On March 26, 2010 at 6:30 PM, 17 teams (45 college and university students from across the U.S.) of Graphics Communications contestants gather to receive the problem statement. In the next five hours, they complete the problem statement - Deliver for the new Oanes, Norway to Lauvvik, Norway submerged floating tunnel, the following graphics communications components:
* Magazine spread * On-line banner advertisements * Website * Pamphlet with railway directions, schedules and fees * Design document describing the overall strategy * Video or animation
With the air-conditioning humming in the exhibit hall of the Millennium Hotel, AITP proctors watch blank screens among the team members turn to gorgeous graphics, picturesque Norwegian scenes, colorful documents, and the story of the package they are constructing.
Less than two hours into the competition, one team packs up and decides to leave. The proctors, Diane Murphey of Oklahoma Panhandle State University and Christine Leja of Southwestern Illinois College, seek to encourage them to stay for the learning experience but they share they have struggled to translate their mental design and are not knowledgeable in Photoshop. They are done for this year! They will return next year more prepared!
Close to three hours into the session, as the proctor, Norman Leja passes the time engineering and sketching the submerged train, a second team leaves indicating they have done what they could do. The other teams continue their quiet work just as the Visual Studio .Net competition in the other half of the hall continues their team development. More than 100 students gathered in one place and the silence if deafening!
Watching the teams quietly discuss and gradually build their deliverables, the proctors see an artistic drawing under construction the old fashion way! The college student is stretched out on the floor drawing with paper, pencils and crayons with a scanner nearby. Another college student is using AutoCAD to depict a train emerging from under the sea. Yet another team member is typing away.
Three and a half hours into the competition, students begin to stand, search for food, stretch and re-focus. Some joyful faces, some intense faces, some thoughtful faces, and a sense of growing excitement are in the air. Well, what do you know! The proctor's sketches of engineering drawings are independently appearing in some marketing pieces in several teams. What a coincidence!
Laptops and netbooks of all manufacturers span the room with visible web pages, magazine layouts, graphic logos, and design documents. Files are being uploaded to the server saving near-finished masterpieces. Quick looks at cell phones for the time left occur.
Forty-five minutes left! Students from all different backgrounds and all different colleges and universities across the country bring their creative and technical skills. Talented students, the best from each of these colleges and universities, work vigorously to complete their works of art and science. This competition is preparing students for the next wave of information technology that will focus on revenue generation.
Thirty-five minutes to go and laughter erupts in one team. Another team huddles around a screen. Yet another team eyes their pizza trying to decide whether to eat their pizza or keep working.
Thirty minute warning! Make sure to save your files and upload to the server! A fourth team completes and joyfully leaves. Twenty-five minutes to go and three more teams pack it up.
Fifteen minutes and seven teams left. Oops! One team forgot to submit their final files! A flurry of activity to reconnect computers is seen, find the private folders, and upload the right files!
Ten minutes - Five teams! Proctors checking the vacated spaces find a well chewed pencil. The Visual Studio .Net (Java) competition across the hall is gradually going quiet.
Businesses will be interviewing these top teams! The vendors are amazed at the talent of these students! Companies supporting AITP have found good new talent to interview!
11:30 PM - Time's up and the remaining teams do their submittal.
The technicians who assisted students during the competition come to tear down the technology and prepare for the competitions tomorrow. Eric Rudisill, previous contestant and now business owner, donates his time to AITP because of his NCC experience as a student. Mark Grimes, network technician, is a former competing student as well.
Judges are faculty and business professionals who at one time had competed at NCC just like these current students. They understand the intensity and wealth of work submitted. Being part of the workforce today, they fully understand the quality of the deliverables they judge. Proctors have an opportunity to see the work submitted and then must leave to let the judges select the winners.
At the Awards Banquet on Saturday evening, 658 students and faculty advisors wait to see who wins. Finalists are gathered from which the honorable mentions, third, second and first place winners for each competition are selected. The Graphics Communications competition announcement comes. The student finalists move to the area below the stage to wait and hear who will win. First place is announced and the winner is: Fox Valley Technical College! The very team whose artist was lying on the floor and drawing the submerged train!
Special thanks to everyone involved: students, faculty advisors, proctors, network technicians, judges and the AITP conference committee! What an outstanding National Collegiate Conference! What awesome volunteers to make such an event possible!