Community Partner of the Year Award
This annual award honors local businesses, community organizations, or agencies that have demonstrated excellence as a partner and co-educator in Ball State’s community-engaged learning experiences.
Accutech, a financial trust accounting and investment management software company headquartered in Downtown Muncie, was nominated by faculty member Huseyin Ergin for exemplary contributions to Ball State’s senior-level software engineering sequence.
In Fall 2019, Accutech partnered with Ball State students on three software projects. Trey Gourley, Accutech’s Lead Software Architect and 2005 Ball State alum, was assigned to oversee each student teams’ progress. Additional Accutech experts met monthly with students to move projects from the initial idea phase through the selection of software design tools, implementation, testing, and documentation.
Students had access to the latest industry tools and were welcomed into Accutech workspaces until March 2020, when work continued virtually. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, three software products were completed in Spring 2020 and transferred to Accutech.
The partnership continued in 2020-2021 with 17 new students across four new projects. In a win for both sides, Accutech has hired five students and brought on a sixth student as an intern.
In the words of Dr. Ergin: “Working with Accutech has been a joy. They have been extremely friendly, provided great expertise, and hired our students. I can’t imagine what more I could ask for from this perfect partnership. Here’s to many more years of collaboration.”
Accutech’s President, Adam Unger reinforced Dr. Ergin’s sentiments by stating, “I appreciate the focus that President Mearns has placed on our community and collaborating with Dr. Ergin on these projects has epitomized what a win-win looks like for two organizations working together.”
2017 Community Partner of the Year
ecoREHAB is a local leader in rehabilitating existing and abandoned houses using green and sustainable building practices. In spring 2016, ecoREHAB’s Craig Graybeal partnered with architecture professor Jonathan Spodek to take on a unique project: the rehabilitation of a former meth house on 10th Street. Together, Craig and Jonathan led 23 students through the process of remediation and redevelopment, turning what was once an unsafe, unattractive house into an inviting, safe home that was purchased by a retired schoolteacher. In addition to skill-building, students were given valuable insight into the challenges and rewards of neighborhood revitalization and reinvestment. Neighbors in the area have taken notice and have stepped up their efforts to take pride in their properties.
2018 Community Partner of the Year
The Youth Opportunity Center is a residential treatment facility for youth ages 6-18 with complex clinical and behavioral challenges. As part of a three-year research project funded by the National Institute of Justice, the YOC welcomed Janay Sander and Ruth Jefferson and their immersive learning students to determine the impact of reading programs on residents’ academic achievement and overall life success after discharge. YOC staff work hand-in-hand with faculty to develop learning and research plans; train students in rapport-building, confidentiality, and safety; and implement reading interventions.
2019 Community Partner of the Year
The Islamic Center of Muncie partnered with religious studies professor Elizabeth Agnew to produce “Muslims in Muncie,” featuring 22 personal narratives and communal history of Muslims in our local community. Members of the Islamic Center participated in all aspects of the process, including eighteen months of planning, relationship building, and visits to the mosque. They
discussed topics like family, war, and discrimination. Students discovered the center’s notable unity amidst ethnic diversity, uncommon sectarian inclusivity, active and well-received presence in Muncie, and progressive stance on women in leadership.
2020 Community Partner of the Year
Minnetrista is a year-round gathering place born out of the Ball family legacy. For two semesters, Minnetrista’s Vice President of Visitor Experience, George Buss, partnered with Dr. Paul Gestwicki, Professor of Computer Science, and his students on serious game design. Together, they explored the fundamentals of educational game design and developed a video game, Canning Heroes, for Minnetrista’s Oakhurst Experience. Mr. Buss invested enormous effort to help this project succeed. Canning Heroes has received numerous accolades, including a first-place award at the Consortium for Computing Sciences in Colleges Midwest Conference and a silver award at the 2019 Serious Play competition.