Combat Pilot Encourages ATEC Lecture Audience to Fly Past Adversity

flygirl-6

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?”

flygirl-10

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.

Fall 2015 Capstone Celebration

EMAC Capstone Blog Post

Please join us on Thursday, December 3 at 7:00 pm in the ATC Lobby for our Fall 2015 Capstone Celebration! We are always excited about this event, but it carries particular significance this semester. These are the first EMAC graduates from the new School of Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication, and this is the first time that we have been able to host the event in our ATC home.

At the event, students will share their semester long projects. Graduate students and select undergraduate students will make formal presentations of their projects, then we will have a showcase where all students will show their work more informally. During the showcase, the audience will have the opportunity to visit with the capstone students and interact with their projects.

You may preview the projects using the following links, but we hope to see you at the Capstone Celebration to let our students impress you with their projects.

 

Undergraduate Projects

 

Sara Ahmad – Storytelling through Video (https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=AAIAABFrKNUBGg-Yj25o2AIRjIzAFFXcaYxR_80&trk=nav_responsive_tab_profile) (Honors project, Outstanding Capstone nominee)

Danielle Boer – The Daily Inquiry (DannieBoer.com)

Nancy Bouton – Little Readers Room (Littlereadersroom.com)

Candace Brand – Love.Connect.Blog. (http://www.loveconnectblog.com/)

Nicole Brown – APPSCAM (appscam.org)

Dylan Carroll – Dallas Off-Road Bike Association (DORBA) Redesign (https://www.behance.net/DylanCarroll)

Jennyrayne Colangan – The Kendo Documentary (www.thekendoexperience.wordpress.com)

Crystal Ezeoke – #LovefysinAsia: Funding Documentary Production (http://igg.me/at/lovefys-in-asia)

Misha Fazeli – Social Presence Study (https://www.instagram.com/feastdallas/) (Outstanding Capstone nominee)

Paul Ford – Wearable Sentiment Analysis (www.paulsmalls.com) (Outstanding Capstone nominee)

Laura Garsea – Utilizing New Media to Further Community Building (www.cleverfangirl.com)

Valerie Garza – Just Passing Through Missions (justpassingthroughmissions.com) (Outstanding Capstone nominee)

Yajaira Gonzalez – Wingstop CSR Research and Development (https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=AAIAAAkdOGwBR18PjvNAmlwJQz3cbYs7vwrUNYw&trk=nav_responsive_tab_profile_pic) (Honors project)

Katherine Harp – Screen Time Before Bed and Sleep Patterns in Adolescents

Madi Hess – A Legacy Never Forgotten (https://www.linkedin.com/in/madison-hess-28017310b)

Carion Jackson – Hold On, I’ve Got a Meme for This

Stephen Jones – The Food Community Blog (https://foodcommunityblog.wordpress.com) (Outstanding Capstone nominee)

Twinkle Lam – Feedbag (feedbag-project.org)

Eric Martinez – The Value of an Unsettling Image

Yuyun Liu – My Best Friend (https://www.linkedin.com/in/yuyun-kristy-liu-a4516687)

Mithun Mathew – The Richardson Breakroom

Karyn Narramore – Twitter and Donald Trump: A Love Story

Patrick O’Connor – Redeemer Designs (http://redeemerdesigns.com)

Natalie Peña Mares – Intercultural Love (www.youtube.com/npmtv)

Matthew McCann – Eventzee Redesign

Angelica Presti – Girls Girls Girls Volume 1 (https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=AAMAABHjylYB5caNHgUVdW5BZ0INfc3VZvHZ7qo&trk=hp-identity-name)

Matthew T Rader – Viral Vloggers (matthewtrader.com)

Anum Tahir – Up, Up and Away, Super A! (https://www.facebook.com/UpandAwaySuperA/) (Outstanding Capstone nominee)

Cristelle Tejes – ManeGait Extended

Alyson Tong – Chasu

Katie Truesdale – Who Really Won the Debate (www.katietruesdale.com)

Jordan Watts – PetroFund (http://petro-fund.com/)

 

 

Graduate Projects

Benaiah Ely – Shoeveillance (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCYhlrw-l-iE8OQMUJaBktMg)

Carlos Harleaux – My Indie Block (www.myindieblock.com)

Cybersecurity Expert to Explore Designs Behind High-Tech Crime

Peter W. Singer
P.W. Singer

To explore both the current and future landscape of cybercrime, one of the leading experts on 21st-century security issues will give a talk at UT Dallas.

