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Student Amalia Vacca wins award for her multimedia work

Amalia Vacca, a dual anthropology and digital technology and culture (DTC) major, was awarded the Fuentes-Kirk award this year to work on her multimedia book, AppBook, under her mentor instructor, Dene Grigar, director of the Creative Media and Digital Culture (CMDC) program. Vacca is also the curator of the event Martians with Mustaches, an art exhibit featuring transmedia artwork by DTC students.  A single mother for two daughters, Vacca hopes that her educational pursuits will lay the groundwork for building her own business in the future.

Attending Cyborg Camp in 2010 inspired Vacca’s dual interest in anthropology and DTC. Amber Case, a self-proclaimed Cyborg Anthologist, according to cyborganthropology.com, led this camp. Shortly after attending the camp, Vacca learned about WSU Vancouver’s Creative Media and Digital Culture program and said she, “Couldn’t see how any other degree would ever be more perfectly suited for my combined interests,” said Vacca.

Over the last year, Vacca has created three books using the iBooks Author tool.  The iBooks Author app is designed to allow users to create digital books with interactive diagrams, mathematical expressions, video and more. The first book documented the process of creating arsTechnologika.  ArsTechnologika was an exhibit that ran last December at the Nouspace Gallery in downtown Vancouver.  According to the arsTechnologika website, the exhibit featured, “Performance art, interactive art, installations, videos, and live music from students, faculty, and friends of The Creative Media and Digital Culture Program at Washington State University Vancouver.” The second book Vacca designed was for use as a study guide tool for the show, Electronic Literature and Its Emerging forms, featured at the Library of Congress last April.

Vacca’s book is currently being refined as part of the documentation of the arsTechnologika show that featured works of electronic literature spanning thirty years curated in part by WSU Vancouver’s Girgar. Vacca’s most recent book is AppBook, which is designed for “Scholars and educators to produce an interactive, immersive environment for teaching scientific concepts relating to chemistry to students from middle school through college,” according to universitycollege.wsu.edu/news_events/Headlines/2013_UGR-AuvilWeirFuentes-Kirk/index.html.

Vacca was invited to join Washington State University of Vancouver’s iPublishing Summer Initiative 2013.  According to the iPSI website, the initiative functions both as a think tank and a sandbox, which seeks to “explore the possibilities of new modes of publishing.” Vacca is one of only seven students who were selected to receive full tuition for the three courses covered by iPSI 2013.

Currently, Vacca is working with the iSci team building new ways to teach science in schools. Vacca describes the iSci team as a group of talented coders, animators and forward thinkers who she says are “Brilliantly gifted.”  This group of students, along with instructors Alexander Dimitrov and Dene Grigar, are working to implement such tools as the Kinect Sensor, Wii Remote, Falcon Game Controller and augmented reality software into the classroom, according to the iSci website. Additionally, Vacca is the student manager of Nouspace Gallery & Media Lounge; currently hosting the CMDC program’s Martians with Mustaches exhibit through November. All are welcome to stop by from noon to 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday’s throughout the month to check out the students’ work.

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