Indiana State University Newsroom

Android class provides valuable service to CANDLES museum

December 22, 2014

When Terre Haute's CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center was preparing for the grand opening of its new permanent exhibit, founding Director Eva Kor and Dorothy Chambers, the museum' program director, knew exactly what they wanted for the important night.

"We didn't want to just have posters on the wall," Chambers said. "We wanted to do something different, relay information in a different way; more interactive. And we wanted to put information on tablets. None of us at the museum have any sort of computer background, per se, so we were trying to figure out for quite a while how we were going to do it."

An Indiana State University student who works at the museum part-time knew about an android applications class in the university's College of Technology. Chambers contacted the instructor of the class, Jared Wuerzberger and the full-time lecturer in the department of computer engineering technology was happy to have his class take on the task of design a series of applications to guide museum visitors using tablet computers.

Wuerzburger and his class were surprised and, at first, skeptical that such an amazing opportunity had ended up in his inbox-but they followed Chamber's lead and came out of the 12--week process with the tablet applications that would make "Choices: the Holocaust through Eva's Story" everything that the museum hoped it would be.

"There are three different apps," explained Jacob Gregory, a junior information technology major from Mooreland. "Three different exhibits that we did all display a different chunk of information."

One tablet is an audio recording of Kor's recollection of her time at Auschwitz, the Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp operated in German occupied Poland. The other two tablets are video clips; one detailing the history of the rise of Nazism, and the other application focusing on the controversy that surrounded Kor's decision to forgive the Nazis. The audio-visual experience enhanced the already-interactive approach the museum takes to educate visitors, in addition to lectures from Kor herself.

The tablets are professionally done, visually appealing and appropriate," said Chambers. "They [the students] just did a great job. Whenever I had questions, they could answer them or find the answers, and it's just been a really positive experience."

The students and the university also benefited from the task. During one of their final class meetings, students shared their feelings on the project.

"It was a really cool experience to be able to tell [Kor's] story and allow other people who come to the museum to experience that as well," said Brandon Tryon, a senior computer engineering and information technology major from Coatesville.

For some of the students, Wuerzburger noted, the project was their first volunteer experience.

Gregory valued his experience with CANDLES and the class, which has a big impact on the students' career goals. The hands-on work also benefited students significantly.

"A big thing for me was that I took the start-up class for this last semester, so I kind of learned how to work with it, and being able to work and create something for the community was definitely a positive way to look at taking the class," he said. "It opened up the idea for something I could potentially turn into a career. It was extremely interesting and worth my time."

Kate Daiker's role in the project made the senior information technology major from Columbus, Ind. realize that she enjoyed relaying information from the technical side and the clients. She was among several students who opted to take the class multiple semesters.

"One of the biggest things was that it showed me one thing I really want to do when I get my job." Daiker graduated this month, and is ready to begin her career. "I like being able to figure out requirements and being able to talk between people who don't know much about technology and the people dealing with technology-so being able to translate that is one thing you kind of learn doing this, which is really fun."

Trey Holland, a junior information technology major from Peru, Ind., enjoyed returning to the course because "even though you're doing the same stuff, it's not really the same each time--it's been a different project that has different goals, different struggles and everything, so it's just kind of a big learning experience so it's nice. You work with different people each time."

At the end of their class session, Chambers arrived with pizza as a way to show her gratitude for the student's work. The benefits of the partnership between the university and CANDLES-whose shared goal is to educate and enrich the community-are as diverse for the partner organizations as for the students.

"ISU has a wealth of resources both in terms of its faculty and the students who come from all over the world, so together it makes sense to work on human rights issues, issues of social justice and awareness-things of that nature," she said.

Chambers said it benefits the museum greatly any time students at any level become involved.

"It's important for us to be strong in the community-we will only thrive if the community supports us, and conversely we hope that we can contribute to the university," she said. "The more young people we can get involved in the museum, the better, not only in terms of our message-but in terms of the freshness and different ideas that keep us in touch with what's going on."

CANDLES and Indiana State have long worked together but formalized a three-year partnership last spring, and both sides have been seeking ways to strengthen the relationship, forge new ties," Chambers said. "We've been doing lectures and other things-but this [apps project] is really, I think, one of the most important aspects of the partnership, that we can do things like this together."

Wuerzburger noted that Indiana State has a history of volunteering and adding to the Wabash Valley in whatever shape or form it can.

"Technology is something that every organization in this community is utilizing and we can provide services that can increase their productivity or increase their marketability," he said. "We as college of technology should be taking that initiative."

Wuerzburger's application class, though fairly recent, has always been willing to aid any organization that asks; though at this point, the class has been fulfilling projects unfunded.

"We would love any kind of funding or devices," he said. "[The students] are either using personal devices to do testing on or the department has tablet computers that we can use-but this projects was weirdly unique in that these aren't applications that the public would see unless they go to the museum. So we designed these applications for a certain brand and a certain model of tablet for free. Dorothy Chambers purchased these on behalf of the museum and gave them to us so that we can do the work."

However, the class remains unfettered and willing to make these sacrifices to help the community, Wuerzberger said.

"The department has had the opportunity to do this for two consecutive semesters," he said. "This is the second semester-we would love to continue to offer this service to the community as long as we have work to do."

Photo: - Indiana State University student Tiara Torres of East Chicago puts an app for the CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center through a final run Dec. 4, 2014 as Dorothy Chambers, the museum's program director, and fellow students Trey Holland of Peru, Ind. (left) and Jacob Gregory of Mooreland look on. (ISU/Rachel Keyes)

Photo: - A visitor to the CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center checks out an exhibit using an app designed by Indiana State University computer engineering technology students. (ISU/Rachel Keyes)

Contact: Jared Wuerzburger, full-time lecturer, department of computer engineering technology, Indiana State University,

Writer: Kristen Kilker, media relations assistant, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3773 or