Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Santa Farewell

It's been a very successful term here in Santa Fe.  The seven weeks flew by and it was snowing here on this May Day 2010, just like it was when the students first arrived in mid-March.  We had a couple of final dinners at the Cowgirl and at Maria's and everyone flew back home on Sunday.  Nick and I will start our drive back shortly.
Last Thursday, the two WPI teams presented their results at the Santa Fe Complex.  The presentations, which made front page news on the Albuquerque Journal North, were well attended by local city officials (including a city councilwoman), as well as representatives of NGOs, friends of the Complex, and even some WPI officials (former trustee Karen Bean) and alumni (Paul Kalenian).  Mayor Coss, who had already attended a set of preliminary presentations, could not be there in person, but sent a very nice letter instead (click on image).
The first project, that explored the feasibility and desirability of developing a Municipal Electric Infrastructure, received more attention in the press, since the issue has been somewhat controversial over the years.  Our team successfully developed an estimate of the replacement cost for all the components of the Santa Fe grid ($100M), and explored ways in which the city can meet its Sustainable Santa Fe goals.  They concluded that the city could afford to own and operate the local grid with little or no increase in the electrical rates for the citizens and businesses.  It is a solution that could even help attract new businesses to the area, in addition to reducing the city's carbon footprint through the use of renewable sources of energy.  It would open the door to innovation...
The second project, on the redevelopment of Saint Michael's Drive, also received good media attention, especially because of our collaboration with young students from the De Vargas Middle School, with whom the WPI team collected and organized a baseline of GIS layers and other data pertinent to the  redevelopment of St. Michael's Drive.  Using skillful, multi-projector presentations that simulated the potential applications of a fully ambient and interactive room, the students persuasively demonstrated how such a platform would facilitate the process of participatory planning and urban design.  The team succeeded at conveying the feasibility and desirability of an interactive urban platform that would allow city officials, planners, professionals and all citizens to visually assess the socio-economic impacts of specific design choices affecting the physical, economic or regulatory systems within the city.  We hope that this project will convince the city to fund the Complex to develop the first "real" prototype of the Santa Fe Ambient Platform, patterned along the lines of the Venice Table and the sand table applications developed by Simtable, perhaps with a bit of EventFlow, borrowed from the Redfish applications in Florida, San Francisco and the UK.
It's been a nice term overall.  Great weather, as always... Great students!  Good progress on our Bump and NASA DEW projects.  A paper accepted at a "Greece Fire" conference.  Better clarity on the "killer platform" for urban information harvesting.  Great new accommodations with awesome views at Las Vistas on Gonzales.  Great high-altitude exercise regimen!  And I even stopped smoking again.  On April's Fool day a month ago.  It was easy.  Pesce d'Aprile!

I like Santa Fe.  I like the fact that I could go snowshoeing and cross-country skiing just yesterday!  It's nice to be able to extend the snow season until now.
But we have to get back to the East Coast now.  Time to go...
Farewell Santa Fe!  Until the next time... (August maybe?)

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