University of Calgary

Introducing Computational Media Design, a new graduate program

UToday HomeMay 14, 2013

By Trisha Kingcott

Aura Pon, a current CMD PhD student, works with Vuzik, an interactive display that allows people to paint music onto a screen. Photo by Oksana KryzhanivskaAura Pon, a current CMD PhD student, works with Vuzik, an interactive display that allows people to paint music onto a screen. Photo by Nicolas d'AlessandroGrowing demand in the workplace for digital media professionals has led to the creation of a new graduate program at the University of Calgary — Computational Media Design (CMD), an intersection of computer science, environmental design, and fine arts.

“It’s a program in which artists, designers, and technologists collaborate and do research to push boundaries in technology, arts and design,” says Jeff Boyd, associate professor in the Department of Computer Science and director of the CMD program.

Previously an interdisciplinary specialization offered to students in environmental design, computer science, art and music, CMD has seen growth in student interest and industry application. The decision to formalize the collaboration between the faculties rather than continue suggesting students for the specialization made sense.

“Canada is in short supply of new digital media professionals,” says Boyd, “the students this program produces are leaders in the use of media and technology. They are leaders in the workforce and the community and will push boundaries in innovation to bring industry in Calgary to the future.”

Salman Khalili-Araghi, a PhD student in EVDS with a CMD specialization, is developing technology to assist industry and urban planning. He is developing a software design toolkit that will enable customers to participate in the design process of mass-built homes by selecting customization features. This will allow architects to be client focused, he says, without losing the efficiency of mass-construction.

Rendering of a three-dimensional digital sculpture created by Oksana Krykzhanivska, a current CMD PhD student.Rendering of a three-dimensional digital sculpture created by Oksana Kryzhanivska, a current CMD PhD student. Photo by Oksana Kryzhanivska
Stereogram created from a three-dimensional digital sculpture, by Oksana Krykzhanivska.Stereogram created from a three-dimensional digital sculpture. Photo by Oksana Kryzhanivska
Oksana Kryzhanivska is incorporating new technology into her artwork. The environmental design PhD student came from a studio art background and is now focusing her CMD specialization on creating computer designed sculptures that will be interactive for the observer. She believes CMD is about opening the mind to new ways of using technology in one’s native field.

Lisa Young, vice-provost and dean of Graduate Studies, agrees. “The formalization of the CMD program is a testament to the forward-thinking innovators we have at UCalgary. They are determined to attract the best minds and move research into the community.”

“Our faculty and the Department of Computer Science are strongly committed to developing innovative programs that meet society’s rapidly-evolving needs while aligning this with our student’s evolving interests,” says Ken Barker, dean of the Faculty of Science. “This multi-disciplinary program supports our strategic goal to offer world-class research opportunities and specifically prepares our graduate students to lead in the ever-dynamic realm of computational media design.”

The CMD program will accept its first students for MSc and PhD programs in September 2013. The program will continue to be held in joint ownership by the faculties of environmental design, science and arts.


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