SATE ’11

I got back from SATE ’11 on Saturday evening, but I have to admit I am still sort of in recovery mode. A lot of information, a lot to do! And I realized, if there is anyone who didn’t follow my website to this blog, I haven’t introduced myself.

My name is Diane Buchwalder, and I just finished up my undergraduate studies in civil engineering. I am starting grad school for architecture in Hawaii, and my dream job would be some sort of design job like museums or amusement parks. I fell in love with it because of COSI‘s Adventure! exhibit. (That’s the really, really brief version– you can find more at

At any rate, since engineering seems so isolated, I have spent my post-graduation summer trying to figure out how to get involved in the field. I was directed to the TEA and IAAPA, and recommended to attend SATE ’11. And I have to say, I was not let down in the least.

I am usually pretty introverted and get nervous easily, especially meeting new people or giving presentations or doing interviews or anything like that, but within the first few hours at SATE I felt relaxed, and was actually enjoying myself.

The community is some of the nicest, friendliest people I have ever met. The first few people I met introduced me to others I should get in contact with, and so forth, and everyone was welcoming and fascinating. I was told the community was rather small and tight-knit, and I don’t doubt it. At times it seemed almost like a large group of friends hanging out rather than just a professional conference, and I had an absolute blast.

Part of that, for me, was the information being presented. After five years of engineering (and a very small handful of art history classes), finally being surrounded by what interests me the most– knowing I’m close to finding my niche– made me incredibly happy. (And I have to say, I’ve never been entertained in an engineering lecture before, even when the subject is interesting.) It was also great to be immersed in the field I’m interested in so that I can learn my way around it– I felt like I was learning a whole new language, but now I feel like I have a good start on being able to find my way around. (Not to mention, I think I took about twenty pages of notes, on interesting concepts and new ideas.)

To everyone I met who might be reading this, thank you for everything. For all your help and kindness, and I hope one day soon to be working with you to make the world a much more interesting place!

In the meantime, I had a brainstorm on Halloween plans on the flight home, and the next (probably many) posts are sure to be about the whole planning and design schemes that go into my Halloween projects. Luckily I have a little over a month, there’s a lot to do!

(Bonus secret trick I learned at the conference for all the women out there who don’t have pockets on their outfits: clippy-style nametags are a great place to stash business cards.)


Technology and Gaming

I have to admit that I have a fondness for getting people to enjoy and get involved in science (making it fun is best!). A really good site, for example, is Science for Citizens, who have a long list of projects people can get involved in, but have also reached out to facebook and phone apps to track wildlife sightings and educate users about what they are seeing as well.

So I was excited to see these two stories show up in my news lately;

The first, a story about how gamers were able to determine the structure of an enzyme of an AIDS-like virus. Some of the highlights:

…[A] microscope gives only a flat image of what to the outsider looks like a plate of one-dimensional scrunched-up spaghetti. Pharmacologists, though, need a 3-D picture that “unfolds” the molecule and rotates it in order to reveal potential targets for drugs.

This is where Foldit comes in.

Developed in 2008 by the University of Washington, it is a fun-for-purpose video game in which gamers, divided into competing groups, compete to unfold chains of amino acids — the building blocks of proteins — using a set of online tools.

To the astonishment of the scientists, the gamers produced an accurate model of the enzyme in just three weeks.

That is the part that is most interesting to me, that despite how fast computers can crunch numbers and data, there are still some things the human brain can do better (in this case, according to the article, spatial reasoning).

The next one is a bit more fun (although I can’t say I played Foldit, so I wouldn’t know); an “altered-reality” combination app/podcast that encourages you to run, while gaining benefits in-game.

That one I am excited for, because I hate running. I rely a lot on hyping myself up different ways, and I have to say, fast-zombie films are one of them. (Rule #1: Cardio.)

So! Not the best post I’ve ever written, but I’m a bit anxious for my upcoming adventures at SATE 2011! Probably coming up next… putting together the sound effect system for my Halloween costume’s prop.


Welcome to the blog of Diane Buchwalder. Sorry for the lack of content at the moment (brand new blog!), updates are forthcoming!