Guitarist Composes Music to Learn Calculus by

ATEC Project Makes Student’s Composition an Integral Part of Math Video Game

Can music soothe your soul, or at least ease the pain of calculus? Eddie Healy thinks so.

Eddie Healy is a doctoral humanities student at UT Dallas, where he also teaches.

The doctoral humanities student has composed the score for a video game being developed by UT Dallas Arts and Technology (ATEC) students.

Spearheaded by Assistant Professor Monica Evans, the game designers sought guitar music for their latest game, “The Digital Calculus Coach.” After hearing Healy play at a school concert, Evans knew she had found her musician.

Healy received his bachelor’s degree in classical guitar performance at the University of North Texas. He then completed a master of music degree at Southern Methodist University. He was awarded a scholarship from the Dallas Federation of Music Clubs, and was the recipient of the Alice Jones-Berding scholarship in 1995. Even with all this experience, Dr. Evans’ request was uncharted territory.

Healy says, “I have been asked to compose wedding music, a piece to honor the victims of Hurricane Katrina, a podcast theme by the UT Dallas Communications department, and even a middle school alma mater. But this was a first for me.”

Evans and her team wanted the music to bolster the fun, whimsical character they intended for the educational game. Despite the fact that most of Healy’s academic and professional experience had been in classical guitar, he also drew on his limited exposure to jazz music to ensure that the game remain both educational and fun. He set the music for two guitars and recorded it last week with an ATEC engineer.

“For ‘Digital Calculus Coach’ to be successful, the game world needs to be as engaging as possible,” Evans said.  “One of our goals was to include dynamic, inspiring, and memorable music, rather than making yet another simple, forgettable loop of techno-inspired sounds. What Eddie has done for us is make our game aurally stand out, and bring the game world to life with hummable themes – there isn’t an educational game out there that sounds like ours.”

Healy admits the ATEC team has spoken to him about composing for future projects, and he is excited about stretching his compositional legs in the gaming industry.  “I teach music at several different institutions (UT Dallas, Eastfield College, the  Collin County Community College District and the Gray School of Music), and I want to keep teaching, playing and composing music.”

Game Engineering Conference is Serious Business

Game enthusiasts and industry pros will join forces this weekend when UT Dallas hosts the 2010 Game Engineering Conference.

The two afternoons of events will include panel discussions by faculty members from UT Dallas, SMU and Richland College.

Several presentations are planned by Gearbox Software, an independent company based in Plano that has produced Borderlands and other computer games.

The event is presented by the Student Game Developers Association.

The conference is free and open to the general public. The schedule of events is as follows:

Saturday, April 17
North Engineering and Computer Science Building

  • 1 p.m.    Lecture by Dr. B. Prabhakaran of UT Dallas
  • 2 p.m.    Game Curricula roundtable
  • 3 p.m.    Systemic Development for Borderlands
  • 5 p.m.    Borderlands Development panel

Sunday, April 18
Arts and Technology Building

  • 1 p.m.   Alternate Reality Games
  • 2 p.m.   Level and Game Design Tutorial
  • 3:30 p.m.   Legal Issues in Mods, Machinima and Derivative Works
  • 4:10 p.m.  The iPhone Contract: What You Should Have Read
  • 5 p.m.   ATEC Portfolio reviews

Film Festival to Screen 3 UT Dallas Video Projects

Three films produced by students and faculty at The University of Texas at Dallas have been selected for the upcoming Dallas International Film Festival.

The 2010 Dallas International Film Festival runs April 8 – 18, and three UT Dallas-made video projects have been chosen to participate April 12 in the North Texas College Showcase, featuring the best work from students of local universities.

Among the selected videos are UT Dallas Arts and Technology (ATEC) Assistant Professor Todd Fechter’s animated short The Longest Moment, which tells the story of a pair of loving stop-motion puppets who dream how their relationship could have been once their animator retires for the evening.

Literary studies graduate student Brad Sanders’ Aint I a Womanquestions the socially constructed boundaries of gender through the journey of Lesley (a transgender doll).  The film examines its theme at intersections with high technology and advanced capitalism as part of a vision of a post-gender future.

Finally,  Arts and Humanities PhD student Luis Fernando Midence’s live-action online video, Uncertain, relates the drowsy dream of a teenage boy who has taken an overdose of pills to end his life in response to the bullying he’s suffered at school.

All three videos will be screened Monday, April 12, at 10:15 p.m. at theAngelika Film Center Dallas (5321 E. Mockingbird Lane) as part of the college showcase. Tickets are $10 per person and can be purchased online at the film festival Web site or at the venue the day of the event.