Pursuit Spotlight, Dr. Jennifer Shewmaker

A few weeks ago we enjoyed sitting down with Dr. Jennifer Shewmaker, associate professor of Psychology and director of faculty enrichment in the Adams Center to talk about her work with undergraduate research.

Her study investigates gendered marketing of Lego blocks and possible implications for attitudes toward STEM in young girls. Dr. Shewmaker reflects on working with Caitlyn Spain, a marketing major, on a human subjects study in the Adams Center’s new Learning Research Lab.

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Pursuit is a quality enhancement program at ACU focused on developing energy around undergraduate research and creative expression. Dr. Shewmaker’s was just one of a dozen projects over the last two years that provided mentoring and research experience in departments across campus.

For more information or to apply to work on a future project, visit the Pursuit site.

Jacob’s Dream at Smithsonian X 3D

This week a group of faculty and technology leaders from campus will be in Washington, D.C. to explore the future of 3D printing in the arts. The Smithsonian X 3D event will include representatives from the Department of Art & Design and from the Maker Lab, sharing the process of digitizing Jacob’s Dream.

The 34-foot-tall bronze was dedicated in 2006 as part of the university’s Centennial Celebration and became an instant campus icon. ACU art and design professor Jack Maxwell and a team of students, engineers, and construction and landscaping specialists worked for two years to plan and produce the towering project.

Jack sat down with us last month to talk about the process of digitizing the 8-foot maquette.

The project was led by Jordan Williams, ACU graduate and co-founder of Captured Dimensions in Dallas, who will also be a part of the Smithsonian event. Jordan’s team scanned the scale model last summer, providing a digital record of this one-of-kind of piece, along with the ability to reproduce Jacob’s Dream at sizes beyond the reach of traditional methods.

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Maker Stories

This is one of two stories we produced this semester about ACU faculty and alumni actively working with new maker technologies. Last month we shared the story of Dallas artist and alum Rolando Diaz and his collaboration with ACU faculty and staff in the Maker Lab on a mixed-media project combining 3D modeling and precision laser cutting in the final piece.

We’re thankful to Ro and to Jack for sharing their experience connecting emerging tech with artistic vision.

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Filming artist Rolando Diaz

Rolando Diaz has been a painter for as long as he can remember. The ACU alum and Cuban native has spent more than 20 years working with paint on canvas. Only recently did he start thinking in three dimensions, creating several mixed media works from found objects and materials. Then he discovered the ACU Maker Lab.

Even before ACU’s new digital fabrication space opened to the campus in October, Ro began working alongside ACU faculty and staff inside the space, planning and creating a sculptural piece with the tools the facility offered.

The Learning Studio’s filmmaking team accompanied Ro and his collaborators during the project, including visiting his Dallas studio. The result is this beautiful two-minute documentary of the group’s creative process inside the Maker Lab, from start to finish.

Ro hopes to use this small model as a prototype for a five-foot version, to be unveiled at his annual gallery show in Dallas this December. We asked him to give us the backstory on “Forbidden Fruit,” the series of paintings on which the sculpture is based.

Writing Center parodies

In 2011 shy, unassuming Writing Center director Dr. Cole Bennett stunned audiences with his riveting portrayal of a shmarmy boss in their first promotional parody of The Office. This fall he returns in a more ambitious role inspired by the hoity grammarians at Downton Abbey.

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The shorts were written and directed by Christina Johnson and Learning Studio alum Ben Weaver and feature student tutors from the Writing Center. Christina has been working with Dr. Bennett since she was an undergrad, finishing a BA in English in 2011. This last spring she was the first Masters candidate to defend a screenplay thesis to complete her MA in Creative Writing.

Christina is now an Associate Producer and Researcher for AMS Pictures in Dallas, working on a number of television and documentary projects including shows for HGTV.

Congrats Christina and Ben, and we’re looking forward to seeing bigger things in the near future.

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Maker film rolls on

We released our first short documentary We Are Makers in June and it keeps on rolling. We’re approaching 10,000 views in the first two months in over 60 countries, so obviously we’re pleased with the initial reception.

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Two opportunities we were equally proud of were a couple guest blogs we were asked to write this summer alongside the release. If you’d like some detail on the film, here are those links.

Nathan Driskell, “We Are Makers: Documenting a Burgeoning Movement,” Core77 Blog, July 23, 2013

Kyle Dickson, “We Are Makers Seeks to Explain the Maker Movement,” Make Magazine Blog, July 3, 2013

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