School Recognizes Faculty, Staff, Alumni with Annual Awards

The School of Arts and Humanities has named ATEC Assistant Professor Todd Fechter the Victor Worsfold Teacher of the Year.

From left: Assistant Professor Todd Fechter, Dean Dennis Kratz and Professor Emeritus Victor Worsfold. Fechter was selected as the Victor Worsfold Teacher of the Year.

Fechter, who has experience working in television and film production, teaches courses in 3D computer animation in the school’s Arts and Technology (ATEC)program. He created the first online ATEC computer animation digital class archive, providing unlimited access to course materials and examples that allow for off-campus learning and review.

“Todd is an inspiring teacher, mentor and more. He has taken a leadership role in developing an animation program of the highest quality. His impact is already and quite literally visible in the superior work that our students are producing,” said Dr. Dennis M. Kratz, dean of the School of Arts and Humanities.

Fechter’s honor was part of the school’s Outstanding Faculty and Teaching Awards, which are presented yearly and are named for Professor Emeritus Victor Worsfold, who taught ethics and philosophy at UT Dallas from 1975 to 2001. Dr. Worsfold was present for the awards ceremony.

The Worsfold Teaching Assistant (TA) of the Year award went to LaToya Watkins, a PhD candidate in aesthetic studies.

Akin Babatunde and David Hanson were named Alumni of the Year. David Hanson received his PhD from UT Dallas in aesthetic studies and interactive arts and engineering. In 2003, he founded Hanson Robotics to pursue character robot research and applications.

Hanson creates androids – humanlike robots with intelligence. Through integrated research in cognitive artificial intelligence, bio-inspired mechanics, material science, sculpture and animation, expressive robotic faces and walking robot bodies, Hanson strives to bring robots to life. The walking, talking robots resulting from Hanson’s efforts have been recognized in various publications, including Wired and PC Magazine.

“David Hanson has helped revolutionize our notion of what a robot is and the possibilities of robotics in education. His robots with human faces are displayed around the world, adding luster to our aspiration of leadership at the intersection of arts and technology,” added Kratz.

Students to Present Emerging Media and Communications Projects

Students from the Emerging Media and Communications (EMAC) program will present projects that examine how new media and network technologies are transforming the ways we connect with each other.

Dr. David Parry helps students explore the changing world of media and communication in the EMAC program.

The presentations are Tuesday, Dec. 4, from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. in CB3 1.306.

Desiree Jacob, a master’s candidate, created a website and blog that details her own journey as an adopted child, and aims to educate others about adoption. Her project is called The Quiet Struggle.

“Many adoption myths persist in our society.  Understanding details on the topic of adoption is something that all members of the triad (adoptee, birth mom and adoptive parents) should be more educated and aware of before decisions are made,” writes Jacob on her blog.

Dr. Kim Knight, assistant professor in the EMAC program, served as faculty advisor for the project.

A project by Desiree Jacob (right) seeks to educate the public about issues regarding adoption.

“One of the things that is exemplary about “The Quiet Struggle” is that Desiree has used her passion to construct a project with social benefit for an audience with very specific needs. She has a growing pool of readers and people are coming forward to share their stories on the site, both of which speak to the quality of the project,” said Knight.

Jamie Field, a senior, will present her project Roach Coach Review. The website tracks the location, and gives reviews, of various food trucks across the Metroplex.

“With an explosion in food truck popularity, the number of trucks is on the rise. Previously, only social media outlets were a resource for updates like new menu items or truck locations/schedules. We developed ‘Roach Coach Reviews’ to serve as your DFW food truck information portal,” the website states.

The faculty advisor for the project was Dr. David Parry, assistant professor.

“Jamie has combined all the skills she learned as an EMAC student with her interest in food trucks to create a high-quality website that serves as Dallas’ best food truck review site. Not only does the site contain reviews, but also schedules, videos, maps and links,” said Parry.

Other projects to be presented include graduate student Aline McKenzie’s trail media for Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center. McKenzie produced video that can be accessed via QR code along the trails at the center. The videos cover topics ranging from identifying poison ivy to the history behind a concrete basin that once housed a telecommunications tower and antenna but now has a garden and deck inside.

“Aline did a lot of really great research on the history of media use in national park settings as part of this project. She has used this knowledge as a foundation to construct educational media that taps into the growing use of mobile Internet access while being respectful of the natural setting. In addition, she is gaining valuable experience in working in partnership with a community organization,” said Knight, who oversaw the project.

The event is free and open to the public.