P.W. Singer will speak at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 12, as the second presenter in this season’s ATEC Distinguished Lecture Series.

Singer is a strategist and senior fellow at the New America Foundation, a nonpartisan think tank, and author of multiple award-winning books. He was named one of the 100 leading innovators in the nation by the Smithsonian Institution-National Portrait Gallery, one of the 100 most influential people in defense issues by Defense News, and made Foreign Policymagazine’s Top 100 Global Thinkers List.

Singer’s talk, “Cybersecurity and Cyberwar: What Everyone Needs to Know,” shares the same title as a book he wrote last year with Allan Friedman, who is the director of cybersecurity initiatives at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration in the U.S. Department of Commerce. The book was named to both the U.S. Army and U.S. Navy professional reading list.

“In the past year, cybercrime has blossomed into a pandemic, consuming more than $445 billion in lost time, jobs and intellectual property,” Singer wrote in the March issue of Popular Science, where he is a contributing editor.

Dr. Bhavani Thuraisingham, director of UT Dallas’ Cyber Security Research and Education Institute, said she is excited to have Singer on campus.

“At UT Dallas, we are taking an interdisciplinary approach to cybersecurity and have joint projects with faculty from other areas of study. It is essential that we bring political sciences, policy, economics, risk analysis and ethics into our cybersecurity research and education programs. Therefore, our faculty and students will benefit a great deal from Dr. Singer’s talk,” said Thuraisingham, Louis Beecherl Jr. Distinguished Professor and a professor of computer science in the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science.

Singer is the founder of NeoLuddite, a technology advisory firm, and has worked as a consultant for the U.S. military, Defense Intelligence Agency and FBI. He also has advised the creators of a wide range of technology and entertainment programs, and the video game series Call of Duty. He is a member of the U.S. State Department’s Advisory Committee on International Communications and Information Policy.

His past work included serving as coordinator of the defense policy task force for President Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, in the Balkans task force at the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and as the founding director of the Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence at the Brookings Institution, where he was the youngest person named senior fellow in its nearly 100-year history.

His other books include Corporate Warriors: The Rise of the Privatized Military Industry, Children at War and Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century.

Singer received his PhD in government from Harvard University and a bachelor’s from the Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University.

 

ATEC Lecture Series logo

The lecture series, presented by The Dallas Morning News, is held in the Edith O’Donnell Arts and Technology Building, which houses programs that explore topics at the intersection of arts and technology.


Tickets and Parking

Prices vary between $10 and $20 for seats in the lower level of the ATEC Building’s lecture hall.

Staff and faculty members can purchase up to four tickets that will be discounted by $5. Emails with a discount code were sent to staff and faculty.

Students with a valid Comet Card can get free balcony tickets at Ticketing Assistance, ATC 1.201, beginning one hour before the lecture. One ticket per student. First come, first served.

For more information and to purchase tickets, click here using a desktop or laptop computer.

Valet parking is $5. For directions and parking, see this map.

John Maeda Champions the Role of Design at STEAM Lecture

John Maeda
John Maeda, who is a design partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, made a case for how STEM subjects can benefit from taking design into consideration — a movement known as STEAM.
Maeda
UT Dallas faculty from different disciplines met with John Maeda on campus before his lecture on Oct. 15.

Graphic designer and computer scientist John Maeda kicked off the third season of the Arts and Technology Distinguished Lecture Series on Oct. 15 with a discussion about the role of design in science, technology, engineering and math.

Maeda, who is a design partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, made a case for how STEM subjects can benefit from taking design into consideration — a movement known as STEAM, and the “A” representing art.

Maeda
Before his lecture, John Maeda attended meetings with students and faculty to discuss the STEAM movement and the growing role of design.

“Design in many cases is all about meaning and the conveyance of meaning,” Maeda said. “Designers tend to be good at taking you from something that doesn’t make sense to something that makes more sense, which is valuable.”

During his lecture, Maeda detailed his journey — from a student at MIT, where he studied software engineering, to his role as president of the Rhode Island School of Design.

