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Campus News
Your faculty and staff news since 1965
Current Issue: November 25, 2002
Volume 38, Number 10

Project provides artists, computer scientists with experience, jobs

By Laurie Mellas-Ramirez

UNM’s Digital Pueblo Project will create an infrastructure to foster economic development in New Mexico’s digital arts and sciences industry with help from a new $600,000, three-year National Science Foundation (NSF) grant.

Using Access Grid technology, artists in far reaches of the state will be connected with urban-based computer scientists to work on arts and entertainment-related projects. The grid, developed through NSF’s National Computational Sciences Alliance, can stream video, audio and data across the World Wide Web to upward of 25 sites at once.

The Digital Pueblo Project will also facilitate classes in computer graphics and digital animation and video production.

“Our approach is to create projects working with our partners that offer real world experience for students, provide test beds for innovation and also create jobs and revenue so the Digital Pueblo can be self-sustaining.”

UNM Professor Ed Angel

“Our approach is to create projects working with our partners that offer real world experience for students, provide test beds for innovation and also create jobs and revenue so the Digital Pueblo can be self-sustaining,” said Ed Angel, UNM Arts Technology Center (ATC) director and professor of computer science, electrical and computer engineering, and media arts.

Angel is co-principal investigator with Ernie Herrera, UNM Albuquerque High Performance Computing, Education and Research Center (AHPCC) associate director, Danae Falliers, ATC associate director, and Jack McIver, research deputy vice provost.

“New Mexico has produced well-trained, talented people in both technology and the arts. Unfortunately, much of this talent has left the state due to the lack of job opportunities,” Angel said.

Several technology pods, state-of-the-art facilities that provide high bandwidth Internet connectivity for long distance collaboration, will be built. The pods will be equipped with graphics software and hardware and other computing resources connected to large servers at AHPCC.

Pods are being constructed at the National Hispanic Cultural Center and LodeStar Astronomy Center at the Natural History Museum in Albuquerque. Possible locations for additional pods include the Poeh Arts Center in Pojoaque, N.M., and Zuni Pueblo.

Students ages eight to 80, including high school youth from underserved areas, will be recruited to participate in projects and classes.

Project partners from universities and colleges, regional industry and national labs, as well as successful digital artists residing in N.M., will serve as mentors and educators. Faculty and facilities in the UNM Computer Science and Electrical and Computer Engineering Departments and UNM College of Fine Arts Media Arts Department are also integral to the Digital Pueblo.
Project-focused classes in the animation programs Maya and Lightwave will begin at the LodeStar Astronomy Center and National Hispanic Cultural Center in February.

Several innovative, first-year projects are underway - two in conjunction with the LodeStar Astronomy Center.

“Our animation students are creating content for a full-length digital animation that will be projected on the full dome. It would be the first of its type, breaking away from the more traditional planetarium show,” Angel said. “A small part of what we have done so far is being shown as part of standard shows at LodeStar.” David Beining, director of LodeStar and his staff have been key contributors to the project.

Secondly, a five-minute animation will be created to showcase the professional quality and unique content of New Mexico produced animations. Various groups in the state will used the piece as part of economic development efforts.

A third project involves an upcoming commercial film.

The Digital Pueblo Project is funded through the NSF program Partnerships for Innovation.