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.
52-401 & 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 52-401 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 52-402 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 your BXA academic advisor.
BXA Capstone Project Highlights
Andrew Biar BCSA 2014, Computer Science and Music Technology
Getting a Kickstart: Investigating Best Practices for Crowd-funded Video Game Studios
Crowd-funding is a powerful and growing means of financing creative projects. By learning from the mistakes and successes of video game studios that have attempted to crowd-fund their work, more informed decisions can be made to ensure the financial success of a project and the satisfaction of the supporters.
Hanbbit Chang BHA 2014, Creative Writing and Art
Poetry in Memory: An Illustrated Series
This series of illustrated poems, or “poemed” illustrations, reflect on my obsessions in how I deal with memory and how memory itself functions in the human mind. The project features several pieces that draw off associations, phrases, and images that have recurred in my past or my attempts at remembering the past. Imitating the way our minds process and recount such associations, fusing impressionistic poetry and fluid, collaged illustrations aim to become metaphor for memory, a process people intuitively use and often take for granted.
Laura Contero BHA 2014, Film & Media Studies and Architecture with a minor in Business Administration
Pulse: An Experiment on Context and Setting
In this film set in an ordinary restaurant, a waitress, a professor, and a young man conduct their daily business. But behind the utensils, cash registers, and cookware, lies a manipulated story, and the spectator soon learns that these three individuals represent more than their visual personas suggest. Combining research done on cinema structuralism and the ideas based in repurposed architecture, this film explores the denotation (literal meaning) and connotation (evaluative meaning) relationship between the environment and the characters on screen.
Danielle Dong BHA 2014, Ethics, History, & Public Policy and Architecture
Building Beyond Value and Perception: How Architecture Can Actively Affect Urban Change Processes
Urban architecture in all its varied forms is not a passive physical quality of areas; it does not influence change within a city until after these transformations have already begun, but can actively affect the way urban change develops. Whether creating an image for certain districts, acting as focal points around which people form identities, producing economic opportunities for people and businesses, the architecture and spatial qualities of the urban environment plays an important multidimensional role in shaping the changes occurring in cities such as Pittsburgh.
Emily Faber BHA 2013, Creative Writing and Art
The Creation of Identity
The Creation of Identity explores the memories formed during a two-year time period of a long-distance relationship. In a series of fictional books, a girl writes her memories from times she spent with her boyfriend and times she spent eight hours away. Through the small moments in their lives, the books create a portrait of each character, and of their relationship. The project explores how people remember and what people forget.
Sarah Gao BHA 2014, Psychology and Design
On Natural Curiosities: Discovering the Animal World through Self-Motivation
On Natural Curiosities is a book of perplexing individual animal stories told through detailed illustrations and simple one-line captions. Each spread challenges the reader’s preconceptions, leaving them unsettled and seeking to fill the gaps in their knowledge. By creating a self-directed and therefore more effective learning experience, the book inspires further interest in animals and stimulates senses of wonder, curiosity, and connection with the natural world.
Emily Gibson BHA 2014, History and Drama with an additional major in English
Incubator & Pioneer: The Carnegie Tech Department of Dramatic Arts
This digital exhibit celebrates the foundation and early years of the first degree-granting program in drama, the Carnegie Tech Department of Dramatic Arts. Through textually supported archival images, the exhibit tells the story of Tech’s drama program and its founder, pioneers in theatre, education, and the history of Carnegie Mellon.
Samuel Gruber BCSA 2014, Computer Science and Architecture
Construct: Programming with Geometry
Construct presents a design for programming with examples using a geometric syntax. By engaging the spatial reasoning of programmers, this new method can broaden the field of computer programming to accept more contributions from visual and spatial thinkers.
Kayla Heglas BHA 2014, Professional Writing and Art
Diary of a Chair: A Methodology for Defining Absence, Space, and Self
The work is an exploration of space through inhabitance and absence. These aspects are reviewed through research done in Gestalt Theory, through interviews, and self-exploration. The handmade chair was placed in spaces that are relevant to the growth of myself over time, my house and my grandmother’s house. The signature piece utilizes both photography and writing, and results in an artist book and hand-built chair.
