Artist Sonny Liew to Discuss New Graphic Novel

SonnyLiew2014Singapore-based graphic novelist Sonny Liew will visit campus April 13 to discuss his latest work, The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye.

Liew is best known for the New York Times best seller The Shadow Hero with Gene Luen Yang, his contributions on Vertigo Comics’ My Faith in Frankie, his work on Marvel Comic’s adaptation of Sense and Sensibility and a new Doctor Fate comic series with Paul Levitz.

He studied illustration at the Rhode Island School of Design, and was nominated for an Eisner Award in 2011.

The talk is free with a reservation and will take place in the McDermott Library from 11:30 am to 12:30 pm. Copies will be available for purchase, and a signing will follow the talk.

A Class Act: Design Research Workshop with UTD’s UX Club

The projekt202 team went back to school recently to coach the next class of UX designers.

The UX Club at The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) hosted projekt202 for an interactive Design Research Workshop on March 31. Senior UX Designer Chelsea Maxwell, Experience Researcher Nick Ansel, Talent Coordinator Jessica Hart and Vice President of Customer Experience Jeremy Johnson shared their expertise in conducting research and the many ways it informs the design process.

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The collaborative session helped UTD students investigate and answer research-driven questions such as: Who are the customers and users of our technology? What do they actually need? What methods help reveal those needs? How does research fit into the design process?

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In one exercise, students were asked to “design a hat” with no other guidance or restrictions. The attendees’ heady imaginations were brimming with creations of all shapes, sizes, colors and purposes.

To top things off, however, few of the designs could really meet a specific user’s needs. This was an important and enlightening “aha!” moment: students realized that without research to guide design, they were simply throwing out prototypes to see what might work.

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At another point in the workshop, students interviewed Nick about his daily trip to work, then watched a video of his actual commute.

There were notable differences between the interview and the real-world observations. Like many users in similar interview situations, Nick didn’t mention details that would be critical in solving commuting-related problems. By simple observation, however, these factors were easily discovered.

Using their interview and observational notes, UX Club members performed Affinity Diagramming to develop high-level insights that would inform their designs. They then wireframed creative and innovative mobile apps to make workday trips easier and more efficient for frustrated commuters.

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“It was a treat helping students bring theory into practice,” Nick said. “It’s great to see such curious and passionate students make the most out of their interest in UX. It reassures me of the bright future ahead for the experience design community.”

A bright, experience-driven future is a large part of the mission of the UX Club. It envisions the reality of its students playing crucial roles in Dallas design.

The student professional club actively works to increase awareness of user-centered design. To understand and create well-designed experiences, the UX Club provides its members with opportunities — such as the projekt202 Design Research Workshop — to network with industry leaders around Dallas-Fort Worth.

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As Chelsea explained to the group, projekt202’s methodology and best practices are easily applied to the students’ coursework and personal projects, enabling them to strengthen their portfolios and experience.

“What’s really awesome is that schools are starting to catch up with what is going on in the industry,” she said. “Previously, in regards to technology, what schools were teaching and what skills were needed by employers were miles apart. We’re starting to see that change — for example, with the UX Club and courses offered in design.”

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Jessica said, “It was exciting to watch them take in our methods — interviewing, affinity diagramming, wireframing — and contribute their own ideas to solve real-world problems in innovative ways. The big takeaway of the evening for them was that observing users is absolutely crucial to strong design.”

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With a passion for changing the experiences people have with all aspects of technology, the projekt202 team members appreciated the opportunity to share their professional insights.

“Working with such a bright and curious group is always rewarding. It keeps me sharp while also nurturing the profession with critical knowledge-sharing activities,” Nick said. “I was honored to share what makes projekt202 such a great place to practice my craft: the culture, the work and a focus on bettering experiences everywhere.”


This article originally appeared in the projekt202 blog on April 7, 2016.

projekt202 sincerely thanks the members of the UX Club, and the students and faculty of The University of Texas at Dallas.

Photos courtesy of Jessica Hart, Jeremy Johnson and the UX Club at UT Dallas

ATEC School’s Game Design Programs Rank Among the Nation’s Best

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The School of Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication has been recognized by The Princeton Review for its game design programs. UT Dallas has made the Princeton top 25 list every year since 2010

The University of Texas at Dallas has been included in The Princeton Review’s latest assessment of “Top Schools for Game Design,” with theArts and Technology (ATEC) graduate program making the top 10.

