Campus & Community

College of Arts & Letters Hosts First Annual Senior Design Day

On May 3, the College of Arts & Letters (CAL) at Stevens hosted the first ever CAL Senior Design Day, an exhibition of the capstone senior projects of all graduating Bachelor of Arts students, written or produced in their final semester of study under the guidance of a faculty advisor.

“CAL Senior Design Day is the culmination of the undergraduate experience,” said Lisa Dolling, dean of CAL. “In what will become an annual tradition, every senior will have the opportunity to showcase his or her thoroughly-researched humanities theses or innovative project at the intersection of technology and the arts.”

To open the event, research theses by students majoring in all of the humanistic disciplines – including Literature & Communications, History, Philosophy and the Social Sciences – were on display in Bissinger Hall.

Christopher Mile Bados looked at the history of education policy in Newark, N.J. Through the study of the city’s corruption, mismanagement and power and racial struggles in the 1960s, he showed the importance of an informed public choosing the Board of Education. 

Another thesis, by Molly Rae Bennet, analyzed Cold War era films to determine whether film is an imperative for the academic study of history. She found that regardless of the subject matter or level of historical accuracy, film is embedded with values and images indicative of an era that can shed light on what life was like for people living through it.

Michael Piacentini’s thesis investigated the trend of “over-compression” in popular music recording. It concluded that compression is becoming more and more common  due to advances in technology and differences in taste.

Following the senior research thesis poster session, attendees were treated to a gallery opening in the Skyline Suite of Howe Center. The show, entitled, “Re: Assembly Required,” consisted of significant bodies of work produced by Art & Technology students from the Class of 2012.

“Each student installation is a culmination of several years of research and practice,” said Brian Moriarty, affiliate assistant professor of Art & Technology. “Our students’ work represents what we believe are the best elements of the Stevens experience, uniting creativity, innovation and rigorous research practice.”

Each project implemented novel technologies into various art-based mediums, ranging from sculpture to animation to projection mapping to user experience systems. For example, Katy Gardiner built “Paradox,” which took the interactive features of a typical website – such as a Twitter feed and an image slider – and embedded them into a physical structure.

The evening concluded with a unique concert performed more than two dozen senior Music & Technology majors. Called, “A Concert of Evolutionary Music,” it featured a number of ensembles performing classical music and freestyle jazz improvisations.

The students in one ensemble, called “ACE,” were required to invent the musical instruments they played from scratch or create a new sound using programming code. One student used a laptop track pad as a keyboard to generate synthesizer sounds. Another built a laser theremin, an early electronic musical instrument that creates an eerie sound traditionally used in horror movie soundtracks.

Another ensemble featured students playing guitars that were reprogrammed to sound like all of the instruments of a full orchestra, including percussion, strings and brass. Traditional musical ensembles also performed.

“The concert was a chance for our graduating students to demonstrate their complete understanding of the interrelationship of music and technology. Their creativity, their musicianship skills and their technological aptitude were all evident in their exciting performance,” said Rob Harari, affiliate associate professor of Music & Technology.

Learn more about the College of Arts & Letters at