BXA seniors are required to complete the BXA Capstone Project.
The goal of the capstone project is to give a student the opportunity
to weave together the interdisciplinary elements of their curricula
into an integrated project. The creation and completion of such
a project can be an important integrative and fulfilling capstone
for students. These projects have included thesis papers, outreach
projects, poetry readings, musical and dramatic performances, and
visual art exhibitions.
62-401 & 402 BXA Capstone Project, Fall and Spring: 18 units
The BXA Capstone Project gives BXA students the opportunity to demonstrate the extent of their interdisciplinary work over the course of their academic career. The Capstone Project should include elements that span the student’s CFA and DC concentrations (for BHA students), CFA and MCS concentrations (for BSA students), or CFA and SCS concentrations (for BCSA students). The project can be either a scholarly or creative endeavor, and may take one of many possible forms (e.g., a written thesis, a compilation of creative work or works, an experiment and report, a computer program or animation, etc.).
The BXA Capstone sequence covers both semesters of a student’s senior year. In the fall, students are enrolled in 62-401 BXA Capstone Project I (9 units), which meets weekly to discuss strategies for managing research, planning the project, and larger theoretical issues related to interdisciplinary work. At the end of the fall course, students will have produced a Capstone Project proposal, an annotated bibliography, and multiple versions of their project pitch. In the spring, students enroll in 62-402 BXA Capstone Project II (9 units), which has no required classroom time. Instead, students spend the semester doing the research and foundational work necessary for the project, as well as meeting with their faculty and BXA advisors as they create their Capstone Project and prepare to present it at the annual Meeting of the Minds Undergraduate Research Symposium held each May.
For more information on how to register for the BXA Capstone
Project courses, contact Stephanie Murray, email@example.com. Forms are available in the Solar Decathlon House or download (PDF).
BXA Capstone Project Highlights
Ashley Baker BHA 2012,
Decision Science and Art
Crushed: Stages of Grief, Media Representations, and Personal Catalysts in Overcoming Loss
This project is an investigation into how to use art and artistic means as a creative vehicle to deal with and overcome grief. It consists of artistic inquiry, production, and psychological research
compiled into a photographic narrative book. Drawing on visual and textual elements that seek to aid in the healing process, to inform the public about the realities of grieving in the culture of the 21st century, and to inject compassion back into loss.
This project puts a modern twist on the ancient process of illuminating manuscripts by combining traditional techniques from the Golden Age of Illumination with digital media and performance. It aims to integrate the warmth and intimacy of an
original manuscript with the luminescence of digital photography and human interaction. By incorporating poetry written on the spot for specific people as part of several live performances, the manuscript takes on the warmth of a living, changing entity that responds to people’s lives and stories in real time.
Amelia Cessna BHA 2012,
Hispanic Studies and Music Performance
Music Education and Social Participation: The Strengthening of Communities in Chile and Venezuela through Youth Orchestra Programs
Two Latin American youth orchestra foundations that promote social change, one in Venezuela and the other in Chile, are studied for impact on community social participation. Analyses of difference between the musical programs, along with the cultural and socio-economic landscape of each nation, investigate how each program contributes to social change and community participation.
Michael Chait BSA 2012,
Biological Sciences and Music Performance
Music and the Brain
This project examines how the brain processes music listening, performance, and composition. Better understanding how music is processed can ultimately provide insight into individual motives, fears, desires, memories, and communication methods.
Christine de Carteret BHA 2012,
History and Architecture with a minor in French and Francophone Studies
Society in the Sitcom: A Multimedia Guide to the Reflections of Contemporary Politics and Culture in Arrested Development
There is a tendency in the study of history and society to write off popular comedy as culturally lacking and unimportant. This project demonstrates how the television show Arrested Development encapsulated the popular culture and political climate of its era (2003-2006) through the use of clever references and comedic “easter eggs.” Including video, graphic, and written components, this exhibit promotes historical discovery through entertainment.