Based on a survey of administrators at 150 institutions in the United States, Canada and abroad offering game design degree programs or courses, the ranking puts UT Dallas’ graduate program in the ninth spot and its undergraduate program at 11th on the list.

“For students aspiring to work in game design, the 58 schools that made one or both of our 2016 lists offer extraordinary opportunities to learn and to hone one’s talents for a successful career in this burgeoning field,” Robert Franek, senior vice president and publisher of The Princeton Review, said in a news release.

“The faculties at these schools are outstanding. Their facilities are awesome. And their alumni include legions of the industry’s most prominent game designers, developers, artists and entrepreneurs.”

The Princeton Review started ranking video game design programs in 2010 after recognizing a surge in the amount of options available, and UT Dallas has since ranked in the top 25 every year.

“ATEC’s strength in gaming is its interdisciplinary nature,” said associate professor Dr. Monica Evans MA’04, PhD’07 who helped establish ATEC’s Game Production Lab.

“We specialize in things that don’t quite exist yet. There’s a great deal of untapped potential in games as an expressive medium, which we explore through collaboration with our colleagues in education, science, technology, business and the arts,” Evans said. “ATEC is an outstanding place to pursue impactful, groundbreaking work in games, and I’m extremely proud of our school, our students and our faculty in game development and game studies.”

The ATEC program began in 2004 under the auspices of the School of Arts and Humanities, and it quickly grew into one of UT Dallas’ most popular programs. It moved into a new home with the creation of theEdith O’Donnell Arts and Technology Building and was established as an independent school with the Emerging Media and Communication (EMAC) program in 2015.

Combat Pilot Encourages ATEC Lecture Audience to Fly Past Adversity

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Vernice Armour faced plenty of obstacles along the path to becoming the U.S. Marine Corps’ first African-American female combat pilot.

Armour, known as “FlyGirl,” told the audience at the Arts and Technology (ATEC) Distinguished Lecture Series event on March 22 that she applied a few times before the Marines accepted her. She also failed her flight test on the first attempt.

Dressed in a khaki flight uniform and leather jacket, Armour gave an energetic talk about how she stayed focused on her mission to become an attack helicopter pilot and then served two tours in Iraq. She repeatedly encouraged audience members to pursue their dreams and keep moving forward in the face of adversity.

“Flight school was hard. Police academy was hard. Becoming a Marine was hard,” Armour said.

She recalled a time when she wanted to quit flight school, but her mother told her to dry her eyes and get back to work because she had worked too hard to give up.

“When we hit the challenges and obstacles, what’s your live-by phrase? What is it that moves you through that situation?” Armour asked. “Challenges and obstacles are inevitable. How you navigate and manage those challenges and obstacles, that’s the key.”

During her talk, Armour said that she has been asked many times if she faced discrimination along the way.

“When I felt friction or tension, it could have been for any reason,” Armour said. “Friction and tension are normal. They’re going to happen. However, we cannot afford to lose focus, cannot let drama affect our goals. When you let drama or outside things take you off course, what are you putting at stake, personally or professionally?”

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She told the crowd not to wait for clearance to pursue their dreams, and challenged them to “create the breakthrough” themselves.

“There aren’t any ground controllers in life,” Armour said. “It’s up to you to give yourself permission to engage.”

Among her many breakthroughs, Armour was the first African-American woman on Nashville’s motorcycle police squad. She has played for the San Diego Sunfire women’s professional football team. In flight school, Armour made the Naval Air Station’s prestigious Commodore’s List, received the Academic Achievement Award and was the top graduate of her class. After retiring from the Marines, she founded VAI Consulting and Training LLC. She also has written a book, Zero to Breakthrough, and appeared on a variety of programs including The Oprah Winfrey Show and The View.

‘The 128-Year-Old Startup: Rebooting National Geographic for the 21st Century’

Keith JenkinsOn Thursday, April 28, the series’ third season will conclude with Keith Jenkins, general manager of digital and social media for the National Geographic Society. Jenkins, who oversees the organization’s digital experience, products and staff, will discuss photography and multimedia.

Before joining National Geographic, he was the supervising senior producer for multimedia at NPR.org, a photographer and editor at The Washington Post, and the first photography director at washingtonpost.com and AOL. Jenkins, who also has held posts atThe Boston Globe and graphic designer Dietmar R. Winkler, has won numerous prizes, including an Emmy Award and honors from the Society of Publication Designers, the Edward R. Murrow Awards and the Peabody Awards. Purchase tickets.