Media Arts & Science Students and Faculty Go Behind the Scenes of Pixar During Trip to San Francisco

Zeb Wood and Travis Faas, both lecturers in the media arts and science (MAS) program informatics logoin the School of Informatics and Computing, along with 11 students, recently traveled to San Francisco, California as part the Game Developers Conference (GDC).

The GDC, now in its 29th year, has grown from the informal gathering of a small group of developers to what it is today hosting over 24,000 game development professionals, and being the primary forum for those involved in the development of interactive games, to gather and exchange ideas and shape the future of the industry. The conference featured over 400 lectures, panels, tutorials and round-table discussions.

The group was able to tour the Pixar grounds and learn about production operations. They learned about work flow and volume, working on several films at once, as well as pre-production art and the life of studio artists – Everything from eating habits, workouts, yoga, to what it’s like on-the-job.

After the tour, they were able to have dinner and some one-on-one conversation with Tai. “When you watch a Pixar movie, it is normal to dream of one day working there, but to meet someone who was once a student just like me, that is actually working there, it’s like meeting a famous actor. Being able to spend time with him, getting his insight and knowing that he took the time to share his experience with us was one of the best memories of the trip,” said Shannon.

New accelerated degree programs at IUPUI speed students to in-demand, well-paying jobs

INDIANAPOLIS — Students will save thousands of dollars, graduate a year earlier and be informatics logopositioned for in-demand and well-paying jobs thanks to academic career paths being created by the IU School of Informatics and Computing and other schools at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

Beginning with its own programs, including bioinformatics, health informatics, human-computer interaction and media arts and sciences, the informatics school developed accelerated programs that enable students to earn an undergraduate degree and a master’s in five years, instead of six. That move would save Indiana students $7,000 in tuition and fees and save out-of-state residents $18,000.

With a master’s and advanced informatics skills, students in these degree programs will be prepared for jobs paying an average of $71,000.

Similar programs are being developed that will allow students in other IUPUI schools — including health and rehabilitation science, public health, business, public affairs, science, physical education and tourism management, philanthropy and law — to complete undergraduate degrees in their respective schools in four years and then complete an informatics master’s degree in one year.

Informatics is the application of information technology to other fields.

Informatics students help create app to enhance Dream Cars exhibit experience at IMA

Dream Cars Image from IMAmuseum.orgThousands of people are expected to visit the Indianapolis Museum of Art to see a unique type of motor spectacle when it opens Sunday. When they do, their experience will be enhanced by the Dream Cars Design Studio app created in cooperation with two Indiana University School of Informatics and Computing students at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

Dream Cars: Innovative Design, Visionary Ideas, May 3 – Aug. 23, will feature rare concept cars from the early 1930s to the 21st century, showcasing some of the most unique vehicles ever created by top names in the automotive field, including General Motors, Porsche, Bugatti and BMW.

Visitors to the exhibition will be also able to learn about the car design process in the Damon C. and Kay D. Davis Lab — on the second floor of the museum—through videos, images and a number of participatory activities, such as designing their own dream car using the Dream Cars Design Studio iPad app.

The app will guide children (6 and older) and adults through a number of steps, such as selecting fuel and engine types, the car silhouette, various accessories and colors. At each step, visitors will be able to see how their design and engineering choices affect a number of variables including cost, fuel efficiency and speed. The completed cars can be shared with family and friends by email, and will also be projected on the wall in the Davis Lab. The app will also be available for download, free of charge, in the App Store.

The app was developed by graduate student Vance Vaden, project manager and animator, and freshman Michael Auer, interaction developer.

Vaden and Auer began working on the app in September 2014, and collaborated with the IMA’s interpretation and technology team on the project. The app was completed in December.

“It’s fairly experimental for all of us right now,” said Zeb Wood, media arts and science lecturer at IUPUI. “The museum wanted to try using technology to enhance the exhibit, and we wanted to give students the chance to work on a real-world project for real clients.”

Among the app requirements: It had to be entertaining and easy to use for all ages, yet more informative for adults.

