The 2020 Symposium on Education in Entertainment and Engineering, originally planned as an in-person event on the campus of University of Nevada Las Vegas, became an all-virtual event in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Co-hosted by faculty from Purdue University and UNLV, the event included participants representing 18 entertainment and engineering companies and 27 colleges and universities.

Download a copy of the 2020 Symposium Book, with a detailed schedule of events, presentation abstracts, and presenter and panelist biographies at the Symposium ePublication repository.


All times Eastern Daylight

Thursday, July 23

Friday, July 24


(click names to expand biographies)

Symposium Co-Hosts, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN

Rich Dionne, MA English, MFA Theatre

Rich Dionne is a clinical assistant professor and faculty technical director in the Department of Theatre in the Patti and Rusty Rueff School of Design, Art, and Performance at Purdue University. He specializes in scenery automation and show control systems while also serving as the department's production manager. He has a passion for both the art of theatre and the science and engineering of making theatre happen. Rich is a founding Faculty Fellow of the Purdue Polytechnic Institute, and has served as the technical director for numerous productions in the Department of Theatre. He teaches courses in structural and mechanical design for the stage, automation controls and show networks, project planning and advanced arena rigging to students in theatre and theatre engineering.

Prior to coming to Purdue, Richard was the production manager and resident sound designer at The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, where he mounted numerous productions at various indoor and outdoor venues, including a nationally-recognized educational touring company. Additionally, he has served as the technical director for Berkshire Theatre Festival, Alpine Theatre Project, Weston Playhouse Theatre Company, and Dorset Theatre Festival, mounting critically-acclaimed productions including The Whipping Man, Barefoot in the Park, Amadeus, Night of the Iguana, venue Q, The Illusion, and Death of a Salesman. Rich's book, Project Planning for the Stage: Tools and Techniques for Managing Extraordinary Performances, focused on the application of project planning techniques for theatrical production, was recently published by Southern Illinois University Press. The eighth edition of Theatrical Design and Production, for which he is a co-author with Michael Gillette, is due in print in spring of 2019.

Mary K. Pilotte, MBA, PhD Engineering Education

Dr. Mary Pilotte as Associate Professor of Engineering Practice is also Director of the School of Engineering Education’s Undergraduate degree programs in Interdisciplinary Engineering Studies and Multidisciplinary Engineering. She teaches varied topics across levels of student development, from professional development to engineering economics and Senior Capstone Design. Outside of the College of Engineering she instructs project management and consulting approaches for the Global and Executive MBA programs at the Krannert School of Management at Purdue, and heads corporate workshops based on her book “Millennial Reset” (2018) and on Intentional Learning. Her research interests include engineering work culture including generations-based engineering practices and norms, examining what it means to identify as “multidisciplinary”, and exploring new approaches and dynamic strategies around increasing workplace diversity, especially for the neurodiverse, and those with invisible differences.

Prior to her roles in academy, she worked professionally for more than 20 years in the automotive, aerospace, airline, and commercial products industries, holding a variety of titles and leading high performing teams in manufacturing, design-engineering for new product and process development, and in strategic mergers and acquisitions.

Symposium Co-Hosts, UNLV, Las Vegas, NV

Michael Genova, MFA Theatre

Michael Genova’s career in live entertainment has spanned more than twenty years. He earned his MFA in Th eatre from UNLV with an emphasis in technical direction and scenic technology. An artist and technician, Michael has performed as a technical director, scenic designer, sound designer/ composer, and weapons designer.

His credits include working as a mechanical designer and fabrication specialist for the theatrical special effects company Flying by Foy, and most recently as an Automation technician for one of Las Vegas’s most heavily automated shows: Le Rêve – The Dream. He is currently investigating the use of CNC and additive manufacturing technology for scenic applications.

SJ Kim, MS Computer Engineering and Science, PhD HCI and Human Factors

Dr. SJ Kim PhD is an Assistant Professor of Entertainment Engineering and Design at the Howard R. Hughes College of Engineering and College of Fine Arts at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. At UNLV he operates the Digital Experience Lab (DEX Lab). He joined the EED program in August 2014 to conduct interdisciplinary projects with a goal of providing novel user experiences in the fi eld of human-computer interactions and entertainment technologies.

