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“Final Four” of Game Development

In a year of tremendous success in national competition — with UMBC teams vying for titles in the “final four” of men’s soccer and chess — another team of talented UMBC students is heading to a U.S. championship, this time in video game development. Microsoft is flying four Retrievers to San Francisco, where they will pitch their project to Silicon Valley entrepreneurs in the software giant’s Imagine Cup worldwide technology competition.

UMBC’s students will compete against teams from the Rochester Institute of Technology, University of Houston and University of Southern California. The team that claims the national championship will compete internationally for the chance to bring its game to market and a prize of $50,000.

“Everybody is really excited about the game,” says Michael Leung ’16, computer science, the team’s lead, who has received congratulatory notes and well wishes from leaders across Maryland. UMBC President Freeman Hrabowski recently highlighted the team’s work in an opinion piece for CNBC, where he wrote, “As the students vie for the honor of representing the U.S. internationally, they’re also showing us the future of teaching, learning, and careers.”

The game, called HueBots, features vibrant, friendly robots of different colors designed by Erika Schumacher ’17, and animated by Jasmine Martin ’15. Both are visual arts students with an interactive media concentration. The concept, programming, and music are the work of Tad Cordle ’16, computer engineering, with assistance from Leung. The game asks players to solve a series of increasingly challenging puzzles that revolve around the bots’ affinity for color-matched objects in a maze.

“Even people who don’t like puzzle games like HueBots,” Leung shares. Martin reflects that the game is positive, friendly, fun, and engaging, in contrast to the other three games in the national finals, described with terms like “mortality,” “combat,” and “domination.”

The teammates met for the first time in Fall 2014 through UMBC’s Game Developer’s Club, mentored by computer science professor Marc Olano. Olano founded and oversees UMBC’s game development track in the computer science and electrical engineering department. He’s familiar with the Imagine Cup, having previously judged the competition’s game entries.

Read more at UMBC: Gaming Gets Real.

Stage to Screen: Theresa Columbus ’11

Every so often, we’ll chat with an alum about what they do and how they got there. Today we’re talking with Theresa Columbus, about her work a creator of the feature-length film “Chaza Show Choir,” a musical comedy about a high-school show choir’s journey to Europe. The film was screened April 29th at the Charles Theatre in Baltimore.

Name: Theresa Columbus
Major: Interdisciplinary Studies
Grad Year: 2011

Q: Where did you first come up with the idea for “Chaza Show Choir”?

I had been writing and directing lots of short plays in Milwaukee, and my partner, Didier Leplae, was interested in collaborating on a longer piece that would have an orchestra, since he wrote music. I tried to explain that I really wanted to include a funny flavor that had to do with being in a show choir in high school and being a theater person in high school. I described a show choir I was in that traveled to Germany, and someone suggested it should be about a show choir that ends up in Germany.

Q: Can you tell me more about when you were introduced to musical theatre and how it has impacted you?

Musical theater was a joyful experience for me in high school. I could not wait to get to high school and jump into these activities which seemed so electric and full of life. My first theatrical experience in high school was not a musical: my sister was an incredible actor and had just gotten back from an intensive theater experience over the summer. She then directed a play that consisted of about 10 people–including me–wearing jeans and black turtlenecks, saying monologues created by young writers and doing movement pieces. The hours of theatrical exercises and movement and communication was so new and thrilling to me. The one performance of the play, “Insights,” was one of the most intense experiences of my teenage years. That happened within the first few months of my attending high school!

Q: What is your favorite musical?

My favorite musical… I don’t know. I’ve been working on collaborating on performance with kids and I just watched one of my roommate’s (Jake Budenz) favorite musicals of all time: The Phantom Tollbooth. It’s animated, full of wordplay, and is the best musical I’ve seen in a long time. We hope to cover one of the songs in a performance piece soon!

Q: Do you have any other projects in the works?