“It was a difficult challenge,” Wood said. “But these two wanted the opportunity, we briefed them, and they have been dealing with an entire committee at the IMA ever since.

“We have students who sometimes graduate without creating something like this. Now we have a freshman and a first-semester graduate student creating fully functional apps. This is a huge jump for us,” Wood continued.

“The success of the project will open the eyes of other students. “They are going to say, ‘I don’t have to wait four years to try to create something for a community partner. I can get started right away.’”

The experience is one Auer won’t forget.

“This project has given me the chance to learn about working with a professional development team,” Auer said. “My previous projects were mostly solo ventures, and so making the transition to a team-based one was incredibly enlightening. Since most projects in the real world are centered on group work and deadlines, experiencing these things really improved my skills.”

Auer, who volunteered for the project, said his ability to write algorithms and solve problems increased ten-fold. “There is a big difference between working for yourself and working for a large art museum, and I believe that it really pushed me to become better at what I do.”

Vaden also found the project to be an interesting experience.

“Having an actual client definitely changed the way I approached each task, since everything I did was for them, rather than for a grade and myself,” said Vaden. “I found myself communicating more and paying close attention to wording and detail a lot more than I usually would. “The internship was probably the best experience I had this semester since I got more professional experience and worked in a different environment than I had ever worked in previously.”

“What makes this particular project unique is the fact that the museum was so willing to work in tandem with the school’s students, treating this as a learning experience for both student and the professionals on the IMA side of things,” said Travis Faas, media arts and science lecturer at IUPUI.

Perhaps the most interesting part of this project is the skill levels involved, Faas said.

“The primary developer, Michael, was a first-semester freshman going into this project,” he said. “Working along with this team, he has had more opportunity to learn ‘how it is done’ in the real world compared to many of his peers. It is a real eye-opener to learn just how much work goes into the production of an even relatively simple app.”

Interpretation materials and content for the Indianapolis Museum of Art’s presentation of Dream Cars: Innovative Design, Visionary Ideas were created with the support of an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

The exhibition will open at the IMA on May 3, 2015. Tickets are $18 for adults and $10 for children ages 6 to 17. Admission is free for children under five years, college students from non-profit and public colleges and universities in Marion County, and IMA members.

Free massive open online course to explore public libraries

INDIANAPOLIS — The Department of Library and Information Science at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis will launch on April 6 a massive open online course exploring public libraries.informatics logo

The free, four-week course is open to anyone anywhere, but RSVP required. Persons interested in the course are encouraged to register in advance, but registration will continue after the class begins.

The course will cover four topics, one each week. The topics are: the “Customer Service and the User Experience,” “Youth Librarianship: Best Practices to Serve our Youngest Patrons,” “Technology: Improving Library Services by Managing Technology,” and “Community Engagement,” said Andrea Copeland, an assistant professor in the department. Copeland, who developed the course, will teach the Community Engagement section.

Given the central role of information technology in libraries and the transition of the Master of Library Science to an entirely online program, creating the massive open online course was a natural step for the department, Copeland said. The Department of Library and Information Science is in the IU School of Informatics and Computing.

“Our degree is open to a national audience in a way that it was never before,” she said. “The library community is national and international and I thought this would be a good way to let people know we’re here and what we’re really good at.”

One of the department’s strongest areas is public libraries, Copeland said. “The course is a digital open house where people can, at no cost, and with as much energy as they wish to expend, learn about our program and what’s going on in public libraries.”

An equally important goal is to explore the feasibility of using the online site for the course for professional development of Hoosier librarians.

As of March 31st, 206 people have registered for the course from 20 states and three countries. About half of the people who registered for the course are librarians. The Indiana State Library will award 12 educational credits for the course.

The course will feature instructional video as well as resources to read, explore and view. Participants, have freedom to work at their own pace, will have the option to participate in weekly discussions, take quizzes on the week’s lectures and readings.

