Ada Lovelace Day Webinars
Ada Lovelace Day 2022 was held on Tuesday 12 October, and we held three fabulous webinars for you, which you can catch up with here.
Engineering – Solving Problems for Real People
Engineering is the science of problem solving, and we have some pretty big problems in front of us. So how are engineers tackling the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change? And how do they stay focused on the impact of their engineering solutions on people and communities?
In partnership with STEM Wana Trust, we joined Renée Young, associate mechanical engineer at Beca, Victoria Clark, senior environmental engineer at Beca, Natasha Mudaliar, operations manager at Reliance Reinforcing, and Sujata Roy, system planning engineer at Transpower, for a fascinating conversation about the challenges and opportunities of engineering.
Fusing Tech & Art in Games
The Technical Artist is a new kind of role in the games industry, but the possibilities for those who create and merge art and technology is endless. So what is tech art? And how are tech artists pushing the boundaries and creating new experiences for players?
Ada Lovelace Day and Ukie’s #RaiseTheGame joined tech artist Kristrun Fridriksdottir, Jodie Azhar, technical art director at Silver Rain Games, Emma Roseburgh from Avalanche Studios, and Laurène Hurlin from Pixel Toys for our tech art webinar.
The Science of Hypersleep
Hypersleep is a common theme in science fiction, but what does science have to say about putting humans into suspended animation? What can we learn from hibernating animals? What’s the difference between hibernation and sleep? What health impacts would extended hypersleep have?
Ada Lovelace Day and the Arthur C. Clarke Award joined science fiction author Anne Charnock, Prof Gina Poe, an expert on the relationship between sleep and memory, Dr Anusha Shankar, who studies torpor in hummingbirds, and Prof Kelly Drew, who studies hibernation in squirrels, for a discussion of whether hypersleep in humans is possible.
Engineering – Solving Problems for Real People
Renée is an associate mechanical engineer, project manager, boxer and coach. She is passionate about the empowerment of women through community and support to break through gender industry boundaries within construction, STEM and the sport of boxing.
In her 15yrs experience throughout the Asia Pacific and North American construction market, under representation of strong female leaders in top executive roles ignited a passion for further engagement within the early years of young women. Whether it’s through Mana Enhancing Self Defense Workshops for at risk girls living through trauma or educational engagement promoting females in STEM outreach programmes; Renée’s mantra is to give back to her Wāhine Toa and strengthen us all.
Victoria is a senior Environmental Engineer with over seven years’ experience in three waters engineering. Victoria graduated from the University of Canterbury, following which she worked as part of the Canterbury earthquake rebuild team (SCIRT). Victoria’s primary focus is on stormwater design with experience ranging from high-level and detailed design of pipe networks to treatment systems to attenuation devices.
Key projects Victoria has worked on include Ngā Puna Wai sports facility in Christchurch, flood management work for Waimakariri District Council, and more recently Takitimu Northern Link in Tauranga. In 2018 Victoria spent six months volunteering in the Cook Islands. Her role was to help improve water supply systems in the Pa Enua, which involved providing technical assistance and stakeholder engagement. She recently moved north to Tauranga where she is now based.
Natasha Mudaliar is a passionate civil engineer with a BE(Hons) from the University of Auckland. She has been in industry for just over 2.5 years and has worked for some of NZ’s largest construction and consultancy firms, such as Fletcher construction and Opus (now known as WSP).
Following completion of her degree, she started her career as a Graduate Transportation Design Engineer at WSP and quickly worked her way up to becoming a Transport Design Engineer. She has played an active role in high performance alliance project teams and soon enough was given the responsibility to own and look after design packages, taking them from 50% detailed design to issue for construction.
Her experience grew in roading and roadside feature design, including walking and cycling facilities. With a number of major projects under her belt, she became the operations manager at Reliance Reinforcing, the family business. Reliance Reinforcing are a start to end rebar company, providing full service for customers, including carrying out measures, detailing, cutting, bending, prefabbing and placing of reinforcing steel.
Sujata studied at Epsom Girls’ Grammar School in Auckland after which she pursued an engineering degree in electrical and electronics engineering at University of Auckland. She was inspired by a group of women from the Women In Engineering network who convinced her that engineering was a way to serve society using mathematics and science.
