Meet Ellen Curtis – Graduate Advisor for EMAC & ATEC

Ellen CurtisEllen Curtis joined EMAC and ATEC as the graduate advisor for students studying in the masters program.  Though new to ATEC and EMAC, Ellen is no stranger to working with students from UT Dallas. For nearly eight years she worked in the School of Engineering and Computer Science department advising for the undergraduate program. Ellen is excited about the opportunities growing in the EMAC and ATEC programs. She recognizes and appreciates the versatility of the department and believes, “Studying in the EMAC Masters program is a great opportunity as it gives students the opportunity to select classes that nurture their interest.”

Ellen holds a Masters Degree in Industrial Organizational Psychology and before her career as an advisor began she worked as a community college instructor, career evaluation manager at a rehabilitation organization, operations manager for a restoration company, and a career counselor for a community college. Ellen is originally from New York but has lived in California, England, Maine, Illinois and finally moved to Texas in 2003. Before coming to UT Dallas, Ellen worked as an advisor in the School of Business at the University of North Texas. As a result of her experience, her biggest piece of advice to current students is to stay in touch with their advisors to ensure graduation requirements are met. She encourages students who are interested in the masters program to schedule an appointment and discuss options.

Fun Fact: Ellen and her husband own a hot-air balloon, named Wind Rose, and participate in the annual balloon festival in Plano.

How to contact Ellen:


Phone: 972-883-7533

Office: ATEC 3.609

Models of X

To celebrate its 10th anniversary, the Nasher Sculpture Center presents Nasher XChange Exhibition Sites, a dynamic public art exhibition consisting of 10 newly-commissioned public sculptures by contemporary artists at 10 sites throughout the city of Dallas. The Edith O’Donnell Arts and Technology building at UT Dallas is proud home to Liz Larner’s sculpture, X. The following are thoughts on the piece by UT Dallas faculty and associates.larner-x-wood

Tech Executive to Describe Wonders of the Cloud World on Feb. 26

Christian Belady, general manager of Datacenter Services for Microsoft’s Global Foundation Services and a UT Dallas alumnus, will speak Feb. 26 at the second event in the new ATEC Distinguished Lecture Series.

Christian Belady

He helps build and manage the world of cloud computing at Microsoft. Before Microsoft and after earning engineering degrees from Cornell University and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Belady enrolled at UT Dallas and earned his master’s degree in international management in 1990. He was named a 2010 Distinguished Alumnus.

Can you explain cloud computing for a lay audience?

A few years ago my wife asked me, “What is this cloud computing thing I have been reading about in the paper?” And I was thinking how can I explain this to her in a non-geeky way that would make sense to a medical professional? My answer went something like this:

I asked her, “Where’s your email?” She replied “It’s on my computer.”

“Really, well, what do you do to access it?” She replied again, “I log in and open it.”

“Exactly! … You are actually logging on to a server in a datacenter somewhere on the planet. … That is the cloud.”

Get TicketsTickets are $15 for seats on the lower level of the lecture hall and $10 for the upper level. A limited number of complimentary tickets are available for students, faculty and staff who register.


Guests should park in Parking Structure I.  A map can be found here.

Next in the Series

March 26: Vinton G. Cerf, a “father of the Internet.”

April 16: Mae Jemison, scientist and astronaut.

Actually you and all of us have been “doing” cloud computing for over a decade. The only difference now is we are talking about businesses doing what consumers have been doing for years.

For example, I don’t carry Encarta on my phone, I just type in a search query and the data or answer is retrieved from the cloud in a second. The cloud provides information and resources on demand that can be used on demand from anywhere on the globe!

Because of this fantastic resource, the demands from consumers and businesses are insatiable, driving incredible growth in the infrastructure that supports it, the datacenter.

What are some of the most exciting new breakthroughs in cloud computing?

There are many breakthroughs in the cloud, most of which are software related. However, there are exciting things that are going on in my space, the datacenter.