IUPUI announces new degrees focused on law in liberal arts and informatics

imagesThe Indiana University Board of Trustees has approved a proposal for two new degrees at IUPUI: One prepares undergraduate students for careers as paralegals, and the other provides a path for students to transition rapidly into in-demand and well-paid information technology jobs.

IUPUI will ask the Indiana Commission for Higher Education for final approval to offer the degrees beginning in the fall.

“These programs are the latest examples of IUPUI’s tradition of developing distinctive programs that respond to student demand and meet employer needs,” said IUPUI Executive Vice Chancellor Nasser Paydar.

The proposed Bachelor of Arts in law in liberal arts degree expands the certificate in paralegal studies now offered by the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI, providing students with additional education and training and the baccalaureate degree increasingly required by employers. Students in the past could take the certificate in addition to a Bachelor of Arts degree in another discipline. But that required at least six courses beyond their degree, which burdened students with added expense and time.

The degree will provide students with the theoretical and conceptual components of the law and an introduction to the court system and legal procedures. Students will develop practical, real-world legal skills with courses in legal research, legal writing and litigation skills. In addition, students will be able to tailor the curriculum according to their own interests by selecting a number of elective courses from various legal specialties, including criminal law, family law, estate law and a variety of business law courses.

The second new program is a master’s degree offered by the School of Informatics and Computing at IUPUI. The proposed Master of Science in informatics offers specializations in data analytics, biomedical informatics, knowledge and information management, and user experience design.

The goal of the Master of Science in informatics is to enable students to apply informatics in their respective disciplines. To achieve that goal, the department proposes first to establish the new degree itself, providing specializations from within the school; and then to offer interdisciplinary five-year B.S./M.S. programs and dual degrees with other schools at IUPUI to meet the competitive requirements of Indiana’s job market.

Informatics has become not only an integral part of many disciplines and professions but also an essential skill for graduates.

The Master of Science in informatics will expand career opportunities of undergraduate students and degree holders in nontechnical disciplines by enabling them to apply information technology skills to their own field or to transition into information technology fields.

IUPUI student creates “Shake It Off” video for fun and a cause

Screenshot from YouTube

Screenshot from YouTube

Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis students are dancing in a music video to Taylor Swift’s song “Shake It Off.” But they are doing more than dancing to the catchy beat. They are raising awareness about a social issue and challenging other college students to do the same.

The video was created by an IU School of Informatics and Computing at IUPUI freshman student Jacob Harris, who was inspired by videos of others dancing to Swift’s song. Harris is pursuing a Media Arts and Science degree.

“I saw the videos and kind of brainstormed a little bit,” Harris said. “I thought it would be really cool to do and to do it for a great cause.”

He settled on raising awareness about suicide prevention. In a message posted with the video, Harris provides the Web address for a suicide prevention website and a telephone number. He wrote, “If you are having thoughts of suicide, there is always help…You are loved and you are important no matter what. And if you still don’t think you are, you’re wrong. There are so many great things about life still ahead for you.”

Harris also challenged students at Indiana University Bloomington, Purdue University and Wabash College to produce their own “Shake It Off” video. He urged them to choose their own cause about which they could raise awareness.

Using University Library at IUPUI as a backdrop, Harris set up a video camera on a tripod. With the help of a roommate and two signs, Harris asked students as they passed the camera if they would dance for a few seconds in the video.

He had a box with an assortment of props, including wigs of various colors, a clown nose, a magic wand, a lime-green traffic vest, sunglasses and a pirate hat that dancers could wear, if they wished.

The fledging filmmaker learned that it is harder than one might think to get people to be in a video.

“About 80 percent of the students walking by wanted nothing to do with the video,” he said. “We had to beg some to do it. Some people wouldn’t dance alone on camera, so my roommate and I danced with them,” he said.

Two and a-half hours later, after a second shoot at the Campus Center and a little editing, the video was done.

“It was fun to do and it would be so cool if it could help save a life,” Harris said.

