ATEC School Draws Upon New Professors’ Skills to Build Programs

Todd Fechter

Todd Fechter

The School of Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communications is beginning its first year with three new tenure-track faculty members who will help build new areas of study in the school.

One of the new faculty members studies digital culture and new media art, and the two new animation professors have extensive experience in the technical industry.

“As the School of Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication begins its inaugural academic year, many exciting developments are underway,” said Todd Fechter, interim dean of the school. “An extensive review of the undergraduate curriculum began this past summer and will continue throughout this year. Through this effort, core knowledge and skills are being identified, and plans for new courses and course material revisions are being made.”

Fechter said the intent is to give undergraduates a strong foundation that will allow them to be successful in future academic endeavors and the workforce.

“The ATEC graduate programs are also being reviewed in the same manner with the same expectations,” Fechter said. “Key to all of this is our ability to continue to provide outstanding courses and instructors for our steadily growing student population.”

ATEC has recently produced a notable body of work — from innovative games like “Push and Pull” to two new animated shorts, “Snatch” and “Terminal B,” which both premiered at the State of the University address in September.

The University announced the creation of the new school earlier this year in response to the rapid growth in both the arts and technology and emerging media and communication programs. At the end of 2014, 1,096 undergraduates, 167 master’s students and 28 doctoral candidates were enrolled in the programs.

The school is in the Edith O’Donnell Arts and Technology Building, a 155,000-square-foot facility, which features classrooms for game design, sound design and visual arts, 2-D drawing and painting art studios, 3-D art studios, a recording studio, a motion capture lab, soundproof chambers and photography and 3-D fabrication labs.

New Tenure-Track Faculty

Christine Burrough

Christine Burrough

Christine Burrough, associate professor, emerging media and communication

Previously: associate professor of communications at California State University, Fullerton

Research interests: new media art, net.art, Internet studies, remix studies, digital culture

Quote: “I’m looking forward to the integration of my research, practice and teaching at the intersection of digital culture and new media art production, or put simply: theory and practice. So many programs emphasize just one part of the theory/practice dyad. I am impressed with the way the curriculum in UTD’s School of Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication reinforces the strong relationship between theory and practice. I’m also excited for the various potentials for collaboration with my new colleagues.”

Phillip Hall

Phillip Hall

Phillip Hall, assistant professor of arts and technology

Previously: adjunct instructor, the Art Institute of Virginia Beach; animation director, Christian Broadcasting Network

Research interests: character animation, animation studio, 3-D printing, augmented reality

Quote: “I am most excited about collaborating with students and faculty alike to develop visual storytelling techniques through performance animation, and providing hands-on instruction and valuable industry insights to prepare students for an exciting career in this field. I look forward to exploring new technologies to push the boundaries of audience immersion to communicate ’What is the character thinking?’ and ’Why do they feel that way?’”

Casey Johnson

Casey Johnson

Casey Johnson, assistant professor of arts and technology

Previously: animation technical director at Reel FX, pipeline technical director at Rhythm & Hues

Research interests: pipeline development, tool development and animated shorts

Quote: “I’m looking forward to working with the faculty and students in the ATEC program.”