Double Major Accepted by Four Grad Schools

Katherine Habeck’s art and creative computing degrees, remarkable portfolio capture attention of top grad programs

Grad schools want Katherine Habeck.

A double major graduating in May 2015 with a B.F.A. in art and a B.A. in creative computing, Habeck is in an unusual position: Last winter, she applied to four top graduate schools and all four accepted her.

After much deliberation, Habeck has selected Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Penn., where she will pursue a master’s in human-computer interaction.

“We’re very excited for Katherine,” said Ira Greenberg, director of the Center of Creative Computation (“C3”) at SMU. “She applied to four of the most competitive graduate programs in arts and technology in the country. Her acceptance by all of them is extraordinary, especially since such schools typically only accept people who have been out of undergrad school for a few years.”

In pursuing a graduate degree, Habeck wants to invest more of herself into the craft of coding. “I want to continue researching the implications and applications of computation and other digital tools as an art medium,” she said.

As a Meadows student she built an impressive portfolio. One of her projects was a “World Health-o-Meter,” a digital scale modified with an Arduino (a simple microcontroller board using open-source computing) to display current news headlines and world topics in lieu of someone’s weight. She also devised the “SMH Consent Hat” (“SMH” stands for “Shaking My Head”), which uses an Arduino, an accelerometer and a few red- and green-colored LEDs to illuminate the wearer’s face according to their head movement. If the wearer nods in the affirmative, the light goes green; if the wearer shakes their head side-to-side, the light goes red. The hat reads the nonverbal body language and projects it back onto the wearer.

In addition, she produced a series of audio visualizations created from sounds she collected while exploring Edinburgh, Scotland, and produced a visual series called “Earth Works,” which involved modifying an algorithm used to simulate plant and cellular growth.

Another project, “In the Backyard,” was exhibited last spring at the Dallas Contemporary gallery in the Dallas design district. Using Maya software, she created a complex 3D-modeled landscape inspired by geopolitical issues happening near the Texas-Mexico border. Her images referenced femicide in and around the Ciudad Juarez area, an issue that evolved from the influences of drug cartels, the corruption of local government and the overall challenged status of women in an industrial city with strong patriarchal instincts.

“I have taken so many amazing courses from wonderful and helpful professors at Meadows,” said Habeck, citing courses such as “Nature and Code,” “Postmodern Software Design” and “Responsive Arts” as standouts. “Certainly, Ira Greenberg, Yong Bakos and Brittany Ransom on the creative computation side have been really influential toward my work and my interests. They exposed me to a plethora of processes that involve digital fabrication and software development.” On the art side of the building, she said professors Philip Van Keuren, Noah Simblist and Jay Sullivan gave her a solid foundation of art theory, traditional mediums and a problem-solving, critical mindset.

Assistant Professor of Digital / Hybrid Media + Art Brittany Ransom said Habeck is one of Meadows’ most excellent students. “This is an exciting time for her!” said Ransom. “She's another true case of how the structure of C3 and its interdisciplinary approach will continue to yield great students with infinite possibilities after they graduate.”

After being accepted to four grad schools, Katherine Habeck is headed to Carnegie Mellon for her master’s degree.

Habeck’s portfolio, including the “Health-O-Meter,” caught the attention of grad schools.