Tome Efrati-Saidon BHA 2012,
Psychology and Art
Galactic, biological abstract drawings explore the spontaneity of art before the development of representational art. A scribble of an unknown abstract form can be nearly any trace left by a drawing implement that is un-interpretable by anyone other than the scribbler. Scribbles presumably provide the basis upon which a child will build artistic skills and such a basis is necessary for later development. These drawings explore this early developmental stage and how the developmental spontaneity of a scribble stays with a person forever.
Francesca Fenzi BHA 2012,
Creative Writing and Art
Outdoor Studio Installation: Cyert Center for Early Education
The Cyert Outdoor Studio Project is a collaborative design and construction effort with the Cyert Center for Early Education to produce a functional outdoor learning space that will be used to promote student creativity and foster tactile learning.
Hannah Gilchrist BHA 2011,
Information Systems and Design
The Colour Space: What Colour is Your Lens?
This exhibit is designed to enable crowd-sourced ideation and cross-culture interaction between students and experts from a variety of academic fields. The subject of colour is a case study for the hypothesis that utilizing intrinsically interdisciplinary topics to start conversations will assist in breaking down disciplinary barriers that prohibit potential innovation.
The Magnetic Wooden Unit Block System is designed to foster collaboration and be a fun way to teach children about concepts such as magnetic poles, attraction, repulsion, and magnetic fields while adhering to the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s Kindergarten Standards. A psychology experiment was conducted with four- to six-year-old children at the Carnegie Mellon Children’s School involving all the children receiving a teacher lesson on magnetism followed by a 15-minute opportunity to play with either Modular Mighty Magz or a common magnet toy, specifically Mega Magz. Though all the children learned from the lesson, those who interacted with the Modular Mighty Magz learned and collaborated more. This result means that this toy has the potential to be used in schools, museums, or homes across the country for improved learning on teaching concepts about magnets.
Variance between two sequences is often determined using some form of dynamic programming. The atomic relevance model proposes an alternative method for computing relevance of individual elements in a given “context” by assigning each with a corresponding relevance score. The technique can be applied in several situations, from music and poetry to biological sequence alignments.
Samuel Lavery BHA 2012,
Economics and Architecture
Resurrecting the Homestead Steelworks
This project uses mobile technology to recreate the Homestead Steelworks, an iconic but demolished symbol of Pittsburgh’s past. By making historic photographs and videos available to visitors at the site, this project helps explain the steel-making process while also illuminating the cultural significance of steel in 20th century America. Augmented reality is used to overlay 3D models of the lost mills and blast furnaces onto a laptop viewfinder, giving visitors a better sense of the size and scale of the industry that once dominated this region.
Daniel Lipson BHA 2012,
Creative Writing and Art
The Bridge Magazine
The Bridge Magazine is a blueprint for a campus-wide video game publication that transcends disciplines with the shared interest of video games. Its main goal is to act as a voice for students interested in making and playing games and to receive information about opportunities ranging from those on campus to those in the global gaming community.
Julie Mallis BHA 2012,
Anthropology and Art
Audio-Visual Immersion through Synesthesia: Exploring Perception www.juliemallis.com
Synesthesia refers to the interconnection of sensory stimuli, a phenomenon by which a sensory perception may respond to stimuli received by other senses. This project seeks to capture the perceptional alterations encountered throughout daily life, which consequently impact personal interactions with and understandings of the semantics of the world. The video is projected into a 6-foot pentagonal pyramid of mirrored Plexiglas that reproduces these stimuli in an illusory, recursive manner. The viewer must then navigate through the ensuing phantasm and consider his or her own perceptual understandings.
Sarah Murcek BHA 2012,
Psychology and Music Performance with a minor in Hispanic Studies
The Misunderstood Character and the Plight of Performers
This project sought to create an approach for performers tackling complex characters, particularly those who, in modern times, would have a mental health diagnosis. It also laid the groundwork for future research in pairing troubled characters with similarly troubled individuals for therapeutic effect.
Ju Young Park BCSA 2012,
Computer Science and Art
The purpose of ColorCalendar is to visualize human emotions utilizing technology and colors. It is an online interface where users can choose three different colors corresponding to their daily moods. ColorCalendar collects daily colors as a new form of
writing a diary.
