STEP Reflection

STEP Reflection

Name: Deja Miguest

Type of Project: Artistic and Creative Endeavors

  1. Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project. Write two or three sentences describing the main activities your STEP Signature Project entailed.

For my project, I traveled to Los Angeles, California to take dance classes and learn from prominent and professional choreographers. The goal was to improve my dancing/ choreographic ability, interact with professionals in the field, and determine if I have the ability to dance and choreograph professionally.

  1. What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your view of the world changed/transformed while completing your STEP Signature Project? Write one or two paragraphs to describe the change or transformation that took place.

I thought that I knew who I was as a person but I found myself struggling when teachers would say “put yourself into the movement.” Several teachers explained that any dancer can do the steps perfectly, what makes it interesting to watch is the personality and the intention the dancer puts behind the steps; a dancer’s movement style, the faces they add, the emotions they put into the piece all reflect the personality of that dancer and tells the viewer /audience who that person is. I realized that I don’t know how to display who I am through dance. Granted personality is a complex thing and every aspect of mine can’t be displayed simultaneously but, this trip made me think about what aspects of my personality I want to demonstrate. I need to be more confident in who I am before I can reach my full potential as a dancer.

  1. What events, interactions, relationships, or activities during your STEP Signature Project led to the change/transformation that you discussed in #2, and how did those affect you? Write three or four paragraphs describing the key aspects of your experiences completing your STEP Signature Project that led to this change/transformation.

The first class I took in Los Angeles was from Josh Williams. The routine he taught was not difficult just quick and involved a lot of grooves and personality. He chose a select group of boys to go at the end and perform the choreography in front of the class. Even though they were all doing the same steps, the way each boy chose to execute the routine was completely different. Everyone had their own style, their own attitude, and their own intention behind the movements. I was able to see who each dancer was through their performance and it was spectacular. After class I got to talk to Josh, he told me what draws him to a dancer is their personality, ability to make others feel something, and “sauciness.” I never fully grasped how important personality was in dancing until I watched that group of boys dance together.

The class I took with Galen Hooks also focused heavily on personality. The character for the dance routine was rock musician. She kept emphasizing that the routine is not about dancing pretty and correctly, it’s about embodying the character. She purposely didn’t demonstrate the routine several times because she didn’t want to influence how we, the dancers, did the routine. Galen really wanted to see individual interpretation. This class really challenged me to push myself to add faces, try manipulating movement, and embrace the character of a dance. It was the first time I think I was comfortable trying to add my personality and quirks to a routine because she pushed us throughout the class to do so. This class gave me specific points to work on as I am performing and I think that was something I tried to utilize throughout the week I was there.

The last class I took for the week was from Lee Daniel. During the class I focused on adding my own personality as well as adjusting the movements to fit my style and feel comfortable on my body. At the end of class Lee Daniel called me to go front and center because he liked the way I did the routine. It was more proof that choreographers really look for personality and energy just as much as they look for correctness of movement. I got to talk to him after class and he told me that a good dancer is able to take the steps and add more while still paying attention to the details of the movements. He was very encouraging, he told me I have potential and that I should definitely keep dancing.

These three experiences were the most influential because they helped me identify a problem, gave me suggestions on how to overcome my problem, and highlighted the benefit of me working on my problem. Adding personality to my performance and choreography is something I believe that I will continuously be working on but I’m happy I have had this experience to guide me through that. I need to continuously push my boundaries and comfortability as a dancer in order to transform from a good dancer to a great dancer.

  1. Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable for your life? Write one or two paragraphs discussing why this change or development matters and/or relates to your academic, personal, and/or professional goals and future plans.

Realizing that I struggle to show who I am as a dancer while I am performing has given me a goal to work toward in my dancing. I feel like I have been stagnant in my dance career and I wasn’t getting much feedback in classes on ways I could improve. A personal goal of mine is to choreograph/dance for a large scale artist in a video, special performance, or world tour. Prior to my STEP project I wasn’t sure what I was missing as a dancer or what I still needed to improve on. Now I think I have a better understanding of what choreographers and teachers are looking for in dancers and how I can distinguish myself from a class filled with one hundred other dancers. This will also help me to develop my own style of moving and dancing which will be important if I want to choreograph.

Newfound Strive and Perseverance

Laura Sayre
Re: STEP Creative/Artistic Endeavor Reflection
12 September 2017

The STEP Signature Project that I pursued was an artistic endeavor, entailing a summer spent touring, competing, and performing as a member of Drum Corps International’s (DCI) Boston Crusaders Drum & Bugle Corps. This experience maintained a duration of 3 months, lasting from May 20th until August 12th. It fostered not only my physical growth and athletic propensities via intensive training, but also my mental and emotional growth through high-demand assignments and expectations of staff members.

There are many aspects of my self-understanding that were transformed in response to my involvement with the Boston Crusaders, but the ones that seem to stand out the most are the changes in my view of perseverance and desire to retain mental engagement. Going into the competitive season, I held a disposition that tended to easily resign when things became too complicated or tasking. The events and experience of the Boston Crusaders 2017 season transformed my value in striving to be the best I could be, both in performance and out. Hand-in-hand with the initial fear of pushing myself to achieve higher standards was the absence of determination to stay mentally and emotionally capable. Through personal trials, failures, and successes, I summoned the motivation that I had previously lacked, which maintained my positive outlook for the duration of the summer.

Drum corps instructors and staff members have exceedingly high expectations of their students before the DCI season even begins. If I had upheld my self-deprecating approach to challenges I had to face, I would never have overcome them or even come close to the standards which had been set for me by staff and even older and more veteran members of the Boston Crusaders. Of course, changing my attitude did not happen overnight. It took weeks before I no longer had to solely try to motivate myself; soon enough, my self-determination became the core of my mentality. Had it not been for the bars set by my instructors and role models within the corps, I may still have had the same “oh, well” temperament as a result of not desiring to rise up to the challenge.

