Colin Budd: 'Be bold and try something new'

May 24, 2016

Colin Budd

Information ScienceFine Arts

Pittsburgh, PA

Why did you choose Cornell?

Cornell has long distinguished itself from other universities by offering incredible programs in interdisciplinary education – a fact which immediately drew me to the university. From an early age, my interests in art, technology and business led me down a variety of paths including web design, app development, advertising and user experience (UX) design. I knew I would benefit the most from a school that would best allow me to explore my diverse passions while also preparing me for a career in fields that may not even exist today. With Cornell’s Concurrent Degree Program, I have been able to do precisely that, thanks to a uniquely designed pairing of Information Science (BA) and Fine Arts (BFA).

What, if any, research projects did you participate in at Cornell?

This past year, I have been hard at work expanding the capabilities of one of my favorite research projects: “mood.cloud.” Initially created through the collaborative efforts of computer science and psychology students at Cornell, the mood.cloud is a mesmerizing LED-based sculpture prominently located in the entrance of Gates Hall. My advisor, Professor David Mimno, challenged me with the task of breathing new life into the beautiful but stagnant piece. I knew immediately that I wanted to push the work far beyond its original purpose and seek a means for better “situating” the piece as a true component of the campus. To do just that, I turned to a part of Cornell we all love (and deal with on a daily basis): weather. I quickly began to explore different methods of visually representing current campus conditions in recognizable and engaging ways using the existing hardware and code. Fast forward six months and “weather@mood.cloud” is now live! The work vibrantly reflects the current weather conditions at Cornell through a number of visual effects: the LED lights beautifully ebb and flow alongside outside winds; glow and dim in response to the sky’s brightness; and change color to match the real-time sky color, temperature and conditions. I am beyond grateful that Professor Mimno challenged me to tackle this project and feel privileged to have learned that others really enjoy the piece!

If you were to offer advice to an incoming first year student, what would you say?

Although almost everyone has heard and/or given this advice before, it is worth repeating: do not be afraid to fail. It took me longer than I am willing to admit, but as soon as I found the courage to step outside of my comfort zone and begin taking chances, even at the risk of failing, everything started to click! Cornell presents thousands of opportunities to be bold and try something new – from classes in intimidatingly advanced subjects to massive competitions that seem impossible to win. Taking the (educated) risk of trying something new and giving it your best only serves to make you better – be it through a new perspective, new experience or new opportunity to learn from a mistake. All too often, you will end up wondering why you were ever afraid in the first place. The ability to go out and tackle a challenge in spite of your fears of failure might just be one of the best skills you can acquire. I still have to remind myself often of this advice, but I can guarantee that those who embrace it will enjoy a truly enriched experience at Cornell and beyond!

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