asset implementation. In addition, he says the program has to work with others and to embrace the skills and contributions they bring to the team.

“The professors and upperclassmen have taught me an incredible amount about making video games, and my peers in the program have become like family to me,” said Burroughs. “Working together during all-nighters will do that to you!”

By Savannah Swix

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ComArtSci alumnus Geoff Johns named President & Chief Creative Officer of DC Entertainment

Posted on: December 9, 2016

Many people dream of turning their passions into a career. For Geoff Johns, his love of comic books and their iconic characters - Superman, Batman, The Flash and Green Lantern - was all the fuel he needed to pursue a career in media and entertainment.

In 2016, Johns hit superhero status at DC Entertainment when he was promoted to president and chief creative officer of the company. Johns is now leading a new era for the DC Universe, revamping the stories of his favorite childhood superheroes - including Wonder Woman, who will be at the center of the first female-powered superhero movie, set to release in summer 2017.

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Geoff Johns

Becoming Geoff Johns
Johns graduated from Michigan State University in 1995 and studied media arts, screenwriting, film production and film theory. As a student, he took advantage of the unique opportunities at MSU, from film club to physics classes.

“I’ll set aside the fact that it’s a beautiful campus, that the culture is amazing, that it has the biggest comic book collection in the world, which is awesome,” Johns told us, while reflecting on his time at MSU.  “But, the thing that was so valuable to me is that you find that whatever you’re interested in, they have something for it.”

Johns was drawn to classes in film and media production, and crashed MSU’s library of comic books, as he worked to develop a better knowledge of film, screenplays and characters. He also found value in the basics like economics and physics, ultimately preparing him for the business side of his budding career.

Two physics classes in particular made a lasting impact. “The physics of light and color and the physics of sound. Those two classes were really valuable to me both in my storytelling as a writer, as well as in production, because they actually taught me how light works, how color works, how we interpret sound and how sound works.”

He continued, “If you want to be a screenwriter, my advice would be don’t just take writing (classes). You need to study production, accounting, history, everything that you think will help you tell your story. I think that the more you can broaden your horizons the better, and you can do that at MSU.”

Meanwhile, across the country...
After college, Johns started his career in Los Angeles, working as an intern alongside the original Superman director, Richard Donner. He later became an assistant to Donner, wrote alongside him, and picked up industry insights along the way. In his professional career, Johns has become one of the most decorated comic book writers of his time. He has written highly acclaimed stories starring Superman, Green Lantern, the Flash, Teen Titans and Justice Society of America and is a New York Times best selling author for his comics.

As a hero in the halls of his office, Johns will play a crucial role in DC Entertainment’s current rebirth, aiming to bring DC Comics back to the basics and focus on storytelling first. Ultimately, striving to minimize the gap that lies between diehard fans and movie critics.

“At the end of the day, the thing I’m most interested in and the thing I’m most passionate about is story and character," said Johns.

One idea Johns picked up from Donner that stuck with him is the concept of superheroes as “healthy junk food,” promoting a positive message while also entertaining. Johns told us that Donner believed, "you never do entertainment under the guise of a message, you do a message under the guise of entertainment. Whether it’s Superman’s inspiration and hope, or Batman’s justice - they all have these wonderful moral qualities to them and I think that’s why people respond to these characters so much."

According to Johns, superheroes aren’t just fun to watch. It’s more about why they do what they do and how they do it that matters and is exciting to the viewer. When asked what superhero was most like him, he said it changes everyday.

“There are some days where you think you feel like Batman, where the world is dark and you have to fight back. There are days when you want to inspire like Superman. I’d say (I’m most like) Green Lantern. I love Green Lantern, I wrote him for 9 years, he’s all about willpower and perseverance and that’s how I got to where I am. I’ve got a lot of willpower and perseverance and I love what I do. And if you want to succeed that’s what you need to have.”

Wisdom built and shared
Perseverance, willpower and the ability to learn from past mistakes are all traits of popular superheroes - and even Johns himself. These traits have allowed him to face challenges head-on, working and learning as his career progressed.

“The truth is that the hurdles that I’ve faced in business and in my career have just been learning experiences. There are times when you try a new project and it doesn’t work or you’re working with someone and the chemistry isn’t producing the best work,” Johns told us. “Any kind of hurdle or challenge, as long as you keep working at it and try to learn from it, it’s ultimately a very good thing.”

