Cockrell School @ SXSW 2013

Presenting cutting-edge concepts and showcasing expertise, Cockrell School of Engineering faculty, staff and students played significant roles in Austin’s annual South by Southwest festival.

Presenting cutting-edge concepts and showcasing expertise, Cockrell School of Engineering faculty, staff and students played significant roles in Austin’s annual South by Southwest festival. At SXSW 2013, Cockrell School was represented in workshops, on panels at SXSWedu and SXSW Interactive (SXSWi) and at networking events.

cockrell at sxsw

Clockwise from top: Students mingle at the Burnt Orange Breakfast, hosted by the Cockrell School. Assistant professor Todd Humphreys presents at SXSW Interactive. Professor of innovation Bob Metcalfe serves as emcee of the SXSW Accelerator.

Tricia Berry, director of the Women in Engineering Program (WEP), along with WEP’s Didey Muniz, kicked off the week as hosts of a SXSWedu workshop, where they presented educators with activities and methods to teach basic science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) concepts to all learners. From the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics, assistant professor Todd Humphreys sat on a SXSWedu panel that discussed the use of drones in classroom learning.

At SXSWi, Humphreys captivated a large audience with his presentation on security and precision limitations of GPS technology and the role of artificial intelligence. Students from his Radionavigation Lab demoed equipment during the talk. Cockrell School professor of innovation Bob Metcalfe rounded out Cockrell School representation, serving as emcee of the SXSW Accelerator’s second day, where 18 startup companies pitched their ideas and winners were announced.

In a new venture this year, the Cockrell School helped bring 90 of the brightest young minds in technology from across the United States to SXSW Interactive by sponsoring Interact ATX — created by students at The University of Texas at Austin. The group of high school students, undergraduates and graduate students represented such impressive schools as MIT, Stanford, University of California at Berkeley, Carnegie Mellon, Rice and University of Pennsylvania, to name a few. The Cockrell School and the Longhorn Startup Class and Camp welcomed the students to the Forty Acres with a Burnt Orange Breakfast to begin their SXSWi weekend.

UT Engineering Shows Hospitality to Student Entrepreneurs

What happens when you bring 90 of the brightest young minds from across the U.S. together with like-minded students from The University of Texas at Austin during SXSWi? One UT senior, Maran Nelson, dared to answer that question — and her answer was Interact ATX.

Created by an energetic team of UT students, Interact ATX is a community of the top young tech entrepreneurs — high school students, undergraduates and graduate students — from around the country. Nelson, a psychology major, joined forces with the Cockrell School student organization Technology Entrepreneurship Society to bring the concept to fruition, including raising more than $50,000 from sponsors to help pay for travel and SXSWi badges for the group. The Cockrell School and the Longhorn Startup Class and Camp helped sponsor the group.

To kick off their weekend, the Cockrell School of Engineering hosted the students for a Burnt Orange Breakfast in the Engineering Teaching Center (ETC) T Room, where Interact ATX attendees mingled with each other and Cockrell School faculty and staff. The group was welcomed by Dean Gregory L. Fenves and professor of innovation Bob Metcalfe. Metcalfe offered a sports-style pep talk, relating the creation of innovative tech startups to football. Everyone has important positions, or roles, to play and every startup needs a quarterback. Dean Fenves pointed out that Metcalfe would then serve as the startup coach.

The breakfast included tours of the ETC 3-D printing labs, given by mechanical engineering associate professor Carolyn Seepersad and her students. 3-D printing was a hot topic at SXSWi and the students were fascinated to learn that the roots of this technology trace back to the very place of their tour.

Following the breakfast, the students had the opportunity to showcase their business ideas at the Capital Factory, a co-working space for Austin tech startups, led by Longhorn Startup Class co-instructor Joshua Baer.

“Given the relationships that were made and the groundwork we’ve already done,” Interact ATX founder Nelson said, “I am so tremendously excited to get to put this together again in the future.”

Interact ATX in the News

Forbes: Access to Austin for Young Entrepreneurs, March 5, 2013

Silicon Hills News: Flying High with Interact ATX, March 10, 2013

Burnt Orange Breakfast Sound Bites

View sound bites from Interact ATX students who attended the Burnt Orange Breakfast, hosted by the Cockrell School. Watch on YouTube.