Topics: College of Communication Information and Media, College of Sciences and Humanities

September 7, 2016

Indiana Torch Relay student

Telecommunications professor Stan Sollars (left) is getting into shape to participate the Indiana Bicentennial Torch Relay as telecommunications major Sadie Lebo (right) takes photos.

For five weeks this fall, Ball State University students from history, journalism and telecommunications will document 2,200 Hoosiers carrying a torch during its 3,200-mile journey through the state to celebrate Indiana’s bicentennial.

The 31-person team will produce photos, videos and news stories about the Indiana Bicentennial Torch Relay, which will pass through all 92 counties. The relay is patterned after the Olympic torch relay and is designed to connect Hoosiers across the state and nation with Indiana.

“First and foremost, I am a Hoosier. So this project means a great deal to me,” said senior Sadie Lebo, a telecommunications major from rural Union Mills, Indiana, in La Porte County. “As a child I did photography in 4-H at the county fair, and now I get to do photography for my county and the entire state of Indiana.”

Students apply classroom knowledge to real world

The project will document the passing of the torch from one runner to another from Friday’s start of the relay in the state’s first capital, Corydon in Harrison County, to the Oct. 15 final leg in Indianapolis.

“The project allows me to use skills I’ve learned in the classroom and apply them in a fast-paced, real-world environment,” said Luke Jones, a senior TCOM major from Muncie, Indiana, who will be doing audio for the travel team. “It’s also a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that will provide me with talking points for years to come.”

Jacob Cannon, a junior studying TCOM from Terre Haute, Indiana, who will be a production assistant, said the relay is his first large-scale project and lets him work closely with more experienced students and instructor Chris Flook.

“It not only provides me with hands-on, practical experience but allows me a relished opportunity to learn from many talented people.”

University partners with state tourism office

The immersive learning project is a partnership between Ball State and the Indiana Office of Tourism Development. It took a year of planning to coordinate travel plans as well as put together the student team.

Indiana Torch Relay

Carrying an eight-pound weight to mimic the Indiana Bicentennial Torch, telecommunications professor Stan Sollars runs through campus.

Led by TCOM’s Flook, students will be broken into two teams – a travel team embedded with the relay and a documentary team operating from Ball State.

The travel team will produce daily photos, videos and news stories for use by local and state media as well as on social media. The second team will produce a 30-minute documentary that comprehensively explores the relay’s planning and completion. The documentary’s premiere is planned for December.

“The students will be connecting with the culture in Indiana. Also, this is an incredible event to put on a resume,” Flook said. “People can go a whole career without having an opportunity to do something like this. These students will be an integral part of an event like this.”

The partnership was developed through Flook’s relationship with the tourism development department. Using the immersive learning format, he has been mentoring students as they create profile videos for specific locations in the state. The first project occurred in 2010-11 when Flook and his students used professional video production to showcase many of the state’s vacation spots.

Follow the students’ work


“Ball State’s dedicated student team of telecommunications specialists is an asset to the school and to the Torch Relay,” said Mark Newman, executive director of the tourism development office. “The university should be very proud of the contribution these students are making to the lasting legacy of this important statewide initiative.”