While Merriam and Webster define an “impulse” as a “sudden strong desire to do something”, but at the 2013 Schurz Communications and Purdue University Innovation prize on Tuesday night, Impulse wasn’t simply a strong desire, it was a creative technology team who took home the grand prize.
The Schurz-Purdue Innovation prize — in its second year — is a partnership fueled by a desire to help guide bright young students into careers in digital media and to encourage those students to invent real-world applicable solutions to the unique challenges that face a media company in the digital age. At Purdue, this effort is headed up by a new entrepreneurial and commercialization hub called ‘The Foundry’.

While many more graduate and undergraduate teams began the process, the final competition was made up of 8 teams, whose projects ranged from a radio station aggregator to applied communications theory scripting. At the end of the night, however, the five-person development team behind ‘Impulse’ won the grand prize.

The creative team that makes up Impulse consists of undergrads Leah Thompson, Matthew Ryker, Edgar Plata, David James and Andy Gault.

“Our product will collect and share the opinions and experiences expressed during a specific event,” a team spokesperson said. At its core, Impulse collects data streams from Twitter and Instagram which are focused around a particular event–be it a concert, promotional event or community happening. “The purpose of the project was to develop a product that could visually combine all of the social media streams,” said Impulse.

The project was highly praised by the Innovation Prize judges, who awarded them the $5,000 first prize.

The runner-up was a data analytics project created by Zachary Williams, who took home $3,500. His project used Javascript code to analyze conversations logged in the C-Span Archive. Apply the centrality theory of communications, Williams analyzed a congressional committee meeting and produced in-depth metadata of the conversational influencers.

The third place prize of $1,500 went to HTML5 collaboration application Skypacke, a collaborative effort between students Nicholas Zak and Peter Mercado. With a beta-level product, the Skypacke team was able to demonstrate almost full functionality, which centered around collaboration-based content creation.

The contestants themselves also got involved in the judging, coming together to vote for a $500 ‘Fan Favourite’, which was also won by Impulse.

Schurz Communications, “the biggest little media company you’ve never heard of all the time,” according to Digital Media Vice President Kerry Oslund, is based in Mishawaka and operates cable, high-speed data, TV, radio, print and digital businesses “from Alaska to Augusta,” he said. In Indiana, the corporation owns five newspapers, eight radio stations, a television station and a printing company.

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