Interdisciplinary research,
education and capacity building

In March 2007 the Portuguese Science and Technology Foundation (FCT) working with the University of Texas at Austin launched the International Collaboratory for Emerging Technologies (CoLab). The main objective of this five-year collaboration was, and continues to be, to strengthen Portuguese scholarly research, graduate-level education, industrial links, and academic entrepreneurship. 

From the start, this collaboration focused on building strong and mutually beneficial scholarly relationships among Portuguese and UT Austin faculty and students in three academic areas: Digital Media, Advanced Computing, and Mathematics. Emphasis was focused on establishing collaborative research, faculty and student exchange, and capacity building though conferences, workshops, and academically-related events. 

Now the emphasis is on building research and educational excellence and collaborations across the three academic programs in support of a new CoLab focus: Advanced Digital Media.

Why Advanced Digital Media?

As CoLab research and education opportunities became more defined, Advanced Digital Media emerged as a prominent transdisciplinary keystone for all three academic areas. Advanced Digital Media facilitates new devices, methods, and processes for industry, education, and entertainment applications. From medical diagnostics, learning modules, and telecommunications devices, to musical experiences and multi-site multiplayer gaming, Advanced Digital Media is at the leading edge of technology and product development, as well as transdiciplinary scholarly contributions. 

While media technology and applications are evolving at an astounding rate, there is rapid saturation of these technologies across multiple cultures and, as a result, new social structures emerge. Because this new media saturation is interactive, questions arise far beyond the bounds of meeting market needs. As the audience becomes author, new challenges arise concerning the role of the media itself, as traditional roles are challenged or displaced. To keep pace with these diverse phenomena, Colab will increasingly focus on the following strategic activities: 

  • Digital Media Content Creation
  • Evolving Media Industries
  • Interactivity: New Horizons for Technology, Software, Interface Applications
  • Creating a Climate for Creativity 

The broad scope of our program in advanced digital media recognizes the significant cultural currency of media in all of its forms. Whether in advertising, film, television and radio, Internet-based applications, the range of social networking tools, or embedded in architecture, performance and art, media saturate our world, informing our sense of identity, shaping our imagination even as it is shaped by our creativity.

We recognize in particular the necessity of creating robust networks of colleagues in this arena inasmuch as in the current century, it is networks and flows of information that will have critical roles in defining and channeling intellectual collaboration and accomplishment. Meaningful networks penetrate many institutions and organizations and epitomize the notion that innovation and knowledge can come from many quarters. Networks composed of professors, students, and people working in industry and government and civil society will be called on to work together in an increasingly complex society; creating the relationships among these constituencies that will be most fruitful for the future represents a critical component of the UT Austin | Portugal CoLab academic program.