Carnegie Mellon University
July 01, 2022

Alumni Gift Animation Platform to ETC

Wick Editor joins a suite of free educational tools for students and educators

By Anthony Palyszeski

Peter Kerwin
  • University Communications & Marketing
Ryan Scarpino
  • University Communications & Marketing
  • 412-268-2902

As a student at Carnegie Mellon University, Zach Rispoli wanted to teach his younger sister how to design video games. A class project he and Luca Damasco developed did just that.

"Our prototype was very basic, but we realized there was an incredible opportunity to create an effective learning tool that could grow with its users," said Damasco, who earned a bachelor's degree from the computer science and arts program in 2017 and a master's degree in human-computer interaction in 2018. Rispoli graduated from CMU with a bachelor's degree in fine arts in 2018.

With support from CMU's Frank-Ratchye STUDIO for Creative Inquiry, the Frank Ratchye Fund for Art at the Frontier and the Mozilla Open Source Support Fund, Rispoli and Damasco led a team that released Wick Editor under an open source license.

Kate Chaudoin, who graduated from CMU in 2019 with a bachelor's of fine arts in electronic and time-based media, used Wick Editor to tell a short story about eggs. 

Wick Editor is a web-based animation and game-making software developed with the needs of beginners in mind. Its low-skill floor, high-skill ceiling and simplified user interface make it the ideal classroom tool.

Since 2021, the Wick Editor website has been visited over 5 million times by 1.4 million visitors and is used around the globe by creators of all ages. In a nod to their Tartan roots, the pair gifted Wick Editor to CMU's Entertainment Technology Center where it will join a suite of beginner-oriented learning tools for use in K-12-plus education.

"We realize that to give Wick Editor an opportunity to really thrive and support as many learners as possible, the institutional support of the ETC will really progress the tool," Damasco said. "There is such a wonderful opportunity to merge the arts into various aspects of traditional classrooms, and having animations and games be submitted in place of a traditional assignment would be a real treat!"

"Wick Editor is a natural companion to the ETC's outreach and engagement efforts," said John Balash, director of educational engagement for the ETC. "Like the ETC's revolutionary Alice software, Wick Editor empowers creatives to tell the stories they want to tell and build the worlds they dream up."

In an effort to learn more about what Wick users want, the ETC Outreach and Engagement team have connected with forum moderator and content creator Jovanny Rodriguez.

Rodriguez, a software engineer, volunteers to help improve the Wick Editor user experience. Along with moderating the platform's forum, Rodriguez creates YouTube tutorials, including ones requested by Wick Editor forum users.

"For me, it's a passion thing," Rodriguez said. "I see Wick Editor just as it is, a white canvas where I can create anything. I was so welcomed by the community when I began using Wick Editor, that when I became a master, I knew I wanted to give back."

In keeping with the spirit of collaboration encouraged on Wick Editor, Balash said the ETC aims to collaborate with experienced users to bring improvements to both the functionality of the software and the overall user experience in the coming months.

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