HPU 2020 Online Capstone Symposium: An Unprecedented Accomplishment

Matteo Socciarelli presenting at Capstone Symposium 2020

By Professor Hanh Nguyen, Ph.D., coordinator of the symposium

Students, family members, friends, faculty, staff, and community members gathered on Thursday, April 23,  to join live online sessions with Capstone Symposium presenters. With 47 presentations, the event demonstrated our students’ academic excellence, innovation, and resilience. In many ways, the online symposium surpassed our onsite symposia in the past.

Only after a few days of launching the Capstone Symposium YouTube channel, it had gathered 3,500 views from more than 900 unique viewers from across the globe, including the US, Italy, Norway, Japan, Peru, Thailand, and France. This audience turnout was much higher and broader than our usual onsite event, which generally had 60-70 presentations attended by less than 75 attendees, all located in Hawai‘i.

Our student presenters embraced the online environment and took full advantage of digital tools. In their presentation videos, they incorporated multimedia, animation, and in-person appearance to bring their work to life on screen.

Matteo Socciarelli (MA TESOL), presenting on hidden biases in heteronormative discourses, illustrated the fluidity nature of identities through his changing aloha shirts throughout the presentation video – an effect possibly impossible or difficult to achieve in the face-to-face presentation.

Similarly creative was Kerrianne O'Malley (Marine Biology), who, presenting on the effects of Maui County’s ban on expanded polystyrene food-service takeout containers, constructed a large collage board of wave photos as background for her live session.

Many presenters were joined by their family members, who interacted with students, judges, and other visitors from the comfort of their homes.

The event also reflected the current times we are in, and our presenters were logging on across different time zones, from Norway to East Coast US, Hawai‘i, and Thailand. The presence of the COVID-19 pandemic was certainly felt in the preparation leading up to the event and during the live sessions. Presenters in health sciences created their videos and hosted the live sessions while volunteering, interning, and working on the healthcare frontline.

One of the presenters, John Siquig (Information Systems), First Lieutenant, Hawai'i Army National Guard, was activated to provide support to the Hawai'i county to stop the spread of COVID-19, just the day before the live Symposium. He was a part of two presentations, "Modernizing America's Heroes by Automating Financial Processes" and "Hospitality Augmented Reality Mobile Application," the latter won the Dean's Award for the College of Business.

"This was one of the most stressful situations I have been in," he wrote. "I was working long days and nights supporting our mission while still working on my academics. I did not want to let my teams down, and I would stay up as late as it took doing my part for our projects. However, I was able to push through and get it done." Siquig managed to log in briefly from the Big Island while in uniform with a mask hanging under his chin.

The online medium also allows for the Capstone Symposium to go on even after the closing ceremony. Visitors can continue to view HPU’s students’ capstone videos on the Event website. The channel gained more than 1,000 views the morning after the event.

Pictured is student presenter Matteo Socciarelli.

Members of the Capstone Symposium Sub-Committee include Hanh Nguyen, Ph.D., Valentina Abordonado, Ph.D., Wendy Lam, Ph.D., Noelia Paez, Ph.D., Ngoc Phan, Ph.D., Mary Smith, Ed.D. The sub-committee is part of the Program Review and Learning Assessment Committee.