The Social Media Workgroup 2016 Year in Review

2016 was a tremendous year of growth for the Social Media Workgroup. In addition to building our portfolio of large scale environmental public art and technology projects through Energy Flow in Pittsburgh, our Americorps/VISTA project Building Capacity for STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math and the Arts) Education in New Mexico was significantly expanded with partners UNM STEM Collaborative, School of Architecture + Planning and COSMIAC; The Fuse Makerspace at CNM, and The PASEO/STEMarts in Taos.

Energy Flow

Two longstanding members of our SMW team, programmer and artist Eric Geusz and videographer Jared Rendon-Trompak worked with me, infrastructure designer/UNM alum Chris Clavio, and wind turbine manufacturer WindStax to produce Energy Flow a public light artwork on the Rachel Carson Bridge for Pittsburgh’s Bicentennial Celebration. Over 27,000 multicolored LED lights positioned along the bridge’s vertical cables show a real-time visualization of wind speed and direction. Electricity needed to power Energy Flow is generated by sixteen wind turbines attached to the arches of the bridge.
See Energy Flow in action:
More information:

Particle Falls
Photo by Jared Rendon-Trompak

Eric and Jared also worked with me and Clean Air Carolina on a display of Particle Falls, a public art work presenting animated near real time particulate pollution. Particle Falls was projected in Charlotte North Carolina as part of Keeping Watch on Air to raise awareness of local air pollution. So far, SMW student researchers have helped to present Particle Falls in nine cities in the US and Europe.
More information:

Data Central

Thanks to our partnership with Fuse Makerspace, our VISTAs, and SMW student researcher from Mechanical Engineering David DiDonato, we improved our research facility at the Center for Advanced Research Computing (CARC), receiving a 3D printer and OtherMill donation and are continuing work on a public light project at the Center called Data Central. Data Central currently is live on the building’s East side and features computational design by SMW student researcher Isaiah Smith.
Watch a short video documentary about the making of Data Central:

photo by Jared Rendon-Trompak

Isaiah also designed and programmed our 2016 Balloon Museum animation with Eric’s assistance, sharing our work with hundreds of thousands of visitors to Balloon Fiesta on our 20’ LED platform, Skylight.

2016 saw two SMW student researchers graduate and move on to exciting new opportunities. Trent Small (Computer Science) is now a Software Engineer at Google and Frank Feng (Architecture) is a Designer at Y.A. Studio. This year, UNM graduate Eric Geusz (Computer Science) became our first SMW staff member, and now helps to provide technical assistance, leadership and mentoring to our researchers

Our upcoming projects have been awarded generous support from The Compton Foundation, and that along with the 2016/2017 Hillman Photography Initiative Award from The Carnegie Museum of Art will help to support a series of projects and a book documenting our work and promoting sustainability awareness.

STEAM New Mexico
Two years ago, SMW received its first Americorps/VISTA grant to raise capacity for STEAM education in New Mexico and we launched the STEAM NM initiative. Renewed and expanded for its third year with VISTA, our STEAM NM core group includes SMW along with five partners: UNM STEM Collaborative, The School of Architecture + Planning and COSMIAC; the CNM Fuse Makerspace, and The PASEO/STEMarts in Taos.



This year we said goodbye to our VISTAs Sara Cordova and Jazmyn Crosby (shown with CARC researcher Ryan Johnson) as they completed their year of service, and wish them well as they move on to future opportunities. Cecilia McKinnon, Matthew Barbato, Anders Molies and Britney King started as new VISTAs this year and we are currently hiring several more VISTAs through a generous expansion of our project from the CNS.