Johns’ positive outlook on professional experiences - good or bad - has helped him to grow in his career. Never expecting a handout, always working for everything he’s received, Johns set out to prove himself and encourages current students to do the same.

“Being in the real world, in the job, you’re not going to be promoted just because you’ve been there a year. It’s not like school where you move on and you move up. You’ve got to prove yourself. You’ve got to work hard,” said Johns. “I loved Michigan State. I got so much from it and learned so much from my time there. And the one thing that they can’t teach you is when you’re in it. Get out here and really be a part of it.”

Sparty the next superhero?
Johns gave us some insight into what Sparty might look like as a comic book character, sharing how he would draw him.

“If we were going to draw him, he’d be as broad as Superman, maybe a little taller. We might want to give him a flowing cape, a green cape would be cool. I think he’d definitely be on the Justice League, though. He’s kind of a cross between a superhero and Popeye.”

And we’re sure that just like Johns, Sparty’s superhero would show the world how Spartans Will.

By Nikki W. O'Meara

 

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ComArtSci professor aims to improve family wellness with NSF Grant

Posted on: October 28, 2016

How can a virtual pet or plant help a family to establish healthy routines? Wei Peng, associate professor in the Department of Media and Information at the College of Communication Arts and Sciences, is developing a system called FRESH (Family Routine, Education, and Sensing Health) that will use familiar objects and environments to help families track wellness and improve health.

The goal of FRESH is to use mobile technology, like tablets and cell phones, to monitor a family’s behavior - including their diet, whether they eat together, their physical activity and sleeping habits. The built-in audio, motion, and light sensors necessary to acquire this information from families, as well as a unique algorithm for an app, are being developed in collaboration with MSU’s College of Engineering.  screen-shot-2016-10-18-at-4-16-06-pm

“The reason that we wanted to focus on these family routines is because these activities are very important for obesity prevention,” Peng said.

FRESH works by accessing and collecting data through sensors placed on family member devices with their permission.

The app then uses the information collected through the system, to show the findings through scenes such as a blossoming flower. As a family’s routine improves, the flower will grow and thrive, offering participants an image of their progress. The program also provides families with a support system since the app enables them to communicate with and learn from other families.

Peng said that preliminary testing in Greater Lansing shows that people are willing and excited to participate.

“Most of the families are very accepting because they see the benefits of helping the whole family to be more healthy,” she explained. “This outweighed the risk or the privacy concern.”

The collaborative project between Michigan State University and University of California, San Diego received a $1 million grant in September from the National Science Foundation and an additional $880,000 from MSU. Peng said the funding will solidify and support their 4-year plan.

By Savannah Swix

 

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MSU GEL Lab creates educational game that transports students of Jewish history to ancient world

Posted on: September 30, 2016

keby1_header

A new game engineered by a team of students and faculty in the MSU Games for Entertainment and Learning Lab in the College of ComArtSci makes history come alive for students at the Frankel Jewish Academy in southeast Michigan this fall.

"Kerem B'Yavneh"— Hebrew for "A Vineyard in Yavneh"— motivates students to engage with the academy's rabbinic curriculum and resulted from a collaboration between the GEL Lab and the academy. The game is available for Windows and Mac via the web. Students play the game on classroom iPads provided through the academy's recent technology initiative.

"It really is the first serious Jewish educational game at this level of immersion and game mechanics," says Rabbi Reuven Margrett of the Frankel Jewish Academy. "There are games and then there are good games. Staggered learning, motivation to play the game—that's what's critical with this one."

"Kerem B'Yavneh"—or "KeBY" for short—is a casual, social, homestead-simulation, world-building game similar the popular "Farmville." The game transports students to the ancient agricultural community of Yavneh where they become budding scholar-farmers. Participants lead the transformation of the community into a center of Jewish life and learning while adhering to traditional rabbinic law, culture, and practice. Students also raise families, grow crops, trade in the marketplace, and play key roles in helping Yavneh flourish.

"The goal of the game is to experience the lifestyle and challenges of people living in ancient Israel," says Margrett. "Students are also experiencing challenges and accountability with their peers."