He recounted meetings with influential graphic designers such as Ikko Tanaka and Paul Rand, who sparked his shift from engineering to design.

He said his first meeting with Rand in the late 1990s helped shape his thoughts on the value of creative pursuits.

“Creativity is a funny thing,” he said. “Creativity is about the surprise, while safety is no surprise. In the real world, you don’t want to mess things up, but in the creative world, you get to do that. It’s important to code what kind of situations enable creativity and when to just shut it down.”

Maeda also described design’s role in creating new technologies as paramount. He said that to make quality products, companies must prioritize design at the front end, rather than treating it as an afterthought.

He cited successful companies with designers as co-founders, such as Airbnb and Instagram.

 

4
“Creativity is about the surprise, while safety is no surprise. In the real world, you don’t want to mess things up, but in the creative world, you get to do that. It’s important to code what kind of situations enable creativity and when to just shut it down,” John Maeda told the audience.

“This an industry of creating businesses, and a business is not won purely by beauty,” he said. “A lot of my work is showing that design is less about beauty. It’s about how relevant it can be and what its staying power is.”

Before his lecture, Maeda held more intimate meetings with both students and faculty to discuss the STEAM movement and the growing role of design.

“He expanded the possibilities within the Rhode Island School of Design to incorporate new technologies with the more classical methods,” said ATEC professor Cassini Nazir BA’02, BA’03, MFA’11. “I think ATEC is very much at the opposite end of that spectrum. One of the things that I took out of our discussion is we’re looking at what’s new in technology and rooting ourselves in the classical perspective of design.”

 

Attend the Next ATEC Lecture

P.W. Singer

The next speaker in the lecture series will be P.W. Singer, a strategist and senior fellow at the New America Foundation, who is considered one of the world’s leading experts on 21st-century security issues.

His talk, “Cybersecurity and Cyberwar: What Everyone Needs to Know,” will be at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 12.

Purchase tickets from a desktop or laptop today.

EMAC and the School of Arts and Humanities host Digital Frontiers 2015

PBS_Digital Frontiers_SU15_Featured Banner(1)

The Emerging Media and Communication program of the School of Arts, Technology and Emerging Communication and the School of Arts and Humanities teamed up to host the 2015 Digital Frontiers Conference at UT Dallas. Local co-chairs Dr. Kim Knight (EMAC) and Dr. Jessica C. Murphy (Literary Studies) partnered with collaborators from the University of North Texas to bring the conference to UT Dallas in its fourth year. Digital Frontiers was established in 2012 as a project of the UNT Libraries to explore creativity and collaboration across disciplinary boundaries in the arena of public humanities and cultural memory.

 

The conference brings together scholars and students, librarians and archivists, genealogists and public historians to share their experience of using digital resources in the humanities. The 2015 conference featured keynote speakers Carolyn Guertin from the University of Ontario Institute of Technology and Michael Edson of the Smithsonian Institute in addition to 37 other presenters from 20 institutions across the United States and internationally.

 

Held in the Alexander Clark Center, Digital Frontiers offered multiple highlights around the UT Dallas campus. An opening reception was held in the Edith O’Donnell Arts and Technology building and attendees were treated to a personalized tour of the Special Collections Department at the McDermott Library. Two days of conference programming were followed by UT Dallas’ first THATCamp (The Humanities and Technology Camp), an unconference that allows all attendees to work together to determine the agenda based on their expertise and interests.

ATEC Building Offers Bigger Frontier for Jonsson School Researchers

gans-lab-800-2015-01
Dr. Nicholas Gans (center), assistant professor of electrical engineering, and research assistant Jingfu Jin start one of their autonomous robots in the high bay room in the ATEC building. The nearly 1,300-square-foot room has 16-foot-high walls, enough space for a quadrotor robot to fly in Gans’ lab.

A walk through the ground floor of one of the newest lab and classroom buildings at UT Dallas — the Edith O’Donnell Arts and Technology Building — reveals technological innovations such as flying robots, autonomous vehicles and 3-D immersion rooms, along with visual art exhibits from students and alumni.

Nearly a dozen professors from the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science have offices, labs or both in the $60 million, 155,000-square-foot ATEC building, which was dedicated in 2013. The facility showcases the visual arts and is a highly adaptable technology hub for the Arts and Technologyprogram, which creates connections between science and engineering and the arts and humanities.