Maria Raffaele BHA 2012,
Professional Writing and Music Performance
Present Perfect, Past Tense: Leadership, Language, and the Art of Thoroughly Modern Music-Making on Historical Instruments
In classical music today, the specialized fields of early music and new/contemporary music are the only true growth industries, the areas of the profession where innovation has been ongoing, and worries about extinction are the last thing on most musicians’ minds. In order to investigate this continuing success, the researcher analyzed the rhetoric of a number of leading professionals and ensembles in early music, and then programmed, designed, organized, and performed a series of innovative and exploratory early music concert performances.
The body and sky are universal social fields in which patterning through tattooing and asterisms create ideologically imbued patterns. Communal stories are projected into the stars for general recognition and onto the body as personal identification exemplify worldviews. The Japanese and Maori confer with these expressive modes in very different ways, and in doing so solidify their core beliefs.
Timothy Sherman BCSA 2012,
Directing and New Media
9billion: An Alternate Reality Game on the CMU Campus www.timsherman.com
Alternate Reality Games are large-scale cooperative games in which players solve puzzles in both real and virtual space. This project consisted of designing, creating, and producing a three week long Alternate Reality Game on the Carnegie Mellon campus, in which players worked together to halt a program which, upon completion, would bring the world to an end.
Meagan Trott BHA 2012,
German Studies and Art
Sympathy for Mephistopheles: A Visual Study of Alternative Spirituality in German Literature http://meagantrott.blogspot.com
Our culture is a tug-of-war between spiritual extremes. This project is about searching for a “middle ground” in the works of Goethe, Hesse, and Rilke. The end product synthesizes text from these authors with original imagery in the form of a hand-bound book.
Anya Weitzman BHA 2012,
Anthropology and Art
PRO: Empowering Women of Different Cultures through Off-market Fashion
PRO is an investigation into which fashion elements women find most empowering, with the end goal of translating anthropological research into the design and fabrication of ensembles expressing strength, power, and true agency. From interviews and discussions with women from different walks of life in Pittsburgh, PA and Florence, Italy, there emerges distinct opinions and frustrations with fashion as an industry and as a social medium. This analysis leads to a better understanding of the inherent flaws in mass-produced fashion, high-end branding, and the flawed ways society looks at women.
Alexandra Wolfe BCSA 2012,
Computer Science and Art
FORM + CODE || Applying Generative Design to Fashion http://alexkwolfe.com
In this fashion line, each piece is highly tailored to the individual while still retaining the cohesive look of a collection and a recognizable style of the designer. This is achieved through the creation of software that takes input from the user and combines it with algorithms common to computer vision, computational photography, and generative systems to create the patterns and then construct the final garment using a combination of digital fabrication, generative textile production, and more traditional techniques.
This project is a digital time motion piece that explains the theory of Linguistic Relativity, the idea that language influences thought process, in an approachable and accessible manner.
Melissa Acosta BHA 2011,
Global Systems & Management and Designwith an additional major in Human-Computer Interaction
Iccha: Multimedia Strategies for Promoting English-Language Acquisition among Bhutanese Refugees
Refugees arrive with little cultural and linguistic preparation to life in America. This project consists of a learning platform that empowers refugees to gain essential English communication skills and leverages the knowledge of volunteer tutors. The system consists of a web interface that allows tutors to rapidly create content for the iPod so refugees can download the lessons and practice them during the week.
BHA 2011, Creative Writing and Art
This project consists of a simple message temporarily installed and photographed at various locations throughout Pittsburgh and its environs. The message, glowing in neon, SOMEONE IS ALWAYS HERE, talks about both presence and absence. Depending on context, the message can be literal or metaphorical.
BHA 2011, History and Architecture
Building Isolation: Barriers to a Sustainable Built Environment
Through the loss of community, narrow agendas, and a blatant rejection of the past, the design of the built environment after World War II is neither socially, environmentally, nor economically sustainable. This composition proposes a theory for thinking about future growth—one with a premise of continuity and coherence, not isolation and rejection.
