By Erin Moore, Associate Director, Office of Community Engagement

People gather on the lawn for the Award presentation Ball State University has named Minnetrista Cultural Center the 2020 Community Partner of the Year for collaborating with college students on an award-winning educational video game project.

The annual award recognizes a Delaware County business, organization, or agency that demonstrated excellence as part of a Ball State community-based learning experience during the previous year. Partners are nominated by Ball State faculty and staff. Past winners include the Youth Opportunity Center (2018) and the Islamic Center (2019).

Delaina Boyd, the University’s associate vice president for community engagement, presented the award on October 28 to Minnetrista’s Betty Brewer, president and chief executive officer, and George Buss, vice president of visitor experience.

Minnetrista earned the award for a two-semester partnership with Paul Gestwicki, a computer science professor, and his classes on game design and software production.

Delaina Boyd speaks with representatives from Minnetrista in front of the steps leading up to the buildingThe class explored the fundamentals of educational game design, proposed game concepts linked to the renovation of the Oakhurst home, and developed an original educational video game, Canning Heroes, which is installed at Minnetrista.

“Mr. Buss invested enormous personal and professional effort to help this project succeed,” said Gestwicki, who nominated Minnetrista for the award. “Through him, the students gained an appreciation for the history of the Ball family, Ball State, and Muncie. Indeed, many students who are not from the area came to love our community through this experience.”

“Canning Heroes” has received numerous external 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.

 “We are deeply grateful for all of the years that Minnetrista has welcomed Ball State as a partner and collaborator,” Boyd said. “We look forward to many more.”