Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ball State has sought ways to remain optimistic. The following two stories are about the University’s reaction and perseverance during this uncertain time.
Through Immersive Learning, Ball State Students Help Shape the Future of Air Travel
By Stacey M. Lane Grosh, ’97
With deep dives into how to keep the public safe post-COVID-19, Ball State University Computer Information Systems students weeded through society’s air travel expectations and uncovered what could be done to help meet them at the Indianapolis International Airport (IND).
For their immersive learning projects, students worked with the Indianapolis Airport Authority during the 2020–2021 academic year. Their projects concluded with strategic plan presentations that focused on what travel may look like through 2026.
“We’re all experiencing the impact of COVID-19 together,” said Matt Smith, ’09, IT manager of applications for the Indianapolis Airport Authority. “The Ball State project helped us to analyze society and travel trends to ensure we’re delivering the best customer service.”
Airport personnel jumped at the chance to work with Ball State and its students to better prepare for both the present and future.
“Matt offered to work with six teams on six different projects,” said Fred Kitchens, associate professor of Information Systems and Operations Management, and Mr. Smith’s former professor. “He indicated that the airport was trying to figure out not only how to handle the pandemic but how to deal with the post-pandemic changes in society, travel expectations, and to be better prepared for any future pandemic situations that might arise.”
These immersive learning projects were unlike any the students have previously experienced. Professionalism and high-quality work were a top priority. The students understood that by working on this project, they were putting their Ball State degrees on the line.
Each student excelled in the class and earned the respect of airport staff.
“The airport ultimately determined whether our strategic plan proposal was viable,” said Andrew Rattin, ’21, Greenwood, Indiana, who was the project lead for the pre-security portion of the project.
This real-world approach—with hands-on learning and collaborative faculty—provided the perfect setting for the students to continue on their lifelong journeys to fulfilling careers and meaningful lives.
Ball State Seeks Personal Stories for COVID-19 Pandemic Project Archive
By Landa Bagley
Ball State University is providing a way for people to share their experiences during or related to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Document Your Story: COVID-19 Pandemic Project is an ongoing endeavor, spearheaded by Ball State University Libraries Archives and Special Collections, to collect and preserve items that document the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our communities.
University Libraries continues to seek archive contributions from Ball State’s campus community (faculty, staff, and students); Ball State alumni throughout the world; and residents, community organizations, and local businesses in Muncie and other parts of Delaware County, Indiana. Contributed materials—such as photos, videos, artwork, and written diaries—can be digital or physical items.
“Documenting our experiences may seem simple and small. But in the long term, it can have a big impact on understanding what everyone was going through during the pandemic or later, as a result of it,” said Emma Cieslik, ’21, who contributed her journals to this archive.
Sarah Allison, University Libraries’ head of archives user engagement, says personal stories can offer a larger lens through which historians and society see major events and their effects.
“A lot of times, that sort of history—especially with under-represented groups—gets missed, not documented, and not made a part of history,” Ms. Allison said. “Journals, papers, and documents, that kind of personal ephemera gives some deeper insight about specific impacts that events and actions make on individuals and their communities. This adds context to the larger reported story. You don’t have to be famous to have a place in history.”
Launched in tandem with the Everyday Life in Middletown Project and the Muncie Public Library, the project began accepting items in 2020. To learn more about contributing to the archive, email firstname.lastname@example.org. The COVID-19 Pandemic Project collection can be viewed at dmr.bsu.edu.