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December 2011 Archives

If you've been on a campus visit to the University of Minnesota this year, then you have may have noticed that Northrop Memorial Auditorium is currently under construction. In February 2011, construction workers began to deconstruct the delicate building. The renovations that will be completed in August 2013 will make Northrop more usable for the events and needs of the University or Minnesota campus. As the second most recognized icon in Minnesota, it is important to preserve the historic value of Northrop Memorial Auditorium during this process.

Northrop was built in 1929 as a gathering place for performing arts, academic ceremonies, and major civic events. Prior to the deconstruction, Northrop was used for only 51 events each year, and held seating for 4,800 people.  The restoration will feature a 2,750-seat hall, which is the optimal size for acoustics and will therefore bring more of the world's great artists to the U of M.

Additionally, Northrop will house the University Honors Program, the Institute for Advanced Study, and Innovation by Design. The new Northrop will focus more on the students of the University; in the past, student contact with the building has been minimal. The renovation will also increase the amount of public study space on the East Bank campus by 50%. This will bring a whole new energy to the building, as it will be available to students day and night for study.

The work to the interior of the performance hall is already underway. Northrop is a beautiful center point on our campus; I look forward to seeing the outcome of this project in my time here at the University of Minnesota! Watch the video below for more information about how Northrop has changed through the years.

Finals week is finally here! After all of the hard work that University of Minnesota students, (including myself) have put into our classes this semester, there's just one, culminating test in each of our classes that is holding us back from winter break.

I would be lying if I said that finals week wasn't difficult or stressful at times, but there are so many resources on the U of M campus to help students during this hectic time of the semester. In fact, most of these resources are available to students year-round.

• The professor and teaching assistant office hours are a great resource to students, not just during finals week but throughout the semester as well. Every professor is willing to spend time with students who need help understanding the concepts of the course. These are especially useful in classes that are larger that 20 students. Larger lectures typically provide more office hours where students can have one-on-one time with professors.

• The libraries on campus are open 24 hours during finals week. My favorite library to study is in Walter Library, which is also the largest library on campus. Additionally, Walter offers peer-tutoring services in the SMART Learning Commons, which is a one-stop resource for students needing research, technology, or writing help. The peer-tutors in the SMART Learning Commons were especially useful to me when I was taking Calculus last year.

• The Center for Writing on campus is very helpful for writing intensive classes, which often require students to write essays for the final. Throughout the entire year, students are welcome to schedule an appointment with a writing consultant for advice and support.

After studying as much as we can in preparation for finals week, students on the University of Minnesota campus have a tradition of tossing pennies into the Coffman Memorial Union fountain for good luck. Watch the video below to see this tradition in action, and wish me luck with my finals!

At first glance, the seasonal animated e-card sent to the extended University community by President Eric Kaler and his wife Karen 
appears to have been created by a professional. In fact, it was actually the work of two U of M students: Mari Mihai, a third-year graphic design undergrad, and Adam Zahller Brown, a first-year grad student in music composition. 

As a part of celebrating their first winter as the U of M presidential couple, Karen and Eric Kaler made a splash with their beautifully constructed piece of student art, which was sent to faculty, staff, students, alumni, parents of students, and selected friends--more than 100,000 people in all.
 The 30-second greeting card is complete with falling snow, a snow globe, a crackling fire, and a crescendo of holiday-evoking music.

Designing a winter greeting
Mari Mihai began the card design by sketching an interior scene with a fireplace and mantel and scanning it into a computer. She then painted it and, on a suggestion from the Kalers, added images of all five University campus mascots as mantel portraits. 

Meanwhile, Adam Zahller Brown worked at creating sounds that evoked a magical holiday mood. He created a unique sound, while keeping in mind the typical "bells and trumpets" sounds of typical holiday music, by utilizing unusual instruments such as cymbals, a celesta, a Navajo ceder flute, and recorders.

About the artists
Mihai, born in Romania, moved to Minnesota at the age of 8. Mihai chose the U of M as her college choice for its reputation and location. She says, "I knew I wanted graphic design, but I didn't want to go out of state. I wanted to be near my family because we've shared so much." Mihai has a College of Design Legacy Scholarship, among others, and is a part of the University Honors Program. 

Brown, who aspires "to write challenging concert music," is a graduate assistant in the music theory program. He came to the University's School of Music to work with composer and professor James Dillon, whose music he has long admired.

It is inspiring to think that two college students like myself have worked together to create something that brought warm winter wishes to the entire University, and now to you. Enjoy!


This fall, University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering (CSE) students worked for six weeks in their Introduction to Engineering class to create nearly 250 robots, which will be on display at the largest robot show in the Twin Cities on December 12.

William Durfee, University of Minnesota mechanical engineering professor and director of engineering design education, encouraged his students to get creative with their designs. The CSE students were given only a kit of parts, a computer, and the option to use no more than $40 of their own spending money for materials. The only limitations he placed on the robot project were that it must have at least one moving part, "do something interesting," and operate for no more than 60 seconds. Some examples of the robots include a crawling ladybug, a head massager, and a cheese slicer!

You can see all of the robots that were created at the McNamara Alumni Center on the University of Minnesota campus on Monday, December 12 from 2:40 to 4:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public and is suitable for all ages. I encourage you to check out this event and see the fantastic work of the University of Minnesota's CSE students!

For more information on this event and photos from previous years, visit www.me.umn.edu/robotshow.


A few weeks ago, I was walking to class in the Carlson School of Management, when all of the sudden a flash mob broke out into song and dance in the Carlson's atrium! It began with a solo saxophonist playing "Deck the Halls," and slowly U of M students joined in with the vocals. The flash mob eventually erupted into a 300-person, gospel-style performance lead by a singer disguised as a security guard.

The members of the flash mob included students from our School of Music choral ensembles, including the Campus Singers, Men's Chorus, Women's Chorus and University Singers. 

It was very entertaining to watch them perform live, and now that the University of Minnesota has posted the video on YouTube, I'd like to share it with all of you. Happy Holidays!

Google has recently become an important entity in the lives of students, faculty and staff at the University of Minnesota. The University of Minnesota is one of the first and leading adopters of Google applications in higher education. In fact, there are currently nearly 90,000 U of M Gmail account users!

Because of Google's impact on our campus, it was an especially great honor to welcome Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google to campus on November 30, 2011. Chairman Schmidt delivered a speech entitled "The Future of the High-Tech Economy: How Technology is Changing Business, Education and Government" at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs on the University of Minnesota campus. His speech discussed technology's impact on our lives, and how it may affect the future.

The event was recently featured on Fox 9 news. Additionally, Schmidt's visit was featured in an article by Twin Cities Business, as well as by the Star Tribune. Both articles describe Schmidt's meeting with CoCo, a Minneapolis co-working firm, and Schmidt's praise of Minneapolis entrepreneurship. Watch the video below to see Schmidt's presentation at the University of Minnesota.

Watch live streaming video from umntv at livestream.com

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