Previously unseen photos of 1989 Tiananmen Square movement are online as IUPUI digital collection

tiananmen squareUniversity Library at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis is making public more than 400 previously unseen black-and-white photographs of the historic student-led 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy movement. The library has digitized photographs taken by an IUPUI professor and added them to the library’s online digital collections.

It was April 15, 1989, when Hu Yaobang, the ousted general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, died in Beijing. Thousands of people went to Tiananmen Square to mourn his death. College students in Beijing universities soon turned the mourning into a grassroots movement that called for political reform, including an end to government corruption and a guarantee of freedom of speech. The movement ended abruptly with the killing of hundreds of protesting Chinese citizens during a military crackdown on June 4, 1989.

Thousands of media professionals, along with ordinary citizens, captured the events of the student-led movement on camera. Nevertheless, relatively few of these images survived since the Chinese government confiscated cameras and film in its crackdown on the movement and its leaders.

The photographs in the University Library digital collection, “Tiananmen Square, 1989,” are exhibited in memory of those who died during the movement. The collection can also serve as an educational tool for younger generations to learn about that period of history visually.

The photographer, Edgar Huang, a faculty member from the IU School of Informatics and Computing on the Indianapolis campus, was then a university instructor and a documentary photographer in Beijing. He traveled almost every day to different university campuses and different locations in Beijing, especially Tiananmen Square, to record with his Nikon F3 all the exciting, frustrating and sad moments.

After the government crackdown, some of Huang’s negatives were confiscated, but more than 90 percent of his 54 rolls of 36mm film were carefully hidden in different locations in Beijing to avoid possible raids.

“Many young people in China have no recollection of what happened in Beijing in the spring/summer of 1989,” Huang said. “These photographs will serve as a reminder of numerous ordinary Beijing citizens’ bravery and are exhibited in memory of those who died.

“Thanks to my beloved late wife, Lily Sun, who brought the negatives to the United States in 1994, these photographs are now possible to be exhibited to the public.”

Huang expressed appreciation for the work of IUPUI University Library staff, especially Kristi L. Palmer, Jennifer Ann Johnson and Ann Lys Proctor, in making the digitization of all the negatives and eventually this online exhibition possible.

Located at 755 W. Michigan St. in the heart of the IUPUI campus, the University Library is a public library, serving nearly 1 million visitors a year, 10 percent of them community users. University Library supports students and faculty across all of IUPUI’s more than 200 degree programs with research expertise and a wide array of resources. Any resident of Indiana is eligible for an IUPUI University Library card.

IUPUI students and faculty debut virtual games and a new design major

logo PopConPop culture will take center stage when Indy PopCon is launched May 30 through June 1. The first-of-its-kind event is expected to attract 400 artists and exhibitors and 15,000 to 20,000 visitors to the Indiana Convention Center.

Among those on hand for the inaugural event will be the representatives from the IU School of Informatics and Computing at IUPUI, one of PopCon’s title sponsors, and the Herron School of Art and Design. Students, faculty and staff from both schools — along with casual fans from the campus community and their counterparts from across the state — will have an opportunity to greet celebrity guests, renowned comic artists and media personalities who will sign autographs, interact with fans and absorb life in the Hoosier capital.

The result is a comic and popular culture convention that is a springtime companion to the well-established summertime gaming convention, GenCon. PopCon has more than 300,000 square feet of space in the convention center for the event, and organizers plan to bring education to the forefront.

School of Informatics and Computing faculty and students plan to showcase the new augmented reality game “Return of Aetheria: War of the Realms,” the follow-up to “Return of Aetheria,” which was unveiled at GenCon in 2013.

Conventions “are a wonderful place for people to share their passions,” said Mathew Powers, a lecturer in media arts and design in the School of Informatics and Computing. “Our main goal is to get our school out there, help students show off the things they’ve done. PopCon is a great grassroots way to do that.”

For example, Powers noted, a new game called Windfall, developed as an informatics and computing capstone project by the husband-and-wife team of students Brendon and Kathryn Steele, will be represented to show an example of the potential influence on career-minded students.

