College's annual research symposium showcases faculty research, creativity

The Texas A&M College of Architecture’s 16th annual faculty research symposium, “Natural, Built, Virtual,” is set for Oct. 27, 2014 at the Langford Architecture Center on the Texas A&M College Station campus.

The daylong event showcases college faculty research on issues relevant to the natural, built and virtual environments in a series of fast-paced lectures abbreviated from talks previously delivered at scholarly gatherings around the world. The 2014 symposium includes invited or refereed presentations and papers from the 2013-14 academic year.

"The individual sessions comprising the symposium display a wide range of scholarship with respect to people and place," said Louis G. Tassinary, executive associate dean for the College of Architecture. "Fundamentally, the sessions reflect themes that have emerged in the work of the faculty and research staff over the past year."

Approximately 50 presentations divided into diverse categories will be delivered in several concurrent sessions throughout the day, grouped in broad categories including sustainability, resilience, heritage, management, and pedagogy.

The event is open to the public and there is no fee, but due to limited seating registration is required. A continental breakfast, lunch and refreshments will be served to all symposium registrants. Classes at the college are cancelled so students can attend the presentations.

Highlighting the faculty presentations will be an 11:30 a.m. keynote address in Preston Geren Auditorium featuring Jutta Friedrichs, Sandra Richter and Nan Zhao, who founded the startup, Changing Environments, to develop smart, solar-powered public spaces catering to mobile devices users.

One of their creations, the Soofa, is solar-powered park bench that charges cell phones, monitors noise levels, air quality and weather and wirelessly uploads the collected data to the in Internet. So far, seven Soofas have been placed in public areas in Boston.

A Soofa was touted by the Wall Street Journal as one of the highlights of a June 2014 exhibition of tech inventions hosted by the White House. At the event, Richter provided a demonstration of the Soofa’s capabilities to President Obama.

“We’re all from Germany, where solar energy is very popular,” said Richter, the startup’s chief executive. “We were thinking about how we can change public opinion to accept more solar … and start a dialogue about air quality and renewable energy in cities.”

The college’s annual symposium was established to underscore the influence of research on teaching and practice. It also serves as a catalyst for research-informed teaching in the College of Architecture's degree programs. And, because many of the presentations were originally delivered at scholarly venues abroad, the event also showcases the global influence of research conducted by college faculty.

The schedule of presentations will be posted when available.