Through the lens of word-game-play, this project looks at aspects of recombination and mechanization in language. Working within the conceptual realms of digital poetics and new media writing, this animated poem focuses on translation as it occurs in meaning and space. Influenced by the work of poets Georg Philipp Harsdörffer and Raymond Queneau, this language game explores the techniques of constraint and deformance in writing.
Angela Lo BSA 2014, Biological Sciences and Music Performance
Reassessing the Debate Regarding Maurice Ravel’s Last Compositions and his Neurological Degeneration
Maurice Ravel was one of France’s most notable musicians who suffered from a neurological disorder late in his life. Musical historians and neurologists have hypothesized his diagnosis and how such deterioration may have impacted his last works. This research paper tries to evaluate this debate and discusses how some of the arguments presented may not be completely valid.
Janet Lorenz BHA 2014, Environmental Studies and Art, Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering
Empathy and the Environment
Through art and personal experience, this work seeks to explore the evolving definition of environmentalism and what it means to be an environmentalist.
From the time Margo bought 58881/2 Ellsworth Avenue and renovated it to make the Margo Lovelace Marionette Theatre, the focus of her work was what she called the “Magic of Puppetry.” In Celebration of Margo Lovelace is a mural, documentary, workshop, and event designed to honor Shadyside’s first artist.
Korey Marshall BSA 2013, Biological Sciences and Music Performance with a minor in Biomedical Engineering
This project demonstrates creative problem solving through improvisation and thinking creatively about available resources.
Anna Mohr BSA 2014, Physics and Art
Art, Science, and the Sublime
This project deals with the concept of advertising science through posters and t-shirts. By entertaining and educating an audience to both science and art, these products hope to raise awareness in scientists and artists on the importance of each others disciplines. The focus is to enable scientists to see art for what it truly is, and to get artists to see what science truly is, to raise awareness of the absolute mind-blowing quality of science.
Erica Moore BSA 2014, Biological Sciences and Music Performance
Uncertainty in Medicine: A Case Study in Autoimmunity
Within medicine, clinicians and scientists are continually addressing uncertainty in medicine. Using autoimmunity as a case study, the paper addresses how autoimmunity and its disorders became universally accepted followed by a discussion on today’s model for diagnosing and managing autoimmune disorders. By doing so, it demonstrates how knowledge within complex diseases is continually changing with scientist’s different interpretation.
Anna Nelson BHA 2014, Creative Writing and Art
Cyborg Identity at the Borders
The term cyborg occupies a conceptual space on the border of the human and the machine. This essay explores how the cyborg, as a whole made up of disparate parts, is used as a powerful metaphor for identity construction by artists working in a similar conceptual space—the border between nations as a site rather than a divide. These artists revel in the unique cultures created at junctures, not just geopolitical, but also metaphorical. By proposing alternate visions of the future, they open minds to myriad cacophonous projections, which change the way people think about and create their future.
Prisca Ohito BHA 2013, Public Policy and Architecture
Homelessness in Pittsburgh: EECM as an Ethnographic Case Study
This case study enabled professionals to understand the experience of homelessness through communicating essential terms and descriptions of the East End Cooperative Ministrie’s Housing Services shelters. To design constructive solutions for the homeless, I suggested reframing how professionals understand personal values. The individual descriptions of privacy, control, and choice help illuminate issues that non-profit organizations face when addressing homelessness. A better understanding of the topic is the foundation for success of future collaborations.
Catherine Paquette BHA 2014, Environmental Studies and Architecture with a minor in Professional Writing
Upgrades to Campus Lighting through Occupancy Sensors and Daylighting
This senior capstone project demonstrates how lighting energy efficiency can be improved in Carnegie Mellon academic buildings with occupancy/vacancy sensors and daylighting. These strategies are simple to implement and relatively inexpensive. Occupancy sensors and daylighting reduce a building’s energy consumption without affecting students, faculty or staff and can also improve light quality.
