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Electrical Engineering On Stage: When Digital Design Meets Dance

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Electrical & Computer Engineering Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.519.1 - 10.519.10



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Paper Authors

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Jennifer Bailey

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David Beams

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Electrical engineering on stage: when digital design meets dance

David M. Beams, Jennifer Bailey

Department of Electrical Engineering, University of Texas at Tyler/ Tyler Junior College Academy of Dance

Making the general public aware of the contributions of engineers to their lives is a continuing task. The engineering program of the University of Texas at Tyler has found a unique way to enhance its visibility with a segment of the public that ordinarily takes little notice of engineering. The College of Engineering and Computer Science has developed stage props for the annual production of The Nutcracker by the Department of Dance of Tyler Junior College. Two props are involved in the 2004 production: a self-propelled electrically-driven sleigh (used to transport Clara and the Nutcracker to the Land of the Sweets) and a microcontroller-based grandfather clock used during the Christmas party scene and the battle between the toy soldiers and mice. This relationship has provided projects (both for senior design and independent study) to engineering students while exposing them to a segment of the performing arts; conversely, it has exposed persons in the arts community to engineering. The development and use of these stage props are described in this paper, as well as how they have earned favorable publicity for the College of Engineering.

A brief history of an unlikely collaboration

Tyler Junior College (TJC) is a two-year community college that was established in Tyler, Texas, in 1926. Among its programs is the TJC Academy of Dance which offers classes to the community in varied styles of dance including ballet, modern, tap, and jazz. The Academy of Dance has staged annual productions of The Nutcracker since 1989.

The University of Texas at Tyler (UT-T) was established as Tyler State College in 1973 as an upper-division school. It was incorporated into the University of Texas system in 1979 and became a four-year undergraduate institution in 1998. The engineering program was founded in 1997 with programs in electrical engineering and mechanical engineering. The present College of Engineering and Computer Science (CECS) was formed in 2001 when the Department of Computer Science and the College of Engineering were joined as part of a University-wide reorganization.

E. T. A. Hoffman's story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King dates to the early 19th century; Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite was first performed in 1892 in St. Petersburg, Russia. The Nutcracker has become a Christmas tradition in the United States since its staging by George Balanchine and the New York City Ballet in 1954. While The Nutcracker is founded upon a long-standing tradition, audiences who attend regularly need to see something new each year.

Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Bailey, J., & Beams, D. (2005, June), Electrical Engineering On Stage: When Digital Design Meets Dance Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14351

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