THATCamp Humanities + Engineering

Union College, September 26-27, 2013

THATCamp Humanities + Engineering is coming together, with new developments all the time!  The current draft of the schedule is online, and we’re excited about the sessions planned.  Registration is open.

In the meantime, be thinking about all the ways that the humanities and engineering can intersect / tease / connect / overlap / converse / interfere / play an awesome game of PONG with each other.  We’ll be talking about all of those issues and more this September.

Be sure to check back regularly, and follow us on twitter:  @UnionTHATCamp


Nott Memorial, Union College


Wold Center Atrium, Site of TC H+E

Too Big to Care

This post inspired by a series of articles about bad behavior on Wall Street over the summer.

What makes “too big to fail” or “too big to jail” equal to “license to steal”?  (How) Can the Humanities help restore the social contract, or should we simply acknowledge that we have given up on civilization and get on with the alternatives?  See for example:

Here is a somewhat more thoughtful take on the overall situation:

And somewhat less so:

Or, if you have four hours to spare, the 2012 4-part FRONTLINE series, “Money, Power & Wall Street.”

Creating 3d maps of the local environmental treasures

I have lots of beautiful philosophical and public policy ideas relating to fairness, sharing, community, environmental, collaboration and empowerment. I am interested in learning about technologies that can help embody these ideas in a tangible and accessible way. Example: there is a 12 foot high plaster relief model 3d map of the Adirondacks on the wall of the great room at the Kelly Adirondack Center, formerly the home of Paul Schaefer, environmental leader and local builder and Renaissance man (self-educated but with great credit to the inspiration of his father’s liberal arts degree.) That map was the collaborative effort of 50 volunteers working together for a decade and I imagine how much those volunteers must have learned about the big picture of the Adirondacks in the process of creating it. (more…)

Documenting and analyzing medieval Sanskrit scientific texts

I’m involved in a collaborative research project on documenting and analyzing medieval Sanskrit scientific texts, with connections to a number of related projects on similar historical texts in other traditions (Babylonian, Hellenistic, medieval Islamic, early modern Latin, etc.). Digital textbase structures and the best ways to define and organize technical/bibliographic/prosopographic information are a key focus of our work.

Robots and Humans

Cherrice Traver, Nick Webb, Union College
The idea that machines could replace humans is both intriguing and perhaps terrifying. So how do robots work anyway? How easy is it to make one do something simple, like move around? How about something complicated, like moving around without bumping into things? This workshop will allow participants to explore these and other questions about robotics as they follow instructions for making a robot do some tasks. Computers, Mindstorm robots, and a graphical tool for instructing the robot will be provided.

Arduino Bootcamp

Wenhua Shi, Colgate University

Arduino is a tool for making computers that can sense and control more of the physical world than your desktop computer. It’s an open-source physical computing platform based on a simple microcontroller board, and a development environment for writing software for the board. In this hour long MAKE session with demonstrations of a few prototypes and art projects, participants will build paper circuits and learn a beginner level of Arduino programming.

Philosophy & Technology Session

“I For One Welcome Our New Robot Overlords”

Doug Klein, Union College

Should you be allowed to use genetic testing and engineering to ensure that your baby is not pre-disposed to certain genetically-linked illnesses? How about choosing the gender of your baby?  Or eye color? Or height; strength; musical talent; intelligence?

What about machines?  How intelligent can we make them?  How intelligent should we make them?  Can we make them intelligent enough that they can go on and make themselves more intelligent – sometimes called “the singularity”?  Should we? (more…)

3D Printing Bootcamp

Ann Anderson, John Rieffel, Union College

Are you interested in knowing more about the basics of 3D Printing?  Perhaps you have wondered about the ways in which your teaching (or your research) might be augmented or changed by incorporating 3D Printing techniques?  If so, please join us for this interactive, hands-on boot camp led by Ann Anderson and John Rieffel (Union College).  One of our goals for the event is to reach across the disciplines in order to integrate 3D printing into the humanities and social sciences.  During this 90-minute event, we will provide a very brief introduction to 3D Printing, engage in a conversation together about the possible ways in which 3D Printing might help us to cross and/or bridge divisional or departmental divides in research and teaching, and actually print out during the event a 3D model, based on audience interests, questions, and ideas.

Digital Map Storytelling Bootcamp

Alex Chaucer, Skidmore College

In this hour long MAKE session, participants will learn how digital mapping tools, such as ArcGIS Online and Google Earth, can be used for telling geographic stories and sharing online. Included in the session will be a hands on activity including mapping a spreadsheet of coordinates in ArcGIS Online, and georeferencing a historic map in Google Earth, creating a .kmz file, and creating a tour. Examples will be shown of other extensions of these tools in the digital humanities and other similar products. Session is geared toward the introductory user with no experience with mapping tools.

Prerequisite: Please come to the session with Google Earth installed on your computer and having created a free ArcGIS Online account with username and password.

Makerspace Bootcamp

Meg Worley, Colgate University

Makerspaces (aka hacklabs, hackerspaces, hacker dojos, etc.) are communal workshops where members share tools, ideas, and skills to build physical objects.  We will be focusing on makerspaces within the educational environment — how to start one at your institution (gathering support, planning space, considering technical requirements, lining up funding) and how to integrate it into both the curriculum and the life of the campus.  This will be half bootcamp and half brainstorming session, and it should be of equal appeal to those new to the idea and those who are already deeply involved in thriving makerspaces.

Music and Electrical Engineering Bootcamp

Palma Catravas, John Cox, Dianne McMullen, Union College

Come experience a real world example of how a collaboration between Music and Electrical Engineering provides an interdisciplinary experience for students.  Participate in singing and recording a well-known folk melody with Union’s Camerata Singers and a music history class in several locations on campus and then come back to listen and analyze those sound recordings with students taking a course in digital signal processing.  Participants will leave with an understanding of how these two disciplines can be integrated to provide students experiences from two very different perspectives.