Combining passions with purpose
Jason Lestina’s search for a campus job culminated with a national prize-winning business proposal and promising career prospects.
As a sophomore in the computer graphics technology program, the West Lafayette resident worked with another student and a professor to create Animation Speaks Louder.
The software program is aimed at teachers of deaf students to help them teach science, technology, engineering and math.
“We wanted to provide translations in their own language — American Sign Language,” Lestina says. Both of Lestina’s parents are deaf, so he was able to use his own experience in creating more than 250 signs for an animated character to demonstrate to students.
“We’re now in the testing phase,” he says. “We’ve partnered with the Indiana School for the Deaf. We’ve also tested it with Purdue students and deaf faculty members and got positive results.”
Lestina and teammate Marcus Oania presented their product at the national Idea to Product Competition for Social Entrepreneurship in spring 2010. They received the top prize of $10,000 and the interest of several judges who want to keep tabs on their progress.
Lestina also presented his proposal at a national SIGGRAPH conference.
“Everybody who is anybody in computer graphics is at SIGGRAPH,” he says. His presentation included information about how he is working to make his characters have more natural movements.