Author Archives: Brett Tomlinson

Tiger of the Week: Ajay Kapur ’02, Bringing Creative Arts to Online Education

Ajay Kapur ’02 (Jeffrey K. Plunkett ’97)

Ajay Kapur ’02 (Jeffrey K. Plunkett ’97)

PAW’s January 2013 Music Issue highlighted the technologically advanced performances of Ajay Kapur ’02, a professor at the California Institute of the Arts best known for developing intricate, responsive robotic instruments. Now Kapur is shifting his creativity to a new outlet: Kadenze, an educational technology startup that he founded with Princeton emeritus professor Perry Cook.

Kadenze, which launched in June, features courses in music, art, and design that range from traditional topics (the history of Western art) to cutting-edge technology (“Physics-Based Sound Synthesis for Games and Interactive Systems,” a forthcoming class from Cook and Stanford’s Julius Smith). The platform aims to fill a niche that has been largely neglected in online education.

“It’s great that you can learn math and engineering and all these things that are out there,” Kapur told Inside Higher Ed. “We want to bring creativity into the mix.”

Princeton, Stanford, and CalArts are among Kadenze’s launch partners. (A few institutions are offering credit for the online courses, but Princeton is not among that group.) In addition to serving as Kadenze’s CEO, Kapur is teaching one of the first courses, “Introduction to Programming for Musicians and Digital Artists.” It features sessions with three digital-music innovators who are also Princetonians: Cook; Ge Wang *08, an assistant professor at Stanford and co-founder of Smule; and Spencer Salazar ’06, a doctoral student at Stanford.

WATCH: Ajay Kapur ’02’s robotic creations, a video by Jeffrey K. Plunkett ’97 Continue reading

Names in the News: Full ’15’s Clever Design, Cabral ’12 Runs at World Championships, and More

030613coverEDEN FULL ’15, the engineer, entrepreneur, and Thiel Fellow featured in PAW’s March 6, 2103, cover story, has continued to pursue innovative solutions to generating power and providing clean water for communities in developing countries. Design News called the latest version of Full’s SunSaluter “a clever idea to address these two problems simultaneously.”

TerraCycle, the Trenton, N.J., waste recycling start-up that TOM SZAKY ’05 founded as a Princeton freshman, is the focus of an ongoing reality TV series, Human Resources. Szaky, who dropped out of college to build the company, told The New York Times that he hopes “to show that doing good can also create revenue and phenomenal value.”

Congressional candidate LINDY LI ’12 faces an uphill battle as she tries to unseat three-term incumbent Rep. Pat Meehan in Pennsylvania’s 7th district in 2016. But according to a recent Washington Post profile, Li has a stubborn confidence and the “special brand of optimism” of the millennial generation. If elected, she would be the youngest woman in the history of the U.S. Congress.

Track star DONN CABRAL ’12 finished 10th in the men’s 3,000-meter steeplechase at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing Aug. 24. Kenya dominated the race, capturing the three medal positions and the fourth-place slot as well. Cabral, one of three Americans in the top 10, told Runner’s World that he was not happy with his race. “This is probably the least I’ve managed to show up when it counts,” he said. “That said, I’m not going to bang my head about it for too long. I think I had a great season.”

Gen. MARK A. MILLEY ’80 was sworn in as the U.S. Army’s 39th chief of staff Aug. 14. In his first official remarks, he spoke about the nation’s preparedness for conflicts of many kinds. “As America, we have no luxury of a single opponent,” Milley said, according to The Washington Post. “We have to be able to fight guerrillas and terrorists all the way up through nation-state militaries. If we do not maintain our commitment to remain strong in the air, on the sea and yes, on the ground, then we will pay the butcher’s bill in blood, and we will forever lose the precious gift of our freedom.”

#ThrowbackThursday: Time for Tackling

PAW Archives

PAW Archives

“Hitting the hay” had a less-than-restful connotation for this unnamed Princeton tackler, shown with assistant coach Keene Fitzpatrick during preseason football practice in 1928. The Tigers, under the direction of head coach Bill Roper, went 5-1-2 that fall, including a 12-2 victory over rival Yale and a 6-6 tie at Ohio State in Princeton’s first and only trip to the famed “Horseshoe.”

This year’s Tigers kick off practice today (on artificial turf, not grass and straw) and begin the season Sept. 19 at Lafayette. Princeton was picked to finish fourth in the Ivy League’s preseason media poll, behind Harvard, Dartmouth, and Yale.