Dr. Kim has over 15 years experience designing interactive media based on the theories and principles of human factors and human-computer interactions. Dr. Kim’s education includes HCI and Human Factors (PhD), Computer Engineering and Science (MS), and Electronic/Mechatronics Engineering (BS). His professional experience includes work with Samsung Electronics, Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST), Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI), and HP Labs, Palo Alto.

Symposium Panelists and Presenters

Robert Coleman, MFA
Florida State University,Tallahassee, FL

Robert H. Coleman, MFA Technical Production Program Director, has contributed to over three hundred Dance, Opera, and Dramatic Theatre productions. He was Director of Production at the Opera Festival of New Jersey at McCarter theatre in Princeton, NJ during the summer season. During his tenure, the Opera Festival presented several world premieres and was considered by Opera News and Money to be among the top ten summer festivals in the U.S. and in the top twenty worldwide.

Robert worked professionally for a number of years before a desire to teach led him to graduate school for his MFA. He attended Ohio University for a year before transferring to the Yale School of Drama in 1995. He graduated from the Yale School of Drama with an MFA in Technical Design and Production in 1998.

He was the Head of the Technical Program at the University of Tennessee for three years and served as the Technical Director for the school and the Clarence Brown Company, the University of Tennessee’s LORT theatre company.

He came to Tallahassee in August of 2001 to FSU School of Th eatre’s nationally prominent MFA Technical Production program where he is an Associate Professor and Program Director of the MFA Technical Production program.

He continues his professional career, acting as Technical Consultant to a number of notable scenic designers and theatre companies. He was Technical Consultant to Designer Kris Stone for the Abbey Theatre’s Production of Lolita. Robert was a Fly-in Technician (now referred to as Global Resources Services) for Cirque du Soleil’s Dralion North American tour. More recently, he acted as Interim Assistant Technical Director for Cirque du Soleil’s Dralion European Tour. in Vienna and Antwerp. He has worked in Global Resources Services for Cirque du Soleil, serving in Antwerp, Madrid, London, Barcelona, Rotterdam, Oostende, and Zurich, Geneva, Valencia, Malaga, Berlin, and Frankfurt.

Kevin Hines, MFA Theatre
Carnegie Mellon School of Drama, Pittsburg, PA

Kevin Hines is an Associate Teaching Professor in the Production Technology and Management option at the Carnegie Mellon School of Drama, where he teaches Basic Production Technology, Technical Direction, Technical Design, Structural Design, Physics of Stage Machinery, and Stage Machine Design.

Kevin is a graduate of Binghamton University and the Yale School fo Drama. He continues to work commercially as a freelance technical designer for the Broadway, national touring, themed environment and shipboard entertainment markets. Recent projects include King Lear, Company, Flying Over Sunset (Broadway), Hello Dolly, Mean Girls (national tour), and Kinky Boots (NCL Encour.)

Kevin has published articles for Technical Brief, New England Entertainment Digest, and USITT Tech Expo, and is a member of USITT’s Engineering Commission. He is an avid reader, board gamer, origamist, and general maker of things.

Gemma Hodgson
TAIT, Las Vegas, NV

Gemma is a theatre entertainment industry veteran with over 20 years’ experience. Before coming to TAIT, she trained at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School in the UK and was a sales manager at Stage Technologies in their London Headquarters. Gemma has extensive experience as managing technical coordinator in Carnival Corporation’s Miami headquarters.

In 2013, Gemma moved to the United States when TAIT acquired Stage Technologies. Gemma now holds the role of VP Global Business Development for TAIT. She focuses on all Markets with specialty in Permanent Installations.

Matt Jackson, MFA Theatre Design
Adirondack Studios, Argyle, NY

Matt Jackson has been the Director of Technical Design at Adirondack Studios for twelve years. Matt obtained his BA in Theatrical Design at Keene State College and his MFA in Theatre Design and Technology at Ohio University.

