A Forum for Findings: QUEST Celebrates 30 Years

By John Stran

Youngstown State University students from every major had the opportunity to present their unique research findings at the 30th annual QUEST event.

The two day affair was held April 2 and 4, with the second day reserved for Best of QUEST, which was for top awarded presenters from the first day.

Joseph Mosca, interim provost at YSU, said he was around to witness the first forum when there were about 10 or 12 presenters. This year had an estimated 178 presentations, with about 400 students participating.

Of these over 178 presentations, eight were selected for Best of QUEST. There was one graduate winner and seven undergraduate winners. Isaac Hraga, senior music recording major, was one of the undergraduate winners.

Hraga’s speech was titled, “Controlling Forte: Discussing Composition for a Dynamic Video Game Soundtrack and Sound Design.” He discussed how he started composing video game music and the technicalities behind the field.

“From my personal experience, I find composing to supplement another medium comes a lot easier than composing music for the sake of composing music,” Hraga said. “Having an idea of functionality and making music to serve another purpose allows me to see problems and find solutions.”

While he was living in a dorm at YSU, one of Hraga’s roommates was a video game developer, which influenced his passion for soundtracking games. His first time creating a soundtrack was under a stressful time limit at a two-day game development event.

The gaming event helped build confidence in his skill, and now finds motivation trying to create soundtracks that outdo any of his previous pieces.

Hraga’s advice for those interested a game soundtrack career is to just go for it.

“Regardless if you want to do it, try it out,” Hraga said. “Just dive in. There are loads of free tutorials on YouTube and helpful advice on the Unity and FMOD forums if you run into roadblocks.”

Hraga’s presentation varied from many of the other presentations at QUEST, but there was no replicated presentations because every presentation took different paths to get to their results, even if their topics were slightly the same.

QUEST’S keynote speaker was Alicyn Rhodes, plastic engineering technology professor at Penn State University. Her advice for the QUEST audience was to create a good network that will enhance the transition from student to professional, no matter what the field of study is.

“Your network will follow you for the rest of your life,” Rhodes said. “I cannot encourage everyone enough to go out into your field and make connections.”   

She also told students that their ambitions and passions, no matter how big, do not have to be compromised for a job, and the easiest path is usually not the right way.

“Sometimes you have to be brave to make change,” she said. “But if you like something, don’t let it go. Don’t think that your first job is a prediction for your whole career because it’s not.”

Photo by Tanner Mondok/The Jambar