Posts Tagged ‘Software Engineering’

Pixar’s Renderman now available for free!

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

Image from

For those not already aware of it, Pixar’s Renderman is now available for free for non-commercial use! What is Renderman, you ask? Renderman is a rendering plug-in that Pixar developed for use with 3D animation and modeling programs. It’s an alternative rendering method to the default options already available in programs such as Maya. As previously mentioned, use of the software is 100% free, with no limitations, feature cuts, or even watermarks to worry about. As long as whatever you produce with it is not for profit, anything is free game.

The latest version of the software, version 19, brings multiple improvements to the fray. One of which is a brand new rendering paradigm Pixar calls RIS. RIS is a highly optimized mode for rendering global illumination. It’s made specifically for ray tracing scenes with heavy geometry, hair, volumes, and radiance – with incredible efficiency in one pass. What does this all mean? Renderman can render your objects and scenes much quicker and more efficiently than many other options currently available today. In fact, it’s currently the most flexible and powerful option for VFX and cinematic imagery available to the public. More information and technical details can be found at the following link:

I highly recommend that anyone interested in 3D animation, VFX, or 3D modeling check this out. It’s not often that the public gains free access to internally developed software from professional studios, much less a fully featured and limitless version of that same software. Pixar offers multiple tutorial videos to those new to Renderman, so users can get to know the workflow and learn to use it to its full potential. The plug-in is currently compatible with Autodesk Maya versions 2013.5, 2014, and 2015 as well as The Foundry’s Katana versions 1.5, 1.6, and 2.0. Support for Houdini and Cinema 4D is currently underway. Potentially compatible programs in the future include Modo, 3DS Max, Blender and more.

Download Renderman at the following link:

Juan Rubio

Project Anywhere

Friday, March 6th, 2015

Image from

A student at ETH Zurich, Constantinos Miltiadis, has been working on a kit which challenges the limits of human physical presence within a space. Code-named Project Anywhere, it works by combining augmented reality and virtual reality to achieve communication and interaction through virtual space.

The project is controlled by a smart phone app that functions like a decentralized network. It communicates through the use of a cloud-based software and offers real-time regulation. Accompanying the app are 3D printed gloves with a special rubber-like filament cleverly titled, “Inteligloves.” They allow the user to interact fluidly within the virtual environment of the app. The gloves are also able to track palm orientation, in addition to finger movement, via six bend sensor sockets. What makes these gloves truly awesome is that you can print the main components of them with a 3D printer. Aside from a 3D printer, in order to assemble the gloves, you will also need an Arduino Mini Pro, Xbee radio module, inertia measuring unit, six bend sensor sockets, and a LiPo battery.

Even though the project is in it’s early stages, it shows much promise and importance to many fields including gaming, business and medicine.

See the project in action at the following link:

Virtual Reality Sculpting

Tuesday, December 30th, 2014

Screenshot taken from:

Have you ever thought about sculpting using Virtual Reality technology? A new app called VRClay shows us how to do just that by allowing us to create 3D sculptures in VR. Using the Oculus Rift headset and a motion controller such as the Razer Hydra, we will be able to sculpt 3D figures using motions such as push, pull, drag and buildup. While the traditional method of using computer screens would still be ideal, a VR workspace would give us the ability to walk around and inspect the physical manifestation of our work. There is still no release date for the Oculus Rift, so it looks like we will have to wait a while before we can try this app.

Peter Gazallo

Global Game Jam at Cogswell College!

Monday, December 22nd, 2014

Poster Image created by Jose Hernandez

Global Game Jam is a worldwide event in which over 20k “jammers” meet together in various locations around the globe to make games, and once again, we are hosting it at Cogswell! It is an intense 48 hour event in which programmers, artists, designers and audio folks are challenged to come together to build games from scratch. Best of all, every game produced is absolutely free to download once it’s finished. Admission is $40 for the general public, $20 for Cogswell Alumni, and $10 for any Cogswell or college student with a valid college email address. Price includes a pizza dinner Friday night and snacks throughout the weekend.  Don’t miss the chance to be part of something huge as space is limited to 50 participants this year. Register soon!

3D Displays through QR Codes

Friday, November 28th, 2014

Image credit goes to and The Optical Society A "lenslet" sheet is placed over a smartphone screen to show a 3D image

A team of engineers led by Bahram Javidi (Professor of Electrical Engineering) from the University of Connecticut have found a way to display 3D images by simply scanning a series of QR codes, without needing use of the internet. This is possible due to the storing of compressed and encrypted images, which can be easily scanned, decrypted, and decompressed by commercial smartphones for secure 3D visual communication. This process is done by selecting the primary image to be visualized. This could be either a single 3D object, or an entire 3D scene. The 3D image is then broken down by taking multiple 2D images of it from multiple perspectives called elemental images. Each elemental image is taken from one portion of a precisely oriented array of tiny lenses called lenslets. The lenslet then captures the scene from many slightly offset perspectives. The elemental images are then split into two essential parts: the unique perspective of the 3D scene and the corresponding intensity information. This system is still in the concept stage and not yet available for commercial use however, the researchers believe that their system can be improved to produce higher quality 3D visual images and a more secure integration with smartphone technology.