“The Edith O’Donnell Arts and Technology Building provides another opportunity to expose students and visitors to the engineering and computer science fields,” said Dr. Mark W. Spong, dean of the Jonsson School and director of the Laboratory for Autonomous Robotics and Systems (LARS) housed in the building. “In addition to classrooms for game design, sound design, and drawing and painting art studios, there are areas for virtual reality, tele-immersion, and product design and manufacture — areas typically held in dedicated engineering and computer science space.”

Dr. Ryan McMahan (right), assistant professor of computer science, with Vinton Cerf, vice president and chief Internet evangelist at Google, said he could not conduct his immersive virtual reality research on campus until the ATEC building opened.
Dr. Ryan McMahan (right), assistant professor of computer science, with Vinton Cerf, vice president and chief Internet evangelist at Google, said he could not conduct his immersive virtual reality research on campus until the ATEC building opened.

The Sensing, Robotics, Vision, Control and Estimation Lab of Dr. Nicholas Gans, assistant professor of electrical engineering, is housed in the high bay room in the ATEC building. The nearly 1,300-square-foot room has 16-foot-high walls. To conduct research on vision-based estimation and control for robots and autonomous vehicles, he needs room for his quadrotor robot to fly and his autonomous vehicles to roam.

“There are only a few places on campus where we could safely conduct our research because we need rooms with ceilings above 12 feet,” he said.

Dr. Ryan McMahan, assistant professor of computer science, had a similar dilemma. His immersive virtual reality research uses advanced technology to track full-body movements in real time — and display stereoscopic images for the user’s perspective. The technology immerses people in 3-D worlds where they can train at a surgical table, or travel down a coal mine.

“Instead of controlling an avatar on a screen, it feels egocentric, as if you are actually there,” he said. “I require a lot of space to move around, so before this building opened up I was not able to conduct research.”

The motion capture room, where many of his Future Immersive Virtual Environment (FIVE) students work, has a tracking zone of 12 feet by 12 feet, which is enough for only one person at a time.

“We are working on proposals to double the area so that a person could be tracked immediately when they enter the motion capture room,” he said. “In the real world, there is more than one nurse at a surgical table, so our training modules would become more effective.”

McMahan’s 13 students in his FIVE lab have majors in computer science as well as in ATEC or Arts and Humanities, which houses the ATEC program. Lab members meet at least once a week.

“When I need a surgical room or other model, I ask an ATEC student because they have learned modeling and animation,” he said. “But if I need a new interactive technique such as the ability to climb a ladder, my computer science students are the ones who can develop the needed software or algorithm.”

Gans agrees that engineers working with artists can be mutually beneficial.

“If you look at any prototype versus a product on the market, there is a final design step that incorporates aesthetic issues,” he said. “Artists turn something that may be functional into something that is also appealing.”

Gans has research collaborations with Arts and Humanities faculty members and also has taught with ATEC professors in summer camps. Their robotic art camp was a creative way to teach robotics, motors, sensors and programming to an audience without prior experience.

Gans makes a point to leave the windows open in the robotics lab room, and passers-by have noticed the robotic arms and other sensors that line the walls.

“A 12-year-old kid was looking in our window for a while, so I went over there and talked to him and he asked me a lot of questions,” he said. “He ended up joining my robotics camps. In the engineering buildings, that never would have happened because he would have never seen inside our lab.”

Gans said students benefit from being in the building.

“The space is essential, and the facilities themselves are quite nice,” he said. “Sometimes I joke with my lab members that graduate students are supposed to be in a dungeon with no windows so you don’t know what time it is.”

Having engineers in the ATEC building also comes with practical benefits. During the building dedication, three Mylar balloons floated to the top of the building.

Gans’ quadrotor robots were used to retrieve them. Two of the balloons are still on display in his lab.

“There was no other way to get them down,” he said.

ATEC Says Goodbye to Two Honored Guests

larner-x-woodAfter a year-long stay in the Edith O’Donnell Arts and Technology Building, two sculptures created by Liz Larner will be leaving campus December 3.