Elena Peterson BSA 2014, Biological Sciences and Art with a minor in French and Francophone Studies
Creativity Across Disciplines
This collection of interviews is meant to examine the concept of creativity and how it manifests itself within different disciplines. While creativity has traditionally been thought of as a property of the arts, this book hopes to show the omnipresence of this quality throughout different fields. Carnegie Mellon professors from various departments were interviewed, each giving their own perspective on what it means to be creative within their area of study.
Brian Pettitt-Schieber BHA 2014, Global Studies and Drama with a minor in Hispanic Studies
Think About Something Else
Concern for the well-being of future generations of humans is broadening in social consciousness and it expresses itself in various forms in the urban landscape: through public and private initiatives, personal consumption choices, and protest. This project records and provides access to this dialogue on the causes and consequences of climate change that has proliferated throughout Southwestern Pennsylvania.
Juddson Poeske BHA 2014, Decision Science and Music Performance
Modeling Venture Decisions: Improving Venture Capital Investment Decisions through Actuarial Models
This paper presents a review of evidence suggesting experts fall prey to cognitive biases, how models outperform human decision-makers almost every time, and how venture capitalists might improve their investment decisions through the use of actuarial models.
Madeleine Robson BSA 2014, Mathematical Sciences and Architecture with a minor in Business Administration
Looking to the Past for a Future of Sustainability: An Exploration of the Energy Based Design Solutions of the Vernacular Architecture of the Southwest
The project intends to locate design qualities within the pre-industrial architectural history of a region within the United States and show the quantitative impact such traits have on a building’s performance.
Anna Shepperson BHA 2014, Anthropology and Art
Mujeres Creando: Anarchy and Aesthetics in Bolivian Feminist Protest
Mujeres Creando, or “women creating,” is an anarchist, feminist group in Bolivia that uses performance actions, or acciones, as a means of advocating political and social change in what they view as the patriarchal state of Bolivian politics and social structure. This paper will link decolonial feminism with embodied performance to talk about Mujeres Creando’s performances as anti-capitalist actions that target individuals and appropriate the language of the oppressor to confront a patriarchal state.
Evan Shimizu BCSA 2014, Computer Science and Drama
Lumiverse: Lighting Control for Everyone
This project provides a framework for controlling primarily theatrical systems of lighting devices without requiring a specialized console to do so. This enables the creation of novel interfaces for lighting control as well as more dynamic lighting installations.
Andrew Staiger BHA 2014, Creative Writing and Architecture with a minor in Professional Writing
Traditional literature is a set, linear form. Morphic literature adds the properties of architecture into literature: space and time. This is achieved by manipulating how and when text is displayed, and how the reader interacts with it. Morphic literature thus moves reading from a passive to active engagement.
Jill Steiner BHA 2013, Decision Science and Art
Domesticated Spirits: A Feminine Recontextualization of the Liquor Industry
Through a curated event that highlighted characteristics of femininity, Domesticated Spirits proves the undeniable links between femininity and the liquor industry. By drawing attention to these similarities, the event simultaneously highlights the historical disparities in the way that the liquor industry has developed to comprise a vast majority of males over females.
Jessica Waldman BSA 2014, Biological Sciences and Art
A Genetic Blueprint for the Future of Fashion: A Study of the Commoditization of Human Traits and Abnormalities
This project is a collection of fashion images compiled into De Novo magazine, a magazine with a direct focus on the commercialization of physical curiosities in combination with content that speaks about genetic abnormalities, desirable physical values, and the history of the fashion industry’s use of unique traits to sell a product. The final product is a mock magazine featuring commercially styled photography that can serve as a prototype for the packaging and commercialization of extreme manipulation of the human form.
