ATEC Program Receives EDGE Award


EDGE is the Economic Development, Growth & Expansion initiative of the Richardson Economic Development Partnership (REDP). Each year, REDP, the Richardson Chamber of Commerce and the Richardson rotaries recognize Richardson companies and organizations that have achieved extraordinary success and/or made a significant investment in Richardson.

T1503he new Richardson EDGE awards Luncheon (formerly the Business & Industry Awards event) will recognize Richardson businesses and organizations with seven awards in the following categories: Commercial Real Estate Project, Community Service, Environmental, International, Newcomer,
Public/Non-Profit/Education, and Richardson Loyalty.

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.”

University Forges Future at Intersection of Arts and Technology

The following are excerpts from “Reinventing the Arts,” the cover article in the just-released edition of UT Dallas Magazine.

The piece was written by Gaile Robinson, an area art critic and arts writer. The full version of this story and other articles are available in the magazine’s online edition.

What do you get when you put an animator, a physicist and a painter together?

Don’t anticipate a punch line; there isn’t one. Not yet.

“The answer will come in the future,” said Dr. Dennis Kratz, dean of theSchool of Arts and Humanities, “in a place designed to create pathways among people, projects and ideas.”

As dean, Kratz has developed an interdisciplinary curriculum that fosters collaboration at the intersection of arts and humanities, science and engineering.

“There is a statistical correlation between Nobel Prize winners and art,” Kratz said. “It enables them to see from a different viewpoint.”

“There is a statistical correlation between Nobel Prize winners and art,” said Dean Dennis Kratz.

Kratz’s viewpoint, a broadminded administration, and a creative faculty eager to transform the traditions of a typical liberal arts program, have redefined how the arts and humanities are viewed and taught at UT Dallas.

“This isn’t about putting art in a science-based university. It’s about reconstructing the way we educate people to bring science, art and humanities together,” Kratz said.

“We want to suffuse everything.”

Kratz’s manifest destiny—geographically and cognitively—is recognized by way of the Arts and Technology Program, Texas’s first degree that combines computer science and engineering with arts and humanities.

ATEC is a contemporary hybrid, a joint creation of the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science and the School of Arts and Humanities.

New ATEC Building Demonstrates Commitment

“It’s right on the center of campus. This is prominent real estate. This tells you about the University’s own priorities.” said Dr. Richard Brettell, the Margaret M. McDermott Distinguished Chair of Art and Aesthetic Studies.

The 155,000-square-foot, $60 million project is scheduled for its ribbon cutting in 2013. It will provide 2,150 new classroom seats and 50 offices, as well as a lecture hall that will seat 1,200. The building was designed by Studios Architecture, the same firm that designed the Googleplex, Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, Calif.

Student Perspectives Broaden

Dr. Dave Parry, assistant professor of Arts and Technology and emerging media and communication.

“Humanities students often have no understanding why the Internet is fundamentally different from other forms of communication. The computer science students get it. But the humanities students understand the critical issues and why it matters on a cultural level. When you get them together it’s more productive,” said Dr. David Parry, assistant professor of ATEC and emerging media and communication

Parry believes there is an absolute necessity to be digitally literate. “In the future, the people who have power—power in a good way, power over their own lives—will be digitally literate,” he said. “There will be people who understand how to make, use, manipulate, critique and engage with social media in all its forms and there will be people who will just consume.” Parry sees his job as moving the consumers into the group of producers.

Recent Hires Show Emphasis

Dr. Roger Malina is a physicist, astronomer and executive editor of the Leonardo publications at MIT Press. With dual appointments as a distinguished professor of arts and technology in the School of Arts and Humanities and a professor of physics in the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, he focuses on connections among the natural sciences and arts, design and the humanities.

“In my career, I’ve had the scientific strand and the art and technology strand. This is an opportunity to combine both,” Malina said. “There are not many places in the U.S. or internationally that are doing what we’re trying to accomplish here—merge arts and humanities with science and engineering at a deep level and with the resources to support it.”

UT Dallas Magazine includes the full version of “Reinventing the Arts.” The magazine is available for viewing online.

University Marks Campus Growth in Twin Ceremonies

A crowd gathered at UT Dallas on Wednesday to celebrate two more milestones in campus growth: the official start of construction on the new Arts and Technology building and the successful opening of the Visitor Center and University Bookstore.

Dennis Kratz, dean of the school of Arts and Humanities, described the future ATEC Building as a structure “dedicated to the marriage of the creative arts with advanced technology.”

Student Government President Brittany Sharkey Andrews said she has already enjoyed using the new Visitor Center.

Off-campus guests, including local elected officials, joined faculty, staff and students at the 9 a.m. groundbreaking ceremony for the Arts and Technology (ATEC) building.

