Interactive Media capstone projects celebrated at exhibition

On May 21, the evening before their Commencement ceremony, 13 graduate students in Elon University's Interactive Media master's program shared their thesis projects with professionals, faculty, staff, family and friends.

Abigail Sparkman stands in Elon classroom.
Abigail Sparkman G’24 discusses her thesis project, The 100 Club, with attendees of the Interactive Media Capstone Exhibition held May 21 in Long Building. “I am most proud of the iMedia project I created and developed because it showcases my ability to blend creativity with technical skills, resulting in an innovative and engaging interactive web prototype,” she said.

As part of their 10-month exploration of new avenues in interactive and digital media delivery, members of the 2024 Interactive Media graduate program have stretched themselves, discovering new technical skills, new passions and new career paths.

The culmination of their efforts was on public display on May 21 during the program’s Capstone Exhibition, highlighting 13 thesis projects ranging from video storytelling, data visualization, gaming and mobile applications. Photos from the exhibition are available on the School of Communications’ Flickr page.

Abigail Sparkman G’24, who earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science and studio art at Presbyterian College, was among the graduate students sharing their semester-long projects in Long Building. And she creatively used her new skills to highlight something old: centenarians.

Cameron Rosebud G’24 points to computer.
Cameron Rosebud G’24 discusses his capstone project with C. Rizleris, assistant director of marketing communications for graduate programs.

The Elon women’s volleyball player built a comprehensive website and brand called The 100 Club, a project that explains the concept behind Blue Zones, areas in the world that have an unusually high number of people living to be 100 or older. While the site is still in development, here’s a sneak peek.

“The 100 Club is dedicated to celebrating and studying individuals who have reached the age of 100 or older by honoring centenarians’ lives and achievements, gathering and sharing their stories, researching the factors contributing to their longevity, and helping others aspire and embrace a century by celebrating life, wisdom and resilience,” she said.

The collegiate athlete explained that she was drawn to the idea because it emphasizes the importance of physical health, longevity and optimal functioning.

“Athletes constantly strive to enhance their performance and extend their careers through diet, exercise and recovery techniques,” said Sparkman, who was recently named captain for the upcoming Elon women’s volleyball season. “Understanding how centenarians maintain their health and vitality into old age offers valuable insights and strategies that athletes can adopt to boost their longevity and performance.”

Phillip Motley, professor of communication design, raved about Sparkman’s efforts, calling it one of the top projects in his class. “It’s beautifully designed and very professionally produced,” he said.

Associate Professor Derek Lackaff, who serves as director of the Interactive Media graduate program, likewise congratulated the efforts of several of his mentees. This included two international students, Isabella Hilditch G’24 of the United Kingdom and Robin Zhao G’24 of China, who developed projects to help other international students.

Isabella Hilditch's hand gestures toward computer monitor.
Isabella Hilditch G’24 shares her project, “Gateaway to the NCAA,” at the May 21 exhibition. The graduate student explained that her project pushed her to build on her skill set. “The biggest challenge for my project was working on the front-end coding,” she said. “I came into iMedia with no knowledge of coding and website building, so using these recently acquired skills in coding was challenging at times.”

Hilditch’s project, titled “Gateaway to the NCAA,” provides accessible educational resources for international students interested in continuing their athletic pursuits as NCAA athletes in the United States. Having grown up in London and later competing in track and field at Princeton University, she is familiar with the … hurdles … of moving to the U.S.

“My capstone intends to fill a knowledge gap which exists for international students interested in immigrating to the states to play collegiate sports,” Hilditch said. “My interactive educational website allows these students to work out whether a move to the states is feasible and the right decision for them.”

Likewise, Zhao utilized his own personal experiences and created a website for incoming international students that provides information about transportation, healthcare and housing – areas that he found challenging to navigate.

“Developing a product for international users requires a designer to deeply understand diverse user perspectives,” Lackaff said. “These projects effectively demonstrate how research and personal experience can be translated into products useful to others.”

The remaining 10 capstone projects touched on game design, videography and social media strategy. During the exhibition, Andrew Dryfoos ’23, G’24 and his project drew a regular crowd, where the grad student delved into facial recognition and image generation – and the hurdles the technologies still face.

For Sparkman, the capstone project and exhibition were the culmination of a yearlong process where she gained a comprehensive, hands-on experience in digital media production and design. “The program equips graduates with the practical skills and theoretical knowledge needed to excel in the rapidly evolving media and communication industries,” she said.

Meet Interactive Media’s Class of 2024.