With the support of the Computer Science and Visual and Performing Arts Departments at Merrimack Professors Christopher S. Stuetzle, Ph.D, and Dan Vlahos, MFA developed an experiential and interdisciplinary course entitled Design and Development of Interactive Experiences. Their project was an expansion of an Interdisciplinary Institute Micro-Grant supported Directed Study they ran in the Spring of 2019. Students from the two departments came together to propose, design, develop, and deploy an “interactive experience.” Stuetzle and Vlahos define “interactive experiences” as pieces of software and/or hardware that allow users to dynamically interact with data, content, or each other. An interactive experience could be an app, application, game, web site, or digital art installation. In the 2019 Directed Study, Stuetzle and Vlahos worked with four undergraduate students, two from Graphic Design and two from Computer Science. Over the course of a semester, the four-member student team worked to conceive, design, and build an interactive iOS application called Rove. As of this writing, the Rove app has been submitted to Apple for approval.
Through the project, Stuetzle and Vlahos also hope to chip away at the long standing problem of diversifying the design and computer science professions. “A focus on project-based courses with real-world ties will hopefully help attract and retain women and minorities in the disciplines,” the Professors say. The second iteration of the team-taught course will be offered in 2021 or 2022 and will allow for up to four or more teams of up to four students to develop projects simultaneously.