Margrett says the game targets students in middle - or early high school who are just beginning concentrated study of Jewish history. Teachers can customize the game to their classroom lessons, and can build in rewards and incentives that motivate students to advance and move to different levels.

"We included a study-to-play feature in which students can take quizzes and earn resources or 'sparks' that they use to move further and faster in the game," says Brian Winn, an associate professor in the Department of Media and Information. "Teachers create the assignments and guide the learning, but the game serves as an additional motivator to learn."

Winn says "KeBY" drives a form of blended learning that allows students to learn independently in combination with teacher prompts and follow-up discussion. The game was developed over more than 16 months of collaboration between MSU and Frankel, and followed an earlier collaboration on "Sparks of Eternity"—an educational game that explored classic texts and cornerstones of Jewish culture.

Associate Professor of Media and Information Casey O'Donnell joined Winn in leading a team of undergraduate and graduate students in the design and testing of the game. The team came up with characters, scenarios, and settings in consult with members of the Frankel Academy. Winn says that Frankel is promoting the game to other Jewish schools, and hopes to become a leader in Jewish educational gaming through a continued partnership with MSU.

"They saw a deficit in gaming in Jewish education and came to us," says Winn. "Together, we succeeded in creating a fun and engaging game that integrates educational content in a stealthy way. Anyone can play it, and you don't realize it's a learning game and view it instead as a fun to play experience."

Established in 2005, MSU's undergraduate game design program enables students to learn the technology, design fundamentals, and development process of digital games. Students gain valuable skills in communicating and collaborating in team-based projects while building a strong portfolio of games.

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‘From Flint’ wins Student Academy Award, first time honor for MSU

Posted on: September 23, 2016
Elise Conklin, winner of the bronze medal in the documentary film category for “From Flint: Voices of a Poisoned City,” during the 43rd Annual Student Academy Awards® on Thursday, September 22, in Beverly Hills.

Elise Conklin, winner of the bronze medal in the documentary film category for “From Flint: Voices of a Poisoned City,” during the 43rd Annual Student Academy Awards® on Thursday, September 22, in Beverly Hills.

Many young people grow up dreaming of winning an Oscar someday. For five student filmmakers from Michigan State University, that dream just got a lot closer to becoming reality.

On Sept. 22, the crew of the student-produced film From Flint: Voices of a Poisoned City formally accepted a Student Academy Award after winning Bronze in the documentary category.

The award qualifies the students to submit their film for a 2016 Oscar alongside other major motion pictures, and represents the first time in MSU's history that a student film has been honored with an award from the Academy.

The award-winning crew includes Liv Larsen (producer), Elise Conklin (director), Izak Gracy (director of photography), Jenna Ange (gaffer) and Lauren Selewski (lead editor). Bob Albers, a senior video specialist in the Department of Media and Information, mentored the students through the class for which they created the film.

“It’s a validation of the quality of our students,” Albers said about the award.

Albers believes the film went all the way because of the professional quality of what he calls “the documentary craft.” He said, too, the film's subject matter is a national issue that many people care about.

He added that the student awards handed out this year by the Academy were particularly remarkable since many new schools from a wide geographic area were recognized.

“This was the first time that more awards were won by non-West Coast people, so that’s really significant,” Albers said. “The winners are not just people from the big schools, the ones that typically get these (awards).”

The whole crew attended the ceremony in Beverly Hills, California, thanks to MSU, the College of Communication Arts and Sciences and the Department of Media and Information.

Larsen said the students had not been together since graduation in the spring of 2016, so the ceremony was a long-anticipated reunion.

Conklin shared her enthusiasm about the award, as well as about the publicity that has helped promote the voices of the people of Flint.

“I’m just completely overwhelmed and so happy that Flint trusted us with their stories and we were able to tell them in a way that’s helping to raise awareness about this issue,” she said.

The film was inspired by a desire to make people realize that the crisis in Flint is not over just because the major news coverage has ceased.

“We know we made something really special, but we weren’t sure if we’d be able to get it out there and distribute it properly,” said Conklin. “But it seems like it’s actually really starting to make a huge impact and we’re so happy that we’re able to get Flint’s story out there and people are actually listening to it.”

