ECE Newsletter, July 2011  
 

ECE Creating Magic at Disney

From left to right: Adam Newton, Patrick Carroll, Jay Brown and Michael Delaney

Dreams turned to reality when ECE student Patrick Carroll and his colleagues traveled to Southern California this summer as finalists in the Disney ImagiNations competition. The team's project, a Disney attraction called "Fantasia: The Lost Symphony," scored second place in the prestigious competition.

Team members, who say they haven't gotten a lot of sleep since they started the project last spring, brought diverse skills to the demanding endeavor. Carroll is a senior in electrical and computer engineering, Adam Newton is majoring in industrial and systems engineering with a minor in creative writing and Jay Brown and Michael Delaney just graduated with undergraduate degrees in art and design.

That's par for the course at Walt Disney Imagineering, the creative division that sponsors the annual competition for college students. Its workforce - called imagineers - is made up of creative professionals in 140 disciplines, from artists and writers to architects and engineers. Together, they create all Disney theme parks, resorts, attractions, cruise ships, real estate developments and regional entertainment venues worldwide. In addition to pitching their concept to a panel of imagineers, the students got to spend a week at Imagineering's headquarters, meeting some of Disney's brightest minds and taking a peek at the technology behind Disney magic.

"Going back stage allowed us to really appreciate the magic on the screen," said Newton about the Disney attraction Soarin' Over California. "It's this gigantic contraption that I heard was inspired by a child's erector set."

That brought a smile to the face of Elena Page, known to her friends as E. As an undergraduate in engineering at NC State in 1995, Page took first place in the ImagiNations competition and went on to work at Imagineering for nearly a decade. Her work on Soarin' Over California earned her the theme park equivalent of an Oscar.

The students' project was inspired by Fantasia, Disney's 1940 film that featured classical music conducted by Leopold Stokowski as the score for a series of animated scenes. They proposed creating a theme park attraction that would allow guests to conduct a new musical score and control various magical effects using their hands. For the contest, they developed an exhaustive array of materials, including concept art, a storyboard, posters, a PowerPoint presentation, a scale model and an animation. To top it off, they even developed their own software program, called Camera Manager, and a working prototype of a device, a sorcerer's hand, that could be sold in Disney gift shops to promote the ride.

With the competition behind them, the students have a new sense of excitement about the future, even in a tough economy. "I've gotten this taste of creative innovation," says Newton. "Now I want to have a job like that, a job that makes people ask, 'You get paid to do that?'"

 
     
 

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Energetic Employment
NC State's groundbreaking smart grid work prompted the White House to select it to host a roundtable discussion on job creation in the energy sector with members of the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. [full story]

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Thinking Small
Dr. Veena Misra wants the laptop you buy five years from now to bear little resemblance to the one you have now. It should be many times faster, much more powerful and allow you to do things you've never dreamed of doing on your current machine. [full story]

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A Powerful Partnership
ABB executives Enrique Santacana, right, and Anders Sjoelin have continued to build the company's relationship with NC State.

It makes sense that NC State, a university with a top power engineering program, would work closely with ABB, one of the world's largest power grid suppliers. And now that relationship has grown even stronger. ABB, which has had facilities on NC... [full story]

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New Parallelization Technique Boosts Ability To Model Biological Systems

Researchers at North Carolina State University have developed a new technique for using multi-core chips more efficiently, significantly enhancing a computer's ability to build computer models of biological systems. The technique improved the... [full story]

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New Bandwidth Techniques Boost Efficiency In Multi-Core Chips
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Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed two new techniques to help maximize the performance of multi-core computer chips by allowing them to retrieve data more efficiently, which boosts chip performance by 10 to 40 percent.... [full story]

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Researchers Develop Hardware Encryption For New Computer Memory

Security concerns are one of the key obstacles to the adoption of new non-volatile main memory (NVMM) technology in next-generation computers, which would improve computer start times and boost memory capacity. But now researchers from North... [full story]

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Summer of the Arab Spring
Mohammad Moussa (left) pictured with the three other people travelling to Tunisia and Egypt this summer

The Nile is awake and listening the world is watching -Kane Smego and Will McInerney Across the Arab world the flames of revolution are spreading, freeing Tunisia and Egypt from their oppressive regimes, igniting a civil war in Libya and sparking... [full story]

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Escuti Develops Efficient, Inexpensive Laser Beam Steering

For many practical applications involving lasers, it's important to be able to control the direction of the laser beams. Just ask Han Solo, or the captain of the Death Star. Researchers from North Carolina State University have come up with a very... [full story]

Laser Beam Steering
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6.06 Electric Energy and Power Consumption by Light-Duty Plug-In ...
5.13 ECE Spring Graduation
5.12 Computer Vision
5.03 XCDC: Extreme Computer Design Competition

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