In 2016, Jazmyn worked with STEM Collaborative to develop Departure, a podcast created by students that juxtaposes science with art and creative experience. Participants in the Departure project interviewed local scientists and professors, and explored creative processes used in their professional and personal contexts.
Listen to Departure here:

Jazmyn also coordinated STEM Collaborative tours and workshops connecting students and community members to STEAM resources including at the Museum of Southwest Biology, the UNM Maps Library MAGIC, a series of workshops around radio transmitters and alternative photography, screenings of the Creeping Garden and The Stanford Prison Experiment, and a bus tour to STEAM sites in Santa Fe. She also helped coordinate the STEM Collaborative’s public outreach project Discover Your Science for approximately 200 incoming UNM Freshmen with 27 community volunteers, and coordinated two exhibitions at our CARC Gallery.
More information:

Our VISTA Sara Cordova worked with University departments and outside units to coordinate the Electronic Structures 2016 Conference, hosted by CARC on campus. Sara also created an enhanced web presence for CARC researchers by adding more than two-hundred published academic papers. This project and many others involved production of text and graphics in collaboration with departments and partners.
More information:

Matt Barbato and Anders Molies, our VISTAs working with the CNM Fuse Makerspace helped to coordinate STEAM events including a Mini-Maker Faire held at the Balloon Museum. The event drew over 1500 visitors causing a spike in Fuse Makerspace members and an influx of approximately 30 CNM student members through classes in jewelry making and the rapid prototyping certificate programs. During their service, Matt and Anders not only learned the digital fabrication tools and equipment at the maker space, but have developed training materials for community members. We choose to work with as much open source software as possible so that no one feels that their involvement is guided by financial restrictions. In addition to learning both open source and commercial software, Matt and Anders have learned custom systems for communication and organization.
Become a member:

Through Taos PASEO, our VISTA Agnes Chavez formed relationships with organizations that target minority populations (Taos Pueblo Oo-Oo-nah Art Center, smART House, UNM-Taos Adult Learning Center and DreamTree Project). She and the PASEO team recruited students representative of the diverse demographic of the community and secured funding.

Agnes also presented at the SFAI140 Santa Fe Art Institute community event, held a visit with students from the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) and coordinated UNM MFA student SFAI Studio talks to recruit for STEAM initiatives. She was invited as a panelist to share thoughts on STEAM at  the Santa Fe Women as Game Changers Conference and the NEA National Convening, In Pursuit of the Creative Life: The Future of Arts and Creativity in America.

Taos PASEO 2016 presented 21 STEAM installations by artists, scientists and technologists and a significant expansion of the youth outreach and education program. The PASEO partnered with UNM-Taos Digital Media Arts and 12 young adults and adult students who created images in a class designed to produce an interactive installation for the festival, selecting animated video footage from teens at Taos High School. Approximately 250 youth and adults interacted with the installation, and the PASEO team estimates between 6,000 and 8,000 people shared The PASEO experience in 2016.
More information:

Our VISTA Cecilia McKinnon works with our partner the School of Architecture + Planning at UNM. She coordinated the Mayor’s Institute on City Design, an NEA funded national program, with a conference of regional mayors around issues of public health and city design. Students and locals benefited from a public event with visiting professionals, and multiple communities in New Mexico and surrounding states will benefit from the public projects workshopped with the mayors at the conference.

Cecilia is also helping to coordinate the ongoing Central Corridor Neighborhoods Study, an interdisciplinary research project funded by a federal Transit-Oriented Development grant and executed by the University of New Mexico, City of Albuquerque, and various community partners. Ten graduate students enrolled in a class focused on Central Corridor study. Seven undergraduates signed up to volunteer and two project assistants have been hired. The class “Sustainable Settlements” was an open workshop time for students, community members, faculty, and volunteers to learn about and discuss relevant topics to the Central Corridor research. The workshops hosted about 20 people including the data team and focused on discussing health inequities and how they are created and remedied by the built environment.

This year we developed STEAM workshops inspired by the Stanford University Design Thinking format, and Cecilia helped coordinate two of these workshops, one at The Center for High-Tech Materials for STEAM teachers and one for an interdisciplinary course between fine arts and engineering. In addition, we presented a STEAM workshop for the Engineering Advanced Studies Institute at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Finally, we continued to develop our social media with the new urls
and, expanded our social media marketing by starting a SMW Linkedin presence and a STEAM NM Linkedin Group. Please join the conversation!

