First Fridays @ Fusion Studio

First Fridays @ Fusion Studio one-hour virtual workshops provide a monthly opportunity to discuss emerging trends in technology in the entertainment industry, engage with industry experts and practitioners, and explore scholarly works.

To register for an upcoming First Friday, click here.

Entertainment, Engineering, and Internships!

Join us in the Fusion Studio with Reilley O’Loughlin (’25) and Mason Nichols (’25) as they share their experiences completing engineering-based internships with Walt Disney Company and Universal Studios.

Reilley O’Loughlin is a student at Purdue University studying Construction Engineering and Management with a minor in Building Information Modeling. She has spent the last two summers interning with the Walt Disney Company in various roles, and will be returning this summer as a Construction Management Intern for Walt Disney Imagineering.

Mason Nichols is a student in Construction Engineering Management at Purdue University. He specializes in themed entertainment construction and entertainment facility design. Mason is a member of the class of 2025 and has recently completed internships working with Disney and Universal in the Orlando area.

There will be a Q&A following the discussion.

Register for this event here.

The Use and Ethics of AI in Entertainment

Join us in the Fusion Studio on December 1 as we talk with Erica Bondarev Rapach and Eric Sampson to discuss how AI is being used now in the entertainment industry, how it might be used in the future, and some of the ethical considerations that might come into play as this technology evolves.

Erica Bondarev Rapach is the founder of, an ideation-stage startup building a brand at the intersection of art, tech, style, and sustainable fashion. She is also an Ambassador for .ART, a global Industry 4.0 team promoting a top-level domain and registry that is bridging Web2 and Web3.

Eric Sampson is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Purdue University. He specializes in Ethics and regularly teaches courses in the Ethics of Artificial Intelligence, Business Ethics, Political Philosophy, and PPE (Philosophy, Politics, and Economics).

There will be a Q&A following this presentation!

Register for this event here.

Behind the Scenes with Sky Elements Drone Shows

Join us on November 3 as we talk with Sky Elements Drone Shows about working with students from Purdue University to develop a custom drone show for new student orientation!

“Sky Elements is a high-technology aerial entertainment company. Telling stories with light and sound, using the sky as our canvas, it is our goal to bring quality aerial light shows to the United States.”

Register for this event here.

Inclusive Design of Immersive Entertainment with Kathryn Woodcock

Join Kathryn Woodcock, Toronto Metropolitan University THRILL Lab, as she discusses participation in amusement attractions and draws lessons for eligibility analysis and inclusive design of immersive entertainment using human factors engineering (and discusses a little bit of what your disabled audience would like you to know!) followed by Q&A / discussion.

Dr. Kathryn Woodcock is Professor at Toronto Metropolitan University, involved in unique extracurricular training, research, and knowledge mobilization activities focused on human factors of amusement rides and attractions pertaining to guests, operators, and inspectors. Passionate about engaging the next generation of professionals, Dr. Woodcock produces and directs the TMU Thrill Design Competition presented by Universal Creative for interdisciplinary postsecondary student teams, and is a frequent presenter at industry education seminars particularly focusing on Human Factors and Accessibility and Inclusion topics. A registered Professional Engineer, Canadian Certified Professional Ergonomist, Fellow of the Association of Canadian Ergonomists, and IAAPA Certified Attraction Executive, Dr. Woodcock is the longest tenured Deaf professor in Canada and was the first Deaf woman to receive a PhD in Engineering.

Register for this event here.

Sky Elements Drone Shows with Rick Boss and Preston Ward

Join Rick Boss, Head of Business Development, and Preston Ward, Chief Pilot and General Counsel of Sky Elements Drone Shows as they discuss what it takes to develop, produce, and perform a high-technology drone performance. “Telling stories with light and sound, using the sky as our canvas, it is our goal to bring quality aerial light shows to the United States.”

View a recording of this event here.

The Engineering Behind Entertainment with Jeff Reder

Join the Co-Founder of Clark Reder Engineering, Jeff Reder, as he speaks about the ties between engineering and entertainment, drawing from his personal design experience with entertainment structures.

Join us as Jeff speaks about his experience with the Superbowl (47-49 and 51), ESPN Winter and Summer X Games, Coachella, Electric Zoo Festival, Delaware State Fair concert roof and stage, and more!

View a recording of this event here.