Sujata worked briefly in the electronics field with electronics of household appliances, before choosing to specialise in power systems. Sujata Roy has worked in the power systems field at Transpower for almost 7 years, including the last 5 years as a system planning engineer.
Sujata is passionate about communicating complex information in a simple manner and improving user experience by understanding their needs through design thinking techniques. She had an idea to communicate planning information in a quick and interactive way, so Sujata drove the development of the public visualisation tool ‘TPR Envision’. She is currently driving the development of another visualisation tool- ‘Envision Opportunities’- which will indicate to new generators and load connections where there is capacity and system strength available.
Sujata is a board member of Young Energy Professionals Network, and is active in the industry network which aims at giving young professionals opportunities to network with industry leaders and hosts seminars. She recently organised the panel session on ‘energy poverty’, a social justice cause within the energy sector.
About STEM Wana Trust
STEM Wana Trust is a registered charity in Aotearoa, New Zealand, that works to promote awareness of opportunities in STEM to young people and their whānau (families) through community events, collaborations and meaningful partnerships. It runs a portfolio of community based projects and events, including the award winning Tauranga STEM Festival (STEMFest) and other STEM outreach initiatives.
Fusing Tech & Art in Games
In games, Kristrun’s experience ranges from start-up games studios to well established AAA studios. Outside of games, Kristrun has worked in commercials, apps, animation, film and as a university teacher. Working in departments ranging from 3D modelling, rigging and technical art. With three degrees in IT, games and anatomy, working as a technical artist allows Kristrun to utilize all three degrees.The wide range of skillset, art to programming transfers well to tech art. Now, Kristrun has recently started up her own games studio, and is currently hard at work building the company’s first prototype. In her spare time, Kristrun founded a non profit, organizing free to attend games industry events.
Jodie Azhar is the Technical Art Director at Silver Rain Games working on their as yet unannounced debut title. She is also an indie developer creating narrative driven games at her own company Teazelcat Games.
Prior to this she spent a decade working as a technical artist at various game development studios in the UK including Kuju, Rebellion, and as the Technical Art Director for the Total War franchise. These roles have seen her work on many different areas of technical art including pipeline development, tool development, shader authoring, procedural animation and rigging.
She’s an award winning developer and was a BAFTA Breakthrough in 2016. Her commitment to supporting and enabling current and future game developers and creating an inclusive industry has led to her involvement with BAFTA as a member of both their Games Committee and Learning, Inclusion, and Talent Committee, and she’s also a founding member of the games diversity movement POC in Play.
Emma Roseburgh is an Experienced Technical artist at Avalanche Studios in Stockholm. Before moving to Sweden she worked at Rebellion and Splash Damage in England. She has a bachelors degree in 3D Games Art from the University of Hertfordshire. In her third year she realised that she wanted to be involved in the technical side of game development while still putting her knowledge of art to good use and found that technical art suited that role perfectly.
The titles she has worked on include: Dirty Bomb, Gears of War 4 DLC, Gears:Tactics, Gears 5, Zombie Army 4 and a few unannounced projects. As a technical artist a lot of her work has been performance focused but after finding her feet in the role she found her favourite tasks are upkeeping tools involved in the artist pipeline to make the artists job as smooth as possible.
After studying fine arts, Laurène set off to learn the skills to embody that art within computers. This is how they started to focus on real-time 3D rendering, bringing both their art sensibility and their nerdiness to the video games industry. Thus, they started their career in VR/AR and small indie games, to later join bigger projects such as Life Beyond, Twin Mirror and other unannounced titles. Becoming a technical artist felt like the obvious path to them, as they love enabling artists to make all of their visions reality.
Using Houdini was the next step, providing teams with powerful world-building toolsets, used in Life Beyond and other unannounced projects. They also intervene in other areas such as shader and look dev or optimisation, but their most important task will always be supporting their colleagues to do their best work.
About Ukie & #RaiseTheGame
Ukie is the trade association for the UK’s games and interactive entertainment industry; a not-for-profit, representing businesses from micro studios to multinationals, developers, publishers and service companies, working across online, mobile, console, PC, esports and immersive. It’s UKIE’s mission to make the UK the best place to make, sell and play games. You can find out more about UKIE on their website at ukie.org.uk.
