Tag Archives: HackBerry Lab

Ed Catmull in HackBerry Lab

Zane Cochran, clinical instructor of creative technologies, discusses a project with Ed Catmull during his visit to HackBerry Lab.

Berry’s 2019 Gloria Shatto Lecture took place just three days prior to the Academy Awards, so it was only fitting that the speaker was someone whose work is synonymous with Hollywood’s ultimate honor – Ed Catmull, Pixar co-founder and former president of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios.

Addressing a near-capacity crowd of students and other guests gathered in the Cage Center arena, Catmull stressed the importance of fostering an environment where creativity can flourish. Ideas are fragile, he noted, and need proper care to grow.

“Everyone has the potential to be creative,” he said. “It is our job to unlock that potential.”

Catmull related that ideas often begin badly – even at Pixar – citing as an example the 2009 blockbuster Up, the original storyline for which was completely different from what wound up on screen. In fact, the only thing that survived the first rewrite was the name.

“Failure is a necessary consequence to trying something new,” he said. “Our goal is not to prevent mistakes but to fix them when they occur.”

While on campus, Catmull also took time to interact with students in HackBerry Lab, home to the college’s innovative creative technologies program.

This was the 10th Shatto Lecture, the endowment for which was funded by gifts to Berry’s Century Campaign to celebrate the life of the first woman to hold the title of college or university president in Georgia. Dr. Shatto served Berry with distinction from 1980 to 1998.

By student writer Kendall Aronson

RELATED COVERAGE: Ed Catmull brings Pixar magic to Berry

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HackBerry Lab Open HouseIngenuity was the name of the game for approximately 90 students participating in this spring’s prototyping open house hosted by HackBerry Lab. More than 300 different innovations – each taking a half-semester to create – were displayed, incorporating everything from dance to video games to 3D printing.

Among the students showcasing new inventions were sophomores Joey Pratt and Paul VanWingerden, both majors in Berry’s innovative and fast-growing creative technologies program.

Intrigued by the concept of home automation, Pratt developed a device for residence hall doors that identifies the person entering and turns on the corresponding light. Now that he has a working proof of concept, he hopes to enhance his invention so that it not only controls the lighting but also sets the temperature to each individual’s preference.

VanWingerden, meanwhile, created “DJ Roomba,” a robotic vacuum cleaner (pictured) that is connected to a speaker so that it can flash in time to music as it rolls about the house. Inspiration was drawn from the television show Parks and Rec, but realization of the idea presented its share of challenges. Even on the day of his “reveal,” VanWingerden had to scramble to get his invention in working order after inadvertently destroying his lights while connecting them to a power source.

Zane Cochran, clinical instructor of creative technologies, was inspired by the collective creativity of the students participating in this year’s exhibition.

“It was, by far, our largest open house at HackBerry Lab,” Cochran said. “It has been great to see the creative technologies program grow at a record pace.”

Established in 2014, the program now includes 68 majors, ranking it 11th among all Berry majors. In the last year alone, the program grew 42 percent, and the average growth rate is 22 percent per semester. Learn more.

“I am delighted with the growth of the creative technologies major and pleased that we can provide a program that interests so many students,” said Dr. John Grout, Garrett professor of management and creative technologies. “We appreciate the support we have received from the college administration and the Campbell School of Business. The help of all the departments that offer courses in this interdisciplinary major has also been instrumental in meeting the growing demands of the program.”

Story and “D.J. Roomba” photo by student writer Kendall Aronson

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As a student juggling football practice, theatre rehearsals and work in HackBerry Lab, Alec Leeseberg (17C) appreciated the pick-me-up provided by a good cup of coffee. It should come as no surprise then that one of the budding entrepreneur’s early inventions was HoloBrew, a “smart” appliance meant to provide the perfect cup every time.

Leeseberg discovered his passion for designing new electronics through Berry’s innovative creative technologies major. Working and studying in HackBerry Lab, he gained valuable skills in computer programming and 3-D printing that helped unlock his first invention, HoloView, which projected holograms using a smartphone. That product became the centerpiece of an entrepreneurship project and ultimately the basis for his own company.

Those experiences taught him the basics of managing a business and paved the way for subsequent inventions like HoloBrew. They also helped him catch the eye of GoFire, a Colorado-based startup he now serves as technology project manager, and the University of Colorado in Boulder, where he will pursue a master’s degree in creative technology and design.

