Tag Archives: university of advancing technology

UAT: Students Creating Multimodal Biometric System

(Here’s a sample from my UAT days.)

Students Creating Multimodal Biometric System

Story by Trevor Green

Some computer laptops have fingerprint scanners that identify its users via distinctive ridge structures on their digits. The biometric security measure is one of many that hardware and software manufacturers employ to measure and analyze data to limit unauthorized access. A system that uses multiple forms of organic and digital protection, such as passwords and user behavior, would likely be a stronger security method.

University of Advancing Technology students Chase Schultz and Drew Porter are devising a multimodal biometric protection system that uses fingerprint scanning technology, password security and keyboard dynamics.  The defensive triple-threat will recognize individuals by physical science, human memory and behavior-based patterns.

The goal is to prevent potential misuse of someone’s mobile computer. They hope to have a simple system that uses the security measures in tandem, devised in Linux and completely open source.

“What’s interesting is that the fingerprint scanner is just who you are; it identifies the person. And keyboard dynamics is more behavioral based, so it actually portrays something about the person. And then a password is something you know,” says Schultz.

He adds, “If someone sat down at your computer and tried chatting for you or something like that, it would boot them out.”

The pair was asked by Professor Shelley Keating to do a presentation on implementing a biometric system using more than one form of security protection. They chose Porter’s class emphasis on keyboard dynamics, a measurement of typing patterns (length of time and force to press keys), and Schultz’s fingerprint analysis work that uses open source software and fingerprint scanning hardware in Lenovo laptops. The use of passwords rounds out the program.

“So with that, all those measurements that we can use, we can use to make a biometric, which we can then use to make a security device and it just requires your keyboard and some software,” says Porter.

Schultz found open source libraries compatible with Lenovo’s fingerprint scanner co-processor. Porter did the same with keyboard dynamics software. Early tests of the program’s identification accuracy have shown it to be tough to crack. Porter notes a 95-percent rate to identify the user; the closest was Schultz at 88 percent.

“You can do the training for the system I was using up to 10 times, and after six times (which the more you do it the more accurate it gets) people are still not able to see who it was,” says Porter.

“I got pretty close to Drew’s but it’s just because I know how he types,” laughs Schultz.

The group plan to complete the program by the end of the fall semester. They are likely to register it on GetHub.com and use the website for feature requests and bug reports.

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UAT Student Survives Hurricane Katrina

(Here is an interview from late-2005.)

UAT Student Survives Hurricane Katrina

By Trevor Green

New UAT student Vince Lutton was one of many that fled New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The former Tulane University student relocated to pursue his education in game design, and found a new opportunity in the face of adversity.

We talked with Vince about his experiences, evacuating his college home and his future plans.

UAT: Where are you from?

Vince Lutton: I’m actually originally from Texas (Uvalde-right near San Antonio and an hour away from Mexico). I’ve been going to school at Tulane in New Orleans for the last four years. I was getting ready to start my senior year there, and our classes got cancelled.

I heard about UAT a year ago and I was really interested in joining the video game programming [program]. I had already applied here, so I was like, “You know, it’s the perfect opportunity to go check it out.” I looked at it as more of an opportunity than a detriment.

UAT: When you were at Tulane, were you thinking about the same program?

VL: There’s a brand-new program that they started, video game development. Since I’ve gotten involved in this program [at UAT], I’ve realized how it [the Tulane program] was really just a computer science program-nothing else. They call edit video game programming-I’m pretty sure-just to attract more technology students. So I’m glad that I’m here and it ended up working out pretty well in that respect.

UAT: When the evacuations were going on, what was going through your head?

VL: I’ve been going to school there for four years, so we’ve had several hurricanes come and go. When we heard that they were coming, we would evacuate; then we would come back and everything would be perfect. It almost became like a vacation for a little while there.

You forget how serious they really are. The first few times, we boarded up windows and put tape on them. This time, we didn’t do much to prepare. We heard that it was coming, and we had to evacuate. My little sister just started school there-this was going to be her freshman year-so I had to get her out of there as well. We just piled up everybody that I could fit in my car and drove to Texas [Vince was born in Houston]. I had two changes of clothes and that’s it- everything was left behind. My roommate left his car in front of our house down the street; somebody e-mailed me a picture of our street [after the hurricane] and his car is not there-it’s gone and just washed away somewhere. I don’t know if my stuff’s gone (my guitars, my computer and everything); I have no idea.

It’s crazy, but I keep reminding myself that it’s just stuff and that I’m okay and so are my friends. I had some friends that were staying behind, but they left at the last minute.