The #RaiseTheGame pledge is a holistic driven initiative managed and facilitated by Ukie aimed at helping the overall UK games industry grow and improve in all areas of equality, diversity and inclusivity. From guidance and practical advice to engagement activities like events both online and in-person, the pledge is a call to action to rally the sector together and become lead examples of inclusion to other industries.
Though the pledge is managed by Ukie, any games industry company can applied to sign-up and be involved in activities surrounding the pledge, all that is asked is a strong commitment to make a positive impact, the time to listen and consider along with the effort to implement such change. Even if you’re at the start of your journey or think your company too small to make a difference – all companies no matter their size or where they are in their equality, diversity & inclusion journey are welcome.
Websites: raisethegame.com and ukie.org.uk
The Science of Hypersleep
Anne Charnock’s novel Dreams Before the Start of Time — winner of the Arthur C Clarke Award in 2018 — deals with the science of human reproduction and advances in reproductive technologies including artificial wombs. Her dystopian novels A Calculated Life and Bridge 108 imagine the social and economic fall-out from climate breakdown. A Calculated Life was shortlisted for the Philip K Dick Award. Anne’s novella The Enclave won the British Science Fiction Award in 2017. Her writing career began in science journalism and her articles appeared in The Guardian, New Scientist and the International Herald Tribune. Anne has a degree in Environmental Sciences and an MA in Fine Art.
Prof Gina Poe
Gina Poe is a California native educated and Stanford (BA) and UCLA (PhD Neuroscience) then moving to postdoc with Carol Barnes and Bruce McNaughton in Tucson AZ. Her research forte is mechanistic explanations of how sleep serves memory. In her first faculty position at Washington State University she earned the R01 grant “REM Sleep and Memory” and her first graduate student Theresa Bjorness, both of which she took to the Univ. Michigan.
In 2016 Dr. Poe moved back to a full professor position at UCLA, doing research, teaching, and leading several programs to increase diversity in Neuroscience. Current research projects include how sleep serves the gain of insight, erases extraneous information, differs between male and females, and turns maladaptive in post-traumatic stress disorder. Her lab has 6 PhD students and 2 Postdoctoral Scholars. She and her husband have 4 children and one granddaughter. Her favourite activities include reading great fiction, hiking the hills, watching movies, and singing in her rock band.
Prof Kelly Drew
Kelly Drew is an expert in mammalian hibernation. She studies mechanisms and metabolic adaptations of hibernating mammals. Kelly believes that fundamental knowledge about the nature and behaviour of hibernating mammals has potential to enhance human health and advance technology for deep space exploration.
Kelly’s research group identified a mechanism and drug for inducing hibernation. They are now working to develop this drug for use in humans. Kelly and her group also discovered that nitrogen is recycled during long-winter fasts in hibernating ground squirrels. How the animals do this may hold clues for preventing muscle loss in astronauts and in humans with medical conditions.
Kelly holds a PhD in neuropharmacology from Albany Medical School and completed a post-doctoral fellow at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden before returning to her home state Alaska. She is now a Professor of Biochemistry and Neuroscience and Directs the Center for Transformative Research in Metabolism at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. She is also the founder of Be Cool Pharmaceutics, a small molecule drug discovery biotech company focused on developing drugs to mimic adaptations of hibernation for neurocritical care and other therapeutic applications.
Websites: trimalaska.com and uaf.edu/chem/faculty/kdrew
Dr Anusha Shankar
Anusha Shankar studies hummingbirds as a Rose Postdoctoral Fellow at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. She is fascinated by hummingbirds’ ability to use a hibernation-like state called torpor to save energy at night. She is investigating how they can get cold (to around 10°C or 50°F) and rewarm safely every night, without damaging organs like their hearts and brains.
During her PhD, Anusha captured hummingbird nightlife with infrared video, and before that tracked king cobras and studied giant birds—hornbills—in India. Anusha is also a National Geographic Explorer and Young Leader and loves mentoring students, dancing salsa, bachata, and swing, and reading fiction.
About the Arthur C Clarke Award
The annual Arthur C. Clarke Award is given for the best science fiction novel first published in the United Kingdom during the previous year. The award judges are a voluntary body with members nominated by the award’s supporting organisations, currently the British Science Fiction Association, the Science Fiction Foundation and the Sci-Fi-London film festival.