And the 2013 Geek of the Year award goes to…
Dan Ueda, coach of the Philadelphia Central High School Robolancers.
“Dan is among many teachers who deserve more attention for going above and beyond the standard job description,” organizer Jill Sybesma told NewsWorks, “especially in the Philadelphia school district.”
The top honor to the robotics team coach capped off the third annual Philadelphia Geek Awards Saturday night. Sybesma says the black-tie gala at the Academy of Natural Sciences was a celebration of Philly’s vibrant geek culture. The night’s theme was heavy on robots.
But Sybesma says the awards are meant to be more than just a good time.
“The winners, we hope, will get more attention and more support in the city,” Sybesma said.
So without further ado, here’s the full list of prize-winning geeks (with descriptions provided by the organizers):
Scientist of the Year: Kimberlee Sue MoranA teacher, mentor and scientist, Kimberlee Sue Moran has done a lot to bring the world of forensic science to the Philadelphia region, especially during this past year. In October, she pulled in a ton of press by blowing up a transit bus as a field exercise for first responders in the Philadelphia area. When she isn’t busy doing science, she helps encourage others to love it, working with the College of Physicians’ Karabots Junior Scholars Program and teaching forensic science at Rutgers University-Camden.
Geek Story of the Year: PONG on the Cira CentreThe story of PONG being played on the Cira Centre swept national news, bringing the project and the city of Philadelphia into the media spotlight in a fun, exciting way. From Polygon to MTV, PC Magazine to The Huffington Post, The Wall Street Journal to NPR, Drexel University Westphal College of Media Arts and Design’s Dr. Frank Lee’s hacked building made headlines everywhere.
Mobile App of the Year: BizVizzBizVizz is an iOS app originally created as a transmedia component of the documentary As Goes Janesville, but it has grown to be much more. The idea is simple, but powerful. Just snap a picture of any major corporate logo or punch in a company name, and the system uses image recognition to find the company and provide campaign-spending data, subsidy data, the company’s effective tax rate and more. The team at Faculty Creative has now expanded the app with an open API to allow other socially conscious developers to expand upon the work that has already been done.
Startup of the Year: Autism ExpressedThe first and only online learning platform for teaching adolescents with autism to use digital and social media, Autism Expressed was launched last year by Michele McKeone, a one-woman army determined to make a difference. The startup received funding this year and was involved in the Philadelphia Science Festival, teaming up with award-winning design studio Cipher Prime.
Hacker of the Year: Dr. Frank LeeWith his dream project finally coming true this year, Drexel University Westphal College of Media Arts and Design digital media associate professor Dr. Frank Lee hacked the Cira Centre, an entire building, and programmed it to play PONG at the opening kickoff of Philly Tech Week. Later in the week, he even made the building play Tetris. News of the project swept the country, making headlines everywhere. Word has it he’ll be making an appearance in the Guinness Book of World Records.
Visual Artist of the Year: Braille Street ArtA local blind programmer, Austin Seraphin created Braille Street Art with Sonia Petruse during Philly Tech Week, previewing the project during the #NotAtSXSW party in the Drink Philly offices. A unique, beautiful project, the Braille stickers appeared on newspaper boxes in Philadelphia. Sonia is a local artist and does social media for Paperweight Design Studio. She chronicled the art project in photographs via the Twitter account @thecatears.
Indie Game of the Year: Perfection (Greg Lobanov)A simple minimalistic game, Perfection was built by Drexel University student Greg Lobanov, who operates his one-man indie game company Dumb & Fat Games. Building games since 8th grade, Lobanov has been making waves in the indie game community by churning out fun and innovative titles all on his own. Perfection is a simple, soothing puzzle game that has players cutting up shapes so they fit into new outlines.
Feature Length Indie Film of the Year: The Backyard Philly ProjectThe Backyard Philly Project is a documentary focusing on four teenagers growing up in Penn Town, a rough Philadelphia inner-city community. All the teens were given a camera to film their lives from their own perspectives, giving folks a rarely seen peek into inner city life. The film is both inspirational and gut-wrenching. The teens struggle to overcome adversity and not fall into the cycle of drugs and violence that surrounds them when they graduate from high school.
Viral Project of the Year: We Are Never Ever Going to Win with AndyProduced and directed by Shawn Caple of From Start to Film and performed by Casey Conklin, this hilarious and well-done parody music video went massively viral, becoming a playful anthem for Eagles fans who were fed up with their former coach.
Web Project of the Year: AxisPhillyBuilt to give readers the ability to better understand and access public data while assisting journalists with reporting projects, Axis Philly does a great deal, giving back to the community through online maps, graphics and interactive online tools. A nonprofit utility, Axis Philly gives back to the region by providing high-quality, multidimensional public interest news and information.
Comic Creator of the Year: Andrew GoletzThe publisher and editor at Grayhaven Comics, Goletz’s beautiful You Are Not Alone series was created after the horrible tragedy at Sandy Hook. This anthology comic book with real-life stories regarding social issues like bullying, abuse and drug use was created to inspire young folks not to give up, and to tell them that there is hope despite adversity.
Social Media Campaign of the Year: #GunCrisisLaunched just last year, the GunCrisis website and hashtag #GunCrisis is an independent nonprofit journalism project, reporting important stories on the blog and via their hashtag, specifically focusing on gun violence in Philadelphia. An excellent example of social media journalism, they maintain conversation across social media and help the community tell their stories.
Event of the Year: Open Air PhiladelphiaWith thousands of participants and millions of web visitors, Open Air Philadelphia brought together public art and mobile tech to create a fantastic, unique platform for the community to participate in. It illuminated the Philadelphia skyline for three weeks in the fall, and participants could record and submit messages to share through the art program. The app was downloaded more than 7,000 times and more than 17,000 people visited the Benjamin Franklin Parkway through the project’s life, becoming the largest crowd-sourced public art project ever seen in Philadelphia.
Geek of the Year: Dan UedaDan Ueda is an incredible high school science teacher who has gone above and beyond to inspire his students to be just as geeky as him. At Central High School, he brought his robotics team, The Robolancers, to a national competition for the first time. And he volunteers to do all this robotics work in his free time. He’s inspiring a whole new generation of geeks, and we’re proud to nominate him for Geek of the Year.
Disclosure: NewsWorks is a sponsor of the 2013 Philadelphia Geek Awards.