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Housing by Day, Light Show by Night

Light shows happen all over the world - why not at the University of Idaho?

That's the question Tim Tate asked himself and fellow graduate students, Damian Ball and Brandon Morton. After building a simple prototype, the team of computer science students knew this was something they had to try!

“We started Tower Lights for fun, but it became a kind of obsession. Once we started planning we realized it was too cool to not do,” Tate said.

Despite the challenges of producing a technical event in addition to their responsibilities of being graduate students, the first Tower Light show turned out to be a highlight of the 2010 Homecoming festivities.

It takes a team effort to pull off an event like this, and Tim, Damian, and Brandon had a lot of help behind the scenes. When all was said and done, 25 people spent nearly 200 hours planning and executing one of the most unique displays of Vandal Pride.

Ten other University of Idaho students (and a few alumni) designed and submitted animations using a simple application that allowed them to develop frame-by-frame animations without any programming knowledge. Although the students who participated were mostly students from computer science, electrical engineering, or virtual technology and design, everyone was invited to try their hand at animating the Tower.

Installing the lights and connecting all the cables and wires took 15 computer science students more than seven hours the day of the show. With a laptop and microcontroller on each floor connecting to spotlights in each room, the team had a lot of moving parts to coordinate.

“Everyone on our team contributed in a different way. We were able to leverage each other’s strengths to successfully pull off the event,” Ball said.

“We definitely want to make this happen again, and we want to have each show be better than the last. We’ve already started working on the next event,” he said. “We’ve also got some really exciting ideas that we hope to wow everyone with in future events. We’ll leave those details to everyone’s imagination.”

For more information about the technical details involved in this project, or to find out how you can be involved next year, please visit the Tower Lights website.

Vandal Fight Song - Lee VanGundy from UI ACM on Vimeo.

Friday, October 22, 2010
After the Homecoming Bonfire, a group of computer science students set out to create Tower Lights - one of the largest and most unique displays of Vandal Pride the University of Idaho has ever seen!

We started Tower Lights for fun, but it became a kind of obsession.

Once we started planning we realized it was too cool to not do.