Powers expects popular culture events to continue to grow. “People don’t realize just how much ‘geek’ is out there,” he said with a chuckle. “Fantasy, gaming, role-playing — it’s all popular now. It’s part of the way students learn. And PopCon especially is focused on those areas.”

The convention offers institutions of higher education the chance to recruit students to such fields as gaming programs and design, as well as the role of artistry and imagination to make online games come to life.

Herron representatives, for example, will help potential students learn more about the school’s new drawing and illustration major, as well as career opportunities. On Saturday, a panel discussion will feature alumni Joseph Crone and Lowell Isaac, along with Vance Farrow, sharing first-hand experiences and challenges facing those who want to break into businesses that rely on artists for success in fields closely tied to popular culture.

Farrow believes Herron’s new major is an example of how potential art students will use their imagination and abilities in a unique approach to both disciplines. He believes that approach will weave “the fine art concerns of drawing with the applied art methodologies of illustration.”

Herron dean Valerie Eickmeier believes the new program “will be a powerful blend of courses in a collaborative environment for anyone who wants to research and experiment where expressive arts, visualization and creative technologies merge.”

That intersection, she added, “will enhance our students’ skill sets for greater employment opportunities in a variety of fields represented at PopCon.”

For more information, visit PopCon’s event page here

What: First Annual Popular Culture Convention- PopCon
When:
May 30-June 1, 2014
Where:
Indiana Convention Center

By Ric Burrous

School of Informatics and Computing to participate in Passport to Hi-Tech

The IU School of Informatics and Computing at IUPUI is joining with other organizations Saturday, March 8, to teach girls about careers in science, technology, engineering and math at Conner Prairie.

The school will bring two activities to Passport to Hi-Tech at the interactive history park. The event is open to all ages but targeted to girls ages 7 to 12. Passport to Hi-Tech takes place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is free with paid general admission to Conner Prairie.

It will feature interactive exhibits and hands-on experiments designed to inspire girls to learn more about careers in STEM fields such as informatics, engineering, biology, chemistry, manufacturing, computer science and others. Passport to Hi-Tech was organized by Women & Hi-Tech and Conner Prairie. It is sponsored by Roche Diagnostics.

One of the School of Informatics and Computing’s activities is dubbed “Ready, Set, Compute!” Participants jump into computing and become a working part of a machine in a fast-paced game that shows what a computer does as friends play a game on it. When the players select a move, volunteer students will race to the CPU or other parts of the simulated device to deliver a signal for action, showing what goes on in a computer game.

The other activity will be demonstrating a Finch robot, a small, two-wheeled robot with bird-like features. Polly Baker, Ph.D., a professor of media arts and science in the Department of Human-Centered Computing, has programmed the robot so it can be controlled with hand gestures.

“The robot is approachable, and young people see they can control it,” said Vicki Daugherty, a school recruiting specialist. “It’s empowering. They say to themselves, ‘Hey, I can do this.’”

School of Informatics and Computing hosts robotics competition

The IU School of Informatics and Computing at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis will host the 2014 Indiana VEX IQ Robotics State Championship on Feb. 22 at the Informatics and Communications Technology Complex on the IUPUI campus.

The championship, presented by the Office of Education Innovation and Robotics Education & Competition Foundation, is a competition to spur science, technology, engineering and math activities at area middle schools, with some competitors coming from elementary schools.

“Today, informatics plays a key role in many different industries,” said Polly Baker, professor of media arts and science in the Department of Human-Centered Computing. “Robotics is an example of a field where students can engage by making and designing information technology to serve people and augment our abilities to operate in the world.”

“It’s amazing to see how many students are already interested in getting involved in this exciting area of study,” said Davide Bolchini, interim chair of the Department of Human-Centered Computing and professor of human-computer interaction at the School of Informatics and Computing.

The competition is divided into different parts. The day will include team cooperative and skill competitions, as well as evaluation of design books, and mathematical research components.

Seven of the competing teams will qualify for the VEX IQ World Championship on April 17 in Anaheim, Calif. About 30 teams are expected to compete in the event at IUPUI.