UAT: What was it like watching the footage on CNN and the other news stations?

VL: It was awful-there’s really no word to describe it. Even though I’m not originally from New Orleans, it became my home. I was planning on staying there, and I was going to try to get a job there after I graduated. I love the city; it’s an amazing, amazing place.

I can’t even describe it; seeing everything that you love, underwater… I had friends that evacuated with me in New Orleans; one of them was so depressed, we couldn’t bounce him out of the depression. Watching that kind of devastation happen to your home was just awful. It was just a shame.

UAT: How are you keeping in touch with everyone there?

VL: Cell phones still aren’t working, and of course there are no landlines. All of my friends got evacuated out to other colleges, so wee-mail. Everyone had to set up new e-mail accounts because our Tulane accounts are still down, so everybody e-mails around or borrows somebody’s cell phone from wherever they’re at. It’s good to know that everyone’s okay. It’s a tough situation; everyone had to be scattered. It’s our senior year, so it was the worst possible moment [for this to happen].

UAT: What are your thoughts right now?

VL: Honestly, I’m still confused about what I want to do. I do like the program here a lot, so I’m not sure that I’m going to end up staying here at UAT until I graduate, or if trying to go back; I don’t even know if I’ll have a place to go back to-it just really depends. I do like this school a lot; it would be nice if there were a few more girls here. Other than that, it’s a really good school.

Mainly, I’m just hoping that everything gets worked out there. I hear that they’re pumping out up to billions of gallons of water daily, and they’ve pumped out three-quarters of a trillion gallons of water so far out of the city. So it’s all about rebuilding. I would love to go back and see the city back up to its glory; I don’t know if you could call New Orleans majestic, but [I’d like to see it back to] it’s former glory.

UAT: What do you think of the relief efforts?

VL: I really can’t commend the relief efforts for Louisiana. They were so slow on the uptake there and the National Guard wasn’t ready. It really was a disaster-I think everyone agrees on that. It’s awful; if you look at those images, it didn’t look like the United States of America at all-it looked like a third-world country. [They] simply didn’t have the resources to be prepared for that kind of disaster.

Like I said, with Houston I think they’re going to be a lot more prepared [and] a lot more efficient if it hits the area-which hopefully It veers off.

UAT: Now you’re here a UAT. Are you helping with any of the donating efforts?

VL: I went to the first Student Government meeting with that expressed desire, and it was already on the agenda. I suggested some sort of LAN party, but I’m really happy with what the organization is doing; the dollar-for-dollar to $15,000 is really incredible. FEMA [Federal Emergency Management Agency] is sending money to a lot of the Katrina victims, and if I do end up getting money from that, I can contribute a few hundred bucks to this effort. If there’s more I can do, I’d do more.

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UAT: UAT Student Earns Karrlin Field Scholarship

(Here is a UAT article from 2007.)

UAT Student Earns Karrlin Field Scholarship

Story by Trevor Green

A passion for technology, a love of creative arts and an unbridled drive toward a career in video games: prospective UAT student Karrlin Field had that in spades.

When the 17-year-old passed away in 2004 from cystic fibrosis, her family connected with Admissions and created a scholarship honoring the young woman. They were looking for female students excited about gaming and pursuing fruitful careers.

The 2007 spring semester recipient, senior Game Design student Erin Ali, was the spitting image of what they were looking for. Erin received $1,000 towards her tuition, which she planned to use to further her education.

“I’m really excited that I won, and I’m really happy that this is going to help towards my last semester here,” she said.

Her zeal for video games as a lifestyle and career were the subject of her essay, a two-page composition presented in a magazine-style format.

“I sat down and went through a whole biography on myself and how that experience had got me to where I am today, and with more help I could do more,” she recalled. “And then because I’m so graphically oriented, I made it look better so I didn’t just send in a Word doc – I actually sent in a layout with the text in it, somehow revolving around my life.”

Erin was awestruck after reading Karrlin’s website, viewing the games, stories and writings made in her brief life. She was inspired by Karrlin’s achievements despite her physical ailment.

“You could tell she didn’t do it because she had to or that she did it because she felt she should, but it was something she really wanted to do,” she enthused. “She did a ton of stuff, and it’s like to me small things that affect me every day to me no longer mattered when I was reading her stuff.”

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UAT Student’s Car Stolen, Starts Over

(This was originally posted in 2008.)

