The School of Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication (ATEC) at The University of Texas at Dallas is beginning the new academic year with optimism about its course delivery strategies, excitement about a new tenure-track faculty member, and eagerness regarding new opportunities for non-ATEC students to get involved with the school.

According to Dr. Anne Balsamo, dean of ATEC, the school is tackling the challenges of using new learning methods this semester with optimism and experience.

Dr. Anne Balsamo

“Our faculty are very tech savvy,” she said. “They have been working on their course plans for a while, and they already had prepared a lot of digital materials. I suspect that the semester will be very successful.”

Balsamo said the challenge is keeping students engaged and involved in the ATEC culture in the virtual setting.

“Because ATEC is such a high-touch environment, we all will be working hard to augment and encourage student engagement,” she said.

ATEC’s newest tenure-track faculty member, Dr. Christine Veras, is one of those who will be working to involve students as she opens her new lab. Veras researches the integration of physical and digital technologies to explore the multimedia possibilities of animation.

“With a PhD focus on animation, Christine brings a unique perspective on the field of animation as an area of research,” Balsamo said.

This fall, a popular ATEC class that is taught by Balsamo has been opened to non-ATEC majors. The Introduction to Technoculture course is a foundation class for all incoming ATEC students. For the first time, it is open to any UT Dallas student.

Balsamo said the change came because of student interest and because she wanted ATEC to contribute a course to the University’s core curriculum.

“This is a big deal for us. It’s an incredible opportunity for us to build bridges to students in other schools and introduce ATEC topics into their broader UTD education,” said Balsamo, who also holds the Arts and Technology Distinguished University Chair and the Arts and Humanities Distinguished Chair.


New Tenure-Track Faculty

Dr. Christine Veras

Dr. Christine Veras, assistant professor of animation

Education: PhD from Nanyang Technological University in Singapore; MFA in visual arts from Federal University of Minas Gerais in Brazil; BFA in animation cinema from Federal University of Minas Gerais

Previous position: senior lecturer in the School of Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication at UT Dallas

Research interests: The integration of physical and digital technologies to explore the multimedia possibilities of animation. Animated installations using optical devices from the 19th century. Veras has patented the Silhouette Zoetrope, which creates an optical illusion created by animation.

“Sometimes we are so focused on the kind of animation that comes from companies such as Pixar, DreamWorks or Disney — which are great by the way — but animation is an expanding field, and it can offer so much more. I am excited to create an experimental animation lab in ATEC to encourage students to see animation from different perspectives. Animation welcomes and calls for diversity, so I also look forward to involving researchers from throughout the UT Dallas campus in the lab.”

Zoetrop that displays a bird when in motion.

Dr. Christine Veras created a zoetrope that pays homage to the early animation devices from the 19th century. The Silhouette Zoetrope was a top 10 finalist in the 2016 Best Illusion of the Year Contest, presented by the Neural Correlate Society. See the video on YouTube.