This animation is a short focusing on the beginning and end of a relationship between the two main characters. Their relationship is illustrated (literally) through the actions of their hearts rather than their own actions or words. The animation is an experiment in mixing digital and traditional media to create a unique aesthetic.
This project employs text and the abstraction of letter forms to create a universal image, attempting to elicit the words’ meanings from the image made. This piece is meant to be a small gesture to erase language barriers: the borders between those who understand and those who do not.
BHA 2011, Multimedia Production and Design
Classic Film, Modern Design: Re-Branding for a 21st-Century Audience
This project develops a branding system for an imaginary Audrey Hepburn film festival. The goal is to modernize the appeal of the classic films of Audrey Hepburn for a contemporary audience and features the program’s festival identity, program booklet, and promotional posters, as well as a series of contextual renderings of the campaign applied in a cityscape.
This super-hero-fairytale is an animation set in the 1950s, a time when gender roles were strictly enforced. A decade after the war, a sixty year old woman with the ability to work power tools, as well as having the experience of knitting countless numbers of socks for the troops overseas, takes up her knitting needles and welding torch once again when her home town is in danger of an alien invasion.
BHA 2011, Visual & Material Culture and Art
Government Funding for the Visual Arts: Toward the Pluralism from the 1970s
The arts in the United States need to receive some form of government funding on the national, regional, and local level. The arts cannot survive, especially in the current economic climate, without a base subsidy. This composition demonstrates how and why federal and local funding can benefit creativity when made available across disciplines and media.
BSA 2011, Biological Sciences and Drama
OPA! Greek Performance & Cooking Show
This project demonstrates Greek culture and educates about its cooking traditions (the passing down of ancestral recipes, family-style eating) and food sciences (the process of curing olives, a diet based on the land, etc.). Food is used as a medium because it is rich with meaning. It can represent whole cultures and their history, families and their recipes, and the natural resources of a country made edible by sophisticated processes. This endows food with the power as an effective medium to educate.
BHA 2011, Creative Writing and Art
This project addresses the nature of our recording of time and events. Our systematic organization of such data into blocks (i.e. today) renders them analogous, even identical. With this distancing from actual events and the subsequent categorical documentation thereof, we forget the specificity of the present as it becomes the past. What we are left with is the evidence of time: static, monochrome, textual fragmentation.
Katherine Chin BHA 2010, Psychology and Architecture with minors in Chinese Studies and Photography Dreams of Architecture: an exploration of understanding space and consciousness through dreams
In our dreams, our unconscious selves can express desires and fears that are normally disguised from our conscious lives. I will use the practice of lucid dreaming to explore the spaces and buildings that are depicted in my dreams to find deeper and hidden connections to my own self. These spaces and emotions will then be depicted in a series of pinhole photographs.
Shannon Deep BHA 2010, Creative Writing and Drama Deliberative Theater
Deliberative Theater is a performance-based event designed to spark debate and discussion about a chosen topic. Participants watch a short piece of theater about the topic, and afterward are led through small and large group discussions and a panel about the issue, and offer proposed solutions.
Xiaoyuan Jiang BCSA 2010, Computer Science and Art AI Brushes: Applying swarming and goal seeking behavior to digital paintbrushes A digital art program that applies a Boid-like flocking algorithm to the paintbrushes to create a unique trailing effect from the brushes’ movement.
Ana Kim BSA 2010, Biological Sciences and Art with a minor in Biomedical Engineering Yok-Mang (Desire)
The human body has been the subject of artistic inquiries since the dawn of human history. Drawing and painting the human body allows artists to understand its structure and surface and to interpret it as a vessel and actor of human experience and desire. Such interpretions result from the arst’s own bias or perspective as well as what the viewer brings. I started exploring the grotesque, uncanny and the abstract potential of the human body. I emphasized such aspects by distorting the human form and our point of view. The distortion was not invented, but actual. While I was painting, I found a common thread among my paintings,
which was: desire.
