Attendees will be able to play with electronic instruments at STEAM Fest on March 13. Photo: Stephen Cook.
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Event to showcase crossover between departments and skills

“I’ve always described it as like robot marshmallows,” says Julian Bertino.

Beside him, classically-trained pianist and fellow music graduate student Kassey Demurs sets up what looks like a grey keyboard — if a keyboard were made of silicone and was touch-sensitive.

“Another really cool thing about the synthesizer is it also runs through Bluetooth,” she adds, iPad at the ready. The sounds that emit from the electronic ROLI are near limitless, with new soundscapes available at the tap of an app.

With Bertino on a German drum machine (plus a few other toys), the two ambassadors for the music library’s Creator Space will give students the chance to craft their own synthetic spectacle with a display on March 13. But the electronic instrument petting zoo is only one part of STEAM Fest, a full-day event showcasing the potential for collaboration between Arts and STEM (Sciences, Technology, Engineering and Mechanics).

Organized by the club of the same name (Arts+STEM=STEAM), STEAM Fest will include a showcase of interdisciplinary projects plus talks throughout the day on topics as far and wide as the art of chemistry to theatre performance in video games to how music helps programming.

Bringing the two worlds together is the reason the club exists, explained co-presidents Ibrahim Chohan and Candide Uyanze.

“One of the reasons we think STEAM is really important is to kind of get students from the STEM and arts faculties out there and doing something that’s different,” said Chohan, a third-year engineering student. “Because people always tend to look at STEM and arts as being very distinct and that makes things very stagnant — it doesn’t allow for innovation, it doesn’t allow people to think creatively.”

STEAM Fest could be the first step for many attendees to cross the invisible boundary between arts and sciences.

“I’m hoping that maybe they can make new connections, maybe they can be inspired by one of the talks that they saw and … look into it further, apply it to their own field,” said Uyanze.

Uyanze, in her fourth year of a communications and digital humanities degree, said an event like STEAM Fest gives people from across disciplines the rare prospect just to meet one another.

“I don’t really feel like there’s really a lot of opportunities for that, except for maybe this club,  for example, where I’m meeting people from different fields.”

For Demurs at the Creator Space, this is just the point — getting people from outside music to find their collaborative space, which offers software and electronic instruments as well as the workshops on how to use them.

“It’s great because it shows off different faculties and what they have to offer,” she said. “So it’s really great even for us because the Creator Space is relatively new so it gives us the opportunity to show what we do and who we are and where we are.”

STEAM Fest will run 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the STEM Complex on March 13. Attendance is free but requires a ticket, available through the STEAM Fest web page, Facebook, or Eventbrite. Food and refreshments will be provided.


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