On Friday, September 20, 2019, Digital Media Connecticut (DMCT) held their second annual one-day Digital Media CT Summit at the University of Connecticut in Stamford. Recognizing Connecticut’s expertise in digital media, DMCT is a statewide initiative created to support a talent pipeline by connecting K-12 students, higher education, and industry professionals through speaker events. This initiative is organized by UConn’s Digital Media & Design department via a grant from the Connecticut Economic Resource Center, Digital Media Connecticut (DMCT) 2019 – Building tomorrow’s Digital Media practitioners in Connecticut, in collaboration with the CT Office of Film, Television, and Digital Media.
“We are working to build an initiative that connects industry, higher education, and K-12 institutions. This state has tremendous potential in digital media and there are exciting things already underway. Our work is focused on supporting some of the efforts already underway, while also establishing new ones such as an annual summit, a speaker series, and developing resources for the Digital Media CT website. If successful, everyone interested in film, television, and digital media will find something of value from our effort,” shared Matt Worwood, Associate Director of Digital Media & Design, Stamford and Co-PI on the grant.
The 2019 Summit was DMCT’s largest event to date, and this year brought together over 300 students, professors, and industry professionals from across the state. The DMCT 2019 Summit featured keynote speaker, George Barrios, Co-President of WWE; two mini keynotes by Carlota Charles, UI/UX Designer – Cigna Health, and KC Lathrop, CIO Program Manager, Design Operations – IBM; and two industry panels on UI/UX Design and Content Design. Students from University of New Haven, Western Connecticut University, Quinnipiac University, Sacred Heart University, University of Connecticut Stamford & Storrs, University of Bridgeport, J.M. Wright Technical High School, Bassick High School, PTech Norwalk, and Scofield Middle School were in attendance, making the summit DMCT’s most widely attended DMCT event yet.
The DMCT 2019 Summit featured key-note speaker, George Barrios, Co-President of WWE, who spoke on the importance of digital media, innovation, and informed data at WWE to continue being an industry leader. Following Barrio’s presentation and questions from the audience, two mini-keynotes took the stage, Carlota Charles, UI/UX Designer, Cigna Health and KC Lathrop, IBM CIO Program Manager, Design Operations. Charles shared how she ended up pursuing a degree in Web Design and Development at the University of Connecticut’s Digital Media and Design program and what led her to an internship that turned into a career at Cigna. CPTV worked with DMCT to produce a short film on her experience that was primered right before her mini-keynote.
Lathrop, who received her B.A. in Spanish & English Linguistics from DePaul University and her Master’s from the Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) at New York University shared that “ Journey’s aren’t linear” as she explained how she worked her way to where she is at IBM. Both mini-keynote speakers emphasized the importance of mentorships and seeking opportunities to follow your passion.
Afterwards, George Norfleet, Director of the CT Office of Film, Television, and Digital Media moderated two industry panels focusing on user experience. The first panel focused on user experience through a UI/UX lens and featured insights from Madeleine Chang, Product Designer at Synchrony Financial, Andriy Shpylchyn, Development Director, Innovation at Octagon, Ed McFadden, Design Principle and UX Creative Director at IBM CIO Design, Jon Temple, UX Designer at IBM CIO Design, and Bernard Francois, Found of Preview Labs. The second panel focused on user experience as it pertains to content design and social media. It featured Ettore Rossetti, Senior Advisor for Social Strategy & Digital Innovation at Save the Children, Colleen Sherry Senior Manager, Digital Marketing at Henkel, Michelle Penney, Visual Designer at IBM CIO Design, and Derek Ambrosi, National Emmy-Award Winning Editor.
Penney shared, “I was honored to be asked to join the Content Design panel at the Digital Media CT Summit. At CIO Design, our mission is to design the best experience possible for internal IBM communications. Content Design is so much more than ‘making it pretty,’ it’s about communicating a strong and powerful message. A creative career path is an ever-evolving one, and it was a pleasure meeting with students with the passion to grow!”
Following the panel, Robert Hutchinson spoke on behalf of the PTech program, a partnership between IBM and Norwalk’s high school and community college. Two current high school students shared stories of their experience interning at IBM. After lunch, attendees reconvened to learn from panelists Ed McFadden and Jon Temple of IBM CIO Design on design thinking and personas. Summit attendees then broke off into small groups with other students, professors, and industry professionals to walk through a user’s problem step by step, led by IBM CIO Design designers.
“I’d rate the event a 10 out of 10, because I now know what I want to be for the rest of my life. Like seriously, I know what I want to be for the rest of my life,” shared Danielle McMurtry, a sophomore digital business strategies concentration in the Digital Media & Design program at the Storrs campus when asked how she’d rate her experience at the summit.
“I think the most rewarding part of the summit was seeing so many students and industry professionals from across the state in one room. We had students from six universities, three high schools, and one middle school which is something I, personally, have never experienced as a student. I’m looking forward to seeing the DMCT effort continue to grow and see how we can continue to build a pipeline and help students #ConnectWhatsNext to the digital media industry in Connecticut,” said Cat Boyce DMCT’s Coordinator and recent Master of Fine Arts in Digital Media & Design alumna.
“It was a hugely successful event. As the state university of Connecticut, we are doing what we can to help build the CT Creative Economy. We know that we – and the other Connecticut universities – are graduating talented digital media creators, but we collectively need to do a better job of showcasing their skills and helping connect students and graduates with employers. This event was an excellent move forward in this direction, and I look forward to seeing more companies grow and move into the state through the strength of the DMCT initiative,” said Heather Elliott-Famularo, Head of the Digital Media & Design Department at UConn and Co-PI on the grant.
Digital Media Connecticut’s next event will be held on November 7th at Sacred Heart University featuring Timothy Suarez from 6:30 pm to 9:30 pm. This event is part of DMCT’S ConnectNext Speaker Series, a TED-like event that takes place at college campuses across Connecticut to connect students with industry professionals.
To learn more information and to register, visit: https://dev-digital-media-ct.pantheonsite.io/connectnext/
To learn more about Digital Media Connecticut, visit www.digitalmediact.com.