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Wire Festival

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2022 Exhibits

Boston College

Seeding the Future: Automation, Plants, and Computation

Drawing upon on skills and knowledge from multiple disciplines we use novel technologies including transparent soil, 3D printing, physical computing, and laser cutting to engage youth and teachers in learning about how to use these technologies to motivate, engage, and support student learning.

Bioreactor Simulator: Textiles & Environmental Injustice

Post-consumer textiles impact individuals in developing countries with environmental justice and health consequences. We investigated effects of textile waste by characterizing chemical leachate and gas production from textile decomposition within a landfill bioreactor simulator that we designed and built. To advocate about textile waste induced health and environmental injustice, we also created a sculpture made from rescued textile waste.

Clemson University

Building Brains: Neuronal Circuits on a Microscope Slide

How are memories formed? How do brains learn? At Clemson, we build brains to answer these questions. We use an optical tweezer to pick up, move, and place individual brain cells, called neurons, into rationally designed neuronal circuits. We send electrical signals to these circuits and probe their responses with a microelectrode array. In doing so, we study how neurons work as a team to perform the essential functions of the human brain!

Fargates for bridging people, places, and digital content

Fargates embody a platform for physically and digitally bridging remote people, places, and content. Ferntor weave bands of multitouch screens and illuminated interactive paper with constellations of tangible interaction devices, all upon an illuminated, remotely-linked floor. We believe Fargates illustrate a promising path toward architectural engagement with remote people and information.

Florida State University

Penguineering Robotics

Our research works to advance biomechanics and robotics through the study of penguins. We conduct studies with actual penguins to better understand how they achieve their energy efficient stable waddling. These findings help inspire our robot designs. Waddle you do at our exhibit? Our exhibit includes educational coloring sheets, a 3D printed penguin skeleton, penguin racer toys, robots, and our mascot -Flurry the emperor penguin!

Shared Space, Shared History

Shared Space/Shared History explores how movement practices and civic dialogue intersect, support each other, and deepen human consciousness. The interactive installation engages conversation about the politics of identity and establishes a space where participants can connect to their senses, their bodies, and their personal history. This is a space where play, connection, and expression are encouraged.

Walking in the Footsteps of History

This project showcases ongoing research and documentation in Selma, AL focused on the events of Bloody Sunday and struggle for voting rights. Capturing the deteriorating conflict site and structures related to the march, digital technologies are used to record and interpret sensitive historic environments to expand audiences and advocate for site preservation. Alongside original physical and digital models, many of the featured images and archival documents have never been exhibited publicly, or outside of Selma.

Heart Sense: Reflections on Physiology and Embodiment

This project brings together humanities and physiology scholars to create an art installation that uses representation, tracking, and multiple visualizations of physiological data to investigate and reflect upon the body in ways that depart from quantitative self and spur curiosity about scientific measurements. The PIs are Nassim Parvin (Digital Media, Georgia Tech), Anne Pollock (Global Health and Social Medicine, King's College London), and Lewis Wheaton (Biological Sciences, Georgia Tech). Digital Media Student Collaborators: Aditya Anupam, Shubhangi Gupta, Sylvia Janicki, Mohsin Yousufi. The project is funded in part by the Digital Integrative Liberal Arts Center (DILAC).

University of Louisville

Astrosurgery (AKA Surgery in Space)

Our “Aqueous Immersion Surgical System” (AISS) will provide reliable wound containment for astronauts needing surgical treatment on extended space missions. The AISS includes a clear, rigid dome that is attached to the skin around a wound and filled with saline using a custom fluid control system that stops bleeding, cleanses the wound, and maintains a clear visual field. In May 2021, the AISS was evaluated onboard Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo.

Floating Room

Floating Room is an art x tech installation that engages with issues on drones, domestication, and the non-human. Presented as a compositional aviary for household things, floating products in Floating Room are semi-autonomous airborne whimsies created by a hybrid of featherweight, sculptural forms merged with UAV technology. These floating objects maintain their conventional function while also aerodynamically traversing their airspace.

NC State University

Bio-inspired Textiles and Objects for Sustainable Fashion Displays

The pageantry of colors found in nature is a source of inspiration for art and science. For example, the brilliant blue color of Morpho butterflies has long held the interest of artists and scientists. Our project exploits trees at a nanoscale regime to reproduce the structural colors in nature onto a variety of substrates and 3D objects, spanning from glass, metals, and plastics to wood, paper, and textiles. This greener alternative to traditional coloration and patterning techniques positively impacts our environment.

Redesigning systems of postnatal care to better enable all families to thrive

Hundreds of women die each year from complications related to pregnancy and childbirth. The US is the only high income country where maternal mortality rates are rising, with rates 3-4x greater for non-Hispanic Black women than for non-Hispanic White women. To be safe, mothers need to be listened to, respected, and experience timely, risk-appropriate postnatal care. We are taking a human-centered approach to better enable all families to thrive.


