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LCC’s Digital Innovation Institute Awarded the 2017 Michigan Excellence in Technology Award

Wednesday, October 25, 2017  
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The Digital Innovation Institute (DII) at Lansing Community College (LCC) received the 2017 MI Excellence in Technology Award at Tuesday’s Michigan Digital Government Summit held at the Lansing Center.

The Award is based on LCC’s innovative DII programs in two student-produced projects:  The “Forest Defender,” a digital game which teaches users to identify the invasive Asia Long-horned beetle, and “Fly Like an Eagle,” which is an interactive presentation using drone video footage of Michigan landscapes, such as the Detroit’s Belle Isle and Tahquamenon Falls.

Ed Suniga, Director of Computer Information Technologies & Program Innovation at LCC said, “These programs are exciting opportunities for advancement for students.”

To date, nearly 15,000 state park visitors have played “Forest Defender, which is on display at eight Michigan state park nature centers.  “Fly Like an Eagle,” is on display on eight-foot screens at the Detroit Outdoor Adventure Center near Belle Isle.  Users explore their choice of eight digital landscapes using the hand-held sensors of a 3D model of an American Bald Eagle. The participant controls the eagle’s wings by waving their own arms as though in flight. This interactive presentation was created at the request of the MI Department of Natural Resources.

Matt Tomlin, LCC student in the DII program, said, “Helping to create these platforms was a new experience for me.  It taught me that I can do almost anything if I can control a digital eagle.”

Aaron Mundale, Project Manager at the DII, said, “Project-teaching through digital gaming is a new way to introduce concepts in class through simulation.  It teaches problem solving, critical thinking, and is a great learning experience to create applications from the ground up.”

David Grund, Developer at DII, agrees.  “These projects show how limitless the opportunities are.  None of these projects were our projects – agencies came to us with the ideas, and our students were able to create fun interactive ways to teach the concepts.”

Both of these extraordinary applications were a public/private collaboration between Lansing Community College, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, and the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget.


Director Ed Suniga; Project Manager, Aaron Mundale; Student Matt Tomlin holding the Award; Developer David Grund. Photo by LCC.

Accepting the 2017 Michigan Excellence in Technology Award on behalf of Lansing Community College are Ed Suniga from the Technical Careers Division, Interim Provost Elaine Pogoncheff, and Aaron Mundale and David Grund from the Digital Innovation Institute, and LCC student Matt Tomlin.

Also joining Lansing Community College is the head of the Department of Natural Resources Parks Division, Ron Olsen.

Contributors and collaborators not present include LCC Faculty Sean Huberty, DNR Chief Technology Officer Tom Weston, and DTMB DNR/AG/DEQ General Manager James Hogan. 

The Digital Innovation Institute (DII) at Lansing Community College (LCC) can be reached at 517-267-6406 or at lcc.edu/cit.


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