Eliana Weiner BHA 2014, Psychology and Architecture
A Full-Scale Kaleidoscope: Bridging Architecture and Psychology
One’s environment affects mood, productivity, or focus. This project explores the relationship between simple spatial and environmental cues and how one internalizes them on an emotional and cognitive level. The Full-Scale Kaleidoscope installation created a momentary experience instilling an awareness of one’s self in the space, both physically and mentally. An independent paper analyzed components most valued in spaces, particularly student lounges and collaborative spaces. Aesthetic changes and spatial factors influence the success of the space and activity of the user.
Emma Young BHA 2014, Decision Science and Art with a minor in Industrial Design
Wireframe: Becoming a User Experience Designer
In a time where the public is inundated with visual junk—good design stands out. It drives competition, innovation, and value. But as we stand in this new era of design, how does a potential designer determine what their role will truly encompass? This series of visual exercises explores how one designer chose to define the field as a whole, and their specific role in it.
Philip Zakko BSA 2014, Biological Sciences and Music Performance
Examining the Psychophysiological Response to Pitch-Range Manipulations in Music
Music serves a wide variety of functions, from the pleasure of listening to its therapeutic uses; however, an aspect of music that is not well understood is how music’s frequency range can elicit various emotional responses. Through collecting self-reports and analyzing the skin conductance human subjects who listened to various generated musical excerpts, this project sought to determine the correlation between frequency and valence and arousal. These results will be used to help people understand how music shapes human behavior and responses, and to look further into music’s therapeutic abilities, from relieving stress to depression.
Software development and theatrical design are two project-based creative industries with many interesting similarities in terms of both the projects undertaken and the people who work on them.
An examination of the practices that project managers utilize while overseeing these projects and people reveals potential effectiveness improvement methods and helpful insights into the creative process.
Harrison Apple BHA 2013, Global Studies and Art
Lucky’s House of Tilden: Gay and Lesbian Social Club Community in Post-war Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh’s post-war gay and lesbian history documents the emergence of a gay and lesbian community through the manipulation of the otherwise unquestioned historic relationship between homosexuals and organized crime. This essay follows the life of Lucky, one of the oldest living members of Pittsburgh’s gay community, whose infiltration of the local mafia-run bar and social club demimonde resulted in the creation of protected subcultural space for sexual minorities. These spaces gave rise to a continuing system of mutual protection, which proved crucial during the culture wars and the 1980s AIDS epidemic.
Sankalp Bhatnagar BSA 2013, Mathematical Sciences and Design
Marketing Inspiration: A Viral Call to Action
This project is a campaign that utilizes viral marketing techniques to inspire this generation to live a more fulfilling life during time in college, taking advantage of campus identity, the city culture, and various distinct opportunities that await should students seek to live inspired lives.
Sarah Ceurvorst BHA 2013, Psychology and Art
From Ashes to Art: A Consideration of the Funerary Rites Given to People with HIV in Thailand
Funerary rites are a reflection and reinforcement of cultural norms and social values. Using the Buddhist temple and HIV hospice of Wat Prah Baht Nam Phu as a case study, the paper explores the ways that funerary rites can serve to bolster stigma against HIV/AIDS and how people can serve to combat it in Thailand.
Caroline Colombo BSA 2013, Physics and Art
Engaged Learning: The Intersection of Science and Art Museum Exhibit Design
This research is based on the similarities and differences between art and scientific museum exhibit design, and what each can learn from the other, in order to create optimal interdisciplinary museum exhibit design considerations.
Molly Cook BHA 2013, Hispanic Studies and Art
Funes the Memorious: A Visual Translation
This graphic novel reaches across textual, visual, and linguistic boundaries while striving for integration and compensation for losses in translation between English and Spanish. In translating Jorge Luis Borge’s Funes the Memorious, both the story and the process of translation are narrated to the viewer, using visual imagery to compensate for the complications in translation.
Alexander DeRonde BHA 2013, Decision Science and Design
Italian luxury brands are renowned for creating the illusion of a glamorous and exclusive lifestyle–a dream factor–by producing lines of clothing and accessories suited for a particular type of individual. In result, brand allegiances and the way an individual decides to dress is not only representative of their sense of style, but also suggests aspects of their character. The deck of cards features depictions of handcrafted miniature dresses, made to resemble the signature styles of various Italian designers.