Hyun Jeong (Helen) Kim BHA 2010, Psychology and Music Performance Development of Children as Musical Beings: the benefits of Eurhythmics music education
Children learn music in a unique and different way in Eurhythmics classes. Instead of using sheet music or an instrument, they use their own bodies and senses. During this semester, I observed and recorded music learning of children in Eurhythmics classes. I noticed how Eurhythmics developed in children a sensitivity and the ability to analyze, to perceive, and to appreciate music. In my final presentation, I will show a series of video clips that demonstrate children’s learning as they begin to listen and recognize internal beats, natural weight, phrases, and musical flow.
Tina Li BHA 2010, Psychology and Music Performance
Music and Emotion
This project examines different ways in which people relate emotions to music. Through this study of the relationship of music and emotion, I hope to discover some correlations between them.
Rebecca Scully BCSA 2010, Computer Science and Art The Mighty Palm
A Flash animation which promotes the benefits of being flexible and open minded through the use of a Palm tree, an Oak tree, and birds.
Graham Swindoll BHA 2010, Philosophy and Drama with a minor in Photography On Several Obsolete Notions in the Theater
Through a string of philosophical essays, texts, videos and a short play I have attempted to explore the limitations of the contemporary theatrical scene, and propose ways of moving forward. The core of my work was an exploration of the relationship between theory, criticism and practice, and how to reconcile these often contradictory modes of analysis and creation.
Elizabeth Barsotti BHA 2009, Creative Writing and Book Arts
Husband and Wife
An interdisciplinary project which explores marriage and gender through art, craft, and writing. Project work includes letterpress books with original poetry, paintings, altered furniture, quilts, and collected objects, and was originally displayed as a two-gallery art exhibit in November 2008.
Brian Callahan BHA 2009, Anthropology and Music Performance Technology v. RIAA v. the People
This project is a look into how technology has changed the music industry, how the industry has responded to those technological changes, and the attitudes and reactions of consumers towards the music industry in response to the industry’s response.
Christopher Cornwell BHA 2009, English and Art Psychophonic Odyssey
A narrative comic which breaks from the established conventions of contemporary comics by encapsulating the history of the medium and by incorporating elements of other media and art practices through a meandering pastiche of styles and content. The comic’s narrative examines contemporary American culture and juxtaposes it with the county’s history, focusing on American mythology of the past and present, folk tales, and popular culture.
Magali Duzant BHA 2009, Visual Culture Studies and Art with a minor in Photography and Digital Imaging The Parkhurst Slides
A photographic book exploring the found and appropriated image. The photographs use cinematic techniques to re-tell the story of a New England family from the 1940s thru 1970 using family snapshots.
Victoriya Kovalchuk BHA 2009, Creative Writing and Communication Design A Fictional Autobiography
This project is a series of linked stories written over the past two years at CMU. A designed book houses these stories, which share the pages with original family photographs, abstract drawings and also poetry.
Nathaniel Krause BHA 2009, Architectural Visualization, Music Performance, and Film Media Face to Face
A short narrative film that explores the creative process through the inadvertent interdisciplinary interactions of three students.
Emily Lee BHA 2009 Creative and Professional Writing & Art with a minor in Business Administration Sequence
The goal of this unique illustration book is to explore a love of narratives both through imagery and words. Throughout the course of this semester, the project has been focused primarily on the process of experimentation involved in designing a book, rather than the finished book itself.
Matthew Siffert BHA 2009, Psychology and Music History with a minor in Jazz Performance What Does Miami Think Now?
This project investigates the sentiments of the Cuban community in Little Havana, Miami, towards the future of US-Cuba relations. Siffert spent spring break of 2009 in Miami -- shortly after US President Obama changed visitation policies to the island, and Cuban Raul Castro shifted high ranking officials in his cabinet -- interviewing members of the Cuban community on the subject. This work is a collection of case studies, recounting the perspectives of five Cuban exiles.
Jessica Thurston BHA 2009, Urban Design and Professional Writing with a minor in Hispanic Studies The Book of Robot City: Brownfield Redevelopment in Hazelwood
A collection of papers and proposal submissions that detail the development of the Hazelwood, Pennsylvania-based brownfield site. The 178-acre site is being redeveloped using robotic technology to create educational, commercial, and social space that will benefit the economy and the community of the Pittsburgh region.