Yes! I’m working with my partner Aaron Smith on a participatory theater stage that will be part of “Lazy River,” an area of Artscape. I will write short pre-recorded plays that festival attendees may act out with us, and they may be able to compose their own, record them, and act out amplified versions of them! We’re still working out the kinks. Also, I am collaborating with 5 performers, as well as musicians and visual artists, to create public theater based on ideas of stages of life, in a project called “Sphinx & Co.” Also, I am in a group art show/performance that will take place in October in Milwaukee entitled “Distance.” It is a yearlong project where I and 3 artists in different locations around the USA are collaborating on text and visual exquisite corpses, as well as portraits taken at dawn and a performance based on concepts of distance.

Q: Looking back on your time at UMBC, tell us what you think makes this place so special.

Preminda Jacob, Lisa Moren, Temple Crocker, Steven McAlpine, Fred Worden, James Mahoney, Mark Durant, Steve Bradley, Kathy O’Dell . . . there are so many teachers, advisors and role models that I felt so fortunate to have access to! Many of these teachers were open to and encouraged discussion outside of class… there are so many gems at UMBC, that’s what makes it special. And though I didn’t meet with him, I have so much respect for the school’s president: Freeman Hrabowski. My most memorable experience at UMBC was walking and talking with Preminda Jacob, noticing the beauty of the decorative grasses on campus, after an art history class that she taught with unbridled enthusiasm.

via From the Stage to the Screen: Theresa Columbus ’11 | News and Stories for UMBC Alumni.

UMBC Baseball Defeats George Mason

Fairfax, Va.—UMBC baseball improved their win streak to three with a 6-4 win against George Mason on Tuesday. The Retrievers recorded 13 hits in the contest to move to 21-16, the most wins in a season since 2008.

The Retrievers jumped on the Patriots early, scoring three runs in the first. Andrew Casali (New Canaan, Conn./New Canaan) smacked a double to left, scoring Vince Corbi (Medford, N.J./Shawnee). Nick Naumann (Essex, Md./John Carroll/Chestnut Hill) followed suit with a two-RBI single, plating Anthony Gatto (Hauppauge, N.Y./Smithtown West) and Casali.

Read more at: UMBC Defeats George Mason, 6-4; Record Most Wins in a Season Since 2008 – UMBC.

UMBC Kinetic Sculpture Race Kick-Off

URCAD15-8104Join us, April 29, as we send off our Kinetic Sculpture Race team as they prepare for the big race on Saturday, May 2.

The team will talk about what to expect from the race and discuss the features of their kinetic sculpture. They will also go into detail about the free rides provided the day of the race!

The actual race takes place Saturday, May 2 at 8 am at the American Visionary Arts Museum.

More information about the race:

http://kineticumbc.blogspot.com/

via The 2015 UMBC Kinetic Sculpture Race Kick-Off · Undergraduate Research · myUMBC.

Block Party | Retriever Believers

Two weeks ago, Resident Student Association, threw their annual Block Party event.

Block party is a carnival style event, with cotton candy, face painting, shaved ice, various types of games, food, and much more. During block party, each residential community sets up their own table and provides a game for everyone to participate in. This years theme was nautical, so everyone did some “sea” related. For example, Erickson Hall did organized a sand art table, where people came and decorated small bottles shaped like sand castles with different colored sand. Also, Walker Apartment did a boat sailing competition. Other halls did caramel apples, t-shirt/sock tie dye, and throwing darts at paint balls. Basically it was a afternoon/evening filled with a lot of fun.

Everyone, including, the RSA executive board, the Community Councils, and the advisers, put in a lot of hard work to make this event really big. However, the only problem was that there was a lack of advertising, therefore, not a lot of students were aware that Block Party was happening. Nonetheless, there were a lot of people that came and enjoyed themselves; the cotton candy and the caramel apples were a great hit!

Read more at Block Party | Retriever Believers.

Junior Tennis Players Named All-Conference

ST. LOUIS – UMBC juniors Justin Carter (Randallstown, Md.) and Jaan Kononov (Talinn, Estonia) were named to the 2015 Missouri Valley Conference men’s tennis All-Conference team at the conclusion of the league championships.