Leeseberg hopes his work at GoFire and in Colorado’s BTU lab will offer a jolt to his own career prospects more powerful than any double-shot of caffeine, allowing him to take full advantage of the foundation Berry provided.

“Berry and the creative technologies major prepared me for working in this field more than any other program could,” he praised. “It gave me a set of skills and a unique perspective that I find valuable every day.”

Hear more about Leeseberg’s Berry experience in the accompanying admissions video produced while he was a student.

By student writer Katherine Edmonds

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Home Depot Vice President Bill Lennie visited Berry in late March as the fourth speaker in the Cecil B. Wright III Integrity in Leadership Lecture Series. While on campus, Lennie delivered a presentation on “Building a Values Based Culture,” met with Berry business students and visited HackBerry Lab, home to the college’s innovative creative technologies program.

Click the accompanying video to hear Lennie’s thoughts on a variety of topics related to ethical leadership, including the value of the experiences available to students through the Berry Center for Integrity in Leadership.

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Georgia Trend ArticleBerry has a fan in Georgia Trend magazine, which showcased the college’s historic work focus and other unique initiatives – including the creative technologies major and HackBerry Lab – in a prominent January feature fittingly titled, “Gate of Opportunity.” In that same issue, four representatives of the college community – three of them alumni – made the publication’s annual list of Notable Georgians:

  • Eddie DeLoach (74C), Savannah mayor
  • Sara Totonchi (99C), executive director of the Southern Center for Human Rights
  • Roger Tutterow (84C), Berry trustee and director of the Econometric Center at Kennesaw State University
  • Maria Saporta, Berry Board of Visitors member and noted business and civic journalist
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Lunar LemonIn our last issue, we shared the story of the “Lunar Lemon,” a 1986 Chevy Astro van transformed into an endurance racer by creative technologies students and faculty working out of Berry’s HackBerry Lab. After earning  “Eternal Optimist” recognition for its debut performance in the “24 Hours of LeMons” racing series (limited to vehicles valued at $500 or less), the space-themed Lemon soared to even greater heights in its second outing. This time, the Berry entry claimed the prestigious “Index of Effluency” award for accomplishing “the most with the least” after completing 217 laps – approximately 500 miles – at a track in South Carolina. The student-led team earned a cash prize for its efforts and automatic entry into the next race in September.

Related Content: President’s Essay – Just imagine!

By Katherine Edmonds, philanthropic communications student writer

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Lunar Lemon Racing

The Lunar Lemon van competes in the “24 Hours of LeMons” race at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala.

Students in Berry’s creative technologies program are always looking for a challenge, so when the opportunity came to test their mettle in an endurance race for cars costing $500 or less, they couldn’t resist.

The result was the “Lunar Lemon,” a vintage Chevy Astro van purchased from Berry and fitted with wings and “rocket boosters” made of recycled materials. Its first outing didn’t quite go as planned – the vehicle failed to pass inspection on race day – but the student team led by Visiting Instructor Zane Cochran (with assistance from the Hatch Athens nonprofit group) was undeterred, working for 40 hours straight to get the Lunar Lemon ready for competition. Despite the late start, the Berry entry earned the “Eternal Optimist Award” from race judges after completing 95 laps (approximately 225 miles) without any mechanical issues, beating a number of teams that started a day earlier. Emboldened by the experience, the team is already planning another outing April 30.

Students Fixing Van

Students Jacob Ramsey and Chris Whitmire work on the interior of the Lunar Lemon.

Such hard work and resourcefulness are hallmarks of Berry’s groundbreaking creative technologies (CRT) major, the first undergraduate degree program of its type. Combining business, computing, engineering, manufacturing and hands-on design, the program provides students very real opportunities to give physical form to their most imaginative thoughts. Since its 2014 launch, CRT’s mix of high-tech creative tools and do-it-yourself ingenuity has become quite the draw for students, with 29 now majoring in creative technologies and others enhancing their Berry experience through classes such as vehicle prototyping and advanced robotics – so many, in fact, that the program’s HackBerry Lab recently moved into a new space near the Emery Barns.

“The projects I’ve done in creative technologies have taught me problem-solving strategies and given me mechanical experience,” said sophomore Jacob Ramsey, a management major and creative technologies minor. “But they also let my imagination have free rein.”

Rome News-Tribune: HackBerry Lab spurs student ingenuity

By Maxine Donnelly, philanthropic communications senior student writer

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