Construction of the 155,000-squre-foot facility is scheduled for completion in 2013.

After the ceremonial dirt was turned, the group made its way to the Visitor Center and University Bookstore (VCB) for a dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony. The 33,000-square-foot building was brought online in eight months under a “fast-track” construction program.

Dr. Calvin Jamison, senior vice president for business affairs and master of ceremonies at both locations, praised the “remarkable collaboration” that produced the ATEC building design, and said the VCB would answer many needs for more space on campus.

Dr. Tom Linehan discusses plans for the new ATEC building.

The event was capped with a casual reception in the VCB Atrium, where the Coffee Shop treated guests to samples.

UT Regents Approve Plans to Build ATEC a New Home

The UT System Board of Regents has approved construction of a 155,000-square-foot facility at UT Dallas that will house programs in visual arts, emerging media technology and multimedia communications, as well as a 1,200-seat auditorium.

The Arts and Technology building will be near the center of campus, facing the newly renovated mall.

Designed as a showcase to the visual arts and a highly adaptable technology hub for the Arts and Technology program, the $60 million building is slated for completion in 2013.

Dr. David E. Daniel, president of UT Dallas, said: “We are in a growth phase, and there has been a chokepoint for us in terms of new facilities.  The building, with its 2,150 new classroom seats and 50 faculty offices, will aid our effort to meet our strategic growth goals.”

Dr. Calvin Jamison, senior vice president for business affairs, said, “Bar none, this is the most comprehensive team effort for a major project resulting in an extraordinary iconic building.  The UT Dallas academic leadership, Business Affairs, Facilities, the UT System Office of Facilities Planning and Construction, and the architect all engaged in a complex process resulting in this achievement.”

Dr. Dennis Kratz, dean of the School of Arts and Humanities, described the building design as “seductive,” with open public spaces and window views along its perimeter.

“It’s a departure from the usual building layout with offices and classrooms surrounding the perimeter,” he said. “We wanted to move the offices to the center of the building and make the perimeter a showcase for our students’ work.”

The building will house 2,150 new classroom seats, 50 faculty offices and a 1,200-seat auditorium.

Dr. Tom Linehan, head of the ATEC program and director of the Institute for Interactive Arts and Engineering at UT Dallas, said there was a real need for an open building design that could meet the demands of fast-changing technology.

“We did not want to construct a building around old technology,” Linehan said. “This building will help us address the changes in technology and help us fulfill our mission – while simultaneously showcasing our unique program.”

The Arts and Technology building will be near the center of campus, adjacent to the library and facing the newly renovated mall and reflecting pools. It will include an exterior courtyard next to the new auditorium. Inside features include classes for game design, visual arts, conference rooms, 2D drawing and painting art studios, 3D art studios, and photography and print-making labs, among others.

“This is such a well-designed, integrated and coherent building,” Kratz said. “With all of the room for exhibition space around the exterior, people walking by can be lured into visual arts exhibits and lots of exciting choices.”

The building’s design presented opportunities to find an architect who could accurately express the design concepts needed for the project. In the end, UT Dallas chose Studios Architecture – the same firm that designed Google Headquarters in Mountain View, Calif.

Kratz said the ultimate goal was to create a building modeled similarly to a website with stunning visual appeal and access to many different choices.

“We told them we wanted the building to be an architectural representation of the values of the program,” Kratz said. “Moreover, we wanted it to be accessible to everyone.”

In that spirit, the building will have an exterior video screen showcasing ATEC projects and other visual arts.

Groundbreaking is slated for August 2011.

Graduate Game Design Program Ranked in Top 10

Princeton Review Bases University Rankings on Survey of Academics in Field

ATEC students take part in a background and texturing lesson as part of their study of game design theory.The University of Texas at Dallas has been included in The Princeton Review list of the “Top Schools for Video Game Design Study for 2011,” based on a survey of administrators at 150 schools offering video game design programs or degrees.

UT Dallas made the list of top 10 graduate programs for its innovative Arts and Technology (ATEC) program.

The Princeton Review – in conjunction with GamePro magazine – started ranking video game design programs last year after recognizing a surge in the number of options available at schools. This marks the first year The Princeton Review ranked the top graduate programs for video game design.

“I am particularly pleased by this recognition of one aspect of our comprehensive program,” said Dr. Dennis Kratz, dean of the School of Arts and Humanities. “In addition to designing games, we explore the philosophic and practical implications of games and all aspects of digital technology for human life and culture. We emphasize and plan to be an international leader in the development of ‘tough content’ games for education.”

