Alex and Nick at the PPP Conference

By Nick Gertonson on 7 Aug 2015 – 6:15 pm
Location: (41° 52' 31"N x 88° 22' 23"W)
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It’s been two jam-packed days of insightful design talks here at Columbia College Chicago. Alex Miner and I have been hanging out here – deep in the heart of the loop – at the Prototypes, Process & Play Conference.

The conference, put on by Chicago Camps LLC, presented a number of talks that could all be traced back to an overarching theme of “design leadership.”

The conference started off on a great foot, as we were greeted by an amazing breakfast spread! Fresh, buttery croissants and hot coffee. Key staples in the diet of any self-respecting designer.


Things were looking good!

Then I saw this:


“No Food Or Drink In The Auditorium, Please!”

Columbia College Chicago has a strict “No Food or Drink In The Auditorium” policy. As a fan of eating while listening to lectures, I was devastated.

But thankfully, my despair was short lived.



The conference kicked off with an exciting keynote from Dr. Temple Grandin – yes, the Temple Grandin, renowned professor of animal science at Colorado State University, whose life story was depicted in the award winning TV Movie Temple Grandin.


Dr. Grandin gave a remarkable talk about the different ways in which our brains are wired. She spoke about neural pathways and how some people are better equipped to think visually, how others are better able to identify patterns, and how some thrive with verbal language. The concept of different types of thinkers was not new to me – I’ve known since elementary school that I was a visual learner – but as Dr. Grandin spoke about her long career, she was able to give insight into how she – an extremely visual thinker – was able to work productively in groups with other types of thinkers. Sometimes, we are quick to frustration when we cannot effectively communicate with others on our team. Dr. Grandin posits that, by recognizing our differences in the way we think, we can appreciate these differences, and even leverage them to work better as a team.

From J Cornelius - "Redesign our Design Thinking"

From J Cornelius – “Redesign our Design Thinking”

A number of design leaders spoke about “design leadership” and how it applies to larger companies – those with multiple teams and groups within them.

Milissa Tarquini, for example, spoke about her 15 years spent at AOL back in the 1990’s and how the company oscillated between centralized and decentralized organizational models. She talked at length about how designers played vital leadership roles during this constantly changing time at the company.

Not exactly something that I find myself contemplating in my day to day work with the, relatively small, NUAMPS Web team, but a lot of the concepts discussed could certainly be applied to the way we do business, and the way our team fits into the University as a whole.

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From Hannah Donovan – “Sometimes You Need To Draw Animals”

One of my favorite talks from the conference was by Hannah Donovan – a longtime designer from – on the phenomenon of designer burn out. I’m not sure I’ve experienced true designer burn out at this point in my career, but nonetheless, her talk “Sometimes You Need To Draw Animals” was a motivating look at how visual designers like myself can take steps to overcome “maker’s block.”

  • Learn When To Stop
    • With digital tools, it’s easy to keep endlessly tinkering. The key is knowing when to say “I’m done” and move on to the next thing.
  • Start With Something [Bad]
    • Don’t let the fear of making something bad keep you from starting. Start with something [bad] and work to improve it.
    • It’s a common fallacy to think “I’ll do this when the motivation strikes.” If you’ve got a boulder at the top of a hill, sometimes it takes a big push before gravity takes over.
  • Create Patterns For Serendipity
    • Allow yourself opportunities to surprise yourself.
  • Do Something Different
    • Break the routine.

Lastly, there was the talk on “Theft, Tributes & Collaboration” by Carl Smith.

Carl Smith proposed that, as designers and engineers, we should be taking the best ideas that already exist and building upon them. To make this point, he spoke about collaboration in the world of music and film.

Alex happened to find a video of Carl giving this talk at an earlier conference. I highly recommend checking out what he has to say.


Theft, Tributes and Collaboration – Carl Smith from NDC Conferences on Vimeo.

And before I forget, here’s something really cool! The whole conference was live captioned! A rather large HDTV sat on the side of the stage, and as we found out during the course of the two days, every speaker was being transcribed live, all the way from Atlanta, Georgia, by a woman named Brook! A pretty cool way for this conference to be accessible and inclusive!