Once I established a sense of urgency, I had to learn what it meant to keep a positive outlook and remain committed so that I did not readopt my prior viewpoint. Within the activity of drum corps, it is common for members to fall victim to a temporary mental weakness dubbed, “hitting a wall.” This is a time during which students typically have regrets about their decision to not stay home for the summer and willingly sign up to go through painstaking and over-tiring training entailing 3 months of sleeping on gym floors and buses. As soon as a member hits a wall, it oftentimes takes days for him/her to overcome it and get back into the groove of his/her exhausting schedule. I envision it as more of a well than a wall. I have experienced hitting a wall so high and so difficult to rise above that I felt more like I was drowning than climbing. Getting out of this well proved to be one of the most complicated tasks I have ever faced because of how mentally and emotionally draining it was. However, I overcame my wall/well dilemma with pure optimism and perseverance, virtues I gladly give credit to my [at the time] seemingly devastating experiences for obtaining.

The final occurrence of my STEP Signature Project that I recognize for its transformation of my values and self-understanding is an injury I endured leading into the last two weeks of the DCI 2017 season. While we did not know what it was at the time, MRI screenings following my return home revealed a femoral stress fracture, a fairly uncommon injury that the doctors found I had sustained the last 14 days of my project. Rehearsing and performing on my leg was excruciatingly painful and I had medical staff on tour constantly tending to my needs in order to get me to the end of the season in one piece. Due to my newfound self-determination and grit, I found it within myself to push through extreme physical pain and the desire to give up, despite having an injury that could possibly be detrimental to my long-term athletic competences and health.

By the end of the season, I changed in ways I otherwise would never have expected to if not for my experiences during the course of my STEP project. Such transformations as these are so essential to one’s maturing and stepping into the world as a full-fledged, competent adult and member of society. My gain of appreciation for my own determination and desire to achieve greatness will foster my growth in professional and personal areas of life. These attributes are key to being in healthy community with others and reliable as a working person and responsible citizen and friend, and I cannot give enough recognition to STEP for catering to my transformation and inspiring me to take great strides into my future.

Going Solo

Tanner Pryor – Artistic and Creative Endeavor

 

 

1. My project aimed to transform myself as a musician from a drummer in a band to a solo performer, capable of playing without needing a full band with the purpose to expand myself and my independence as a musician beyond my past experiences in group settings. This will also give me the opportunity to use music as a method of self expression as I have always wanted, rather than to express the ideas of my singer, the director, or composer of my concert band’s music. The project consisted of two main parts. The first part focussed on the academic aspect where I met with instructors to learn to sing and play guitar at a level in which I could perform in front of large crowds by myself. The second part included the several shows I played where I put into practice all of the skills I learned in the first summer and performed in Toledo, Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Missouri.

2. There were several changes in my understanding of myself and my worldview as I progressed through this project. First and foremost, I have gained both independence and confidence in my musical life. Before this project, I thought there was no hope in being able to perform musically solo. I feel as if I experienced a great transformation in this aspect of my self. I am now actually more confident and excited to play solo than I ever was in my past bands and group musical experiences. Another great change I experienced throughout the course of this project was my eye for opportunity. My past experiences with musical performance included shows in bars and the Ohio Union with my band, large orchestral productions with my high school concert band, football halftime shows with my high school marching band, and finally pauses in action at sporting events with my high school and college athletic bands. I saw these as my sole opportunities to play. If i wanted to play my music, I had to find one of these groups and make a long term commitment to play. The issue with these groups are the lack of flexibility, creative control, and opportunity to play. Because of this project, I have began viewing everything as an opportunity to play. As a solo guitarist, performance opportunities can be found absolutely anywhere. I played in small intimate settings as well as larger, more public venues. As I travelled from city to city, I kept an eye out for public areas that I thought would have good acoustics or even just a good backdrop for photos or videos. I was no longer limited to football fields and concert halls. Now, I see performance opportunities absolutely everywhere and the only thing limiting me was how far my 16 year old car could drive me.

Finally, I discovered a whole new world in the academic side of music. Previously, I had only taken lessons to learn drums and piano but found I had a tutor that was incompatible with my style of learning and was not really growing as a musician. At that point I had written off all lessons and thought they were an experience that I would not benefit from. Because of this I was mostly a self taught musician. Over the years, I had tried to teach myself to sing and play guitar but could not make any progress as I really didn’t know anything about those things. During the creation of my proposal, I struggled to find an academic aspect to relate to my project. After careful deliberation with my mentor and others close to me, they had me convinced that vocal and guitar lessons may be a worthy avenue to learn. I spent some time looking for teachers and reading their student testimonials and I reluctantly decided on two teachers who I thought had the best chance at teaching me to play and sing. I am so incredibly glad I did. They taught me everything I needed to know about singing and playing guitar and introduced me to music theory from the perspectives of guitarists and vocalists. I learned how to blend the two arts into one and make music worth listening to. I loved every second of my lessons and am incredibly grateful for the opportunity STEP gave me by allowing me to afford these lessons. If it were not for the great expense, I would still be taking lessons now. I now have more faith in the academic side of music instead of trying to teach myself. There are many more changes in my understanding of myself and my worldview that were brought on as a result of my participation in this project, including the change in understanding of the cultural practices and how they vary even in different cities within Ohio, but I felt these were the most impactful.

 

3. The changes I just mentioned were caused by several events, interactions, and relationships I formed and experienced during my project. The most impactful experiences were the shows I played. They were not the first step in my transformation into a solo musician, but they were the most impactful and most important. All of the preparation from the first summer led to my ability to perform and that ability was directly showcased in my first performance. That initial performance in Toledo was far from easy and I was so incredibly nervous to start. I had never performed by myself and despite all of the preparation and work I had put into this moment, I still felt my throat dry and I was sweating bullets at the thought of performing by myself in front of a group of strangers.This is something I never felt as I had always previously been able to fall back behind other performers if I was having an off-night or experiencing any anxiety. However, as soon as I began to play, my nerves had already started to fade. I still made mistakes and I didn’t play as well as I had hoped but I am so very happy with my first performance as I felt I had taken a big step in my music. I could say I was a solo artist and musician for the first time in my life. I knew from that moment that I could do it without a band and I had so much more confidence in myself and my playing. The confidence from the first show carried forward to my next three and I was able to stand in front of people and just play. These shows were what gave me the confidence and independence to formally call myself a solo musician.