Said Robert Franek, senior vice president and publisher of The Princeton Review, “It has long been our mission to help students find – and get into – the schools best for them to pursue their interests and develop their talents.  For the burgeoning number of students aspiring to become game designers, we highly recommend The University of Texas at Dallas as one of the best and most innovative places to study and succeed in this exciting field.”

The complete list will be featured in the April issue of GamePromagazine.

Now Playing: Thought-Provoking Video Games

Parents tend to scoff at video games for turning brains to “mush.” But game design students at The University of Texas at Dallas are creating games of introspection and intellect that serve as jumping-off points for deeper, more nuanced thinking about life choices.

The Values Game Initiative is a project intended to create and develop serious games that further the mission and themes of the Center for Values in Medicine, Science and Technology at UT Dallas. These games are designed to teach and explore pressing issues  through new models for digital education. The games tie into the Center’s Incite Your Curiosity lectures, a series focused on the possibilities and implications of human enhancement.

The first game to be produced, Marching Ever Onward, was rolled out on the Center for Values website Sept. 20. Marching deals with immortality and enhanced life, asking the question, is it better to live a short but moral life, or to live a lengthy but immoral life? The player’s life ticks away as the game goes on, and although life can be extended by costly trips to pop-up “clinics,” non-enhanced friends die away, and the value of other experiences, such as traveling or making money, must be weighed against each additional extension of life.

Marching Ever Onward simulates a series of life choices - and consequences. ATEC design students created the game to go with a series of lectures planned by the Center for Values in Medicine, Science and Technology.

The game examines the costs, benefits and disadvantages of artificially lengthened lifespans. The player must ultimately choose whether to live life to its fullest or to its longest.

Dr. Dennis Kratz

Dr. Dennis Kratz, dean of the School of Arts & Humanities at UT Dallas, is spearheading this project with Dr. Monica Evans, assistant professor in the Arts and Technology (ATEC) program. Evans helped ATEC students select the top six game design proposals (culled from more than 100) to produce.

Upcoming games include:

  • Endless Life, scheduled for release in late October, which deals with immortality and taking risks.
  • HAPPEE, a game centered around emotional manipulation through drugs, with a release date in early 2011.
  • Best in Show, a strategy game dealing with designer babies and informed consent, slated for release in late spring 2011.
Dr. Monica Evans

The game design team, made up of 15 graduate and undergraduate ATEC students who serve roles from animator to artist to programmer, aims to produce the remaining three games by the end of the lecture series in April.

Evans assures that the games are “intended to be short, introspective experiences, about 10 minutes each, and all the games require minimal gaming literacy, so that the widest possible demographic can play.”

Translation: you don’t have to be a master of World of Warcraft to understand and appreciate them.

Undergrad Game Design Program Rated in Top 50

UT Dallas students study game design in the University’s innovative Arts and Technology program.

The University of Texas at Dallas has been included in Princeton Review’s list of the “Top 50 Undergraduate Game Design Programs,” based on a survey of administrators at the roughly 500 institutions where students can study game design in the U.S. and Canada.

UT Dallas made the list for its innovative Arts and Technology (ATEC) program.

Says Dr. Dennis Kratz, dean of the School of Arts and Humanities, “I am particularly pleased by this recognition of one aspect of our comprehensive program: exploring the philosophic and practical implications of digital technology for human life and culture. We emphasize and plan to be an international leader in the development of  ‘tough content’ games for education.”

UT Dallas is in good company, as other schools in the top 50 include Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Dartmouth College. The complete list of winners will be featured in the April issue of GamePro magazine.

Robert Franek, senior vice-president of Princeton Review, says, “We evaluated their programs based on several criteria including the quality of the curriculum, faculty, facilities and infrastructure, as well as scholarships, financial aid and career opportunities.”

ATEC alumni have worked an interned at such major creative companies as  Dreamworks and Gearbox Software and educational game companies such as iStation and Blizzard Entertainment.

UTD’s Arts and Technology Degree Program Will Add Emerging Media Track This Fall

Courses Will Focus on Web-Based Communications, Content Development

The School of Arts and Humanities at The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) this fall will add a new area of study to its popular arts and technology degree program — emerging media and communications. Courses in the track will address evolving forms of media and communications, including web-based writing and content development, among other areas.

The new concentration, which is expected to enroll its first students this fall, will highlight such topics as social networks, blogging, podcasting, vodcasting, virtual worlds and games. Beyond introducing students to cutting-edge emerging media technologies and practices, the program will provide a foundation of collaborative skills, theoretical breadth, historical context and ethical sensitivity. The new area also will build on rhetoric, communications and creative writing resources, in addition to leveraging existing arts and technology expertise in Web development, computer imaging and design.

