STEM to STEAM with Drexel’s ExCITe Center

Posted by Sahar Javedani, Nov 12, 2012 0 comments

When I began working at Drexel University earlier this year, one of the most interesting developments that fell on my radar was hearing of College of Engineering’s Professor Youngmoo Kim’s directorship of the Expressive and Creative Interaction Technologies (ExCITe) Center:

Professor Kim’s background in music includes performing with the Tanglewood Festival Chorus and Boston Symphony Orchestra coupled with his Ph.D. degrees in Media Arts and Sciences from MIT and Masters degrees in Electrical Engineering and Music (Vocal Performance Practice) from Stanford University.

The mission of the ExCITe Center focuses on harnessing the talents of professionals working in the fields of research, education, civic engagement, and entrepreneurship as interdependent ingredients for creating transformative regional development.

During Kim’s acceptance speech as Scientist of the Year at the 2012 Philadelphia Geek Awards, Kim shared “I firmly believe that this community possesses the collective intelligence, passion, and experience (in short, the geekiness), to address some really tough problems (education, workforce development, and digital literacy) and transform Philadelphia. And I look forward to collaborating with everyone to make that happen.”

As shared on the website, the ExCITe Center is envisioned as a highly-focused regional partnership to lead transformative efforts in the following areas of emphasis:

  • A research center, providing U.S. leadership at the convergence of technology & creative expression.
  • An educational program to re-imagine pedagogy and learning in terms of STEAM: Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics.
  • A resource hub to transform the Philadelphia region by catalyzing the local digital creative economy.
  • A tightly integrated partnership to achieve a national impact on education and workforce training.

Numerous arts partnerships include The Franklin Institute, The Philadelphia Orchestra, and Philadelphia Museum of Art. Industry partnerships include IBM, NextFab Studio, and Urban Outfitters coupled with multiple academic partners including University of Pennsylvania, Temple University, and University of the Arts.

What does research look like at the ExCITe Center?

The Center’s research thrusts will target human-centered interaction at multiple scales:

1. Individual: Personal Expression & Interaction

Explores interaction at the scale of a person, i.e., how we express ourselves as individuals and interact with others on a personal level. This includes our clothing and appearance, and also how appropriate expression can facilitate human-machine interaction.

2. Performance: Performing Arts Technology

This research thrust targets the development and application of novel expressive technologies that will define the future of the live performance. This includes new instruments (tools) enabling artists to push the frontiers of creativity, from new interfaces for shaping sound and visuals in performance, to the re-imagining of performance spaces.

3. City-scale: Interfaces for Civic Computing

This research thrust will focus on new interfaces and technologies to enhance connectedness with urban infrastructure to foster community and promote greater civic engagement. Current seed projects include: Virtual Opera, CP Gaming, and Sonic City.

I look forward to hearing more of Kim’s continued research activities as I deepen my knowledge of the many vast fields within engineering.

What do you think of this all-inclusive effort to move STEM to STEAM?

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