The Living at the Intersection Symposium 2018 served CST’s mission to broaden and deepen participation in STEM. The Symposium was designed to define and explore intersections of science and engineering with the arts, humanities and social sciences. We invited participants to look beyond their disciplinary labels for synergies that inspired new, rewarding ways of thinking, doing, and collaborating. The Symposium opened Thursday evening, April 12, 2018 with a reception and showcase of works presented by faculty, staff, and guests in the Forum located in the Lewis Arts Complex. Works included the following:

Savannah Du (ORFE) & Kristy Yeung (COS) present: Title: 3-Dimensional, 8-Directional Description: 3-Dimensional, 8-Directional is an audience-driven sound installation that allows listeners to function as performers by manipulating sound that travels from 8 speakers lining the walls of the PLOrk Studio. Two people interact via tethers to manipulate the speed, pitch, and timbre of different sound components that occupy multiple spaces on the frequency spectrum. 3-Dimensional, 8-Directional is an all-encompassing experience that unites both mobility and stability. 

Anna Blyth (Architecture and Engineering), Isabel Morris (CEE), Rebecca Napolitano (CEE), and Branko Glisic (CEE) present: The Heritage Structures Lab: Heritage structures and sites comprise an important cultural legacy. Regardless of whether they are damaged or completely collapsed, they represent important milestones in human cultural and engineering achievements. The objective of our research is to create new methods for documenting and analyzing both the seen and the unseen features of historic buildings and sites using virtual reality, ground penetrating radar, and numerical simulations. By integrating involved disciplines – archaeology, architecture, history, geophysics, and civil engineering – we will enable an accessible and truly comprehensive approach to data and analysis of historic structures and cultural heritage sites. We will be sharing some projects and tools related to augmented reality and ground penetrating radar. This work will allow us to answer new research questions about historic sites and transform the way heritage structures are researched, preserved and understood by engineers, archaeologists, historians, conservators, and the general public. 

Roseanne Ford (University of Virginia) & Max Tfirn (Christopher Newport University) present: Sonification of data to listen for patterns in bacterial swimming behavior The product of a collaboration between a chemical engineer and a music composer, we sonify data from videomicroscopy of bacterial populations to listen for patterns in the chaotic swimming motion that would otherwise not be discernible by visual observation. Visitors to the station can listen for changes in the pitch and density as bacterial populations respond to different chemical stimuli. Different species of bacteria exhibit different swimming properties that lead to different tonal patterns. From the perspective of a music composer the swimming motion of the bacteria represents a novel instrument to produce an interesting array of sounds. Interestingly, the path that the swimming bacteria trace out follows a Markov process, which also serves as the underlying theory for music composition. From the perspective of the engineer sonification of bacterial swimming data provides a novel tool to assess responses of bacteria to various chemical stimuli that range from food sources to toxins. 

Florent Ghys (Music) presents: USA (2017) for player piano and video “USA” uses 63 digital metronomes. Each one is offset by one millisecond from one another. The first 50 metronomes display the stars in the American flag and play 50 different chromatic notes on the player piano. The other 13 play an A minor chord while displaying the stripes. The piece is over when all the metronomes come back in synchronization. “USA” illustrates the difficulty in our societies to agree on common values, while the blue rectangle’s slow disappearance symbolizes the decline of the Western world. 


Craig Arnold (MAE) presents: a selection of work that demonstrate the various connections between Materials Research and the arts at Princeton University.  For instance, using x-ray tomography system to characterize a very old bronze statue from the art museum, or working on characterizing historical slags from copper mining in Japan.  Weather permitting, a portable scanning electron microscope will be available to participants who would like to explore samples. 

Chris Douthitt (Music) presents: two new digital instruments-in-progress being developed in SuperCollider, a platform for audio synthesis and algorithmic composition. SuperCollider is popular among musicians, sound artists, and researchers working with sound. The first instrument mimics the sound and feel of a bowed metallic instrument. It uses a tether controller (originally used in a golf video game) to give the player control of the bow speed, bow pressure, and pitch of a synthesized sound based on a spectral analysis of real-life bowed vibraphones, glockenspiels, and crotales. This instrument is intended to be played alongside acoustic instruments in order to create an extended field of sound, sometimes blending seamlessly with the acoustic sound and sometimes extending aspects of that sound into new territories. The second instrument is an eight-voice sequencer that allows a player to manipulate patterns and loops on the fly. Unlike most commercial sequencers, this instrument interprets lists of numbers as its input. For example, four quarter notes might be represented as [1,1,1,1], or [3,3,3,3], or [4,4,4,4], depending on how the beat is subdivided. This encourages thinking about rhythms and melodies in novel ways. One unique feature is the "drift" function. Each voice stores two melodies and two rhythms, and the program can interpolate—or "drift"—between different rhythms and/or melodies over a set number of repetitions. The resulting off-the-grid loops create an interesting quality of consonance and dissonance as they snap in and out of place with the underlying beat. 

STC/EGR/MUS 209 Transformation in Engineering & the Artsis a course that explores the parallels and intersections of design/composition in engineering and the arts, emphasizing a merging of artistry and systematic thinking. Students use what they learn to create as engineer-artists and artist-engineers. The course includes lecture-demonstrations, hands-on creative activities, discussions on aesthetics, and design projects. Organized around four modules: Visuals, Sound, Structure and Movement, the course is led by faculty from COS, MUS, CEE, MAE with faculty from the Lewis Center for the Arts. ‘Transformations’ unify the modules by engaging the different disciplines and allowing the course to serve as an introductory experience for students with any academic background. Students currently enrolled in the course will present their work. 

STC/EGR/MUS 309 Independent Design in Engineering & the Arts is a course that provides an opportunity for students who completed STC/EGR/MUS 209 OR THR/STC 210 to continue, or innovate new, design projects. New projects may be selected from suggestions by faculty members or proposed by the student. Students currently enrolled in the course will present their work. 

Peter Landgren presents: Building Bits is an open source and student friendly system for constructing physical projects. This Lego-inspired system enables students in various disciplines to quickly build and prototype projects in a robust manner, keeping the focus on the expressive content rather than the construction technique.  It is easily customizable and simple for students to use.  Stop by and make your own project! 

Axel Kilian (Architecture) presents: Embodied Computation - Architectural Robotics. The flexing room installation and the bowtower are explorations of robotics at architectural scale and what autonomy could mean for the built environment.

Sigrid Adriaenssens (CEE) & Olek Niewiarowski(CEE) present: Costa Surfaces - We present the design, analysis, and fabrication of a membrane sculpture based on the Costa minimal surface. The work was developed during the Spring of 2016 at Princeton University as a pedagogical exercise combining the mathematics of minimal shapes with the major aspects of membrane structure design. Three different numerical form finding methods were employed independently to obtain a genus 2 Costa-Hoffman-Meeks minimal surface, which was subsequently fashioned into a unique and elegant art object. In the fabrication process, the 3D surface was first subdivided considering its inherent symmetries, resulting in three unique pattern shapes that were flattened, cut out from fabric, and finally sewn together. A bending-active tensioning system was designed and fabricated from initially straight fiberglass rods and custom 3D-printed connections. Although Costa surface has inspired at least a previous art installation and a membrane roof, the current sculpture innovates in the use of a bending-active support system, which renders the system self-supported, with remarkable adherence to the prescribed geometric parameters, yielding a smooth and well-stretched fabric surface, and providing a successful academic example of interface between architecture, engineering and science.