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Dormulator Up for Two Awards
September 1, 2005

A Calvin student's imaginative program for arranging a residence hall room has landed her two nominations in the 2005 Macromedia Student Innovation Award Program.

Emily Brondsema, a junior from Midland, Michigan, majoring in Spanish and visual communications, has been nominated in the program's "People's Choice Award" and "Editorial Award" categories for her work on "The Dormulator."

And what exactly is "The Dormulator?"

It's an online program that allows students to view a virtual image of a residence hall room, scaled to the dimensions of an actual Calvin dorm room, and to arrange the room, rotate its furniture and change the furniture colors. Though she based it on a similar program from another university's website, Brondsema has added several distinctive features to the Calvin version.

For example, because the furniture in Calvin residence halls is stackable, Brondsema designed her virtual room using an isometric view - an approach commonly used in technical illustrations. Using this angled perspective, the virtual designer can see which furniture arrangements are actually workable and which are not.

Brondsema's program also allows users to add personal touches to their virtual rooms: a poster of a favorite musician, band or movie and a fishbowl complete with a swimming goldfish. And the virtual view from the dorm room window is a shot of the campus from the Calvin webcam.

The program also allows the student designer to email his or her proposed room design to roommates.

She imagines the program could relieve some of the stress of move-in day and the problems that sometimes come with arranging a dorm room.

"Normally on move-in day," she says, "you're trying to move all of your stuff into this cramped room, your parents are there, and you're trying to say goodbye to your parents because they’re leaving for a semester and you have all this nice furniture that's stackable, but you've never lived in a Calvin dorm before."

As for the Macromedia contest Brondsema says it's "cool" that she's one of the finalists in a worldwide competition (her fellow nominees hail from places such as Singapore and the Netherlands) but adds the real reward was the project itself.

"It was a lot of fun to do," she says, "because I got to play around and learn a lot of new things."

Those who worked with Brondsema are thrilled by her nomination for two awards.

"We're so extremely proud of Emily for creating this," says John Niedzielski, a multimedia specialist in Calvin Information Technology's Teaching & Learning Digital Studio. "She really hit the ground running with it."

Niedzielski employs several students to assist Calvin faculty and staff in building technology into their classrooms and work projects.

"We're kicking the tires on new software and new web technologies or services," he says. "Our students are here primarily to assist our walk-in visitors, but they also work on projects like The Dormulator."

The Macromedia Student Innovation Awards are open to entries that were created using Macromedia products. If The Dormulator, made using Macromedia’s Flash, Fireworks and Dreamweaver programs, wins the "People’s Choice Award" category, Brondsema will receive an iPod; if the program wins an "Editorial Award," she will receive $1,000.

Since its June launch, The Dormulator has received over 14,000 hits, and over 1,000 room configurations have been saved to our database by visitors who e-mailed their room designs to friends and family.

~written by media relations staff writer Myrna Anderson