It does, you know. You just have to get it hot enough.

Friday, August 29, 2008

My New Life in the Off-World Colonies!

Today finishes my first week in the newly formed Master of Tangible Interaction Design program at Carnegie Mellon. It’s a really interesting concept for a degree — take technologists and designers and teach them the other’s trade in the classroom, then have them spend lots of time in studio implementing what they’re learning in those classes. This isn’t a revolutionary new idea but a variation on something being done at a number of schools.

My background is in technology so almost all the classes I’m taking are design oriented: Document Design and Basic Interaction Design this semester; color theory and another design class next semester. On top of those classes, I’ll spend most of my waking hours in studio trying to implement what I’m learning in the design classes. (Thus the reason I took a leave from work: there’s just no way I could hold down a job and do this much school.)

To be honest, I wish it were a two-year program. I’d love to spend a year in design classes then follow that with another year just working on studio/thesis. Before coming to mTID, however, I did complete the first year of the undergraduate Design program at CMU. Similar to other design schools, the first year is an intensive studio focused on 2d and 3d design fundamentals that doesn’t worry about the line between industrial design and communication design. Many students come in convinced they want to do one but switch to the other by the end of the first year. Me, I realized that I wanted to study design in some way that included ID, CD, interaction design and computation. Along came mTID so here I am.

I couldn’t have gotten here on my own, so…

Thanks to the Carnegie Mellon faculty who taught me how to draw more than stick figures, how to think about form and typography from a new point of view, and that design is bigger than posters and toasters.

Thanks also to the Design Class of 2010. First year studio was insanely great and you all helped me learn something about what I want out of design and what design wants from me.

Most importantly, thanks to Drue and all of our friends who have supported (and tolerated :-) me through the messy process that got me here.

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posted by jet at 13:23  

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Visualizing Mass Transit

The greater Pittsburgh region has serious mass transit problems and there’s a lot of people talking about ways to fix it, and not all of them are terribly well-informed or expressing useful opinions.

I’m not sure if I agree with ACCD’s Ken Zapinski opinions, but I really like his visualization of transporting people by bus vs. automobile.

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posted by jet at 10:05  

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

And Away We Go….

Today’s the first day of my “vacation”, I have ~3 days to finish an art project for a local show (that I will post a link to if I actually finish things), collect all my books, and do everything I need to do before I start spending ~60 hours a week on school. Minor things, like transferring the title on a bike (not minor here in PA), cleaning up my studio/office, putting stuff into storage that I won’t need until after school is over, etc.

No pressure, nope, not one bit.

On the up side, I probably wont’ be T/A’ing or co-teaching this semester, so I’ll be able to write more for this journal and finish some school-related projects I started last semester.

posted by jet at 13:12  

Monday, August 4, 2008

Risk, opportunity, and major life changes

Carnegie Mellon is launching a new graduate program, a Masters in Tangible Interaction Design. I’ve been offered a slot in the first cohort starting this fall, and I’ve accepted.

This is a huge opportunity, and I’m taking a huge leap of faith and signing on. This is also going to be a major change in my life — I’m not just cramming 2-3 classes into my spare waking hours after I get done with work, this is a full-on commitment to focus on nothing but school for two semesters. I’m taking an unpaid leave from work and will have effectively no income for almost a year (and paying for COBRA for health insurance).. I’ve been putting money back for this most of the year and filing for student loans, but I’m still going to be living very cheaply for the next year or so.

However, this is a huge, huge opportunity and I’d be an idiot to pass it up. A year to focus on embedded computing, interaction design and bleeding-edge fabrication and rapid-prototyping is probably the wet dream of more than one geek out there.

I’ve always been a believer in the advice found in the opening of the Butthole Surfers, “Sweat Loaf”:

“A funny thing about regret is that it’s better to regret something you have done than than to regret something you haven’t done.”

But Dr. Randy Pausch’s commencement speech at CMU is when it really hit me:

“It is not the things in do in life that we regret on our deathbed, it is the things we do not.”

It’s not a matter of, “wow, how can I take such a huge risk?”. It’s a matter of “wow, how could I not take advantage of such a huge opportunity.”

Stay tuned for the blow-by-blow, classes start in a few weeks.

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posted by jet at 14:37  

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