 

These shows and the work leading up to them were also hugely responsible for my eye for opportunity. As I said, I had a set of assumptions about venues in my mind and I tried to adhere to those assumptions when finding my own locales to perform in. However, I immediately found that without a local following, no bar owners would give me stage time. That’s when I had to find my own opportunities to play. I began by forgetting about bars. I was most comfortable playing in bars but they weren’t comfortable with my lack of fans. I started looking for public places that would most likely have people sitting around. That’s how I found my new venues. My performance in Cincinnati was at the Majestic Springs Golf Club. It is very common to wrap up a round of golf by spending some time at the bar so I knew I would have an audience. I spoke with the owners and they allowed me to come perform. My other shows were found in a similar manner. I found similar attributes in the Toledo dorms and at my friend’s wedding in Cleveland. Later in the summer, I took a trip to the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri and as I arrived at my cabin for the weekend, I found a spot near the cabin where I absolutely had to play a show. Again the owners loved the idea and gave me the opportunity to play. All of these experiences were the driving forces in opening my eyes to new opportunities.

 

Finally, I formed many relationships during the course of my project but the most impactful were the ones I formed with my vocal and guitar instructors. They both had extensive experience in performance and I knew they would be very valuable in my transformation. I spent almost as much time being coached by them as I did basically interviewing them and trying to pull every last bit of advice and information from them about the journey I had planned ahead of me. I asked about finding venues, instruments, travelling on tour, and preparing for shows. Their combined wealth of knowledge was enough to keep me totally engrossed for the full ten weeks of lessons as well as the course of the entire project as I wished I could take more lessons to continue learning. As my shows approached, I felt almost over prepared as I had taken all of their advice and applied for even the very small shows I performed with small, casual audiences. Some of their advice applied to the small shows, and some were for the European tour my guitar teacher just returned from but I took it all in and tried to apply it to my situations. My teachers were really the driving force in my love of the academic side of music as well as my confidence and independence I gained from this project and my relationships with them.

 

4. This change is very significant for me both personally and professionally. Personally, I can separate myself from my band and other musicians to be the most independent performer I can be. I am no longer reliant on others. As I transition out of Ohio State in the coming months and into a professional role, I will surely have less opportunity to find like minded musicians who wish to perform with me. Being able to perform as a solo musician is of the utmost importance as I will likely find myself without a band and expressing myself through music is a hugely important part of who I am. I can do this now as I have transformed from a very codependent, supporting drummer to a confident, independent, solo musician.

Thanks to this foundation as a solo musician, in the future, I feel I will be successful in performing either solo or even leading a band that supports me and my music. I wish to have full creative control and flexibility moving forward with the confidence I have gained from my transformation. This is something I was not capable of as a supporting musician before I went through with this transformational experience and opportunity to grow. Again, I am very grateful for the STEP program for making this possible by allowing my transformation from a supporting musician to a confident solo musician.

 

I have recorded my thoughts after all of my lessons and performances and accumulated them here at tannerpryorstep.wordpress.com

Restoring A Classic Motorcycle

For my STEP signature project, I restored a classic 1972 Honda CB350 Supersport. I bought an old CB350 that had been in a crash, neglected, taken apart, and put into boxes in a basement near Columbus. Over the past year and a half, I’ve spent my free time fixing, cleaning and restoring the bike into a functional motorcycle. (It you found this interesting and want to read my blog on the project, it can be found here)

Above: A picture of the motorcycle before it was disassembled by the PO (Above) and a picture of the bike after its restoration (Below)

Throughout the course of this project, I have learned a lot about myself. When I first started this project, I had never even touched a motorcycle, let alone taken one apart. The only knowledge I had going in was a general idea of how an engine worked. In a lot of ways, it wasn’t even a project that I expected to be able to complete. But through the course of the project I had a realization: there are lots of things that people don’t attempt because they don’t think they are capable of doing it – but they are capable. I’m an electrical engineer. I had no clue how a motorcycle worked. There were several times that I almost convinced myself to abandon this project idea because I didn’t think I was capable of completing it. But I threw myself at it. It wasn’t easy. I screwed up plenty of things, wasted my time and my money on failure after failure. But in the end, I was able to push myself through. Now I have not only a customized motorcycle that I built myself, but I have new knowledge that I can keep with me for the rest of my life.

The other big thing that changed about me through this project was the way I handle problems. Before this project, any time I had a problem, there was a person in my life who could help me. In this project, there wasn’t. No one I knew had done anything like this before. As a result, I had to go out on my own and find people who had. I met people on online forums, I called professionals around the world, and I drove to small motor shops all around the state of Ohio meeting new people. Sometimes they could help, and were a massive resource for me. Other times, they couldn’t and I had to brainstorm new solutions.  It was a very transformational experience. By the end of the project, I felt more comfortable than I ever have before in facing adversity.

The biggest contributors to my learning were the problems I faced in restoring the bike. For example, I ran into problems in budgeting. I originally planned to restore it to factory condition (same color, same parts, etc.) However, I discovered right away that it was going to be too expensive for me to re-chrome the necessary parts. Also, many of the factory parts were extraordinarily difficult to find, and not even close to being within my budget. So I changed plans. I had to accept that there are factors out of my control and that all I can do is the work around them.

Another big contributor was problems I faces in the engineering of the bike. For example, the cam chain tensioner I had didn’t fit into the channel that was designed for it. To solve this, I ended up finding a machine shop near my hometown that was willing to mill out the channel to new dimensions that would allow me to install the tensioner I had. Another big problem was that my points weren’t contacting, which meant that the spark plugs wouldn’t spark. I bought new points, assuming the old ones were bad, but it didn’t fix the problem. I took the entire advance and contactor assemble out of the engine and checked it for bending or other potential damage that might have prevented it from contacting, but no such luck. In the end, I had take it and drive to several classic motorcycle shops around Ohio, in the hopes that someone could tell me what was wrong. In the end I found a tiny hole-in-the-wall shop in Toledo that miraculously had some of the original points for the CB350. We installed them, and it worked! Turned out that the reproduction points for the CB350 were dimensionally off. These are just two examples of the hundreds of time consuming problems I faced during this project. But what they taught me is that adversity is unavoidable, but it isn’t something that you can’t get past.

