Engineers’ Vertigo dance floor to light up Contemporary Art Museum on Thursday
This Thursday, students will be able to see a Washington University creation at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis as well as test it out.
The Vertigo dance floor, the feature attraction at the Engineering School’s annual dance party last fall, will be making its second appearance as part of a monthly cocktail party held by the museum designed to foster appreciation of the arts for the Y generation.
“We saw it in the [St. Louis Post] Dispatch, and it looks really fun and really exciting, and we’re looking forward to bringing it here,” said Jennifer Gaby, director of public relations for the museum. “When I talk to my colleagues about the dance floor, everybody is really thrilled to have something of that magnitude here. It’s going to be an exciting night.”
Gaby noted that the cocktail parties have succeeded in bringing a wide range of people to the museum. She hopes that the inclusion of the dance floor this month will make Wash. U. students interested in attending.
“It’s been huge. We’ve had up to 750 people come here per event,” said Gaby. “It’s culturally diverse, age diverse, income diverse…it’s a very eclectic crowd. You see young professionals, students, artists, people from all walks of life that are in their 20s and 30s that come out for either a happy hour after work, a way to have a good time, or to see exhibits that they couldn’t see otherwise.”
Construction of the dance floor itself was a daunting task led by the University’s members of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. Spanning over 100 square feet, the floor has 512 unique “pixels” which light up to produce the color of the floor. Each pixel can make any one of 4,096 different shades of color.
“We built the floor during the months of September to November 2005,” said sophomore Pehr Hovey, president of the IEEE. “It took more than 30 students and a few professors, 60-plus people, hours to construct…We had ‘solder’ parties in our student lounge where kids hung out and helped work on the project.”
The dance floor is based on a similar one designed by MIT students, with a few notable improvements. The Wash. U. adaptation allows for the user to create a list of animations, scrolling text messages, and control the dance floor over the Internet.
The University’s chapter of the IEEE focuses on doing projects aimed at getting students involved and interested in hands-on engineering. Hovey plans on making further improvements to the dance floor, as well as bringing other projects to the University campus.
“IEEE is working on a new design for the dance floor concept that will make many improvements over the original, such as increased portability and more rugged construction,” said Hovey. “Our second project this semester is an arcade machine, built from scratch.”
The dance floor will be on display throughout the cocktail party from 6-9 p.m. on Thursday, with DJ Randall Roberts spinning. Entrance is free, but guests must be 21 to attend.
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