Meteorology students win inaugural Max University Challenge

Gabrielle Stewart
August 13, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Matthew Hoenig, Michael Susko and Patrick Wright, rising seniors in the Department of Meteorology and Atmospheric Science, won the first-ever Max University Challenge contest.

Hosted by The Weather Company, the contest aims to “help develop future meteorologists by leveraging the Max Ecosystem.” The Max Ecosystem is weather broadcasting software and the students were tasked to use the Max software to create weathercast scenes that included several key graphical elements.

The challenge entailed creating a forecast graphic and a lifestyle graphic based on the forecast graphic. The team’s forecast graphic featured animations and Penn State-related visual elements. Their lifestyle graphic included animations and conditions for upcoming events like graduation.

“Our goal was to create something visually appealing that could connect the weather to people’s daily lives in a way an app could not,” said Wright.

The entry was judged on creativity, readability and clarity. According to The Weather Company, the Penn State team’s graphics were professional and easy to read. They also “conveyed how the weather will impact their viewers’ day, making them more personalized and impactful.”

Hoenig, who played a major role in the designing of graphic elements, said receiving the award showed them they’d accomplished their goal.

“One focus of developing these graphics was to make them clean, while living up to the quality and complexity of graphics seen on local and national television stations,” he said. “We’re honored to have been recognized by The Weather Company.”

The challenge entailed creating a forecast graphic and a lifestyle graphic based on the forecast graphic. The team’s forecast graphic (view example) featured animations and Penn State-related visual elements. Their lifestyle graphic (view example) included animations and conditions for upcoming events like graduation.

3-Hour Forecast

The Max University Challenge, sponsored by The Weather Company, entailed creating a forecast graphic and a lifestyle graphic based on the forecast graphic.

Marisa Ferger, lecturer in meteorology and co-host of Penn State’s weekday broadcast Weather World, said stakes for the contest were high. The students had only a few days during Penn State’s spring semester finals week to prepare their entry, with no assistance from a faculty adviser.

“The software, used widely by television stations across the country for forecasting, is integral to the student-run Campus Weather Service and 'Weather World,'” said Ferger.

Students, including the contest winners, practice using Max extensively to create appealing and new weather forecast elements.

“The students are really the creative brainpower behind all of our graphics,” Ferger said.

Hoenig, Susko and Wright have used their prowess with the Max Ecosystem to assist others, said Ferger. Not only have the three mentored other students in the Campus Weather Service to help prepare them for careers in forecasting, they’ve also lent a hand to the "Weather World" production team to make new graphics concepts a reality.

“These students really earned this award because of the time and dedication they’ve invested to develop graphics on this system,” Ferger said.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated August 14, 2019