Development and Evolution of Show Controls and its Impact on Modern Storytelling with John Huntington

Join John Huntington, author of Show Networks and Control Systems and recently retired from CityTech @ CUNY, as he shares his research on the development history of show technologies.

John Huntington led the audio, live video, and network/control areas for many years as a Professor of Entertainment Technology at New York City College of Technology, part of CUNY. Through his company Zircon Designs, he freelances as an author, entertainment and show control systems consultant, and sound engineer. Show Networks and Control Systems is the industry standard text, first published in 1994 as Control Systems for Live Entertainment and revised in 2000, 2007, and 2017. He is also an award-winning photographer and storm chaser.

View a recording of this event here.

Robot Dancers & Droid Domes: Using Pop Culture and the Arts to Engage Students in STEM Learning

Join Denise Szecsei of the University of Iowa and Josh Montgomery of Southern State Community College as they share their exciting approaches to engaging students in STEM learning! Watch as we stream Denise’s robot performers in her Robot Theatre in Iowa; on campus at Purdue try your hand at programming the lights and movement of a miniature R2-D2 dome from Star Wars!

Denise Szecsei teaches math and computer science at the University of Iowa. She has been involved in iOS app development and has collaborated on several interdisciplinary research projects related to public health. She is actively engaged in integrating computer science and the performing arts through her project in Robot Theater; as part of this work, participants program NAO humanoid robots, choreograph dance routines, write theatrical scripts that the robots then perform, and create staged performances for live audiences.

Dr. Joshua Montgomery is a Computer Science Professor at Southern State Community College & Adjunct Instructor at Southern New Hampshire University. He is the inventor of the Droid Builders Mini-Dome, a teaching tool used to instruct students in electronics and coding by using a 50% scaled 3D printed R2-D2 dome that can be programmed to blink lights, move motors and play sounds. This project is now supported, funded and powered by the Grant Imahara Foundation. The foundation has purchased supplies and materials for 102 students to build 72 domes for the 2021/2022 school year so students can complete the Grant Imahara Coding Challenge. This coding challenge is a supported initiative by the Ohio Coders Project and will help to further those students understanding of both electronics and coding.

View a recording of this event here.

The Future of Large Scale Solutions – Show Control: Thinking Outside the Box with Jason Pontius

Join Jason Pontius, Director of Operations of Smart Monkeys, in the Fusion Studio for a discussion about the future of automation technology and controls integration for live entertainment. Jason will share some basics about this field and then engage attendees in a conceptual integration/system design case study.

Jason Pontius has over 30 years of experience in the technical entertainment industry, specializing in show control, audio, lighting, video, and software development. He co-founded ShowSys, a company providing show control and advanced technical systems, in 2002. In 2008 ShowSys became part of FUNA International where Jason held the position of Engineering Manager overseeing many land-based and cruise ship projects, both domestically and internationally. Jason joined Smart Monkeys in June of 2016 as Senior Manager and participated in the design, management, and deployment of large-scale projects. He has since moved into the role of Director of Operations and oversees our team of project engineers and the deployment of projects.

Smart Monkeys, Inc. is a forward-thinking technical consulting firm specializing in providing consulting, design, programming, and project management services for show control, media management, and AV networks in the entertainment industry. Smart Monkeys, Inc. is the leading expert in show and media control and has contributed to some of the most well-known entertainment projects around the world.

View a recording of this event here.

3D Scanning Our Stagecraft Heritage with JR Luker

Join us in the Fusion Studio as we chat with JR Norman Luker about his work using 3D scanning technologies to create digital models of historic theatres.

JR Norman Luker (he, him) is a Technical Director and Scenic Designer with decades of professional experience in Live Events and Theatre/Film/TV Production. JR is an artist-educator currently on tenure track at Cal State Fullerton as Faculty Technical Director. He is passionate about the rich heritage of Stagecraft and the evolution of entertainment technologies.

View a recording of this event here.

Behind the Scenes with TAIT: Exploring Control System Designs

In this session led by Ben Gasper, Technical Sales Manager, and Adam Piotrowski, Senior Control Systems Designer, we will take a walk through TAIT’s control system design and their approach to each customer’s needs and safety requirements.

There will be time for questions from attendees at the end of this discussion.

View a recording of this event here.

Disney’s DAHA: Design Assurance and Hazard Assessment
featuring Eric Hall

With millions of attendees annually, safety has to be a priority at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. To assure projects meet their high standards, they follow a unique Design Assurance/Hazard Assessment protocol (DAHA). Join us in the Fusion Studio as we discuss Disney’s DAHA risk management protocols with Eric Hall, Technical Director with Disney Live Entertainment.

