NJIT Students Make Mario in the Snow

Mario makes his mark on the NJIT campus.

A group of NJIT students created a snowy image of Super Mario, the video-game character, on the campus green.

Equipped with a grid system, 2000-feet of string and photos of Mario, the students etched his image by dragging their feet through the snow.

They started midnight on Sunday, Feb. 25. And three hours later, Mario the plumber emerged. He measured 3,025 square feet, animating the lawn with his smiling presence. Even though it was 3 a.m., students in nearby Cypress residence hall peered down at the mustachioed plumber who, with the first break of day, was destined to melt.

Knowing that Mario would soon vanish, the seven students ascended Cypress hall and from a seventh-floor dorm room took photographs of him. They posted the photos on the hard-core music message board, Bridge Nine. An editor from Stuff Magazine asked the students if he could use the photos. They agreed. And that's when Mario "went viral."

"From there our photos of Mario just spread everywhere," said Nick Luciano, one of the students who designed Mario. "It's been on popular magazine sites such as Wired and Stuff, on popular video-game websites like Joystiq, and on blogs such as IGN, the Last Boss and Kotaku. The attention it received was awesome."

He and his six friends, all freshmen at NJIT, never expected their Mario to make his way across the blogoshere. Some months ago, they wanted to make a big snow collage on the green, Luciano said. But there was no snow. So when the first snow of winter fell, they were provisioned with string, Photoshop as well as a cover photo of Super Mario.

And being NJIT students, they used some technical ingenuity.

We found an image from the Super Mario Brothers 3 cover, and using Photoshop drew a scaled down grid over it," Luciano said. "We printed it out and made the larger grid. It was 5 square-feet grid squares, 11 squares long and wide, totaling 55 feet in each direction, or 3025 square feet. After one of us drew the image based on the scaled version, we would follow his path and scoop out the snow in the lines he traced. It was great fun."

They picked Mario because he is so readily recognizable by college students who grew up playing video games; the first Super Mario game was released in 1991.

"We knew everyone would see it and go, "oh look, it's Mario," he said. "Everyone was impressed with it and said it looked really cool."

Luciano and his buddies , all computer science or engineering majors -- like video games but are not game geeks, he said.

But when asked why they decided to make Mario, Luciano said: "It was more fun than spending another night playing video games in the dorm."

(By Robert Florida, University Web Services)