Making the largest maps of the Universe

Have you ever wondered what the Universe is made of, or how it has grown since the Big Bang? A worldwide team of almost a thousand scientists recently installed the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI) at the Mayall telescope on Kitt Peak, Arizona, and are now using it to measure distances to tens of millions of galaxies. DESI will produce the largest ever 3D map of the Universe, which will help to answer these questions and many others!

Touch the invisible: 3D-printed macromolecular complexes

Proper function of a cell depends on the structure of its biomolecules. Misfolded proteins cause illnesses such as cystic fibrosis or Alzheimer’s disease. In our project, we combine X-ray crystallography data with 3D-printing technology to build scientifically accurate models of macromolecular complexes. These models supplement curricula of undergraduate biology and biochemistry courses, and help students examine the 3D structures or identify functional groups enabling molecular interactions and macromolecular assembly.


The Draper Spark!Lab at the National Museum of American History

In Spark!Lab, we believe everyone is inventive. We invite inventors of all ages to create, collaborate, explore, adapt, and problem solve. Through virtual activities at home and
hands-on experiences in museum spaces, visitors model the invention process and explore their own inventiveness. To learn more about Spark!Lab and discover how we’re inspiring inventors, please visit: invention.si.edu.

Syracuse University

Innovation, Design, and Startups @ Syracuse University

Make your ideas real! is the motto of the IDS program at Syracuse University. Syracuse students create, innovate, and build business and nonprofit organizations. What’s the Big Idea? includes a classroom assignment to pitch your favorite toy and then create a new toy idea that will appeal to the same age and gender. Syracuse students pitch and prototype their new toy idea. Submit your new toy or game idea at the Syracuse University display.

Kairos: The Artifact

Kairos is an ambitious science communication project that incorporates climate change models and research into dramatic virtual reality (VR) environments. Our team of artists, scientists, and technologists will develop immersive worlds for parents and children to experience together in children’s and science museums across the US and internationally. http://www.kairos-vr.com

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


Nearly 1 million individuals lose their voice every year due to a traumatic injury or critical illness such as cancer. LiRA partners with patients and health systems to develop lip-reading software that empowers aphonic (voiceless) individuals. Through our application, LiRA hopes to advance the quality of medical care by restoring conversations between patients and providers. LiRA is striving to build a world where all communication is realized.

Chapel Thrill Escapes

Chapel Thrill Escapes is the nation's first student lead, on-campus non-profit escape room. Located on UNC’s campus, we are accessible, affordable, and completely student run. Our teams feature students from diverse majors and backgrounds. During the pandemic, we successfully launched an online escape, which enables us to safely serve groups of all sizes in an immersive online experience that build teamwork, group cohesion, and creative outlets.

University of Virginia

_mpathic design

_mpathic design consists of approaches and methods of teaching, thinking, and designing that uncover untold, marginalized narratives in the built environment. Experience a retrospective of work from academic, community, and professional contexts, including an interactive demonstration acknowledging and understanding the past to make sense of the present - creating inclusive design futures.

What can robots learn from fish?

Underwater robots are essential tools for our quest to understand our planet’s oceans. To be effective, these robots should be fast, efficient, maneuverable, and quiet. Some robots have one or two of these traits; fish have all four. Our mission is to help close this performance gap by studying fish-like robots.

Virginia Tech

Benthos 360

This exhibit explores the use of immersive 360° audiovisual technologies to connect the public with imperiled natural ecosystems. Dive with us beneath Appalachia’s Clinch River as we document conservation of one of the world’s most endangered animals: the freshwater mussel. With a restoration biologist as your underwater guide, you’ll experience a vibrant yet vulnerable aquatic world and view rivers, streams, and mussels in a whole new light.


LACE melds art and engineering to distill abstract concepts of distributed computing into an experiential demonstration of blockchain technologies. This kinetic sculpture and functioning computer network visually interprets the complexities of cryptocurrency creation on a blockchain through form and movement and, in doing so, distinguishes the technology from the hype surrounding its rapidly expanding use.

Celestial Garden

Celestial Garden is an interactive installation where participants engage with inflated teardrop forms in real-time. Each of the sixteen nylon pendants is equipped with both sound and light that respond directly to the participants’ touch—creating a unique audiovisual soundscape.

Wake Forest University

Fake News, Fact-checking, and Facebook: Teaching misinformation and disinformation in the perfect storm

2020 & 2021 were crazy years to be teaching about how information works! A new virus upended the world as we knew it and our information landscape was upended as well. Mis- and disinformation flourished, fact-checking was complicated by the lack of existing science, social media led to the rise of conspiracy theories and serious mental health consequences. Here’s how we covered all those topics in the brand new world COVID brought.

Viral Outbreaks: Preparation and Prevention in a Connected World

Can You Stop the Outbreak? Come learn about the environmental, social, and economic factors that contribute to emerging pandemics. Discover how you can play your part in helping prevent the spread of viruses in our future.