There will be time for questions from attendees at the end of this discussion.

View a recording of this event here.

Gamification of Performance: A Chat with David Carpenter of Gamiotics, Inc.

Join us in the Fusion Studio as we discuss the gamification of performance with David Carpenter of Gamiotics, Inc.

David Carpenter has worked in live entertainment for over 20 years. He produced the record breaking 3 year run of Puffs or Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic off-Broadway and in Melbourne, Australia. Puffs was the 8th most produced show in America last year. He also was the lead producer for the Broadway return of the international hit Slava’s Snowshow in 2019 which received a NY Times Critics Pick. He’s been nominated for a Tony Award as a Co-Producer on the Broadway revival of Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune. He is the Founder and CEO of Gamiotics, Inc., the only software solution for live entertainment that connects audiences and content with zero hassle.

There will be time for questions from attendees at the end of this discussion.

View a recording of this event here.

Meet the Winning Team from the 2021 Stage Machine Design Competition

Join us in the Fusion Studio as we chat with the winning team from the 2021 Stage Machine Design Competition!

The Stage Machine Design Competition brings together theatre technology students from colleges and universities to share the excitement of designing and building the machines that bring stage effects to life. The competition celebrates the design journey that leads from inception to prototype, and seeks to inspire the next generation of mechanical designers and engineers who will invent new experiences for live entertainment. The 2021 competition saw 18 students on five teams from four universities compete to design the best dart launcher for a archeologist-adventurer themed escape room, with categories including best proposal, most elegant implementation, most effective device, and more.

Learn more about the Stage Machine Design Competition at

There will be time for questions from attendees at the end of this discussion.

View a recording of this event here.

Timing, Latency, and Live Performance

We are joined this month by Catherine Skokan and Robert Klimek from Colorado School of Mines (CSM) as they discuss the challenges of latency and timing in real-time performance. Q&A to follow. Catherine Skokan is an associate professor emerita of geophysical engineering at CSM and a musician who has played violin with the CSM orchestra, bassoon with the CSM band, and erhu with the CSM Chinese ensemble. Robert Klimek is a teaching professor at CSM, musician, composer, and clinician in ethnomusicology. He is the director of the Music and Performing Arts program at CSM.

There will be time for questions from attendees at the end of this discussion.

View a recording of this event here.

Wellness, Productivity, and the Entertainment Industry: A Conversation with Brian MacInnis Smallwood

Join us in the Fusion Studio as we chat with Brian MacInnis Smallwood as we talk about the importance of mental, physical, and emotional well being in the entertainment industry. Brian is the author of Productivity Through Wellness for Live Entertainment and Theatre Technicians: Increasing Productivity, Avoiding Burnout, and Maximizing the Value of An Hour, and is an associate professor and production manager for James Madison University’s School of Theatre and Dance.

There will be time for questions from attendees at the end of this discussion.

Brian MacInnis Smallwood has project managed as a Technical Director and Production Manager for dozens of Off and Off-Off Broadway companies. He co-founded a production company called No Time for Love Productions, with clients like the Ma-Yi Theater Company, New York Musical Festival, New York Photo Festival, and Second Stage. He graduated from the Yale School of Drama in 2013 with an MFA in Technical Design and Production. Brian’s research interests include structural engineering for production and increasing productivity through employee wellness. Brian serves as the Director of Operation & Production for the South Dakota Shakespeare Festival; he is also pursuing his Ph.D. at the James Madison University School of Strategic Leadership Studies.

View a recording of this this event here.

Collaborating Across Communities: Updates on the 2021 Symposium on Education in Entertainment and Engineering

Join Dr. Mary Pilotte, Co-Director of the Fusion Studio, Dr. Lori Sipe, Associate Professor, Hospitality and Tourism Management, San Diego State University and Chair of the Symposium Committee for the Themed Experience & Attractions Academic Society (TEAAS), and Professor Peter Weishar, Director of Themed Experience Graduate Program, University of Central Florida and Chair of the Steering Committee for TEAAS, as we showcase our plans for collaborating across communities for this year’s SEEE 2021 event!