Carter has now earned All-Conference recognition in all three of his seasons with the Retrievers.  Last season, he was the America East Conference co-Player of the Year as he earned first team singles honors and second team doubles accolades. As a freshman in the spring of 2013, he earned three AE Player of the Week honors and earned first team post-season honors in both singles and doubles.

This spring, Carter posted a 9-6 singles record and a mark of 7-3 in doubles. In the MVC quarterfinal match versus Southern Illinois, he posted victories in both doubles and singles and his semifinal singles match was even at a set apiece and on serve in the third set when the match was halted.

Read more on UMBC Retrievers

Real People Profiles: Emily Moroney

By David Hoffman

We’re asking some of the people you might encounter on the UMBC campus, including students, faculty, staff and alumni, to answer a few questions about themselves and their experiences. These are their responses.

Name: Emily Moroney

Hometown: C-I-N-C-I-N-N-A-T-I, OHIO!

Q: How long have you been at UMBC?

A:Since July 8, 2013.

Q: What is your current title (job or student organization position)?
A: Coordinator for Transition Programs (Off-Campus Student Services)
Q: In 12 words or less, what role(s) do you play on campus?
A: Advocate, innovator, collaborator, supporter, challenger, ‘do-er,’ programmer, strategize- ‘r’, friend, colleague, boss.
Q: What aspect of your UMBC role(s) do you enjoy most?
A: – Supervising my student staff (TSN/PACC). They are the best!
– Working with and for the amazing students here at UMBC.
– The collaborations on projects/initiatives with my very talented colleagues.
– Getting to do something different every single day.
Q: What is the most important or memorable thing you learned in college/have learned at UMBC?A: I learned a saying from a previous theatre professor/director that has stuck with me to this day: “To be early is to be on time. To be on time is to be late. To be late is to be…..[he said dead, but let’s not be morbid].”

People are valuable and time is precious. I’ve learned that respect more often than not is shown through the actions we make, not just the words we say.

Q: What is one way you have worked with others to make a positive difference at UMBC or in another community?

A: I currently work on a initiative/grant funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that focuses on the success(es) and retention of STEM transfer students between 2yr and 4yr institutions. Everyday, I get to work with incredibly intelligent, passionate and caring, administration, faculty, staff and students, in providing transfer specific services and programs to incoming UMBC transfer students. Every semester, I feel such joy from seeing students I met at community college start their orientation here at UMBC. I get even greater joy seeing them show up to events and getting involved as engaged leaders here at UMBC.

Q: Complete this sentence: “I am a big fan of __________”

A: Freshly brewed Iced Tea!
Q: Do you have any UMBC stories, little-known facts about UMBC, favorite spots on campus, or anything else you’d like to share?

A: My favorite spot on campus would be Alumni Office. Located in an old house, I find it fascinating—the bedroom offices to the backyard filled in pool. Every time I visit, I find myself curious about the families that lived there and the history/stories that lie within those walls.

Co-Create UMBC is a blog for and about UMBC, written by David Hoffman and Craig Berger from the Office of Student Life. Join the Co-Create UMBC group on MyUMBC. Like Co-Create UMBC on Facebook. And follow David and Craig on Twitter.
 

New Student Day 2015

By crjenkins2014

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Hello my Future Retrievers,

I know it has been awhile since you have heard from me; it’s been a little busy in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions. But, I am back with some exciting news!

This upcoming Saturday we are welcoming all Fall 2015 admitted students to the House of Grit, better known as UMBC! Our New Student Day event invites students to experience our beautiful campus. This event allows us to not only celebrate your admission to UMBC, but it also gives you the opportunity to learn more about the University.

This day is full of activities from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Prospective students and their families will have the chance to attend information sessions, meet current and newly admitted UMBC students, take a walking tour of the campus, and cheer the Retrievers to victory in lacrosse!

