Resume and Portfolio Session: Big Design Workshop

This free event will help you get your resume and portfolio reviewed before the Big Design Conference. In this workshop, you will learn how to write a better resume from some leading experts:

Big Design ConferenceParticipants will see a presentation on resume writing. They will have time to work on updating their resume. Brian and Shauna will review resumes. Soowan and Ian will do portfolio reviews.

This class, which takes place on Thursday, Sept. 4 in Addison, is limited to the first 100 registrants. Sign up online through Eventbrite.  The class is free. Donations are accepted, which will go to a local charity.

About the Big Design Conference

This year’s Big Design Conference (Sept. 4-6) hosts four insightful keynote speakers and 70 talks ranging from web, mobile, inspirational design, usability, social media, game design, film-making, code development, search engine optimization, content strategy, and instructional design.

Keynote speaker Phil Tippett’s career in visual effects has spanned more than 30 years and includes 2 Academy Awards, 6 Academy Award nominations, 1 BAFTA, 4 BAFTA nominations, 2 Emmys and the advent of modern digital effects in motion pictures. Tippet’s work includes visual effects for Star Wars, Robocop, Jurassic Park, Starship Troopers and the Twilight series.

Learn more at the Big Design Conference website.

ATEC Professor Leads Study Revealing Big Story of Cultural Migration

Dr. Maximilian Schich’s video shows the birthplaces (blue) and death sites (red) of cultural figures over time. For the study, the researchers collected the birth and death locations of more than 150,000 notable individuals — from John Washington (father of President George Washington) to John F. Kennedy. The rise of transportation — namely railways connecting the coasts and affordable cars — led to increased migration, particularly westward. If you are having trouble watching the video, view it on YouTube.

Quantifying and transforming the history of culture into visual representation isn’t easy. There are thousands of individual stories across millennia to consider, and some historical conditions are nearly impossible to measure.

Addressing this challenge, Dr. Maximilian Schich, associate professor of arts and technology (ATEC) at The University of Texas at Dallas, has brought together a team of network and complexity scientists to create and quantify a big picture of European and North American cultural history.

Schich, an art historian who works under the umbrella of the University’s ATEC program, has reconstructed the migration and mobility patterns of more than 150,000 notable individuals over a time span of 2,000 years. By connecting the birth and death locations of each individual, Schich and his team have made progress in our understanding of large-scale cultural dynamics.

Dr. Maximilian Schich
Dr. Maximilian Schich

Schich’s research is detailed in the article “A Network Framework of Cultural History,” published Aug. 1 in the journal Science.

“The study draws a surprisingly comprehensive picture of European and North American cultural interaction that can’t be otherwise achieved without consulting vast amounts of literature or combing discrete data sets,” Schich said. “This study functions like a macroscope, where quantitative inquiry and qualitative inquiry complement each other.”

Quantitative inquiry involves objective, measureable data, while qualitative inquiry relies on subjective or “apparent” qualities.

Schich and his colleagues collected the birth and death data from three databases to track migration networks in and out of Europe and North America, revealing a pattern of geographical birth sources and death attractors.

A key finding in the study, Schich said, is that nonintuitive fundamental patterns — including the so-called “laws of migration” — emerge from large numbers of specific events. The team also found evidence for massive fluctuations on a level of single specific locations.

“In practice, this means that cultural history is both an event discipline, where qualitative inquiry focuses on the specific, and a law discipline, where quantification helps to understand general patterns,” Schich said.

Other findings show that despite the dependence of the arts on money, cultural centers and economic centers do not always coincide, and that the population size of a location does not necessarily point to its cultural attractiveness.

“In fact, outliers with outstanding cultural attraction, such as Hollywood, California, where we find 10 times more notable deaths as births, are found at all sizes, from villages to metroplexes,” Schich said.

n addition, the median physical distance between birth and death locations changed very little between the 14th and 21st centuries, from about 133 miles to about 237 miles, respectively.

“There is really no average or typical cultural center,” Schich said. “As a consequence, cultural historians really need quantification to complement their intuition based on qualitative inquiry. On the other hand, our results also send a message to complexity scientists. The massive fluctuations we find mean that qualitative inquiry has to complement quantification in order to fully understand the dynamics of cultural migration.”

Schich said the topic of art and cultural history is an uncommon topic for papers in journals such as Science.

“A large amount of multidisciplinary expertise was necessary to arrive at the results we found,” Schich said. “The paper relies on the fields of art history, complex networks, complexity science, computational sociology, human mobility, information design, physics and some inspiration from systems biology.”

While the research that made the paper possible began in Boston and was continued in Zurich, Schich finished his project in Texas.

“The ATEC program at UT Dallas provides an environment where it is possible and encouraged to transcend disciplinary boundaries to understand culture as a complex system. This paper illustrates perfectly the type of work that is taking place in my cultural science lab,” Schich said.

An art historian by training, Schich is also a founding member of the new Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art Historyat UT Dallas, where he plans to continue to merge data science, complex networks and art history to bring quantitative and qualitative inquiry together.

Researchers involved in the study came from the groups of Dirk Helbing at ETH Zurich, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and Albert-László Barabási at Northeastern University. Current affiliations of the team include Central European University in Budapest, Harvard Medical School, IBM Research, Indiana University, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich and the University of Miami. Data was collected from Freebase.com, the Allgemeines Künstlerlexikon, the Getty Union List of Artist Names and the Winckelmann Corpus.

The research was funded by the German Research Foundation, the European Research Council and UT Dallas.