Above: A picture of the modified channel for the cam chain tensioner (Above) and the head and valves with the cam tensioner installed (Below)

Another big part of my experience was the networking and getting to know new people. For example, I had the body color parts on the bike painted by Jake Pierson, an automotive painted in my hometown. Before this project, I knew his name (had had done some work for my grandpa in the past), but I had only talked to him once or twice. I got into contact with him, and over the course of our business I like to think we’ve become friends. I also got to closely know John at Motorcycle Solutions in Toledo. I met John during the course of this project, and he was a massive resource for me. They are both examples of people that I wouldn’t have gotten to know if it weren’t for this project. I also feel that getting to know them got me out of my comfort zone. This project forced me to try things and meet people that I wouldn’t have otherwise.

I think this experience is massive for me as a person. We all know education is important. It’s why we spend inordinate amounts of money to go to a college. But what I think frequently gets left behind in education is physical experience. There’s something massively different between problem solving with a written problem in a book, and looking at a real life mess and thinking, “what will make this better?” I’ve always been a decent student. I’m not going to claim to be the best (and I’ve got grades to prove it), but I’ve always been able to make it through and learn what I need to to get by. But real life experience is an entirely different thing. When you graduate, it isn’t about the mathematical theorems you memorized, or how to write in iambic pentameter. It’s about learning to solve problems you’ve never had any experience with. It’s about forcing yourself out of your comfort zone and trying new things. It’s about new meeting people and learning to work with them. That’s why I think this project is important to me. It’s a part of my education that, without STEP, would have been mostly neglected.

So that said, thanks to everyone who helped me along the way, and a huge thanks to OSU for giving me the support I needed to try something new.

Regards,

-Sam Taylor

A New Tool In A New Digital World

My project began with research, even before the STEP proposal was a glint in my eye, on countless parts and systems that would comprise my new tool: a self-built computer. Like any good engineer, I love the electronic paraphernalia I use every day to study, work, and learn. But as a burgeoning artist, I find myself struggling to find my way. Being able to assemble my own computer to learn it inside and out for use as a tool for art and technology was a truly transformational experience in how I craft my digital career.

The only time I had spent with hardware prior to planning my budget was accidentally breaking CD drives. Going through the computer science courses for my major taught me a lot about the theory behind hardware old and new, but I still had no idea what was really inside my computers of days gone. Either way, my current tools were years out of date, and college had ignited motivation to broaden my horizons. I always wanted to be more than just an engineer, and hopefully this project, vigorous commitment to artistic clubs, and extracurricular doodling could all help prove it. The most promising new area to explore was computer graphics, seemingly seamlessly combining technology and art. But without this project, I couldn’t even draw a cube on my screen without my laptop groaning and overheating. What makes this project transformational is how it gave me a platform to truly launch myself off. The project ended up giving me a worldview when one didn’t exist; how computer art works was only in my head prior.

After sifting through countless comment chains, tech reviews, and personal testing, I had my list of parts and new knowledge of how it all fit together. I had applied the theory taught and knew why what I picked was the best for what I wanted to do: graphics. Graphical Processing Units and high-Hz monitors alike joined together in my mind to visualize the end product. By the time my budget was submitted and approved, I was raring to go. But that’s when problems came; the assembly was more difficult than I imagined. Unlike LEGOs, parts can break if you’re not careful with them. Luckily, I got by with a little help from my friends and the online communities I scoured. It turns out that when you’re directed to “use force” to insert a chip into a cage, it really does mean with force.

To self-analyze a bit, I would say I started slow in making things happen with this project. I had all the parts research done for weeks before the funds were disbursed, and all arrived promptly thereafter, but school took over and slowed the assembly. Then finals came up and put a hamper on spreading my wings any. Finally, a summer internship was the final delay in getting me to put my motivation where it needed to be. I believe I’ve had a healthy growth with the project since the summer, trying out new tools on personal artistic projects or completing classwork at a constant rate this time.

A schedule has let me develop the skills I set out to. Classes like Real-time rendering give me a foundation to rev my graphics card with benchmarks and small experiments with physics or graphics. For the last five months I’ve been getting better and better at creating cleanly and efficiently with my computer. To be more classically artistic, I’ve gotten video essays that had floated around in my head for years out the door and being shared with the world now. Knowing that I actually can do something now lets me find the motivation and will to learn much better.

I came out of the project with a new toolbelt to do work with. With the capabilities provided by my new tower, I’ve could mess around in engines and frameworks available online to advance my understanding of computer graphics to the point of being confident enough in it to enroll in graduate level courses in real-time rendering, which is presenting moving scenes in real-time, and soon computer vision, or how computers take in visual information. Being a computer science major, it is directly tied to benefitting my day-to-day life at school as well. Finally, I always wanted to give back this information to the communities that supported me in getting it, notably OSU. I’ve started volunteering my own opinions and knowledge founded in this project on the websites used in its construction. After being turned down by a handful of Columbus institutions, I’ve decided to network with the Animation Club and our own ACCAD to figure out a way to present the technical processes and information I’ve gathered across this transformation to the community. I’m even applying to ACCAD to continue my education very soon, and I’m sure my tool will accompany me along the way. Overall, being able to encourage myself to try the path of graphics that I always wanted to do but never could was the largest benefit of this project, and the people I’m able to help and inform will be the continuing reward as I advance my way into the bleeding edge between art and technology.

Chance Lytle | lytle.100

Game Development and Business

Name: Luke DeLong

 

Type of Project: Artistic and Creative Endeavours

 

  1. Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project.

 

Because my project was focused on developing a game and starting a business, the main activities included coding, creating pixel artwork, and networking with others. The first two were more straightforward than the last, but because of the networking was done, the company, Quadratic Games LTD., is working with a client to develop a game that they are attempting to develop

 

  1. What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your view of the world changed/transformed while completing your STEP Signature Project?

 

When we first started, I thought the barrier of entry would be much larger than it is. I figured companies would not want to hire two college students to help them develop anything. I was obviously wrong. My partner and I are now on the development team for an independent video game (indie game) and currently working towards completing the owner’s vision as well as bolstering our experience.

 

My major is STEM Education and as such, I learn a lot about the education system and how it works. This project has brought over education into the spotlight for me. I had always believed that a college education was required for getting well-paying jobs but I now realize that you can get to a very similar position just by practicing what you would like to be doing. Getting a college degree for game design is only one way to join the market. I only wish that there was less of a gap between the pay of a college graduate and a high school graduate even if they are equal in terms of their vocational skills.

 

  1. What events, interactions, relationships, or activities during your STEP Signature Project led to the change/transformation that you discussed in #2, and how did those affect you?

