Human Ingenuity on Display at Digital Projects Showcase

Photo Gallery

  • Blaire Ebert '17 tries out an augmented reality headset.

  • About three dozen students exhibited their digital projects.

  • Information Technology staffer J.D. Mills shows students how headset images are simultaneously viewable on a laptop.

  • Emily Kane '20 encounters a dinosaur in a virtual jurassic world.

  • The showcase presented students with an opportunity to learn from one another.

  • Matthew Jennings '19 reaches to catch an object in his virtual world.

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Students from across the spectrum of Davidson's liberal arts and sciences curricula gathered yesterday to showcase an array of digital projects geared toward timely topics and persistent challenges that they created using the many digital resources available to students through the college. Projects included text analysis of election stump speeches, augmented and virtual-reality coding, economic data analysis of industrial and economic causes and conditions, epistemological selfie videos, Twitter-bot disaggregation of U.S. census data, bioinformatics techniques applied to mapping election results, and spambot applications for analyzing the timing of political debate tweeting, for example.

Sponsored by the mathematics and computer science, English, biology and economics departments, the third annual Digital Projects Showcase, held in the Lilly Family Gallery, drew on students' classroom work as well as their independent research and collaboration with Davidson faculty.

"How do we move literature into the virtual reality world, since books aren't used as much anymore?" wondered English major Blaire Ebert '17. She had just removed her virtual-reality goggles that permitted her to manipulate the "storyline" of a virtual human-scaled protein lifted straight out of campus genomics research.

"I hadn't even heard of the Maker Space -- I was in there for three classes this semester, two in English and one in theatre," she said. "Digital tools are just becoming a lot more relevant to everything we do."

The showcase provided a perfect illustration of the current interplay between humans and machines, summarized in a recent retweet by @DavidsonMakes of a quote attributed to Forrester Research Inc.: "Machines are fast, accurate and dumb. Humans are slow, erratic and brilliant."

The happened on the heels of the announcement of Davidson's newest major -- computer science.

John Syme





  • December 8, 2016