UAT Student’s Car Stolen, Starts Over

Story by Trevor Green

Imagine that you’ve traveled cross-country, ready to start your first semester at UAT. But the day you’re about to move in, you walk out of the motel to find your car – and all of your belongings – gone.

That was the plight of incoming student Jacob Lanthier. UAT and Student Government (USG) are setting up a donation bucket outside during Free Food Day to aid the Albany, N.Y. native.

About to move into his housing, Lanthier left his Phoenix motel room to the surprise of a vacant parking space his car once occupied.

“I put our bags into the car, locked the car up, [went] back to the room, made sure we got everything, sat down for about 20 minutes, stood up, turned around … car’s missing,” Lanthier said. “Funny thing is that I wanted to leave a half-hour before I did, before I found out that the car was stolen – when my car was still there.”

Lanthier’s initial reaction was to dial 911 on his cell phone, alerting the police of the problem. Now without transportation, Lanthier and his father called a rental car service, moved the younger Lanthier into housing and attended orientation.

“There’s no need to go around and cry like a baby,” Lanthier said. “Some people would, but I have to be as strong as I can and deal with it. New Yorkers – gotta love them.”

Once on campus, Enrollment Coordinator Robert Marshall told Lanthier that USG was discussing his situation in their meeting. The group decided to assist in replenishing Lanthier’s items. According to USG Vice-President Erin McKinney, UAT and USG are securing a computer on loan; others are encouraged to donate items to help out.

When the car was recovered, a mere smidgen of Lanthier’s belongings – including all of his clothing, a laptop, two computer towers, monitor, and television – were found: a spare tire, bubble wrap, a pair of socks and a demo disc.

“They would still be looking for it if the [hotel] security guard, who saw the car for three days straight, didn’t call it in,” Lanthier said. “The police didn’t find it – the security guard did.”

Though faced with adversity, Lanthier is rolling with the punches, making the most of his time at UAT thus far.

“So far, from what I see, it’s going to be a really good college,” Lanthier said. “I was meant to be here, completely bare-ass naked except for the clothes on my back, and start completely over. I said I wanted to come to Arizona and start over – I didn’t want it to be taken literally!”

(During the Free Food Day, $93.07 was raised. Cuban Pete’s donated $.25 per pastry sold, raising an additional $80 for a total of $173.07. The IT Department also donated a dual-monitor computer.)

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UAT Student Creates Sword with 3D Printer

(Here’s another sample from my time at University of Advancing Technology.)

UAT Student Creates Sword with 3D Printer

Story by Trevor Green

University of Advancing Technology’s campus features a wealth of hardware and software to give creative ideas life. Special topics classes like ENG 415 – King Arthur literature, taught by Professor Micah Chabner, give students freedom to display their gained knowledge in imaginative ways. Student Josh Follis decided to exhibit his fascination with medieval weaponry by using University tech in an innovative way.

Follis combined his love of sword design and the fabrication technology of 3D printers for his King Arthur-themed blade. The 4-foot long plastic weapon, created and constructed via 13 interlocking parts, is the largest design sourced from the University’s Dimension uPrint Personal 3D Printer.

He came up with the idea in the first week of class, tasked with the creation of a midterm and final project relevant to the subject matter. His list of ideas – one being a card game – conjured the memory of the 3D printer. The sword designer, with several wood-carved sabers to his credit, decided to try a new medium for his passion.

“I thought, ‘Why don’t I design a knight sword for my final?’ So I got to thinking and I figured the long sword version of it would be about right,” he said.

Follis initially planned to create a miniature sword with the 3D printer with his first concept sketch, but a change of heart led to a loftier plan.

“The idea ran across my head to make it full-scale and I got to thinking, ‘Nothing’s ever been done that big, not on the 3D printer.’ And to date, I haven’t had anybody disagree or prove me wrong that there is anything physically larger to come out of the 3D printer.”

Inspiration included designs from the Knights of the Round Table lore and more modern fare – the sword handle mimicking the Holy Hand Grenade from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

The conversion from idea to physical product involved help from student Dennis Porter to recreate the plan in Maya 2012 3D modeling software. Porter drafted the complete model and broke it up into segments to fit in the printer. Lego-like extension bits were added to construct the pieces like a puzzle.

The sword took approximately 120 hours to print and complete. Three print sessions – which constructed 4-5 pieces at a time – each took 20-26 hours. (Every print session concluded with an 8-hour acid bath that dissolved the supports that held pieces in place.) The sections were then sanded and painted.

UAT freshmen saw the final product at the recent CONNECT orientation as Follis, a CLP leader, used the sword to break the ice. He relished the shocked faces when they learned it was for his English class.