Rachel Franz BHA 2013, Cognitive Science and Architecture with an additional major in Human-Computer Interaction
Three-Dimensional Mental Representations of Space
The installation applies research in spatial cognition to create an interesting and potentially informative experience for viewers. The installation attempts to shed light on viewers’ mental representations of space where movement occurs in both horizontal and vertical dimensions by identifying the aspects of the experience that impose spatial cognitive demands. Live video images from digital video cameras placed at various locations in the College of Fine Arts stairwell were manipulated and projected onto a wall above the stairs. Volunteers were asked to indicate the locations of the cameras in a questionnaire.
Danuta Krystyna Genser BCSA 2013, Computer Science and Architecture
Descriptive Geometry Study Application
Descriptive Geometry is a required first-year course in Architecture that students have continued to struggle with it since its reinstatement. The creation of this self-study tool examined what makes for an effective learning experience of two-dimensional representations of three dimensions. The result is an integrated learning environment for students to test personal questions about, and interact directly and accurately with, the course material.
Suvi Marissa Gluskin BHA 2012, Psychology and Music Performance with a minor in Global Systems Management
Autism and Music: A Discussion of the Causes of Autism Spectrum Disorders and an Exploration of Music and Its Use as an Effective Tool in Treating Autistic Behaviors in Young Children
This thesis provides an exploration into the world of a child with autism spectrum disorder. It delves into an explanation of the onset of autism, including the genetic differentiation between a healthy child and a child with autism, as well as the recently discovered environmental factors allegedly contributing to the disorder. The project recognizes the growing use of music to treat children with autism and target associated behaviors. Music therapy has become an amazing tool, helping children with autism adjust to societal norms and express themselves in ways otherwise impossible.
Jillian Goodwyn BHA 2013, Psychology and Art
Healing Through Needle Felting
This project is the creation of a five-week class to teach needle felting for individuals who engage in Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors (BFRBs), such as hair-pulling, skin-picking, and nailbiting. Personally, this craft has been helpful, and teaching the technique of needle felting to help lower anxiety can help mitigate these behaviors in others.
An internship as a primate keeper at the Pittsburgh Zoo inspired the creation of and play-tested experimental computer interfaces for orangutans. The experience encompassed the fields of animal
husbandry, human-computer interaction, arts-based research, cognitive psychology, and ethics resulting in changed thoughts about animals. In the face of extreme difference, the research led to questioning the possibility of true understanding and reflects on what it means to be human.
Emily Henderson BSA 2013, Biological Sciences and Music Performance
The Formation of Esters and Other Byproducts during Beer Fermentation: The Effects of Yeast Strain and Pitching Rate on Flavor Profile
The purpose of this research was to better understand the relationship between the flavor profile of beer and its chemical composition. Since yeast is most strongly responsible for the flavor compounds of beer, the experimentation involved manipulation of yeast type and amount in order to qualify the differences in the resulting taste. The results emphasized the usefulness of chemical analysis to ensure beer quality and consistency.
Michael Julian BSA 2013, Biological Sciences and Art
Illustrating Biological Processes through Animation
Life is made possible by countless dynamic, complex processes working in conjunction with one another. Research in the field of biology is focused on learning about these mechanisms, how they work, why they break and ultimately how people can fix, change or use them. Teaching about these processes is hindered since they occur on a scale that is often unable to be directly observed. For this reason this project creates animations of biological processes in a way that can be more easily understood as well as being intrinsically beautiful as nature intended, educational and yet pleasing to watch.
Sara Keats BHA 2013, Creative Writing and Drama
Jew Food: Food, Memory, and Meaning in My Jewish Experience
This thesis is based on observations of the present relationship between Jewish-American cuisine and Jewish-American identity, and how and why Reform Jewish-Americans can simultaneously identify as Jewish, while not being particularly loyal to the faith or feeling connected to more conservative sects of Judaism.