 

After starting our game, it was obvious that we still had a lot to learn. We both decided that we should spend part of our time dedicated to develop the game towards learning what exactly it is that makes a good game, how to implement the different mechanics we wished to see in the game, and finally the importance of testing our game on paper. These events bolstered our planning skills and also our ability to predict how game mechanics would play out.

 

It was shortly after we had made a small prototype on the computer that I found someone who was trying to find a group of people to dev his game. We ended up talking and it came to the point where I was hesitant to agree to help him so I put the condition on that if he was able to find more people then we would be more likely to consider it.

 

He came back a few months later with the people that I had asked for. The three people he had gotten to agree to help him were all college graduates with degrees in game design. Honestly, I was shocked that he even came back to us with the roster that he had formed but I was glad to agree to hear him out. We started out all signing non-disclosure agreements and then figuring out exactly what the idea of the game was. Everyone seemed to be in agreement that it had potential and we began working the week after.

 

I was actually shocked at how backward we had started developing our initial game. We hadn’t designed out exactly how the mechanics would work with numbers before we tried to prototype it in code, but with this new group, those that had degrees insisted that we get everything on paper and even run paper tests before even touching anything related to code.

 

  1. Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable for your life?

 

Ultimately, going into teaching, the concepts and ideas I’ve learned about making video games will not help me much. I have begun to see the tip of the iceberg of what is engaging for others and how the nebulous concept of fun works but overall this aspect of the project will not be too helpful for me as long as I stick to the education route I planned on following.

 

The business side of our project though has impacted me immensely. I had always heard how important networking was for businesses but it had never really stuck in my mind that it was as important as it is. Going into teaching, or any profession, networking can bring you options. I would never be able to be apart of the development team I’m on now if I hadn’t made an effort to reach out to others in similar situations to me.

Below are the different iterations of the artwork for an ooze that was to be intended to be in the game

 On the bottom of this image is the first attempt at drawing an ooze. As you can clearly see it’s very rudimentary and looks extremely flat. This is due to the pillow shading used to attempt to give it some depth. The ooze above the first attempt uses a more realistic shading as the object is curved almost like a water droplet. The corners are also more rounded to resemble surface tension

 The third iteration of the ooze is much lighter than the second due to the incorporation of internal refraction of light. The light source was also raised changing where the brightest spot on the ooze is located

 

The final iteration of the ooze before we moved onto someone else’s team sees a change in the color palette. We added green and yellow into the blue and white of the original palette. Ultimately I like the third iteration the best as this final one has a bit too much dark.

 

This is a blown up image of what the ooze would be dropping after defeat. We had named this adhesive. We used the shading style that made the first ooze look so flat and because of the size, it was not noticeable.

Stepping into Funk

Through my piano, composition, and Alexander Technique lessons, my goals were to develop a new style of workflow composition which captured ideas I had as fast as possible, so that I could move onto later stages of composition more quickly, and to be able to play with the freedom I could muster in a music ensemble. The Kawai ES8 Digital Piano that I eventually decided to purchase was extensively used throughout my project to develop composition ideas and practice set lists in apartment settings where nearby access to a decent piano was out of the question, and headphone use was strictly enforced. Due to the injuries I sustained, the scope of the project changed fundamentally, from results oriented to learning more and becoming a better human being.

I learned that thinking too much confuses the mind and makes my tension worse. Through my lessons, I came to realize that after a couple of iterations of mentally thinking about the process, the body must be the one to take up motions and knowledge and turn that into music. Secondly, I became acutely aware of the amount of physical tension I was holding as a result of my perfectionism, anxiety, and unconscious repressed emotion. By letting those things go through use of the Alexander Technique, QiGong meditation in Kung Fu, mindfulness, Sarno’s MindBody approach, Gallwey’s Inner Game of Tennis, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, I realized that the body holds tension to distract us from thinking about the problems we’re having in our minds because it deems that they are too scary to deal with. I was able to progress quite a bit by switching up my approach between different philosophies and attacking the issue from multiple different angles. I learned how powerful attachment and judgment of thoughts could be. As I improved my mental hygiene, I began to notice dramatic improvements in my quality of life and overall mood, which helped me play much more expressively and freely as a result.

Before dealing with my injuries became the main priority of my musical pursuits, I always moved quickly from event to event in my life, with a mind so cluttered that I couldn’t sit down and not do anything without feeling overwhelmed and anxious. As a result, I kept working so that I wouldn’t have to think of anything. Combined with an attitude of setting unrealistic goals for myself and absolute perfection in whatever I was doing, it became very difficult to move forward. As I began to heal myself from my pain, I realized that a full change in my value system had to take place. I began to see “mediocre” work as “good enough” and learned that reasonable time and energy limits to several tasks that required a lot of concentration did indeed exist. Secondly, I became less anxious of the future by realizing that I am also defined by what I do, not only by what I think. Once I understood that all I must do is focus on today’s tasks that are achievable and realistic, and the rest will take care of itself, my concentration became much more narrow and I actually achieved more while being less tense and anxious.

Throughout Spring 2017, I played with a friend I met in the winter Alexander Workshop. We played a mixture of music improvisation bordering on jazz fusion, jazz, and blues. We also shared each other’s compositions and I learned a lot about how a singer-songwriter makes their music. The experience broadened my view of how music could be made, and that music could also not be taken as seriously, but could be just as fun. It was around this time that I realized that while I wanted to take my music seriously, the music-making process itself didn’t have to be as serious or restrained. As a result I loosened up and learned to have fun even if the theory behind the improvisation wasn’t very complicated or I didn’t play the perfect solo.

At the beginning of June 2017, I joined a funk group called “180 Funk and the Supreme Court Jesters.” While I was in Columbus taking classes Monday through Friday, I would drive to my hometown where practices for the group were held every Friday and Sunday. I also didn’t have much time to practice the set lists, which were fairly large (9 songs each). We had performances planned in mid-July, and set lists were announced a couple of weeks before the performance date was set. My experience with ear training and music theory was put to the test as frequently I had to listen to songs via offline playlist in my car as I drove to practice. I was also tasked by the leader to come up with ways to make the overall group sound warmer and fuller. I had to combine my knowledge of classical/jazz piano and music production to come up with ways to make the sound better. Many times I would transcribe the horn melodies and play them with both hands. As a result of all of this my ear became much sharper and my technique improved.