Our Challenges
New Mexico is geographically large and diverse, and this is the largest ongoing challenge we face. Although we have gotten better at the remote collaboration by using technology to improve communication and coordination across the state, this continues to be a challenge. Bringing our Albuquerque-based VISTAs and UNM students to distant locations to work with community partners and k-12 students (as we were able to do during Taos PASEO 2015 above) has been a great benefit, but has posed challenges in the cost of transportation and lodging.

Support our projects here:




Stories and quotes from VISTAs, partners and participants
“We have incredibly interesting speakers for our first podcast who have been very generous to donate their time to us. The subject of the first podcast is blood and essence. The artist is Anikke Myers. Myers recent show Sanguinary was comprised of photographic salt prints. A salt print is an early photographic process developed by Henry Fox Talbot. Chris Taylor is a surgeon at UNNM-H. Lastly, the band Chicharra agreed to let us use their music. Chicharra is a local band comprised of three female vocalists who all play the bass guitar, there is also a drummer. The focus on bass guitar and beat contrasted with innovative song writing and supernatural melody makes Chcharra one of Albuquerque’s most interesting compelling bands. One challenge that I have encountered while developing this project is that I do not already possess the technical skills required for producing a podcast and I have never done anything like this before, so the project is a bit experimental. What I do have is connections, curiosity, and a love of podcasts.”

“ I went out one morning to the Open Space center in the bosque with Tara. The students at ACE had made these amazing structures out of found objects and written stories about them which were laminated and attached to the structures mostly made from wood. The students had worked in small groups to problem solve the structural supports of their found object structures. They also worked together to create a theme for the creative writing. Their structures left an imprint on me they were really cool objects, both creatively, in design and in collaborative nature. I am excited to see how the collaboration pans out in the future.”
Jazmyn Crosby, STEAMNM VISTA

“The Mini-Maker Faire allowed us to meet other makers from the area as well as other groups we have may not contacted. One of these groups was the local girl scouts who had a display at the event. They are interested in visiting the space and maybe collaborating in the future.”

“I designed a mapping activity to meet and recruit student volunteers for the Central Corridor project. People really enjoyed the activity and we will now be integrating it into our community engagement strategies during field work.”
Cecilia McKinnon, STEAMNM VISTA

“Thank you for bringing (STEMarts lab artist: Ana Herruzo) to us. She was inspiring in several ways- Because she was an architect-turned-artist, she represents a kind of passion choice that is indicative of real artists. Also the layered, complex strategy she employs using the computer made our kids aware of deliberate programming for an artistic goal- they briefly explored programming as something more than gaming or academics-alternative creativity was transparent; they saw the possibilities. Also, there was a student I picked up and took home from his trailer in Llano, he chose to come and perform and engage at Paseo rather than homecoming- he did his piece in front of church, visited hologram of light at Hulse-Warman, played with Ollie’s shadow writing, watched Constructed Bodies dance, went to Ojale!, saw the dome and the 3 white Ladies, all these things and More. So thanks to you and Matt and your risk taking, my student was opened… I know this Rural Born and bred young l man’s experience is the kind of opportunity your true educator’s heart really wants to provide for our children here I think Michael’s life was changed by that experience.”
Katie Woodall, teacher, Taos Charter School

“Thank you for doing your work with STEM! We appreciate you and your hard work in helping our students expand their academic experiences. It was amazing!!”
Dr. Lilian Torrez, Superintendent of Taos Municipal schools.

“The Taos Integrated School of the Arts looks forward to our participation in PASEO every year! We are a small charter school with a population of talented, high risk, high poverty students. Our student are allowed to share their “light” each year with our school created, PASEO artist led installations. PASEO has become a part of our curriculum! We had over 200 parents and students attend The PASEO this year.”
Megan Avina Bowers, Taos Integrated School of the Arts

“We had 13 students participate, plus 4 Colorado College volunteers, and myself at the workshop with Leah. I saw many, if not most of our 7th and 8th graders at Paseo. I would argue at least 60% of our middle school body was at the event which is upwards of 40 students in attendance at the event itself. All being said, it was a fantastic opportunity for students and one I will certainly never forget.”
Kaila Dickey, Teacher, Anansi Charter School