Brook, the captioner, could not be stumped.

 Obligatory NUAMPS selfie.

Obligatory NUAMPS selfie.

World Haptics Conference 2015

By Stephen Poon on 23 Jun 2015 – 9:57 am
Location: (-0° 0' 0"S x 0° 0' 0"E)
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This year, the World Haptics Conference is being held at Northwestern University. Presentation topics range from mid-air and wearable technology to somatosensory prosthetics, and poster sessions include everything from blind photography to invisible password entry. NUIT is providing an overflow feed for the McCormick Auditorium sessions throughout this week to allow as many participants as possible to attend these innovative talks.


SESP Convocation 2015

By Deirdre Lee on 19 Jun 2015 – 8:21 pm
Location: (-0° 0' 0"S x 0° 0' 0"E)
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This evening, NUIT A&RT AMPS was back at Cahn Auditorium supporting Northwestern University’s School of Education and Social Policy Convocation 2015. Every year, we film the event as well as provide an overflow feed from our camera for extra attendees on campus. It truly was a wonderful celebration! There were signs all around the theater reminding the graduates, their families, and friends to tweet and instagram #SESPLOVE to share their special moments. Congrats again SESP ’15 graduates!

Zoran Illic monitoring the overflow feed from the Cahn Auditorium booth.

Zoran Illic monitoring the overflow feed from the Cahn Auditorium booth.



Northwestern’s 2015 Commencement

By Stephen Poon on 19 Jun 2015 – 9:39 am
Location: (-0° 0' 0"S x 0° 0' 0"E)
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“Growth and comfort do not coexist.” Virginia Rometty, President and CEO of IBM, delivered this year’s main commencement address. She discussed the future of technology, healthcare, and the difference between having a goal and having a purpose. NUIT provided the live stream for all family and friends of this year’s graduating class to view their success from anywhere in the world.

14th Annual PhD and MFA Hooding Ceremony

By Deirdre Lee on 18 Jun 2015 – 4:13 pm
Location: (-0° 0' 0"S x 0° 0' 0"E)
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NUIT A&RT AMPS is amongst the celebrations occurring on campus for Northwestern’s 2015 Commencement week. This evening we were at Cahn Auditorium supporting the 14th Annual PhD and MFA Hooding Ceremony for The Graduate School at Northwestern University. We supplied an overflow feed of the live event for those that were unable to be in the theater. Congratulations TGS graduates!


The Garage at Northwestern – Grand Opening

By Mike Curtis on 16 Jun 2015 – 5:36 pm
Location: (-0° 0' 0"S x 0° 0' 0"E)
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Tonight, the grand opening for The Garage was captured by NUIT AMPS and celebrated as a giant step forward in supporting innovation and entrepreneurship at Northwestern University.  Inspired by Northwestern student teams winning innovation contests at other universities, Northwestern leadership insisted on a high tech facility to support these endeavors locally.

Built as part of the North Parking garage the 2nd floor at 2311 N Campus Drive, sharing space with McCormick School of Engineering classrooms as well as the School of Communications Audiology department, The Garage brings to the University an outstanding developmental incubation space to support collaborative projects.

The space is intentially designed to appear to be a level in an actual parking garage – exposed concrete and conduits, garage doors, and simulated parking spaces  which add to the raw nature of the space.  Supporting the collaborative groups will be a number of 4K display systems with cloud-based conferencing capabilities to support world-wide collaboration, and a leading edge technology solution called Bluescape that will enable group collaboration, interactivity from remote locations, a gigantic landscape of workspace all of which is cloud-based and manipulated via touch on 84″ 4K monitors.

It’s all very impressive, as was the turnout tonight – nearly all of the NU Board of Trustees members as well as dozens of special guests (about 150 or so).



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The Triquarterly back catalogue begins to become available today.

Print Issues 18, 60, 95, 105, 115, 116, 117, and 126 now online

By Harlan Wallach on 16 Jun 2015 – 10:54 am
Location: (-0° 0' 0"S x 0° 0' 0"E)
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Screen Shot 2015-06-16 at 11.03.10 AMWith great excitement we release today online the first set of the TriQuarterly’s back catalog. When we started this process five years ago, moving the magazine from a print to online experience, we’ve always targeted adding the entire print run. Today we start making this archive of contemporary American Literary history available.