By Savannah Swix

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MSU business-IT students help area companies on new tech projects

Posted on: September 21, 2016

East Lansing, Michigan – September 19, 2016 – Nearly 20 teams of Michigan State University undergraduate seniors are ready and waiting to help mid-Michigan businesses and nonprofits solve their digital problems. As part of their final course in their Information Technology minor, the students are required to work in cross-functional teams on a real-world IT (information technology) project. They just need a few more “clients.”

Professors Constantinos K. Coursaris and Wietske van Osch, who are teaching the course through MSU’s Department of Media and Information, say the students are capable of taking on a wide range of technology-related projects, because each team will comprise of students majoring in business, media and information, and computer science and engineering. A short list of recently completed and successful projects follows:

Websites and Web Content Management Systems
Student teams designed and implemented content management systems for clients such as the Lansing Old Town Business and Arts Development Association and TechTown, Detroit’s research and technology development park along the Woodward corridor.

Database and Workflow Systems
Student teams also help with “back end” office operations. For example, one team designed and implemented a new membership database for the Michigan Kiwanis Club using Microsoft Access and another team used Microsoft InfoPath to design and implement a workflow system for a petroleum distribution company.

Wireless Web Access
A student team created a prototype for the Oakland County Mobile Services system to format website information for smaller screens on mobile phones and PDAs.

Video Production
Students produced promotional videos and DVDs for clients ranging from St. Johns Public Schools to Walnut Hills Country Club.

Social Media
Students created a comprehensive social media strategy, initial presence and maintenance plan for Harper’s Restaurant and Brewpub.

To submit a project for consideration, please contact Dr. Coursaris via email as soon as possible and no later than September 25, 2016, at coursari@msu.edu.

Professors Coursaris and Van Osch are now accepting proposals from area organizations (business, government or nonprofit) to have student teams take on projects for the fall 2016 academic semester, starting in September and ending on December 9. The ideal project is “hands-on,” with a well-defined outcome that can be achieved by three to four students in 8-10 weeks.

To submit a project for consideration, please contact Dr. Coursaris via email by September 25, 2016, at coursari@msu.edu.

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Online strategic communication degree empowers working professionals

Pretty woman is working in a café

Organizations seek out the abilities. Professionals strive for the knowledge and skills. And starting Spring 2017, the MSU College of Communication Arts and Sciences will welcome its first class into a new online master’s program, convenient for working professionals, on strategic communications.

The Master of Arts in Strategic Communication represents the first time the College has offered a degree program 100 percent online. The program responds to the needs of professionals through its flexible delivery as well as through content that addresses the challenges of a 21st century communication environment.

"Given the rapidly changing communication ecosystem, mid-career professionals are eager for training to update their skills," says Prabu David, Dean of the College of ComArtSci. "Currently, communication professionals, including our own alumni, do not have rich, in-state options to learn new media techniques. This new online M.A. in strategic communication fills that gap."

Students in the nine-course, 30-credit program will examine how to leverage today's evolving media and digital mix into an integrated marketing and communications strategy for businesses, start-ups, non-profits or government agencies. Expert faculty will handle all aspects of course content and bring expertise in corporate messaging, news and information, fundamental communication processes, audience research and data analytics, and new technologies. Students will also complete a service-learning project that enables them to apply their newly acquired expertise within a community setting.

"The College of ComArtSci has long-standing leadership in an integrated theory-to-practice orientation toward effective communication strategy and tactics," says John Sherry, associate dean of for graduate studies in ComArtSci. "There is no other college in the world with such broad and deep coverage of these issues."

Students can complete courses and requirements from anywhere, anytime and at their own pace in one to three years. The program is ideally suited for working professionals with three to five years of experience in communications as well as for business and communication entrepreneurs. Students will also have opportunity to collaborate with other online learners, further enhancing their professional network.

"The ability for individuals to be located anywhere and enroll in this master's program is a distinct advantage," says ComArtSci Alum April M. Clobes, president and CEO of the MSU Federal Credit Union. "Being able to complete the program while working full-time is also essential for long-term success. MSU's high rankings in the field of communications along with excellent faculty, will make this a highly sought after degree."

The program is currently accepting applications and no GRE is required. To learn more about MSU's new online master's degree program in strategic communication through the College of ComArtSci, visit stratcom.msu.edu or contact the program director at stratcom@msu.edu.

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