Marlo Ransdell, PhD
Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL

Marlo Ransdell, PhD, is an Associate Professor in the Department of Interior Architecture and Design at Florida State University. Her research focuses on creativity, digital fabrication, and critical thinking skills in the design field. She is also the founder and director of Studio D: Design and Fabrication lab at Florida State University. Studio D is a fully-equipped maker space that supports undergraduate and graduate furniture design prototyping. In addition to her role as director of Studio D, she is also a Faculty in Residence at the Facility for Arts Research, and is a certified Rhino software mentor and specialist. She regularly presents and publishes her work at national and international conferences.

Kim Scott, MFA THeatre
Intrigue Shows, Inc. Celestia, Las Vegas, NV

Kim is currently serving as the National Treasurer of USITT, United States Institute for Theatre Technology. She is the Chair for the Entertainment Engineering and Design Program at UNLV and Chair for the Intermountain Desert Section USITT. Kim is committed to building a bridge between students and companies in the live entertainment field.

Kim is the General Manager of Intrigue Shows, Inc. Celestia on the Las Vegas Strip working with the top acts from America’s Got Talent. Managing the dynamics of a 30, 000 sq. ft immersive tent experience has added to her already diverse operational skills. She also recently launched KS Consulting, where she leverages her skills in the development and implementation of strategies to enhance performance, operational readiness, and efficiencies for theatre companies and universities world-wide. She is committed to be a steward to early career professionals and is a dedicated mentor to young women in the entertainment field.

Kim had a rewarding career with Cirque du Soleil, most recently as the Sr. Manager of Sourcing and Partnerships She created and identified programs to support the technical sourcing needs and collaborated with key organizations to provide insight and growth in the live entertainment industry.

Kim also company managed the Cirque du Soleil productions , The Beatles LOVE and CRISS ANGEL BeLIEve.

Kim holds a BFA from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and an MFA from the University of California-Irvine. Prior to joining Cirque, Kim enjoyed a vibrant career in concert dance and musical theatre.

Jonathan Shimon, MFA Technical Production
University at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY

Jonathan Shimon is an Assistant Professor of Theatre Technology in the Department of Theatre and Dance at the University at Buffalo. His specialties include industrial hygiene for theatre, scenic automation, structural design and analysis, rigging, material labor estimation and management. He is a certified theatrical rigger and recognized trainer through the Entertainment Technician Certification Program. Jon was selected to be the Technical Director for the US entries in the 2019 Prague Quadrennial. An Associate Trainer for The Chicago Flyhouse, Jon travels internationally training technicians and performers in rigging, performer flying, and automation safety for the cruise ship industry. His previous professional credits include various positions at Neglia Ballet (Buffalo, NY), Shakespeare in Delaware Park (Buffalo, NY), Art Park (Lewiston, NY), Asolo Repertory (Sarasota, FL), Glimmerglass Opera (Cooperstown, NY), Weston Playhouse Theatre Company (Weston, VT), Santa Fe Opera (Santa Fe, NM) and Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at University of Maryland (College Park, MD). Jon earned a MFA in Technical Production from Florida State University.

Ed Weingart, MFA Technical Direction
University of Connecticut, Mansfield, CT

Edward Weingart is an Associate Professor of Technical Direction at the University of Connecticut where he is also the Executive Technical Director of the Connecticut Repertory Theater. He is the Director of Special Projects for Creative Conners and works in the US and abroad as a Flying Director for the performer flying company Vertigo. He is an ETCP certified Rigger (Theater) and a CM certified hoist technician. New York credits include flying direction for Basil Twist’s Sister’s Follies and automation system design for Jorden Wolfson’s Colored Sculpture which premiered at the David Zwirner Gallery and has since toured to France, The Netherlands, and London. He has also worked as the head rigger and automation supervisor for the Calgary Stampede Grandstand Show in Calgary, Alberta Canada. In addition to specific shows he has also designed several stock automation products at Creative Conners which are used in theaters across the country and abroad. Before teaching at UConn he was the Technical Director at Michigan State University and at the Performance Network Theater in Ann Arbor Michigan. Ed holds a BFA in Design/Technical Theater and an MFA in Technical Direction from UConn.