To quote from today’s announcement:

“With this issue, TriQuarterly begins a complete upload of all 137 print issues of the magazine. Every cover and page of TQ’s entire history will soon be available to readers around the world”

The first eight print issues to be become available today are Issues 18, 60, 95, 105, 115, 116, 117, and 126. They are available from the magazine’s issue archive.  Over the course of the next year there will regular additions to build out the entire back catalog of the entirety of TriQuarterly’s print run.

Green Suit Green Screen with the Visualization Group!

By Laura_Kick on 8 Jun 2015 – 1:26 pm
Location: (-0° 0' 0"S x 0° 0' 0"E)
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Set Photo

Left to Right: Joel, Matt, Mark, Teresa, Laura, Nate, Aaron, Justin.

For Teresa Woodruff’s Reproduction 101 MOOC we’re trying some exciting things with the NUIT Visualization Group and Kellogg’s Green Screen Studio!  On Friday we did a complete test of the green screen set-up and motion capture equipment, experimenting with different lighting set-ups and wardrobe choices.  We were delighted that Teresa was able to join us for the day.

2 images

Setting up in the Kellogg Studio


To check that the motion capture rig was calibrated before each take, Nate had to wave his limbs around.

To check that the motion capture rig was calibrated before each take, Nate had to wave his arms around.


Matt and Justin (Vis) captured the motion of temporary-3D-model-stand-in, Nate, who graciously wore a full body green suit and acted the part of the 3D graphics that will be created in post.

The green suit will allow us to completely remove Nate in post, even if Teresa moves in front of him, to demonstrate something in the 3D model.




Now we’re starting our post tests and the Vis Group is starting work on their 3D graphics tests!  We’ll film the lectures later this summer.

Watch for more updates on this exciting project!  For now, I’ll leave you with our newest invention, credit to Nate –  The Keyed Grip:


The Keyed Grip

6th Annual CIERA Lecture – Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson

By Mike Curtis on 14 May 2015 – 8:32 pm
Location: (-0° 0' 0"S x 0° 0' 0"E)
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An event over 5 months in the making, the day arrived with Dr. Tyson spending most of the day on campus, meeting with members of the campus and preparing for his talk in Tech Ryan tonight at 8pm.  The tickets for the event sold out in minutes and over 300 tickets were registered for the overflow rooms in Tech LR2 and LR3.

Students waited in line outside of Tech Ryan Auditorium well before 7:00 PM.

As Dr. Tyson arrived just before 8pm, he visited the nearby Tech LR2 and 3 rooms to meet and mingle a bit with the viewers.  Riling up the crowd and giving some of them high fives, the students welcomed him with a tremendous round of applause.

A combined effort between the Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics group, NUIT AMPS and the Norris staff, the event went extremely well and the audience seemed highly engaged in the entertaining and always educational presentation.

Introduced by Professor Kalogera, Physics and Astronomy in WCAS, who in turn was introduced by Provost Linzer, Dr. Tyson discussed the Cosmos series with Fox, science in movies, the continued exploration of space, the new Kepler telescope, his discovery of Krypton and his subsequent appearance in Action Comics #14 with Superman .  He also suggested that everyone get over Pluto not being a planet anymore and poked fun at the media in how they portray astrological events such as the biggest moon in 18 years, an asteroid coming near Earth and the relationship in space distance between the Earth and Moon.


From our team, Stephen called the show, Zoran handled the stream, while Don and I, along with members of Don’s team, coordinated the event logistics with Dr. Tyson, with whom it was a true pleasure to meet.  Pete Dully and the Norris staff provided assistance wherever it was needed.

We took our professional hats off and posed for pictures with the science rock star during the rehearsal.



“Conversations with the President ” II – the webcast is live…

Conversations, Chicago Campus Edition is ready to go ....

By Harlan Wallach on 23 Apr 2015 – 9:00 am
Location: (41° 53' 46"N x 88° 22' 58"W)
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The NUIT crew is ready on site in Hughes Auditorium. The Webcast is live at: