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March 15, 2012 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 2012-03-15

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t he b

-side

U The Michigan Daily I michigandaily.com I Thursday, March 15, 2012

means of connectivity are a ubiquitous
presence on campus. Walk into a Univer-
sity lecture hall and you'll see students
typing away on MacBooks, some taking careful
notes, others idly surfing the Internet via MWire-
less. But in the early '80s, as personal computing
was just beginning to establish itself as an industry,
then-Dean of Engineering James Duderstadt found
himself with a problem he desperately needed to
solve.
"It turned out very few members of our faculty
had ever used computers," he remembered.
His solution? Give every faculty member easy
access to a computer, but with one important caveat.
"I'd only let them have (a computer) if they'd
take two of them, and one of them they'd have to
take home," Duderstadt said. "They might not use it
themselves, (but) their wife or their children would
use it."
Sure enough, the home computers of many engi-
neering professors were taken overby their children.
The activities of two of these children, Thomas and
John Knoll, would eventually lead to some of the
University's first and most meaningful contribu-
tions to new media and technology.
"From time to time, (their father) would tell me
what they were doing, and one day, he told me,
'They've got this little program that they can use
to manipulate images, that this company I've never
heard of from California called Adobe would like
to license,' " Duderstadt recalled. " 'The boys call it
Photoshop."'
Building the digital world from the ground up

In addition to Photoshop, the University has pro-
duced more of today's technical mainstays, such as
the iPod and the predecessor to the modern Inter-
net, and counts among its alumni Silicon Valley
entrepreneurs such as Google co-founder Larry
Page and Sun Microsystems co-founder Bill Joy.
*"We're very
good at blazing
trails," Duderstadt
said. "That's what
people expect us
to do."
But blazing We keep inv
trails isn't the future. Is M i
work of any one
individual. In and the c halleng
outside the class-
room, innovation I thini
at the University
is, and always has..
been, a collabora-
tiveprocess. Prof. Elliot
Engineer- College of E
ing Prof. Elliot
Soloway at the
College of Engi-
neering teaches
a class that helps1
students develop
iPhone applications. Soloway follows a hands-off,
anti-book-learning mantra that emphasizes student
creativity over textbooks and code samples.
"I help the kids figure out how they can be the
next Larry Page," he said. "I'm not there to teach
them how to program; they can do that by them-

I
f i k
t
E

selves ... what you're really trying to find is that abso-
lute crystalline gem of an idea."
So far, this approach seems to be working. Past
student applications include the Michigan app, a
must-have all-in-one app featuring University news,
abuilt-in directory, dininghall menus, and, of course,
bus routes with real-
time schedules. On
a broader scale, his
course is also respon-
sible for the DoGood
application, which
esting in the suggests individual
acts of kindness to its
c n up to users. Digital media
e of change? company Tonic, Inc.
purchased the appli-
k it is. cation in the spring
of 2010. Accord-
ing to its App Store
description, DoGood
Solloway is now responsible for
Engineering "over 1,000,000 good
S S deeds."
In order to main-
tain this level of
accomplishment and
foster an environment
conducive to ingenu-
ity, the University provides substantial investment
in the latest available technology. "We worked hard
to acquire the latest and greatest technology," said
Daniel Atkins, professor of electrical and computer
engineering.
"We provide (students) with atool set ... the free-

dom to be entrepreneurial, to do new things and
develop a self-confidence," he said.
In addition to course offerings, the University's
investment is reflected in state-of-the-art facilities
such as the Digital Media Commons in the Duder-
stadt Center on North Campus. It's designed specifi-
cally to assist students in implementing new ideas
that merge creative arts with more technical fields.
The center houses multimedia facilities including
virtual reality simulators, 3-D labs and recording
studios, which are all free and open for students to
use.
"Over the last couple of years ... we've actually
integrated all these spaces together. So you can go in
the video studio and record something and then you
can walk over to the multimedia room and actually
have all your assets (and) be able to access it," said
Daniel Fessahazion, IT/media integration specialist
at the Duderstadt Center.
Nor is this equipment the pinnacle the University
seeks to reach in terms of fostering innovation. Staff
at the DMC work constantly to add new devices and
improve the center's overall functionality. Recently,
for example, the team worked together to solve a
long-standing student complaint.
"We've (heard from) people who are writing code,
and they want to show the teacher, or they have
rich media that they want to share with the group.
(Originally), you'd have to hook up your device, all
that stuff," Fessahazion said. "(But) we built systems
with Apple TV in them, so as long as you're in the
network, you can actually project whatever you have
in your hand to the big screen. It allows collabora-
tion to happen more easily. We've been working on
See NEW MEDIA, Page 3B

; , W

weekend essentials -

EVENT
Who better to thank for our unseasonably beautiful
weather than Mother Earth? Hop onto a free shuttle
bus in front of the Union on Saturday to join in the
Native American Student Association's 40th Annual
Dance for Mother Earth Powwow. The event will take
place at Pioneer High School, and admission is $7 with
a student ID.

AT THE MIC
Sunny War will take the stage at the Ark tomorrow
with a repertoire as diverse as it is deep, and her
eclectic blues-punk-folk sound will keep you engaged
and guessing as she winds her way through a night of
musical bliss. The show begins at 8 p.m., but be sure
to go early - War, who opened the 35th Ann Arbor
Folk Festival, is sure to draw a crowd. From $15.

FILM
The State Theater is celebrating its 70th Anniversary
this Sunday by giving you a present - $7 admission
to films all day long. Stop by the historic theater and
catch a showing of Academy Award-winning "The
Artist," "Shame" or "Jeff, Who Lives at Home" at their
one-dayonly price, and be sure to wish the State a very
happy birthday.

b

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