media release

Growing high-tech creativity – SIAT turns 10

October 08, 2013

Andrea Barbera, SIAT communications, 778/782/2250;
Marianne Meadahl, PAMR, 778.782.9017;

Photos (from files):
(Michael Cheng/The Next 36)
(Jay Vidyarthi/Sonic Cradle)
(Diane Gromala/pain lab)
(West House)

The longest running program at Simon Fraser University’s Surrey campus turns 10 this fall.

The School of Interactive Arts and Technology (SIAT) is celebrating a decade of teaching, research and community outreach that continues to keep its profile high and student numbers rising. The school, which had early roots in programs at the former Tech BC, was officially named a year after the Surrey campus opened in 2002.

The school recognized its 1,000th graduate in June and celebrations continue with a series of special events, culminating with a gala on Oct. 25.

"The School of Interactive Arts and Technology is an exciting place to be for any ambitious scholar or student,” says Marek Hatala, SIAT’s director. “Of course, being a new school that grew to over 800 majors and 115 graduate students in 10 years brings many challenges.

“The dynamic nature of the program, strong drive and success of our faculty and students in a field that is rapidly changing, makes everyone in SIAT optimistic about the next 10 years.”

SIAT’s faculty members are leaders in their research fields, Hatala adds. “This, along with strong industry partnerships, allows us to continually improve our curriculum to make our graduates ready for successful careers in jobs that may not be well defined today."

The school is well known for forging high-tech creativity, with its programs preparing students to play a leading role in "the conception of new media and the design of inventive technologies".

That has been exemplified in student projects like the meditative Sonic Cradle and an assortment of “wearable” technology projects, and in faculty research, from the design of interactive learning tables for children (Youtopia) to the development of “virtual” pain-management tools.

Researchers in the prolific school have even uncovered the secret of how Rembrandt painted, explored the possibilities of endowing machines with creative behaviour, and used big data analysis to make aircraft safer.

The school has also played an integral role in high-profile community initiatives such as West House, an energy-producing livable home created by SIAT faculty, Fortis BC, and a host of sustainable businesses. Together with the City of Vancouver, it was unveiled during the 2010 Olympics.

Two SIAT students were chosen to participate in the first two years of a national entrepreneurial initiative called The Next 36. Michael Cheng and Jessica Fan have each spent a year with students from across the country using $95,000 in start-up funds to create new companies. The program’s goal is to turn the country’s top students into Canada’s most successful future business innovators.

The school has been marking the year with workshops, special lectures and other events, such as a recent industry “mixer.” It is also hosting a Creatives-of-the-Year competition, which involves student teams creating design “interventions” that solve everyday situations.

The teams will make presentations to a panel of industry judges that include Bill Tam, President and CEO of the British Columbia Technology Industry Association. The competition winner will be revealed at the 10th anniversary gala on Oct. 25, along with a number of other awards and presentations commemorating SIAT’s milestone anniversary.

Simon Fraser University is Canada's top-ranked comprehensive university and one of the top 50 universities in the world under 50 years old. With campuses in Vancouver, Burnaby and Surrey, B.C., SFU engages actively with the community in its research and teaching, delivers almost 150 programs to more than 30,000 students, and has more than 120,000 alumni in 130 countries.


Simon Fraser University: Engaging Students. Engaging Research. Engaging Communities.

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