The pieces were commissioned by the Nasher Sculpture Center for the museum’s 10th anniversary, citywide exhibition Nasher XChange, which began Oct. 19, 2013.

larner-x-steelLiz Larner, a Los Angeles-based artist, created two versions of a piece titled, X, for the Nasher XChange. The sculptures offered a glimpse into the process of making art. A wood version of the work, which is located inside the Building, embodies the intersection of traditional sculpture media and new technology. A mirrored, stainless steel version is located outside at the Building’s courtyard.

The work has inspired numerous conversations and reflections, and been a central point for intellectual discourse among UT Dallas faculty and associates.

Donor Adds Contemporary Art Collection to Buildings’ Canvas

Visiting certain hallways on the UT Dallas campus can be more like strolling through a contemporary art museum than walking to class.

Art by Ludwig Schwarz is part of the Davidow Collection.
Art by Ludwig Schwarz is part of the Davidow Collection.

Thanks to a gift from collector and contemporary art advocate Joan Davidow, bare walls of the Erik Jonsson Academic Center and the Edith O’Donnell Arts and Technology Building are now covered with work from some of Texas’ budding artists.

Davidow is the former director of the Dallas Contemporary, an art museum known for presenting new and challenging ideas. Her gift of more than 150 pieces includes works from Texas artists she has collected over the last 20 years.

“I am honored and delighted to see my personal and meaningful collection enter the halls of UT Dallas. This art will expand creative thinking beyond the classroom and enhance the lives of both the University community and the visiting public daily,” Davidow said.

To celebrate Davidow’s gift, an exhibition titled Tech Talk will be presented in the Edith O’Donnell ATEC Building’s first-floor gallery. The show opens at 6:30 p.m. Friday and features the artwork of 15 emerging and midcareer Texas artists whose themes and methods reflect the budding technology of our era.

Joan Davidow
Joan Davidow

“An exhibition of art by rising stars located in a new building that houses a program of ascending significance: It is a union that is both obvious and provocative,” said Dr. Dennis M. Kratz, dean of the School of Arts and Humanities. “I am delighted to welcome the Davidow Collection — and hope that its presence calls attention to the role of the visual arts, our MFA in Arts and Technology, and the stunningly exciting art that has been, is being and will be produced at UT Dallas.”

UT Dallas art professor John Pomara, whose early work is included in Davidow’s collection, helped curate the exhibition.

“This gift is very exciting,” Pomara said. “Joan Davidow caught a lot of artists early in their careers just as they were beginning to establish a name for themselves. Her collection gives insight into the time when these artists were developing a style and evolving into who they are today. Many of the artists in her collection are now exhibiting in major galleries in places like New York City.”

Pomara said that art in the hallways helps to humanize and enliven previous empty spaces.

“The human touch that comes with the collection will raise the awareness of our students as they might stop and discuss a challenging piece of art,” he said. “This gift is truly amazing, a generous gift, and will bring more art to campus in the days ahead.”

The Shadow and Animation of Liz Larner’s X Sculpture

Arts and Technology animation faculty Eric Farrar and Todd Fechter have created an animated representation of Liz Larner’s sculpture. The piece is part of 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.

Inaugural Series Ends with Inspiring Talk from Scientist, Astronaut

UT Dallas chess team members Patrycja Labedz, Woman FIDE Master, and Cheradee Camacho, Woman International Master, greeted teens from Irma Lerma Rangel Young Women’s Leadership School. The teens attended Mae Jemison's lecture as special guests of UT Dallas.
UT Dallas chess team members Patrycja Labedz, Woman FIDE Master, and Cheradee Camacho, Woman International Master, greeted teens from Irma Lerma Rangel Young Women’s Leadership School. The teens attended Mae Jemison’s lecture as special guests of UT Dallas.

Dozens of young women from Irma Lerma Rangel Young Women’s Leadership School watched from the audience as astronaut, engineer, physician and teacher Dr. Mae Jemisontold her story of refusing to limit herself by holding tight to her dreams.

The girls attended the final event in the University’s inaugural ATEC Distinguished Lecture Series as special guests of UT Dallas, first meeting with female players of the renowned chess team before listening to Jemison’s talk.

Dan Williamson, a science teacher at Irma Rangel, said he brought the girls because he wanted them to see the struggles people endure to be successful.

Mae Jemison said arts and sciences together help us understand our place in the universe.
Mae Jemison said arts and sciences together help us understand our place in the universe.