Tiger of the Week: Patrick Ryan ’68, Gallery Director

Patrick Ryan ’68 at his Princeton art gallery, Gallery 353. (Jeanette Beebe ’14)

Patrick Ryan ’68 at his Princeton art gallery, Gallery 353. (Jeanette Beebe ’14)

By Jeanette Beebe ’14

Patrick Ryan ’68 doesn’t do “art speak.” But he does know how to command the stage at an auction, rattling off antiques and art at break-neck speed to the highest bidder. Last Saturday, at the historic Benjamin Temple house and dairy farm in Ewing, N.J., where he was born and raised, Ryan auctioned off more than 80 items in 2 1/2 hours under a blazing hot sun — all for charity, to support the Ewing Township Historic Preservation Society.

Ryan has led a life of talking fast and moving faster. A long-time art collector and gallery owner, Ryan is just as comfortable in overalls and work boots as in seersucker shorts and a polo shirt.

He reckons he somehow “inherited the Irish gypsy gene,” a drive that rattled against the quiet rituals of his father’s 166-acre dairy farm: rising at 4:30 a.m. to milk 50 cows, twice per day. “The cows don’t care if it’s Christmas,” he remembers.

One item on the auction block was an original milk bottle from the Ryan family’s farm, which opened in 1903. “No one can believe that there was a dairy farm out in Jersey,” he says. “But that’s all there was: horses and cows and peaches.”

Ryan’s wanderlust took him far beyond his father’s dairy farm — to boarding school, to Princeton, and after graduation to law school in Washington, D.C., then homes in Chicago, Honolulu, Louisiana, La Jolla, San Francisco, Sante Fe, Oregon, Key Biscayne, Las Cruces — and home again, after five years as the director of an art gallery in Charleston, S.C., and nine years as a pecan farmer.

Last May, Ryan opened Gallery 353, a one-room art gallery in Princeton. Tucked within the basement of the McCarthy building on Nassau Street, the gallery’s current collection is as eclectic as Ryan’s background.

“It’s a great job to be able to sit and just enjoy beautiful things. Especially when you can’t lift — when you can’t do fence holes any more!” he laughs. Continue reading

Tiger of the Week: Football Broadcaster Ross Tucker ’01

Ross Tucker ’01 (Courtesy RossTucker.com)

Ross Tucker ’01 (Courtesy RossTucker.com)

Fans often dismiss the NFL’s preseason games as meaningless exhibitions, but broadcaster and former pro lineman Ross Tucker ’01 sees something different. “I love preseason football,” he told PAW, “because I know how important it is to the people participating in it” — particularly the second-team players, who begin each game knowing they’ll play “15 to 20 snaps for all their dreams to come true.”

Not long ago, Tucker was one of those anxious dreamers. He played for five teams in a seven-year NFL career, primarily as an offensive guard. After retiring, he joked in guest column for Peter King’s Monday Morning Quarterback that he was “the only 28-year-old Princeton grad that has been fired five times already.”

Tucker prepared for life after football with offseason internships in several fields, including commercial real estate, finance, and sports marketing. But the experience that made the biggest impression was an NFL-sponsored broadcasting boot camp, where he learned the basics of TV and radio. The former politics major also was ready to give writing a try. “I figured if I can write 18 pages on Machiavelli, I probably could come up with 1,000 words on the Bengals’ offensive line,” he said. Continue reading

Tiger of the Week: Keyboardist Gavin Black ’79

Gavin Black ’79 (Jeanette Beebe ’14)

Gavin Black ’79 at the harpsichord bench. (Jeanette Beebe ’14)

By Jeanette Beebe ’14

Gavin Black ’79 has devoted his entire adult life to studying, performing, teaching, and recording 17th- and 18th-century keyboard music. But he knows that studying Baroque music on antique instruments isn’t an easy sell.

“The harpsichord is not remotely as popular as the piano,” he laughs from a bench at the Princeton Early Keyboard Center, the non-profit music studio he founded in 2001. It offers harpsichord, clavichord, and organ lessons for students, composers, and group classes.

Black discovered the organ and harpsichord at age 14, after a stint taking piano lessons left him curious about Baroque music.

As a freshman at Princeton, he would practice the organ alone in the vast and empty University Chapel, lit only by moonlight, courtesy of a special access key. He served as an assistant university organist at Princeton, and recorded an album on a harpsichord he kept safe in his senior-year dorm room.

Black earned his Master of Music degree from Westminster Choir College, and he has been teaching the organ, harpsichord, and clavichord for over 30 years.

Though the Princeton Early Keyboard Center occupies only one room within Christ Congregation Church, across the street from Westminster Choir College, the carefully air-conditioned studio holds no fewer than five instruments, each uniquely ornate: a late-17th century Italian harpsichord; a mid-18th century German clavichord; a Flemish-style harpsichord build in 1986 by Hill & Tyre; a small Renaissance-style clavichord built in 1983 by Hill & Tyre; and a German-style, two-keyboard harpsichord built in 1978 by Keith Hill.   Continue reading