Peter Gazallo
Digital Art & Animation Student

So you Want to Start a Software Company?

Friday, January 3rd, 2014

If this is your dream, you are not alone. As witnessed in here in Silicon Valley and around the globe – the opportunities opened up by mobile apps have made this a popular choice for setting off on your own. This article in Computing Now contains important information to help you start off on the right foot.

Some of the issues covered include:

  • Your most important asset – people
  • Founders don’t see the world the same way as employees
  • It’s ‘our standard contract’ is rarely true
  • Find out what people need, make it, tell them and get them to pay you

What other issues would you like to see discussed about starting a software company?

What Does it Take to Bring a Software Engineering Idea to Life

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

Ed Hartwig & Zach Childers

You have an idea for a great – or at least intriguing – software project but how do you get started? This short video featuring an animatronic dragon’s head project designed by two Cogswell students offers insight into the development stage.

The project started over the summer as part of a special projects class in conjunction with San Jose’s TechShop. Zach and Ed wanted to build something that would resonate with the Cogswell community and be an inspiration for getting artists and engineers to collaborate.

While they still have a way to go before their prototype becomes the finished piece they envision, they have a solid plan in place to reach their goal.

Cogswell College is Happy to be the Exception in Educating Software Engineers

Monday, November 4th, 2013

We often hear about the great job prospects for software engineering grads but according to this article in Dark Reading by Gunter Ollmann, many new grads are finding the scope of those jobs limited by their lack of real-world experience. Mr. Ollmann says that the crux of the problem boils down to colleges missing two critical educational opportunities:

  1. In most colleges students predominantly work on individual assignments rather than collaborative projects.
  2. The vast majority of assignments require students to create code from scratch instead of working on code written by someone else.

Project-based learning is a hallmark of a Cogswell College education. Students have numerous opportunities to work in teams of artists, animators, audio specialists and software engineers and gain the experience they need to become a valuable asset to future employers.

Independence High School After School Program

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

Faculty,Tony Dias, helps students with the day's lesson. Tony graduated from Independence High.

Cogswell College and Independence High School have teamed up to introduce high school students to the exciting opportunities that blending art and technology opens to them. Over the course of 10 weeks students choose either digital painting or audio desktop production for the first 5 weeks and software engineering or video game design for the final 5 weeks.

“The goal of this program is to get students excited about something they might initially think is boring,” says Abraham Chacko, executive director of admissions and facilitator for the after school program at Cogswell College. “These are kids from the Silicon Valley,” Chacko continues. “When they hear the word ‘engineering,’ they think ‘I don’t want to have a job like my parents,’ but when you mention Disney, Pixar or video games and the job opportunities associated with them, they become excited about learning programming and engineering skills.”

Faculty, Reid Winfrey, offers design tips to students on the day's lesson.

The demand for skilled engineers in the U.S. continues to grow, with engineering degree holders experiencing some of the best job prospects in the country straight out of college. Jack Aiello is a Project Lead The Way trained instructor who teaches Introduction Engineering Design at Independence High, and is coordinator of the pre-engineering program, Space Technology Engineering Academy Magnet (STEAM). He serves as the faculty facilitator for the after-school program, in partnership with Chacko and uses a project-based, individualized teaching method similar to Cogswell’s.

“The ability to connect and engage our students in Cogswell’s environment is incredible,” says Aiello. “Running a class with 25 students working in a project-based environment is more advantageous than a traditional teaching model with lectures or video presentations at the front of a classroom of 35 or more students. The hands-on computer and audio equipment, programming tools and Industry experienced instructors available at Cogswell allow our students an exciting peek into the real world of the digital creative arts. At the end of each of our two hour weekly sessions at Cogswell, the students walk away with a feeling of accomplishment and pride for what they have created. They are enthusiastic and look forward to coming back next week.  Our students are on the consumer side of the ‘Digital Divide’, many from immigrant families that use technology, social media and video games, but don’t know how to leverage the technology to create something NEW; such as designing a video game, making an animated movie, or producing their own music. ”

Learn more in this news item.

Why is Software Eating the World?

Monday, September 9th, 2013

In this video of a presentation given by Adam Nash, COO of Wealthfront, he talks about how software is transforming our world. While Los Altos based Wealthfront is a financial investment management firm, it is software driven.

Processing power is increasing, bandwidth is increasing, storage capacity is increasing, connectivity is increasing and the number of devices is increasing and everything is increasing at exponential rates. He posits that these advancements are the result of the work done by software engineers.

What do you think about his hypothesis?