If you have not registered for this event yet, please do so by clicking here. You definitely do not want to miss out!

We are excited to see all of you on Saturday. Remember if you take any selfies about the event or at the event, be sure to use the hashtag UMBCadmit!

Best,

Christine 🙂

 

Real People Profiles: Emily Eaglin

By David Hoffman

We’re asking some of the people you might encounter on the UMBC campus, including students, faculty, staff and alumni, to answer a few questions about themselves and their experiences. These are their responses.

Name: Emily Eaglin

Hometown: Silver Spring, MD

Major: Cinematic Arts

Q: How long have you been at UMBC?

A:A year & a half.

Q: What is your current title (job or student organization position)?
A: Linehan Artists Scholar
Student Life Social Media Intern
IRC Intern
SUCCESS Program Student Coordinator
Critical Social Justice Student Alliance President
Women of Color Coalition Member
Rock Climbing Club Member
Q: In 12 words or less, what role(s) do you play on campus?
A: I’m a social justice filmmaker and equal rights advocate, here to listen.
Q: What aspect of your UMBC role(s) do you enjoy most?
A: Meeting new members of our community and learning about everyone’s diverse background. I love getting feedback on films I’ve made on various critical social justice issues, meeting people through them recognizing me from my films, and picking it up from there.

Maybe my favorite thing of all is starting conversations & spreading them, in particular, conversations that many people don’t know or think we need to be having.

Q: What is the most important or memorable thing you learned in college/have learned at UMBC?

A: Ask and you shall receive.

Just because something seems highly unlikely or improbable doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go for it or that it’s impossible. You’ll never know if you don’t ask, and in choosing not to you are likely missing out on countless opportunities. For example, for a web series pilot I am currently producing (“Marylandia”), I wanted to include President Freeman Hrabowski in a sketch about something totally random.

I considered not asking, finding something else, maybe this idea was too big etc. Not only did he agree to star in it, he absolutely MADE the sketch and in doing so gave a great message to all of the UMBC community. If I had listened to that little voice in my head that said “Don’t ask”, that sketch might not have even made the final cut and I would’ve missed out on that amazing experience.


Q: What is one way you have worked with others to make a positive difference at UMBC or in another community?
A: One of my films, “Future Children,” brought the issue of mixed race identity to the attention of the greater/national public. I was a featured commentator on an NBC 4 broadcast (DC/MD); I was interviewed twice on WHUR 97.3 radio and was invited to screen the film in Los Angeles at Universal Studios. Absolutely none of this would have been possible without my incredible cast of 20+ UMBC students, who took the time out of their day to star in, compose music for, and support this project.

Q: Complete this sentence: “I am a big fan of __________”

A: Critically analyzing one’s own personal bias. knitting. skepticism. comedy central shows.
Q: Do you have any UMBC stories, little-known facts about UMBC, favorite spots on campus, or anything else you’d like to share?

A: First of all I’d love to invite everyone who wants to get involved in Critical Social Justice on campus to check out the “Critical Social Justice Student Alliance” Facebook page & come to our meetings!

Also my YouTube/Tumblr page is “EmilyonWishes” just throwing that out there.

The people who work alongside me for UMBC Student Life are an impeccable resource and some of the most genuinely kind & interesting people I’ve met here.

I know I can always have a thought-provoking conversation at the Mosaic Center’s “What’s the Tea?” social justice discussions.

And the UMBC Women’s Center is full of some of the most open minded, beautiful and strong people I’ve met on campus who are dedicated to seeing this school and the world change for justice and equality.

If you haven’t checked out those places or met those people, I’d suggest you get the chance to ASAP. I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank them and Freeman for everything that they have done for me and are doing for the greater student population at UMBC.

Co-Create UMBC is a blog for and about UMBC, written by David Hoffman and Craig Berger from the Office of Student Life. Join the Co-Create UMBC group on MyUMBC. Like Co-Create UMBC on Facebook. And follow David and Craig on Twitter.