The Symposium for Education in Entertainment and Engineering (SEEE) is an annual event hosted by Purdue University’s Fusion Studio for Entertainment and Engineering, whose mission is to share advances, challenges, and trends in curricular design, instructional design, academic research, and cross-disciplinary work at the intersection of engineering and live entertainment. Symposium topics traditionally explore the interstitial spaces amongst the disciplines of engineering, theatre technology, and education.

With the Fusion Studio mission of building bridges between many academic and professional cultures and practices, this First Friday discussion will share how the Fusion Studio and TEAAS partnership for the 2021 SEEE is a force multiplier for revitalizing community connections and widely distributing innovations.

Review presentation slides here.

Smoke and Mirrors? Art, Engineering, & Science: Acoustics for Entertainment Projects featuring David Schwind

Join us for a conversation with David Schwind, acoustical engineer and consultant, as he presents a talk entitled “Smoke and Mirrors? Art, Engineering, & Science: Acoustics for Entertainment Projects,” during which he will share a number of highlights from his long and interesting career. Q&A to follow.

David has left the world of employment and is currently enjoying life in Northern California. He spent 44 years as an acoustical consultant; the last 34 years were at Salter, in San Francisco, and 20 years as a partner at Salter. David’s professional expertise includes room acoustics, acoustics sound isolation, and noise and vibration reduction of building systems. Projects ranged from comprehensive consulting on design and construction to peer review, feasibility studies, and facility programming.

Significant projects David has worked on include Skywalker Ranch Technical Building, Walt Disney Concert Hall, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Broadcast Studios for KQED, Grammy Museum, Sufism Reoriented worship space, Acoustical lab facilities for various tech companies. David holds a BSE in Interdisciplinary Engineering (Acoustics & Electronics) from Purdue University, and is a member of the Audio Engineering Society, Acoustical Society of America, Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers, Institute of Noise Control Engineers, and National Council of Acoustical Consultants.

Watch the recording here.

Get to Know a Professional: Kimberly Corbett Oates

Join us for a conversation with Kimberly Corbett Oates (ASTC) from Schuler Shook. In this informal discussion, we will discuss her career, her passion for engineering, and explore some of her favorite projects. Q&A to follow.

Kimberly’s introduction to the stage was as a young dancer, but it was the magical “dance” backstage that became her passion. Her technical and production background in theatre and music contributes to her understanding of how these spaces function for the people who call them home. She collaborates with architects, team members, and stakeholders to create functional facilities that serve their communities well into the future. Kimberly continues to participate in the theatre community, working as a designer and technician. She is a member of USITT where she is active in the Engineering and Architecture Commissions. Kimberly represents Schuler Shook on several ESTA Technical Standards Program working groups.

Significant projects Kimberly has worked on include the Moody Performance Hall in Dallas, Texas; the Buddy Holly Hall of Performing Arts and Sciences in Lubbock, Texas; the MGM Grand at Foxwoods in Mashantucket, Connecticut. Kimberly holds an MFA from Yale School of Drama.

Watch the recording here.

From Concept to Reality: The New Product Engineering Design Process for a new Rigging Control System at Wenger/JR Clancy | December 4, 2020, 12:00 PM EST

Dale Hourlland, Engineering Manager, and Patrick Finn, Product Manager, join us in the Fusion Studio to discuss the new product design engineering process at Wenger/JR Clancy. Wenger/JR Clancy have offered sound, stage, and storage solutions together since their merger in 2011 and as individual companies for a combined total of over 150 years. Dale and Patrick will share how the idea for two new rigging control pendants evolved into Vantis, with the aim of being ergonomically-friendly and intuitive touch-screen control devices.

Watch the recording here.

Themed Experiences and Attractions: A Conversation with Peter Weishar of TEAAS | November 6, 2020, 12:00 PM EST

Peter Weishar, Professor of Themed Experience and Program Director of the Themed Experience MFA track at the University of Central Florida, serves as head of the Steering Committee for the Themed Experiences and Attractions Academic Society. Join us as Professor Weishar shares his experience and knowledge of the themed attractions industry and the academic programs that have grown to prepare students for careers within it.

Watch the recording here.

Perfecting Your Proposal: Turning an Idea into a Conference Abstract | October 2, 2020, 12:00 pm EDT

Developing a proposal for a conference presentation and an abstract for a scholarly paper can be daunting. Join Dr. Mary Pilotte and Professor Rich Dionne, co-directors of the Fusion Studio for Entertainment and Engineering, for a discussion about potential paper/presentation topics and how to turn your initial ideas into effective and informative proposals/abstracts.

Watch the recording here.