Erica Lazrus BCSA 2013, Computer Science and Architecture
Code-Runner is a demonstration of how video games can be used to teach sophisticated and complicated subject matter in an educational, engaging, and easily accessible manner, particularly in the medical field where there is a need for simulated reality. The product, which simulates the decision-making process of an emergency or Intensive Care Unit physician, is in collaboration with two physician partners. Programmable game-play and interface design of real-world scenarios can be easily updated and supplemented as new information is learned in the field.
Joshua Levitin BHA 2013, Professional Writing and Musicology & Cultural Studies
Promoting Performance: The Language and Identity of the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble
This project focuses on the use of language as a tool for educating audiences rather than marketing a brand to persuade audiences to come to concerts. Education is thought to be a more effective means of communication because it brings audience and organization together on similar terms not only about the “artistic product” (Nytch), but perhaps more importantly the music. The Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble and other ensembles may benefit from this assessment because it explores an alternative approach to audience engagement, one that enriches the role of nonprofit music organizations as educators.
This comic book story is based on old adventure pulps. Using elements from fantasy stories and Norse mythology, it explores questions about the limits and motivations behind human curiosity, couched in a fun story. Structurally, it builds off the recent history of interesting panel and layout treatments in modern comics.
Melody Lu BHA 2013, Global Systems Management and Music Performance with a minor in Chinese Studies
The Arts and Entertainment Industry in Contemporary China
Before China’s rapid economic growth, there were not as many opportunities for the Chinese people to immerse themselves into the arts; however, China now has some of the world’s best museums and concert venues. The Chinese people are now going to more classical music concerts, watching more movies in theaters, visiting more museums, and attending more Broadway shows.
Brindusa Andreea Manolache BSA 2013, Mathematical Sciences and Architecture
An Interactive Algorithmic Design Tool
For architects, one of the first phases of design involves developing strategies for optimizing organizational elements of the design problem. This project aims to test human intuition against objective optimization strategies produced algorithmically by designing a tool for experimentation with different optimization strategies and their effectiveness. The tool will be a fun and explorative approach to design, not meant to make decisions for the designer, but meant to inspire by presenting possible solutions to architectural problems from a new, algorithmic perspective.
Esther Michaels BHA 2013, Visual & Material Culture and Art with minors in Business Administration and Photography
Flo Fox: Archiving the Artist
Flo Fox is an amazing artist, a crusader for woman’s rights and equality for the physically and mentally disabled, and an inspiring individual. Fox was born blind in one eye, has since lost sight in the other eye, been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and cancer, and has lost mobility. After over forty years photographing, Fox’s collection of negatives numbers in the hundreds of thousands and is not properly maintained. This project is the culmination of a year spent traveling between New York and Pittsburgh in the attempt to provide the photographer with a permanent archive of photographic work.
Paul Miller BCSA 2013, Computer Science and Art
TreeLab: Particle-Based 3D Modeling Tool
This project partially automates the creation of 3D models containing details which are semantically descriptive yet tedious to craft by hand. It is a tool that defines the geometries of trees using particles, which exert forces on each other. This allows visually appealing details to be created pseudo randomly, requiring less human labor.
Emma Olsen BHA 2013, Creative Writing and Art with a minor in Global Systems Management
Android Grizzly Bear of the Dead
This project focuses on the concept of consciousness and artificial intelligence, exploring what it means to have awareness and then lose it completely. The video game was meant to be both entertaining and intellectual, attempting to straddle both.
Benjamin Pattison-Gordon BHA 2013, Ethics and Architecture
Ethics of Sprawl
Suburban and urban sprawl lead to a variety of undesirable environmental and social detriments. Given these effects, what are the ethical implications of continuing to support the design and construction of low-density housing? Are personal ethical responsibilities different from society’s responsibilities in this regard?