Students also will have the opportunity to publish and broadcast their own original works on a series of new UTD web sites and events, and through partnerships with local media.

The new program will provide a full sequence of undergraduate and graduate courses.  Lower division courses will emphasize writing and inquiry and introduce emerging media and upper division and graduate courses will focus on developing voice and on original productions.

Dr. Dennis Kratz, dean of the School of Arts and Humanities, called the emerging media offering “a strategic move by UTD to anticipate, and in fact influence, the future direction of higher education.”

Dean Terry, the arts and technology professor who will head the new area, said that in an era of continuous, ubiquitous, mobile communicating, a new generation of media developers will be in high demand.

 “Our students are already fusing creative and intellectual excellence with technological innovation and developing new territories in interactive and participatory media,” Terry said.  “This initiative aims to build on that base and create a new wave of next generation writers and content developers, and new media entrepreneurs and artists.”

Registration for fall classes began April 12.  For more information about the new concentration, visit, or contact Terry at

Renowned Scholar Mihai Nadin Joins Faculty

Computer Graphics Pioneer to Head New Institute;

Arrival Strengthens UTD’s Arts and Technology Programs

Dr. Mihai Nadin, a pioneer in the field of computer graphics and an internationally known scholar in computer applications for art and design and in human-computer interactions, has joined the faculty of The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) as Ashbel Smith Professor.

Dr. Mihai Nadin

Nadin will be affiliated with both the School of Arts and Humanities and the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science. His leadership is expected to strengthen the university’s degree programs in arts and technology and the Institute for Interactive Arts and Engineering, both joint projects of the two schools.

Nadin will also serve as director of a newly established Institute for Research in Anticipatory Systems that focuses on “anticipatory computing,” or embedding the characteristic of anticipation in software for computers and other devices. The new institute, known as ANTE, was represented recently in Germany at ORGATEC, the largest world fair dedicated to the office as both workplace and environment for creative interaction.

“UTD is indeed fortunate to have a great scholar with a truly international reputation join our faculty,” said Dr. Hobson Wildenthal, the university’s executive vice president and provost. “Professor Nadin is known throughout the world for his groundbreaking interdisciplinary work that ranges across the arts, computer science and cognitive science.

“Professor Nadin brings a wealth of academic experience to UTD – including appointments at such prestigious institutions as the University of California-Berkeley, Stanford University, the Rhode Island School of Design and Ohio State University – that will serve the university and its students extremely well,” Wildenthal said. “This is a key hire for UTD at an important juncture in our drive to become a top-tier university.”

Dr. Dennis Kratz, dean of the School of Arts and Humanities, called Nadin “a 21 st century Renaissance man, at home in the humanities and in science. We expect he will make a significant contribution to UTD’s innovative interdisciplinary effort to explore and exploit the synergies between art and technology.”

Born and educated in Romania, Nadin was among the very early scholars to address the relationship between computers and human creativity. His interests tracked his education – he has advanced degrees in computer science and philosophy.

Computational design, or the design of products and processes through the use of digital means, is a discipline founded by Nadin. He established and directed the world’s first Computational Design Program at the University of Wuppertal in Germany.

Nadin was recruited to UTD in large measure through the efforts of Dr. Thomas Linehan, who established the Institute for Interactive Arts and Engineering when he arrived at the university in 2002. Linehan worked with Nadin at Ohio State in the mid- to late-1980’s and believed his former colleague would be a perfect match for the institute’s charter.

“It’s hard to imagine anyone, anywhere with the breadth and depth of knowledge of Mihai Nadin when it comes to the marriage of art and technology, which is the focus of the institute,” Linehan said. “Not only is Mihai a prolific thinker, lecturer, writer and consultant, but he is also an outstanding teacher – and that will be part of his role at UTD.”

According to Linehan, Nadin will teach arts and technology, humanities and computer science courses.

The author of 23 books and countless articles, Nadin has lectured and written extensively on the mind, anticipation and dynamic systems, visualization, ubiquitous computing and various aspects of human-computer and human-technology interaction. He is credited with introducing various terms and phrases that have found wide usage throughout society, including “semiotic machine,” “post-industrial society,” “the civilization of illiteracy” and “anticipatory computing.”

Since his first involvement with the computer in the 1960’s, Nadin has espoused ways to involve computing in education and creativity, and later, with the advent of desktop computers, in art and design education. He taught some of the first known classes in many areas related to computer science.

Nadin holds a Ph.D. degree in aesthetics from the University of Bucharest and a post-doctoral degree in philosophy, logic and theory of science from Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich, West Germany. He earned an M.S. degree in electronics and computer science from the Polytechnic Institute of Bucharest and an M.A. degree in philosophy from the University of Bucharest.