Summer Camp Sparks Teenage Girls’ Interest in STEM Careers

Twenty Dallas-area teenage girls recently got hands-on experience with nanotechnology, robots, virtual reality, forensics and space science when they visited UT Dallas for a weeklong summer camp.

Dr. Zharkynay Kuanyshbekova, a research associate with UT Dallas’ Alan G. MacDiarmid NanoTech Institute, answered questions from teenage girls about the use of nanotechnology in solar energy and flexible electronics, as well as questions about why she became a scientist.
Dr. Zharkynay Kuanyshbekova, a research associate with UT Dallas’ Alan G. MacDiarmid NanoTech Institute, answered questions from teenage girls about the use of nanotechnology in solar energy and flexible electronics, as well as questions about why she became a scientist.

Organized by Girls Inc. of Metropolitan Dallas, Richland College and UT Dallas’ Science and Engineering Education Center (SEEC), the SMART Summer College Camp introduced eighth- and ninth-graders to college life and potential careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Campers first spent a week at Richland College to explore the community college experience, and then checked into a UT Dallas residence hall to begin a second week of STEM sessions in various campus locations.

Lori Palmer, CEO of Girls Inc. of Metropolitan Dallas, said the girls came from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, one of the largest obstacles to college readiness. Most of the girls in the summer camp had never met a scientist, much less a female scientist, so part of the goal was to broaden the youngsters’ horizons.

“We encourage girls to explore STEM fields and careers because women are underrepresented,” Palmer said. “Yet females employed in STEM careers earn an average of 33 percent more than those employed in other fields.”

At one of the camp’s first activities at UT Dallas, two female scientists greeted campers during a visit to a laboratory associated with the Alan G. MacDiarmid NanoTech Institute. Research associate Dr. Zharkynay Kuanyshbekova and graduate student Patricia Martinez provided a hands-on introduction to nanotechnology and carbon nanotubes.

After helping the girls don the uniform of a scientist — white lab coat, gloves and goggles — the two researchers supervised as the girls handled delicate sheets of carbon nanotube fibers. The curious campers learned that carbon nanotubes are very small, but they are extremely strong and have physical and electrical properties that make them suitable for applications in solar energy and flexible electronics.

Dr. Ryan McMahan, assistant professor of computer science, led each girl through an immersive virtual reality experience. Donning a head-mounted 3-D display, the girls walked through a virtual house and used a hand-held controller to fly through a computer-generated world.
Dr. Ryan McMahan, assistant professor of computer science, led each girl through an immersive virtual reality experience. Donning a head-mounted 3-D display, the girls walked through a virtual house and used a hand-held controller to fly through a computer-generated world.

Another of the week’s activities took the girls to the motion capture laboratory housed in the Edith O’Donnell Arts and Technology Building, where Dr. Ryan McMahan, assistant professor of computer science, led several campers through an immersive virtual reality experience.

Outfitted with a head-mounted, 3-D display, the girls walked through a virtual house onto a virtual balcony and used a hand-held guidance device to “fly” through the computer-generated world.

A camper named Kaia, who is interested in technology and wants to be a computer scientist, said her virtual flying experience “was like being in an airplane with no windows or doors.”

Fellow camper Rickera, who also had a turn in the virtual world, said the weeklong camp at UT Dallas was fun.

“We’re learning new stuff that can prepare us for the future,” said Rickera, who is thinking about pursuing a career as a pediatrician.

UT Dallas faculty and students, as well as Dallas-area scientists and engineers, provided much of the program’s content.  For example, staff and faculty with UTeach Dallas, a UT Dallas academic program that allows science and math majors to earn their undergraduate degrees at the same time they earn teaching certification, worked with the campers on a community planning/engineering design project.

Campers from Girls Inc. used a chemistry technique called ink chromatography to examine trace evidence in a “whodunit” workshop. The activity was one of several STEM workshops that introduced teenage girls to college life and science careers.
Campers from Girls Inc. used a chemistry technique called ink chromatography to examine trace evidence in a “whodunit” workshop. The activity was one of several STEM workshops that introduced teenage girls to college life and science careers.

Professionals from the community were involved as well. Dr. Shana Santos, a chemist with Dallas County’s Southwest Institute for Forensic Sciences, held a crime scene investigation workshop where the girls used a chemistry technique called ink chromatography to examine trace evidence in a “whodunit.”

Dan Lepinski, a design engineer consultant from the North Texas Renewable Energy Group, took campers through a virtual trip around the world to see how the U.S. and other countries use solar power. And engineers from Dallas-based Texas Instruments led the campers on a field trip to one of the company’s laboratories.

Dr. Bernine Khan, director of SEEC, organized the busy schedule of sessions at UT Dallas with the girls’ long-term interests in mind.

“This camp gives the girls a flavor of STEM careers and introduces them to women who are successful scientists and engineers,” said Khan, who is an environmental engineer. “But integrated into it is how to get there, how to prepare for college, for both two-year and four-year institutions. There are many pathways these young women might take and many resources for them to tap into.

“The girls and their parents left the program with a renewed sense of confidence,” Khan said. “Not only do the girls understand that a bright future awaits them, but they also have a deeper understanding of what steps to take to make that a reality.”

One young camper, Aleisha, is already thinking about her future and making plans. She wants to study law and perhaps be a crime scene investigator. When asked about her impression of UT Dallas, she described the campus as “really big.”

“I want to go to a big university. There’s more chance to meet people from different cultures,” she said.