Secondly, my joining the group was purely by fluke, and the group leader emphasized that very serious commitment was only optional. I was able to practice taking one day at a time and trying just to be good enough. Many times I allowed myself to play what I could for however long I could, and I didn’t push myself beyond that. While progress was slower, it was meaningful. I was surprised to see that other group members were sympathetic and supportive of me as they knew the other activities I was involved in. At the beginning of practice, I didn’t really know how to play in the groove of each song very well, and I was so focused on playing my parts right, I barely even paid attention to the band sound. But as I practiced by listening to the songs more, I realized how I fit into the overall band sound and found myself not being able to hear individual parts anymore. It was also very enlightening playing with other people. I learned about other projects that musicians might pursue, got feedback from a lot of different sources, and met people with vastly different skillsets than mine.

I also jammed with 180 Funk’s drummer a few times over the summer, who is quite experienced and played in many bands. For most of my life, I had played music by myself, and as a result I kept learning theory and focused less on the actual function of each note and chord. A golden piece of advice I received from him was to not create complicated structures for songs, but to keep the structure and harmony simple, while adding in more complex things as a spice. This mindset opened my eyes to a whole new world of music that I had previously thought was uninteresting.

Firstly, I am now able to play piano and work with no pain, and limited capacity. The fact that I am able to function at all has tremendously impacted my quality of life. That combined with all that I have learned in the past two years has also given me the opportunity to enjoy and excel in very different fields while spending about the same amount of time on each activity as I did before. Music is more fun to me, and I enjoy the simpler things in life as a result of my experiences. It has also made me more focused. By focusing on things one day at a time and not worrying too much about the big picture, I’ve been able to get more done in a shorter time and churn out higher quality work. I understand my limits much more, and am more comfortable doing work that does not meet my perfectionist standards.

Here are some of the videos of the band and my recording over the summer:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dd_K4yHF2TA — Recording session, Early May
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lb68WZy5_WE — Practice session, Mid June
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ijrRqEF4pX4 — Gig #1, Late July
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f_m5Fsjoki0 — Gig #2, Late July
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aAI6Uey9pOM — Gig #2, Late July
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qEnQZJ28WkU — Recording session, Late August

Artistic and Creative Endeavor App Project

For my STEP signature project, I designed an application using equipment and licenses. I developed an app using the newer coding language created by Apple, Swift (2014), using the IDE Xcode created for developing iOS apps.

 

The main change I underwent throughout completion of the project was learning how to program a graphical user interface (GUI) and learning that it is not where I see my career going. Although I’ve been programming for many years, I’ve always done small command-line programs that completed different simple tasks. The closest thing I had ever done to creating a user interface was creating html websites. Although I enjoyed creating this app and learning the new language Swift, I realized that this isn’t the type of work I want to do in the future. There are many specialized fields that a programmer or software engineer can go into, and I learned throughout this that I do not want to do higher level programming, but would rather work on things at a lower level. I completed this project while I was at an internship with Intel working on firmware validation, and I found that I preferred the lower-level C code and thought it was more enjoyable to creating an application with high-level Swift.

 

Throughout completion of my STEP project, I realized that I struggle with programming graphical user interfaces (GUIs). I’ve programmed a small calculator in Java before starting on my STEP project, but I only created the logic, not the appearance. When I originally started programming the app, I thought I would struggle with the language the most, but as I kept working, I realized that picking up the new language was simple, but when it came to the UI, I had no idea where to start, despite the templates available. I followed tutorials having to pause every few minutes and even now, I feel like I don’t truly understand how the connections were made between the controller and the view. I ended up running through the tutorial multiple times to try and grasp what I was doing instead of just how to do it. In an attempt to push myself and learn how to program an application without a guide, I tried to modify the app created at the end of the tutorial to have a small change that I preferred, but struggled with build error after build error. I ended up having to look up a multitude of tutorials to then figure out how to make the changes that I thought were simple. Of all the things I have programmed, creating this incredibly simple app was the hardest. Not only did I struggle to grasp it, I felt frustrated that the final product I produced could not be as perfect and as new and creative as I had imagined.

 

This change is valuable to my life because it opened my eyes into what I want to go into. Although creating this app did not make me realize that I want to go into application development, it did show me where my strengths and weaknesses lie as a programmer and what I get joy out of working with. For the longest time I thought I wanted to go into higher level programming because it is easier for you to see your progress and final result, but I have come to realize that my passion for C throughout my coursework and my enjoyment of computer networking classes could be a more suitable career for me to pursue. Although it may be harder to see progress, it is what I am more passionate about.

 

 

 

 

 

 

If The Mountains Bow in Reverence, So Will I

Lily Jones

Artistic and Creative Endeavors

I’ve never been good at journaling. Let me be honest, I have always wanted to be a journaler, and it made sense, I have a passion for words. But even with my love for creating a world out of paragraphs I never have taken the time to let my pen be apart of the everyday, from the mundane thoughts as I walk to class, or in the deep soul churning revelations the God of the Universe whispers to my heart before I get up out of my half-conscience, post-alarm morning nap. A heart and mind together have so much to go through in a day, at least mine does. But I’ve been realizing more and more in my failed attempts at creating this new lifestyle that maybe reflection, though beautiful, can be almost bitter-sweet. That a life constantly in the why and what is harder and more tiring than being on auto-pilot. Numbness and the mundane are enticing, something a college girl like myself can invite in pretty readily. But though easy, a deep sigh of peace never seems to fill my lungs as I sit mind turned off in front of a screen. The mundane isn’t cutting it and maybe the pen to the paper is much more than an exciting lifestyle change. What if real peace is met in a life constantly stimulating the brain towards a greater connection? What if it comes from taking each moment captive and tossing it high towards a loving Creator? What if the greatest peace you will find, Lily Jones, is when you are trying to fall asleep back against the cold dirt of the mountains of Washington, listening to the pitter patter of rain against your tent and asking to the quiet, who are you really God and who am I to be in the midst of that?

