UTD Arts and Technology Program Hits the Road

The Institute for Interactive Arts and Engineering at The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) later this month will take its highly acclaimed program on the road — to the Mexican Research Center for Mathematics (known as CIMAT) in Guanajuato, Mexico — with a course in computer animation and Internet graphics.

The class, which begins on June 27 and is scheduled to last six weeks, will focus on advanced animation techniques and Internet graphic methods. Students will be required to complete an interactive technology project and will have an opportunity to use UTD’s state-of-the-art animation software.

Dr. Thomas Linehan, who is a director of the UTD institute, along with Pablo Trinidad, a Ph.D. student in arts and technology, will lead the undergraduate-level program.

According to Linehan, the class is believed to be one of the first of its kind to be offered in Mexico, and perhaps in all of Latin America.

“Mexico is a budding area for animation and art technology, and CIMAT has many talented students who are interested in pursuing careers in the field,” Linehan said. “By offering this course, we hope to provide a curricula model so that CIMAT could potentially create its own offerings and eventually establish an undergraduate program in arts and technology to complement UTD’s.”

UTD’s interactive arts and engineering tract, created in 2002 with the arrival of Linehan from The Ohio State University, has been at the forefront of adopting innovative new offerings in the areas of animation, game design and virtual-reality technology.

In January, for example, UTD announced the creation of an interdisciplinary Motion Capture and Virtual Reality Laboratory for the digital recording of motion in 3-D spaces and creating virtual-reality environments. It is one of only a handful of facilities in the country to employ cutting-edge technologies to facilitate the study of human movement, which could spur advances in many disparate fields, including entertainment, education, military, medicine and numerous other research areas.

Motion-capture technology typically is carried out by multiple cameras positioned throughout a lab that track so-called “markers” or reflectors placed on the bodies of live subjects. Data derived from tracking the movement of the markers are used to help create more realistic computer images of humans and even animals. Animators, and particularly video game developers, rely on motion-capture research because it can produce highly accurate and realistic movement results in a short amount of time.

UTD, through its Center for U.S.–Mexico Studies, established a formal collaborative relationship with CIMAT last February, but the two institutions have enjoyed scholarly and professorial exchanges for several years.