ATEC Students Design Sound for New Perot Museum

When the Perot Museum of Nature and Science opens this weekend, the state-of-the-art facility will feature the work of Arts and Technology students from The University of Texas at Dallas.

Derrick Dugan (left) and Charles McCormick were among students in the digital music production course.

During the last year, a group of undergraduates created soundscapes for the museum, giving the students hands-on experience in the field of sound design.

“This is a typical project that comes out of ATEC in that it connects art, science and technology in a creative dialogue and also contributes to positioning the University as a pertinent partner with major cultural institutions in the Metroplex,” said Dr. Frank Dufour, a professor of sound design who led the digital music production course. “Students were given a wonderful opportunity to express themselves in a professional environment in which their creativity was welcome.”

Dr. Frank Dufour

The students worked closely with Dufour and Roxanne Minnish, a UT Dallas sound design instructor, composer and project manager, and with museum officials to refine their designs throughout the semester.

“Dr. Dufour was conceptual in the way he taught, but also practical and logical. He is inspiring as a teacher,” said Josh Casey, a senior who worked on the project. “He guided us and gave us advice and challenged students to think about what the soundscapes should really represent.”

Located north of downtown Dallas near Victory Park, the 180,000-square-foot museum features five floors of public space with 11 permanent exhibit halls, including a children’s museum and a hall designed to host traveling exhibitions. The museum opens to the public on Saturday, Dec. 1.

The digital music production class worked on sound designs for the 11 exhibit halls, which include the T. Boone Pickens Life Then and Now Hall, Being Human Hall, Discovering Life Hall, Rose Hall of Birds, Sports Hall and the Texas Instruments Engineering and Innovation Hall, among others.

The students worked together, collaborating on certain designs and critiquing each other’s projects throughout the semester.

Audio Samples

“At first, when people criticize your work you may be offended, but I learned to become grateful for criticism – I learned a lot about the creative process and how to collaborate and bring new ideas together,” Casey said.

Each design required specific sounds that would enhance the educational and artistic quality of the exhibit. For example, there are heartbeats for baselines in the Being Human Hall soundscape and sweeping notes that rise and fall – like a flight pattern – in the Rose Hall of Birds design.

“Collaborating with UT Dallas on this project is just one of the ways that the Perot Museum seeks to enhance the visitor experience through highly immersive exhibits that cater to diverse learning styles,” said Steve Hinkley, vice president of programs at the Museum. “The students’ work demonstrates not only their dedication to innovation, but is a testament to visitors that the intersection of art and science is all around us.”

Arts and Technology Impact on DFW

The opening of the new Arts and Technology (ATEC) Building at UT Dallas in 2013 will bring global attention to North Texas as a hub of research and innovation in this emerging field. This $60 million, 155,000-square-foot facility will provide an interdisciplinary and collaborative environment for students, scholars and industry. Here they will apply the principles of visual arts, computer science and engineering to solutions impacting fields as diverse as medicine, education, journalism, social media and more.

Thomas Linehan, to be joined by Roger Malina, Sandra Thomas and Dan Kuenster in a discussion panel concerning the impact of ATEC on the DFW Metroplex

Learn more about this innovative program from two UT Dallas faculty members as well as from executives from Istation, a successful local technology company that has already discovered the value of ATEC’s research and graduates. Presentations will include ATEC projects and Istation’s educational animation programs, which are available to Texas public school students from third to eighth grade.

Dr. Thomas Linehan
Arts and Humanities Distinguished Chair and Director of the ATEC Program

Dr. Roger Malina 
Arts and Technology Distinguished Chair and Professor of Physics

Sandra Thomas 
President and Chief Operating Officer, Istation

Dan Kuenster 
Executive Vice President of Design and Animation, Istation
Winner of the 2004 Emmy Award for Individual Achievement in Storyboarding

A light breakfast will be served starting at 7:30 a.m. with a panel discussion following from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m.

Communities Foundation of Texas
5500 Caruth Haven Lane
Dallas, Texas 75226

Detailed agenda is located at

Limited seating is available; please register at or 972-883-6504. This event is free and open to the public.

Enhancing Collaboration Between the Arts, Sciences and Engineering

Roger Malina, Distinguished Professor of Arts and Technology and Professor of Physics at UT Dallas, will lead a discussion at Hexagram-Concordia Centre for Research-Creation in Media Arts and Technologies and attempt to shed light on the concepts of efficiency and acceleration when researchers from the arts, humanities and engineering work collaboratively.