“I really wish I had a camera for half of them because they’re like, double- and triple-takes and, like, ‘What? Your English final?'” he recalled. “I modeled and printed a sword for my English final!”

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UAT: Armed Forces Student Profile: Benjamin Dauber

Here is a profile I did on a UAT student that served in the military.

Armed Forces Student Profile: Benjamin Dauber

Story by Trevor Green

Digital Video student Benjamin Dauber is facing a new challenge at University of Advancing Technology: creativity. The former Network Security student is trying his hand at filmmaking after enjoying his introductory class, DVA101 (Digital Video Fundamentals), and the chance to stretch his imagination.

“I get a chance to really be creative, and I’ve never, never done that before,” he said.

Dauber’s previous trials were not as relaxed. An U.S. Army veteran, he suffered memory problems after a landmine accident in Iraq. He enrolled at the University after going into the reserves from 2006-2008 (and in 2008, Inactive Ready Reserve), intrigued by the Network Security program.

Trying new classes and interests helped him to find a major in his wheelhouse:

“It’s hard to grasp new material in the NetSec field, so I’m going to go with more of a liberal arts [major]. Plus, I love that class [DVA101].”

He served 4 years of active duty in the Army (2002-2006, the majority of his time in Iraq), with his Military Occupational Specialty (92 Fox ASI H7) being a petroleum supply specialist and a commercial truck driver.

The time spent in the Armed Forces turned the formerly-timid Dauber into a more assured and take-charge person in all aspects of life – the latter coming from leadership development training while in the Army.

“Even if I know that I don’t have the skill set required to do a task, I’ll still give it a good effort… I’m not afraid of failing in front of people.”

This confidence extends to the classroom and helps absorb knowledge – though his self-awareness and desire to include his classmates keeps his eagerness in check:

“I’ve actually had to tone down trying to take the lead, because so far, every project we’ve done I’ve been the force behind it – this is what we’re going to do, we should do this, we should do that – and everyone kind of follows in line a little bit [laughs]. I’ve been having to stand back and be like, ‘No, you guys, come up with an idea.'”

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This is one of my newest writing samples, a preview of a student film created and produced for my former employer. Enjoy!



Story by Trevor Green

More than a dozen people mill around a dirt lot next to University of Advancing Technology’s campus. Flanked by several portable green screens, two actors in futuristic-looking space suits linger as UAT students position camera equipment, move green-covered set props and tend to wardrobe. The costumed actors stand parallel to the green screen with guns pointed at the blank canvas until the snap of a slate announces the start of filming. The word “cut” is heard after a few minutes and the tension melts. Discussion points to the next scene for filming: camera equipment is moved once more; actors wait for their cues and grips move props for staging.

This was during a day of filming on the Digital Video program’s newest film, Red Sand, a prequel to the Mass Effect video games. The movie takes place approximately 50-100 years before the events of the first game. More than a dozen UAT students are involved with production, from filming to computer graphics and sound.

“I think it’s great. The story is great,” says student Ariel Navarrete, lead 3D artist and art director, regarding the first Mass Effect game. “I think it’s a good video game to make a film about. People are going to love it.”

The Story of Red Sand

Red Sand features two parallel storylines centering on planet Mars. Colonels Jon Grissom and Lily Sandhurst defend a military base from Mad Max-like marauders known as Red Sand, humans addicted to a substance called Element Zero. (Element Zero, or eezo, is a key part of the Mass Effect series, fueling weapons, ships and-when mixed with the planet’s dust-biotic powers.) The marauders want the base because it sits on a rich underground vein of eezo. Meanwhile, a team of scientists, led by Dr. Averroes, hope to attain the last secrets from the Prothean ruins to fully utilize the ancient technology. Both parties are racing against time before they are overrun by the marauders.

DeNigris was inspired to do a fan film after seeing Portal: No Escape, a tribute to the first-person shooter. He felt that his students could do better.

“Wouldn’t it be great if we did an awesome fan film with all that we can do here and all of our facilities and all of our technology and all of the skills that we have here in the program? Because it would be great to have 7 million views on YouTube for something we’ve done,” he says.

Student Caleb Evans, a Mass Effect fan, created the prequel’s story in fall 2011 after Digital Video Professor Paul DeNigris asked students in his DVA492 (Digital Video Production Studio II) class about doing a video game fan film-offering BioShock or Mass Effect for selection. Evans’ love for the game series was reflected in his dedication to writing a movie that could stand apart from the games-a challenge he noted because of the limitations of the University’s equipment.