Because of the scale at which we operate, we can rethink how we do things. For example, we have the ability to move away from trying to build redundant infrastructure (power systems and cooling) to prevent power outages to a completely integrated system where we move resiliency into the software.

If we lose a server, a datacenter or part of the network, the software is resilient and will move workload around as appropriate so it is always available. This requires a completely aligned and integrated design between the servers, network, datacenter and software.

Another example, which I am particularly proud of, is what we are doing on the power side. Again, because of our scale, we are able to bring together the datacenter with the utility/power companies to integrate the power generation with the datacenter.

Our view is that the datacenter is nothing more than a power converter changing electrons into bits. So we have projects now that are looking to combine the power plant with the datacenter. We call this the “dataplant.”

The implications are huge as we think of distributing data over fiber versus electrons over the grid. The efficiency gains are huge since much of the high voltage transmission infrastructure is eliminated, but also it enables us to run datacenters off of biogas using fuel cells.

What started the big move to cloud computing?

Cost, cost, cost! Companies using the cloud need fewer capital resources to build out their IT departments. This of course was highly desirable with small businesses with limited resources, so they were the first to adopt.

This also gave these small companies a cost advantage relative to larger competitors, lowering the barrier to entry. This in turn drives more adoption by larger companies in order to compete. It’s a vicious cycle. The faster we drive our cost down, the faster the adoption. My role is to help drive down those costs in our datacenters.

How do my devices work?

What makes smartphones smart is not what’s in the phones, but the cloud resource behind them … the back end. All of the applications (apps) use information or computational resources in the cloud. The smartphone (or any device) is just a portal to resources in my datacenters.

Why is cloud computing such a popular solution for consumers?

They have no idea they are consuming it; it is just happening and working for them. If there is a failure in a datacenter or a server goes down, the consumer never knows. Whatever they need is always available, and that is what we are doing.

Consumers have really no idea that we have datacenters that are 20 to 30 times the size of a football field full of nothing but computers. And should they even care?

This build-out of infrastructure is really an industrial revolution that no one knows is happening. The goal of my presentation is to show the scale of these wonders of the new world.

Explore ATEC During Engineers Week

2013 EWeek-artworkThe Arts and Technology program will participate in the UT Dallas Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science 2014 Engineers Week on Saturday, February 22, 2014 with demonstrations from some of the most exciting labs at UT Dallas.

The following labs will be open:

Audience Research in the New Media Landscape: Current Assessment and Future Directions

The School of Arts and Humanities announces Angela M. Lee, MA Candidate for Assistant Professor in ATEC (EMAC) Ms. Lee will give a talk entitled Audience Research in the New Media Landscape: Current Assessment and Future Directions 

This presentation will introduce a number of theoretical and empirical approaches to the study of audiences in today’s high-choice media environment, addressing the following questions: Why should communication scholars care about audience research? What is the audience’s role in the new media landscape? Who is using what type of news and why? And why are people not consuming news? The presentation will conclude with recommendations on future directions for audience research.

 Tuesday, February 11 at 11 am in ATC 2.811

b15bf8a8316675285f15be73076cd20eAngela M. Lee is a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Journalism at University of Texas at Austin. She received her M.A. from the Annenberg School for Communication at University of Pennsylvania, and B.A. from UCLA with Phi Beta Kappa, Magna Cum Laude, College of Letters & Science Honor, and Departmental Honor in Communication Studies.

Angela has published in peer-reviewed journals such as Communication Research, Journalism Studies, Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, and Digital Journalism, and her collaborative work has been featured on the Nieman Journalism Lab website, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times and The Philadelphia Inquirer. Recently, Angela was interviewed by the Annett Strauss Institute for Civic Life for her collaboration with The Dallas Morning News, to which she offers empirical and analytical consultation on audience research.

Ms. Lee will meet with students at 4 pm on Monday, Feb. 10  in ATC 2.807.