NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION
Many of science's most powerful statements are not made in words, but rather in visualizations. From the diagrams of DaVinci to Rosalind Franklin's X-rays, visualization of research has a long and “illustrious” history. The National Science Foundation (NSF) and the journal Science created the International Science & Engineering Visualization Challenge (SCIVIS) to celebrate this grand tradition – and to encourage its continued growth. The spirit of the competition is for communicating science, engineering and technology for education and journalistic purposes.
Entering its 9th year of operations, SCIVIS was ready to take the giant leap forward and go completely online. The NSF was eager to use some of the more modern hosted solutions, social media tools and public engagement techniques to recognize operational efficiencies and improve its ROI. Having never run the challenge online, it took some time to adjust to a previously nonexistent line item in the budget. Sure, there were the obvious background checks, security measures and privacy hurdles that Skild had to overcome, but the biggest challenge was setting up the contest platform to be consistent with NSF’s processes and protocols.
The Skild Solution
With Skild’s contest management software, NSF was able to save time by automating repetitive administrative tasks. The ability to refocus time on more value-added activities like contestant outreach and partnership development is a core benefit of using Skild. Additionally, NSF engaged a much larger audience of participants by introducing public voting into the process. This enabled contestants to actively involve their social circles and become enthusiastic evangelists for the NSF, for SCIVIS, and for science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (“STEAM”) education and journalism. So how did the NSF dramatically augment public engagement and double their submissions in only one year? Maybe it’s presumptuous to imply that we had a role in this, but we’re gonna do it anyhow.