“I want them to take pride in what someone from similar circumstances accomplished and gain hope that they too can be a success,” Williamson said.

Ashley Guevara, a junior at Irma Rangel, said she had done a project on Mae Jemison before seeing her in person and credited Jemison with teaching her about taking scientific approaches to solving problems.

“I really loved it,” Guevara said of the speech. “Mae Jemison said she was scared of heights, but she still managed to go into space. It made me realize I can go further than I thought.”

Jemison’s April 16 appearance capped a series that drew nearly 4,000 people to four lectures held in the University’s new Edith O’Donnell Arts and Technology Building. The annual lecture series will continue in the future, with the emphasis remaining on the relationships between technology, engineering, behavioral and social sciences, and art.

Other series speakers includedMonument’s Men author Robert Edsel, Microsoft executive and datacenter chief Christian Belady, and Vinton G. Cerf, one of the recognized “fathers of the Internet” and vice president and chief Internet evangelist at Google.

Before Jemison’s appearance, Dr. James Reilly, a veteran space explorer and UT Dallas alumnus, welcomed the audience.

“Dr. Jemison and I have the shared experience of viewing the Earth from orbit,” said Reilly, who earned three degrees from UT Dallas: a bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate, all in geosciences.

Former astronaut Dr. James Reilly BS'77, MS'87, PhD'95 introduced Jemison.
Former astronaut Dr. James Reilly BS’77, MS’87, PhD’95 introduced Jemison.

Reilly praised his fellow astronaut for championing STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education during a time when the United States needs it the most.

“A recent international study that examined science and math proficiency among teens ranked the U.S. as 36th in the world. It is our challenge and responsibility to inspire those who follow behind us,” Reilly said. “Dr. Jemison is not only a role model, but is working to expand STEM opportunities and reverse the trends in science and math education in our nation. Hopefully her efforts will allow our successors to stand on our shoulders and carry the next generation into the unimagined future.”

In the spirit of the Arts and Technology program, Jemison spoke about her undergraduate years at Stanford University and how she was torn between following her love of dancing and her interests in medicine and science.

“I came to understand that I didn’t have to narrow myself down, to choose one or the other. I took ceramics and dance, but also investigated the powerful concepts of infinity and the Big Bang,” Jemison said.

Jemison, who flew aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour in 1992, was the final speaker in the inaugural Arts and Technology Distinguished Lecture Series.

Jemison, who was the first minority woman to go into space, showed pictures that were taken during her six years as a NASA astronaut. She also received big applause when she revealed a photo from her cameo on the television show Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Jemison also explained her current work on the 100 Year Starship (100YSS), an initiative funded by the Department of Defense’s Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) to determine how to make space travel to another star possible within the next 100 years.

Jemison explained how space exploration drives human advancement and new technological development, and builds a global network needed to achieve interstellar travel.

“We believe that building an extraordinary tomorrow will build a better today. The reason why is because the future never just happens; it is created by either our action or inaction,” she said. “The reason why we’re doing this is because the same capabilities we need to develop to travel to the nearest star are the same capabilities we need to survive here on Earth.”

At the end of her talk, Jemison invited questions from the audience.

UT Dallas senior Darrel Dunn explained his passion for dancing, which he said expresses art and technology, and asked Jemison how to best pursue his dreams.

Jemison said he had to be ready to share his craft and then invited him onto stage to perform. Dunn hopped on stage and spun across the floor, moving with light balance, arms gesturing toward the audience.

“I’ll say the first part of that is being prepared and willing to perform at a moment’s notice,” Jemison said as Dunn walked off the stage to loud applause. “That’s the most important thing you can do.”

Michelle Cedillo, one of the Irma Rangel students, also stepped to the microphone.

Cedillo said she and many of her classmates have similar backgrounds to Jemison’s, and they have dreams, but face tough circumstances.

“Basically, I asked her what she would say to the youth. And I was surprised. Her answer wasn’t corny,” Cedillo said later.

Jemison said to focus on looking beyond struggles and that the best way to make a dream come true was to “wake up” and find steps to take toward accomplishing goals.

“I felt like she was talking to my classmates and me,” Cedillo said. “Some things from her talk have really stuck with me, like her call to push for further understanding and to reconsider the way we approach difficult problems.”