Interactive Media workshops demystify technology, connect community

On Feb. 3, NYU Abu Dhabi's Interactive Media program kicked-off an ongoing workshop series held weekly on Tuesday evenings. These workshops are led by ...

Feb 14, 2015

On Feb. 3, NYU Abu Dhabi's Interactive Media program kicked-off an ongoing workshop series held weekly on Tuesday evenings. These workshops are led by the head of the Interactive Media program, Scott Fitzgerald, and Visiting Assistant Professor of Interactive Media Craig Protzel.
Fitzgerald described the workshops as an introduction to the Interactive Media program at NYUAD. The workshops are designed to demystify technology, programming and web development for the clueless, intimidated or not-so tech savvy. They also allow students to explore the opportunities available through interactive appliances, both hardware and software, and teach them how to create new experiences with these tools. The only requirements are an open mind and a laptop.
The workshops were inspired by similar student-led initiatives at the Interactive Telecommunications program at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, of which both Protzel and Fitzgerald are graduates.
The first workshop taught its participants how to make an interactive weather app that reports the current temperature of a city, input by the user. The seminar was an introduction to the fundamentals of client-side web development and a look at HTML, CSS, Javascript and data retrieval via web API's.
On Feb. 17, Fitzgerald will be running a workshop on Fashionable Technology and teaching participants how to create wearable computers. The workshop will involve sewing lights and microcontrollers, which house tiny computers, into fabric using stainless steel thread.
For Protzel, the workshops allow him to connect with the wider NYUAD community. He and Fitzgerald plan to continue the series in March and invite others in the community to lead the sessions.
“It’s an opportunity for us to share something with the community at large who may be aware of what we [are] doing but don't have the time to take the class," said Protzel. “A lot of people here have amazing skill sets [and] talents, and we want to create a community and establish this platform for people to share their ideas.”
This collaboration within the community is especially important given the multidisciplinary nature of Interactive Media.
“It’s a fluid field that connects a broad range of disciplines. Even though it touches on computer science, engineering [and] design, it is housed in the arts,” Fitzgerald said.
“It’s a place [to] combine and experiment,” added Protzel. “A lot of students will ask me: Is that possible? Can I do this? What if you did that? and I always respond, I don't know. Try it and see what happens. Talking about something only gets your hands so far, sometimes you just have to get your hands dirty and do it.”
One of the program’s key tenets is to foster experimentation and creative liberty.
“We're more concerned with ideas, because the tools aren't interesting by themselves,” added Fitzgerald.
Senior Mick Jermsurawong affirmed the multidisciplinary nature of the area. He took an Interactive Media class last semester, and mentioned how the course helped him apply his knowledge of computer sciences to new developments.
“[My course was] oriented towards the application of computer science knowledge and the survey of new technologies in web development and media", said Jermsurawong.
On Tuesday, Feb. 24, the fourth workshop will “introduce the p5 javascript library, which ... makes coding accessible for artists, designers, educators, and beginners.” Participants will be able to employ their skills to set up their own web pages, drawings and animations.
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Contributing reporting by Karma Gurung and Melinda Szekeres.
Mira Santos is a staff writer. Email her at
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