Dr. Roger F. Malina
Dr. Roger F. Malina

Malina will discuss what is new in the emerging and rapidly growing field of art-science collaboration, and examine some of the obstacles and opportunities that are appearing. The discussion will be held Friday, Nov. 16.

This event is the first of Hexagram | CIAM’s 2012-13 public programming with a new partnership with PHI Center, which focuses on their complementary mandates, bringing academic research-creation and quality dissemination to the Montreal community.

Roger Malina Selected as Associate Director of ATEC

Dr. Roger F. Malina, distinguished professor of arts and technology in the School of Arts and Humanities, and professor of physics in the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, has been named Associate Director of Arts and Technology.

Dr. Roger F. Malina
Dr. Roger F. Malina

Malina is a physicist, astronomer and executive editor of Leonardo publications at MIT Press.

“I am delighted to accept the appointment as ATEC Associate Director at a very exciting time for our program,” Malina said. “The hire of 5 outstanding new faculty in 2013 and our upcoming move into the new ATEC building at the center of the campus offer real opportunities for our areas of concentration in both research and education to have a real impact internationally.”

In this position Malina will focus his attention on four specific components of the ATEC program:

  1. Educational and research projects at the intersection of the arts and sciences, including the development of a partnership with the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.
  2. International partnerships.
  3. Participation in the STEM to STEAM initiative, which seeks to integrate the arts, design and humanities into science, technology, engineering and math related fields.
  4. Overseeing the development and administration of the EMAC program.

Malina is a former director of the Observatoire Astronomique de Marseille Provence (OAMP) in Marseille, and a member of its observational cosmology group, which performs investigations on the nature of dark matter and dark energy.

He is also a member of the Mediterranean Institute for Advanced Study (Institut Méditerranéen de Recherches Avancées, IMERA), an institute he helped to organize. IMERA seeks to contribute to trans-disciplinarity between the sciences and the arts, placing emphasis on the human dimensions of the sciences.

Malina was also a member of the jury for the Buckminster Fuller Challenge 2011, which awards a prize to those who create strategies with potential to “solve humanity’s most pressing problems.”

Malina’s specialty is space instrumentation. He was the principal investigator for the NASA Extreme Ultraviolet Explorer satellite at the University of California, Berkeley. The satellite was the first orbiting observatory to map the sky in the extreme ultraviolet band. The team at UC Berkeley had to invent new cameras, telescopes and data analysis techniques to accomplish the task. The team was one of the first university groups to take over operation of a NASA satellite and operate it from a university with teams of students.

For 25 years, Malina has been involved with the Leonardo organizations, which his father founded in 1967. Malina earned his bachelor’s degree in physics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1972 and his doctorate in astronomy from the University of California, Berkeley in 1979.

This Weekend at CentralTrak: Next Topic, Ex Mus and Tiny Thumbs

CentralTrak, the University’s artist residency and gallery, takes another look at new media and sonic art  this week and also plans a one-night showing of video game designs created by UT Dallas students.

The CentralTrak gallery and residency are both located at 800 Exposition Ave. in the historic neighborhood of Deep Ellum, near downtown Dallas. For more information, check the CentralTrak website or call (214) 824-9302. These events are free and open to the public.

Next Topic — Thursday, Nov. 8 at 7 p.m.

CentralTrak Talk Series: Next Topic aims to culminate in-depth discussions about art and art practices. This fall, Next Topic examines new media art.

New media artist Alejandro Borsani will discuss his works, which explore the nature of perception and media representation. Borsani holds a MFA in electronic arts from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY, and an MFA in electronic visualization from the School of Art and Design at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

ex mus – Friday, Nov. 9 at 8 p.m.

ex mus is an experimental music concert series that will highlight the works of both local and international composers and musicians.

The collective of experimental musicians, Andrew Jordan Miller, Jonathan Jackson, Chaz Underriner and Martian Back will kick off the series with their interpretations of Anatassis Phillippakopoulous, a contemporary Greek composer.

This event will be live-streamed at

Tiny Thumbs — Saturday, Nov. 10, 5-8 p.m.

CentralTrak will present a one-night-only showcase of game design from UT Dallas students. Tiny Thumbs is a pop-up video arcade of sorts, curated by PhD student Kyle Kondas.