This summer STEP with Ohio State gave me the opportunity to travel out West with a friend for a part of our summer in a tiny red Toyota with a tent, some paints and canvas, bread and PB&J and a journal and Bible in hand. Have you ever had expectations be not only met but succeeded? That was this trip out West for my friend and I. We had the opportunity to travel through as many national parks and major cities as we could hit throughout the entire western side of the United States. New cultures were put in front of my eyes, cultures that were stunningly different then mine though they were in the same country that my very different culture existed in. I was placed time and time again in front of such a diversity of scenes, whether that be the wonder of a mountain range or the vastness of an ocean, and each time I would simply state, “Has this been here all along? I have lived a life where this and I have existed separately?” I was hooked, my heart intertwined with the west coast each day I spent there. My vision I cast as I daydreamed about this trip years, turned months, turned days in advanced was one of my lonesome and I, accompanied by a journal and Bible atop a mountain. I believed the beauty I would see and maybe even the height of this massive rock would bring me the closest to my Creator I have ever been. To sit would be enough and no step on my part was necessary besides the climbing itself. I would physically take my body to strengths I had never tested to reach my God yet I would not ask myself to take my mind and heart anywhere further than the thoughts that flew throughout my subconscious as I climbed and eventually sat. I begged my mind and heart to understand God more fully but in the midst of my plea I was asking God to do all the work. I was asking for His masterpiece to change my heart as I sat and thought about how in the world I would be able to capture this on a camera for my friends and family back home.  But what if the times where I felt like my face couldn’t be any closer to my Savior without smashing together with His was when I sat in traffic in the middle of South Dakota listening to a podcast about a heart becoming whole, or when I lay awake in a less than ideal hotel in the middle of Nebraska allowing myself to be honest with God about fears and doubts I have grown to befriend the past couple of years? What if the heart of mine that I had caged, and tamed for years out of my fear towards its rebellious nature broke free not atop a mountain at all, but in the midst of my reflection beneath? For a daughter had a dream of knowing her Father, a dream of her heart bursting into praise atop a mountain, into the worship her Father finally deemed as worthy. For this daughter would be healed because she finally understood. Her heart would be new. But this Father had a different plan, and this plan didn’t begin in the funny way he surprised this daughter in meeting her in the mundane of a road trip, but it began much earlier atop a hillside called Calvary.

I am a girl who never enjoyed the silence, this personality of mine thrives off the beauty of relationship with humans. And even though my friend and I knew each other well, to only be with her for this length of time invited in many times of quiet. As I walk out of that I realize now I just didn’t know how to let my soul rest in the beauty of being in the quiet, to see the goodness of letting a mind truly wander. To sit in a truth read about my Creator for longer than a few minutes, what would that do to my body? Usually the silence was met by a constant knock of a familiar companion of my heart and mind, a companion that a lot of the times sounded great, creating stories of a better life that enticed this daydreamer to set aside the book in hand and walk through the painting being put in front of her. A painting of a girl who was enjoying the blessings of the Earth in fullness, the gifts she yearned for daily, for that one relationship to happen or that aesthetic of life to be achieved. Or the days when this heart would read a hard truth which was met with doubt to then be walked down a path with this companion to show her a painting of a girl who knew how to love her God perfectly in the midst of what she read. As time went on in relationship with her God this heart and mind of hers walked so often down these paths with the companion. She recognized the companion was not a friend at all, and each time she walked with him shame would create a shadow behind her. Her time set aside for her Creator was tainted and broken, for she knew she was choosing something before Him. Did she run? Oh boy did she run. She caged her rebellious heart and mind. She taught herself that to love God was to hate what her heart could produce in the process and to push it away each day. She would daydream about when she could finally stand atop a mountain in Montana and that which her eyes would see would fix this evil heart of hers and perfect worship would follow, a worship that wanted God alone. But what if this God of hers was in the quiet, asking her to practice coming to Him before mending things by sight alone or in conversation with a human, to choose Him first? But how could she arrive at his arms with a mess of sin in her own, she wouldn’t be able to return the embrace. But what if in the mundane of a road trip, the God of the universe painted a new picture for her heart to see, one of Him taking a look at the mess in her arms and scooping her up to hold her close. For He held her as she still clung to the broken pieces in her arms, and softly whispered, “My dearest child, do not be afraid of being a broken thing.”

Maybe a heart transformed and made whole is different then what I had imagined. Maybe this God loved despite my rebellious nature, and maybe even, he chose to love this broken thing in full awareness of the harm it could produce. That a heart made whole does not have a finish line I believe I will eventually reach one day, but what if that marker is in fact behind me? Sitting atop the hill called Calvary with a God turned man, choosing to suffer and die so He may take this heart into an eternity of relationship and intimacy. Maybe this in fact isn’t a maybe at all but a beautiful reality. There is a new way to live, a way that was in place since the beginning, one of better hope in intimacy with God, this new way being the truest desire of the human race, to know God and enjoy His Presence. And the God of Creation whispered these things to a heart of a scared girl, through His book and books of people that love Him so, to start from rest and walk forward in this intimacy. What would life look like then? What about when she still takes those deeply engrained paths with the companion trying to bring her back to the old way of blessings? What would life look life then? Relationship? “Yes, sweet child, relationship with me.”

This daughter is free in the midst of a mind and heart that will never understand. I will never understand why this is the way the Creator is, my heart cannot comprehend it. As I sit atop and even below the mountain I hear myself say, the mountains in my life are far too big, the suffering is too great, will I ever make it up and find relief? The pieces of my life are shattered and jagged. As I sat on a plane headed home, with eyes that had seen so much beauty, I fell into doubt once again and watched as the shadow of shame begin to form behind me. I, in little strength, brought this to my Creator and he chose to paint something in front of my eyes. There I sat with many broken pieces of glass, these to my understanding represented my life, undeniably broken. I sat in a room a corner behind me filled with darkness and above me shone a bright beam of light coming down. I further understood that I had two options. One, I could take my broken pieces and bring them to the dark and try to make them into a whole piece again. I of course attempted and try as I might I could not put them together on my own in that dark corner. So I turned to the light beam thinking, ah yes, I can use this light to fix these pieces. Then God stepped in and asked me something that didn’t make sense. He wanted me to take my broken pieces and simply hold them up to the light. Hesitant in seeing how this would solve anything I reached my arms up and placed these pieces of glass where the light could hit. What produced shocked me. These pieces, because of their shattered state, reflected and refracted creating a beautiful masterpiece. The understanding flooded through. Wholeness does not come from myself fixing my brokenness. Wholeness does not come from freedom through a life without brokenness. It comes from the light of the Father. I have to recognize my brokenness to then not ask for the blessing of my life here on Earth to be fixed, to gain a smooth piece of glass, a comfortably life free of suffering and hardship. But, I can accept my brokenness and hold it up to the light of God’s love. The Lord then began to pick up the most jagged pieces from the pile. An interesting combination began to flood through me of the familiar pain of knowing exactly what part of life they represented, the parts that had hurt the most and stayed with me the longest, yet a warmth came of knowing how much I had learned about my loving Father in the midst of them. He would then hold them to the light. He sweetly stated, “Look how they shine sweet child, look how far the light they produce reaches!” They would reach to places they could never obtain if they were made into one pane of glass.

