EAST students win technology award

Jake Knight

At their national conference, eight EAST students received a Best Technology award. | tony garibay photo

At the national Environmental and Spatial Technology (EAST) Conference at the Hot Springs Convention Center March 1, eight students brought home a Best Technology award.

The students include seniors Adam Bunch, Leon Kockaya, Tyler Smith and Andrew Vanlandingham, juniors Trevor Delaney, Jenna Hunter and Bradley Thomas and sophomore Christian Gonzales.

Senior Kevin Hollins served on the EAST Conference technology team to help with technology issues during the conference.

The students received the award based on their 10 by 10 booth that displayed their projects throughout the year, ranging from community service projects to web design to video game design. Students from Arkansas, California, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Iowa, Pennsylvania and Hawaii vote for 191 other schools at the conference to receive the Best Technology award.

Their booth featured a 50-inch television and nine 20-inch monitors that scrolled through a slideshow of EAST projects. Four workstations showed the group’s game design using Unity and UDK software.

“Walking into our booth was like walking into Best Buy,” EAST facilitator Charles Holiman said.

Holiman attributes the award to the students’ advanced level of game design using a free version of Unity software.  Seniors Leon Kockaya and Andrew Vanlandingham led the group in video game design.

Kockaya began video game design when he was 16-years-old, but he used the Unity software leisurely until Holiman told him about the conference.

“Holiman told me about the conference, and said if I did a cool project, he could take me,” Kockaya said, “so I started working on it.”

Kockaya said he strengthened his game design skills by networking with people all around the world on forums. Holiman encouraged Kockaya to involve more students, so he enlisted the help of Vanlandingham to work on the game’s audio.

Eventually Kockaya and Holiman want to introduce the game to middle school science classes so students can use it as an educational game to correlate with the standards.

“It motivates students, and it’s common core,” Holiman said. “Hopefully it’ll be engaging, and the middle school can actually use it. That’s our end goal.”