Sarah Read BHA 2013, Decision Science and Design
Lighting the Path to Education: How Can Guidance Counselors Help High School Students Take Control of the Higher Education Search and Application Process with Limited Time and Resources? http://sarahread.net/lighting-the-path-to-education
In America, the gap between college entry and completion is growing, disadvantaging low-income and minority students from America’s urban public high schools for whom higher education might not have been previously accessible. This project proposes a strategy for using currently existing free resources to support the entire college search and application process.
In WindowBox, the player takes the role of a young woman who possesses the power to manipulate brains. The character can activate and inhibit different areas of the minds of other individuals in the environment. Though trial and error, the player
learns about the various lobes of the brain and what happens when things go wrong.
Isabel Smith-Bernstein BHA 2013, History and Drama
Adaptation of Henry VI
The Henry VI cycle is three very long plays by William Shakespeare. This project cuts and adapts the three plays into one three-hour play. The play focuses on Margaret, Richard, and the smaller characters such as Jack Cade in order to provide a comprehensive backdrop for Richard III, which makes much more sense when it follows the three plays designed to come before it.
Johanna Söderlund BHA 2013, Anthropology and Music Performance with a minor in Music Education
Music and Social Change: From Refugees to Urban Youth
It is a well-known fact that music and the arts can change lives. This project aims to go beyond that idea and confront the question: “How?” What can we do with music to impact people in dire situations? Several case studies examine the needs of people and their situation, and ask how music can be used in an effective way to equip them for a better future. A basic model for an effective program that implements music in a way that needs of the particular demographic of people, be it refugees or urban youth is presented.
Beautiful Organs is a campaign to engage viewers in the aesthetics of their internal workings. Current health advertising fixates on the external appearance and how it contributes to one’s overall happiness and longevity. This campaign utilizes aesthetic-based consumerism by creating wants and needs to better align with our medical understanding of healthy bodies. It is a look inside your body–what do you do with your heart at the end of the day?
This series of pen drawings is a response to the story of “The Great God Pan” published by Arthur Machen in 1894. It is a fourpart life cycle of the story’s primary character and antagonist, Helen Vaughan, the product of the union between beast and man.
Carolyn Supinka BHA 2013, Creative Writing and Art
Between the Person and the Page: Exploring the Modern Day Spiritual Journey through Writing and Art
“The House of Your Dreams” project is composed of three experiments combining writing and art, which explore various facets of the modern day spiritual journey. Spiritual journeys are everywhere. Trips to the grocery store are like searching for nirvana. Clothes shopping. Getting a new haircut. Trying to cure oneself of an ailment. Trying to become a better person.
Molly Swartz BHA 2013, Psychology and Design
Parental Self-Efficacy in First-Time Expectant Mothers
Parental self-efficacy has been consistently linked with positive outcomes for parents and children. This project studies predictors and correlates of parental self-efficacy by creating and conducting an online survey geared toward first time expectant parents. A research paper, poster session, and discussion explore how relationships and expectancies can support new parents.
This interdisciplinary project addresses today’s environmental issues through the artistic metaphor of scientific spectacle. By combining an aeroponic system, custom-blown glass vessels, and a six-foot satellite dish, this final piece is a symbolic reversal of one of the most primitive natural processes: the uptake of water by the roots of plants as they blossom towards the sun and sky.
Aimee Van Varick BHA 2013, Psychology and Architecture
How Light and Dimension Affect Emotional Perception of Space
In the architecture field, it seems to recently be a popular idea that bigger spaces are better. This psychological study explores how the size or light intensity of a space affects the positivity of a person’s emotional response to that space.
Courtney Wittekind BHA 2013, Anthropology and Art with a minor in Professional Writing
Extending Anthropology: Visual Research Practices and New Media Presentation
Drawing on text and image-based content from research in Thailand and Burma, this project explores how multimedia anthropological research may be presented in a way that does not graft text-based models onto new terrain, but rather commits to varied methods of communication and highlights emerging practices in post-modern anthropology, including: non-linearity, transparency, multi-vocality, and collaborative creation and production.
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.