The Lord has a plan to reveal Himself to my heart and others in the midst of brokenness, in a way I could never and  would never want to understand if my life was full of ease. As I stood the last days on the tops of those mountains, I didn’t fully get it, and I still don’t. But, I could stand and say the best life is one in relationship with my Creator. Blessings, though sweet, are not my greatest treasure. The heart of God in relationship with my own is the better way, looking towards the better hope of heaven. As I sit now in this truth I can rest. My heart is a mess but how much I can understand my Father in the way He knows this fully, yet scoops me up and simply whispers in love, “How I adore you child, do not be afraid of being a broken thing”.

This project may have seemed different than what one would think to give me an academic experience. For me, I desire to go into full time ministry after school. This trip gave me an experience with God that I will carry for the rest of my life to use in my career with students on campus ministry, teaching them the things I learned on this trip and the ways I learned how to study the Bible on this trip as well. Also, I desire to paint as a side job in my life and this trip gave me the opportunity to use new mediums of art and scenarios that I have never tackled from an artistic viewpoint. This type of art was challenging for me in a new way and broadened my horizons that I will use for my paintings later in life. This trip transformed me in so many ways, transforming my skills and my heart. I was able to become comfortable in my own skin in the midst of what I learned here and I think that trait I will carry with me in every aspect for the rest of my life.

 

Painting in National Parks

For my STEP Project this summer, I spent 6 weeks on a road trip out west with my best friend painting and reflecting in National Parks and experiencing the diverse cultures that exist in our country. I visited a total of 22 parks and several cities. My goal of this project was to grow in not only my painting skills, but also to grow spiritually and have the opportunity to reflect on my experiences in nature through many different mediums.

Throughout the course of this project, I learned much more than I had ever expected. Before even beginning the trip, I learned so much through the process of preparing. I was able to better develop my planning skills which was challenging for me because I have never been much of a planner, but the nature of this project required a great deal of planning. I developed a knack for attention to detail and research. Once the trip began, I experienced even more growth. Aside from honing my artistic skills and deepening my relationship with God, I experienced a great deal of personal growth. I learned a lot about myself throughout the six weeks. I learned more about what I am comfortable or uncomfortable with. I also gained a better understanding of my own strengths and weaknesses. And through unexpected situations, I was also able to gain better conflict resolution skills and I learned how to respond better to these situations that interrupt what we had been planned.

Aside from learning about myself, I was also able to learn a lot from the diversity in our country. It was very interesting to see how different the lifestyles were as we moved from one location to the next. I had never realized that, though one nation, our country has so many diverse cultures. And not only does our country have diverse cultures, it also has so many diverse landscapes. Seeing and being among these landscapes was an experience that nothing else could compare to. Whether it was a snowy mountain range, a deep, blue lake, an empty desert, a vast ocean, or even great sand dunes, I was left in awe at the sovereignty of God after seeing how truly beautiful our country and our world has been made.

This project led to many challenges that required flexibility and critical thinking to quickly and smoothly solve. Although these challenges seemed to be quite a nuisance at the time, these instances allowed my friend and I to hone our problem-solving skills and to learn to enjoy these unexpected changes. One of the first few days of the trip, we had been driving to our next destination for many hours when we hit a “road closed” sign only 30 minutes out from our destination. This road closure had us backtrack and added another 3 hours to our drive. At first this literal roadblock led to a great deal of frustration and annoyance, but as we drove the last 3 hours, we encountered so much beautiful scenery and ended up laughing about the situation and greatly enjoying the detour. Small moments like this were what truly made this project meaningful.

One of my favorite things about my project was deepening my relationship with God. By spending time in nature and reflecting on this experience through painting, I was able to learn a lot about God and my position in Him. Seeing the vastness and greatness of His creation in America made me feel so miniscule. And at the same time made me feel so amazed and awe-inspired by the vastness and greatness of my God. I was able to reflect on this not only through my paintings of this creation, but also through journaling. The time spent in reflection was very crucial to my growth throughout this project and led me to deepened relationship with my friend, with God, and a deepened understanding of myself.

Some of my favorite experiences of the trip came from interactions with strangers that we met from all over the country and even the world. I have never been someone who loves meeting new people and I am definitely not the type of person who jumps at an opportunity to talk to a stranger. However, after spending so much time with only one other person, the opportunity to talk with a stranger seemed a lot more appealing. The conversations and interactions I had with some of these people left an impact on me. Some were drawn out conversations getting to know the people next to us on our bus ride. Others were short interactions with someone we passed on a trail. However long or short the conversations were, it was very intriguing to hear a piece of someone else’s story and journey. There were so many different people that I interacted with who came from many different walks of life. There was a large group of middle-aged siblings from Cleveland, a young man from Massachusetts, an older couple from Utah, and even a family from Sweden, just to name a few. I loved seeing the diversity amongst these people and learning about their different ways of life. It was also really cool to see how random strangers impacted our journey and how we impacted other’s journeys along the way. Through things as simple as a tip about a certain hike or advice on the best place to go to things as kind as helping us set up our tent while huge gusts of winds worked against us, it was heartwarming to experience the goodness that can be found in all corners of the world.

The experiences I had and the things I learned while completing my STEP project will be significant throughout the course of my life and career. I have a better understanding of myself and the world around me which is extremely beneficial in all areas of life. My future career as a child advocacy lawyer will benefit from the skills I learned in the planning process, such as attention to detail and the things I learned during the project, such as my understanding of the world around me and the diversity in our country. This project has had a huge impact on my life and will continue to influence the way I see the world and how I interact in everyday life.