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UW Ph.D. students hold symposium on the role of technology in urban environments into the future

Published on June 3, 2022

This one-day symposium gathered academics, researchers, practitioners, and activists to share their thoughts on the current and imaginable pathways toward the cities of the future. Urban@UW served as a thought-partner for this symposium. Image Credit: Voogd075 (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Originally written by Mingming Cai, Ana Costa, Kristin Potterton & Salman Rashdi

On May 20th, students in University of Washington’s Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Program in Urban Design and Planning and Ph.D. Program in the Built Environment hosted the virtual 2022 annual research symposium. Based on the theme, Pathways toward the future: Assessing the digital dimensions of urban dynamics, the symposium explored the role of technology in our past, present, and future urban environments and how big data, smart cities, and other emerging technologies contribute to a sustainable and equitable world. 

View event recordings here!

The event was sponsored this year by Urban@UW, the College of Built Environments, and the Graduate School. Student organizers included Ph.D. students in Urban Design and Planning, Ana Costa and Mingming Cai, and Ph.D. students in Built Environment, Kristin Potterton and Salman Rashdi.

Student organizers, Ana Costa (not pictured), Kristin Potterton, Mingming Cai, and Salman Rashdi managed the virtual symposium from a Gould classroom.

Student organizers, Salman Rashdi, Ana Costa, Kristin Potterton, and Mingming Cai.

The day kicked off with a keynote speech by Sarah Williams, Associate Professor of Technology and Urban Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, introduced by Dean Renée Cheng of the College of Built Environments. Professor Williams presented her “7 principles for using data for action,” which set the stage for four sessions and a closing plenary. Themes explored during the symposium included urban housing and data, mobility tech at the human scale, global experiences with emerging technologies, and natural resources and the environment.

Keynote Speaker, Professor Sarah Williams, presenting “7 principles for using data for action.”

Session speakers included external researchers from several fields from the University of Southern California, Georgia Tech, Texas Tech, and the University of Virginia. Additionally, a diverse selection of University of Washington researchers, including representatives from the Sociology, Geography, Construction Management, and Urban Design and Planning departments presented their work, with assistance from faculty and Ph.D. students and candidates in moderating each session. The closing plenary was opened by Alex Anderson, Director of the Ph.D. in the Built Environment and Associate Professor of Architecture, and Qing Shen, Chair and Director of the Urban Design & Planning Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Program. Manish Chalana, Associate Professor of Urban Design & Planning and Adjunct Associate Professor of Architecture & Landscape Architecture,  moderated the conversation on “Digital Futures in the City,” which included contributions from a recent Urban Design & Planning Ph.D. graduate, a current Built Environment Ph.D. candidate, and a current College of Built Environments faculty member.

Attendees to the virtual symposium participated actively throughout the day with questions and comments. The wide-reaching ideas of the various sessions came together to create a thorough exploration of the role of technology in our urban environments and the role of researchers in shaping the future of technology to our built environments.

Following the virtual symposium, current faculty and students of both the Urban Design & Planning and Built Environment programs gathered together for a “Symposium Social”, taking advantage of the spring weather to spend time on Gould Lawn. This marked the first time since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic that the two programs have joined together in person, taking the opportunity to reconnect and meet new people across the two programs.

UDP and BE symposium social on Gould Lawn.

Originally written by Mingming Cai, Ana Costa, Kristin Potterton & Salman Rashdi
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