The American Society for Engineering Education recently honored a student film by Loyola Marymount University alumni Neil Hilken ’14 and Thomas Ireton ‘14 (Film & Television Production) with the award for Best Film at its Community Engagement Division’s first annual Film Festival.
Chosen from among 33 entries, I Am Standing tells the inspirational story of a young boy with a neurological movement disorder and four mechanical engineering students from the Frank R. Seaver College of Science and Engineering (Connor Alvarez ’14, Taylor Chavez ’14, James Christiansen-Salameh ’14 and Deanna Watson ’14) who designed and built a unique assistive device to help him stand on his own. Read about the device students built and watch the winning film.
The award is the first-ever from ASEE’s Community Engagement Division, which aims to recognize outstanding contributions in the field of engineering education and community engagement.
“The judges were nearly unanimous in ranking this video in their top five videos during the evaluation period, noting both the quality of the video production itself as well as the integration of technical design and user needs,” said festival chair Dr. Thomas Colledge, P.E., Assistant Professor of Engineering Design at Penn State. “The video was a wonderful example of how engineers can use their technical skills to solve problems while developing their professional skills.”
“We are honored to be a part of this competition,” said Hilken. “Creating a film was a great way to spread the word about these different projects in the engineering community.”
“We are both really are grateful and excited that our work has been recognized,” added Ireton. “I feel like this documentary adheres to the mission statement [of LMU] and what it really means to be men and women for others.”
Both filmmakers attribute their success to the deep sense of connection and the spirit of collaboration engendered by the film. “We really established a relationship with the people we were making the film about—and with the engineers as well,” said Ireton.
“Jack’s story was pretty incredible,” said Hilken. “It’s not everyday you meet a young boy who is actively learning how to walk. Finding these engineers who have the ability to create a device that could potentially give Jack the ability to help him learn how to walk so that his life would be drastically improved, that was just huge. We felt like we needed to spread the word.”
“I believe that the film adds perspective to our project,” said Deanna Watson ’14, one of the engineering students featured in the documentary. “None of us chose this project because we expected this type of response from it. We chose it because it was truly in our hearts to do something good for someone else. We are all very different people, but shared this common goal of giving.”
Ultimately, the filmmakers hope their project will inspire future collaboration across colleges and disciplines at LMU, noting that, as film students, they had never been to the Seaver building before beginning this project. “It’s a world we would have never known about without this collaboration,” said Ireton. “Working together really brought our education to a higher level, beyond the classroom experience.”
“The takeaway message is that everybody has something to offer,” observed Hilken. “Whether your talents are filmmaking or engineering—just get out in the world, meet other people who are passionate about what they do, and make something that will actually make a difference.”