“I found a way to give us some creative liberty with it by doing a prequel around the time where there really is no information on what went on,” he says.

This includes a focus on Jon Grissom, familiar to Mass Effect fans for his namesake on a military academy, a female counterpart to Grissom in the form of Lily Sandhurst, and various elements from the series-including color hues (blues, purples and oranges) and related weapons and costumes. The most evident example is incorporating the mass relay interstellar transport system, which plays a pivotal role in the games.

“We all love the story. We all thought it was great: it had a lot of action; it had some cool sci-fi concepts, great opportunities for visual effects and would be a challenge to shoot,” says DeNigris.

Evans fleshed out the story with DeNigris and Professor Sharon Bolman to make it accessible to fans and novices.

“If you’ve never played a single minute of those games (you don’t even know what those games are)… you’re still going to be entertained by this and still going to be engaging right from the get-go,” says DeNigris.

DeNigris let Evans run with his vision of a Mass Effect-inspired universe, putting him in the director’s chair. Evans previously directed projects with as many as six people, and he enjoyed his first large-scale role and the demands that came with it. He credited the cast and crew for their teamwork and efforts.

“It was great—a lot better than I thought. It’s stressful because you’re being pulled in a lot of different directions, and basically if you’re not there then everybody’s like, ‘Well, what do we do now?’ because you keep everything moving.”

The Crew

Students from DeNigris’ Digital Video Production Studio I-III classes (some having roles on DeNigris’ previous production, Parallax; others are on their first film) and alumni have pitched in with various production roles. Work on the movie began during the fall 2011 semester, with the DVA492 (Digital Video Production Studio II) class devoted to pre-production.

Graduate Zach Robinson played a marauder in the film and worked off-camera as a grip. He will do 3D compositing, rotoscoping and other computer graphics effects for the movie in post-production.

“It’s actually not bad now because I do grip work when I’m not acting and then the acting stuff comes first, I guess, because they have 12 other grips to do work. So it’s been easy: I suit up when they want me to and I help out when I’m done suiting up,” says Robinson.

Student Paul Gandia did sound and grip duties for the film’s shoot, and he is bouncing between post-production editing and sound work. He desired to experience as much as possible.

“I want to be on set even though I’m going to be the editor. That’s why I took sound, so I can see what’s going on and learn a lot for editing as well.”

Navarrete says concept art for the 3D models is finished and they are doing post-production work while they are filming.

The Cast

DeNigris recruited actors from previous works (like Aynam Samman from 2011’s Parallax) and the Phoenix community. He reached out to Mark Meer, a television, improv, sketch and voice actor-best known as playing the voice of Commander Shepard in the Mass Effect series, for a character new to the games’ lore. The script interested him, particularly the opportunity to play an action hero, noting that he is “a scrawny, nerdy voice actor.”

“This is quite fun, you know, getting to handle the weapons,” he says of the filming experience. “It’s been very fun working with this crew. It’s a great bunch, and the cast has been lots of fun as well.”

Phoenix-based actress Amy Searcy was thrilled to indulge her love of acting and science-fiction-particularly one that involved blank backdrops.

“For me, I mean, this is the ideal role, and I get to fight, which is even more fun. So yeah, it’s very cool working completely on green screen. I’ve never done an entire movie on green screen.”

Samman mentions the same intrigue in working with the green backdrops. His interest in the role of Dr. Averroes, a scientist bent on advancing humankind at any cost, came from the script and the character’s dedication to his research-a self-described “soldier of science.”

“He’s so dedicated to his work and to knowledge that he doesn’t care if he dies in the process or how many people die, so long as we figure something out that will make humankind better,” he says.

“He doesn’t care if he dies in pursuit of knowledge… And villains don’t think that they’re villains; they believe in something that is evil to other people.”


While Red Sand is in post-production, promotional efforts are underway to whet fans’ appetites. The film’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/MassEffectRedSand) offers behind-the-scenes pictures and designs. A teaser trailer featuring Meer will be online in the next few weeks along with a dedicated webpage.

Unlike the DV program’s last few movies (including FALLOUTFlight of the Melvin), Red Sand will not be screened at festivals. DeNigris wants the film to be seen by the game’s fans, and he hopes it goes viral.

“I think it’s going to work the way we want it to and definitely take the DV [program] and UAT out to a bigger, broader audience out on the web and reach a lot more people than a festival run could reach. That’s ultimately what this film’s about,” he says.

The team hopes to have the movie done by the end of spring 2012 semester.

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