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Curriculum and Thesis Requirements

Course Requirements

Program Structure and Curriculum
The ACE concentration consists of a six quarters (two year) curriculum. All candidates take what’s called the “ACE core” for a total of 48 units. The ACE core consists of a mix of Interdisciplinary Seminars, Studio Labs, Internships, Breadth Electives and a Thesis Research and Professional Development course. In addition, Students are required to take four specialization electives (16 credits).

The ACE Interdisciplinary Seminar provides the interdisciplinary theoretical basis of the program. Studio Labs are a hybrid of art studio and technical lab or project-type class, in which students are introduced to a particular technology or area of practice and proceed to develop independent projects.

The typical curriculum will include the following:

5 ACE Seminars, 4 Studio Labs, 1 Thesis Research, 4 Arts, ICS, or Engineering Specialization Electives, 2 Breadth Electives.

ACE Seminar
Offered every quarter by ACE core and ACE program faculty. Certain seminars are obligatory for all ACE students. ACE seminars provide the interdisciplinary theoretical core of the program.

ACE StudioLabs
Rigorous, practical thematic technical classes with substantial design components.  ACE StudioLabs constitute the technical/practical core of the program. They are hybrids of art studio and technical lab or project-type classes, in which students are introduced to a particular technology or area of practice and proceed to build a project of their own design. Theoretical components may be added to the ACE studio labs. At least one StudioLab will be offered each quarter.

ACE Project Internships and Independent Studies
Each student will take a four-unit class at least once as a collaborator in a research project identified by the program committee as an official ACE project. ACE projects may include Cal-(IT)2 research projects, Beall Center projects, general campus research projects, or affiliations with community or arts groups. These internships are taken for credit; they are not research fellowships and are not paid.

Independent Study
Independent research study under faculty supervision. This course carries the same course number as the internships. It may be taken multiple times.

Thesis Research/Development
First year ACE students are required to take the ACE thesis research class offered every spring quarter. The function of this class is to assist students in developing skills and resources to ensure that students are prepared to ensure completion of graduation requirements by the end of the following Spring.

In consultation with faculty advisors, the student will choose Specialization Electives consistent with the technical, aesthetic, and theoretical themes of their thesis project (see below).

Breadth Electives may be chosen by the students in consultation with an advisor, and/or may be assigned by the ACE program committee in consultation with the student. These breadth electives will compensate for gaps in the student’s background and may include upper-division undergraduate courses when appropriate and approved in advance by the candidate’s advisor.

Specialization Electives
In addition to the ACE core, an MS candidate will take a minimum of four graduate electives. Three of these will be chosen to fulfill the ICS core graduate requirement, as follows: one class from each of the three following categories passed with a grade of B or better:

Theory: Fundamentals of the Design and Analysis of Algorithms (ICS 260), Data Structures (ICS 261), Analysis of Algorithms (ICS 263).

Architecture/CAD/Hardware: Embedded Systems Concepts (ICS 212), Computer Systems Architectures and Languages (ICS 241), Computer Networks (ICS 243), Introduction to Computer Design (ICS 252).

Software Systems: Human-Computer Interaction (ICS 205, Advanced Compiler Construction (ICS 211), Databases (ICS 214), Software Engineering (ICS 221), Distributed Computer Systems (ICS 247).

Flexibility and Substitution
With the ACE Director’s approval, candidates may reduce by one class the requirements for any of the following categories: ACE Seminar, Studio Labs, Internships, Thesis Research, and Breadth Electives. They may then substitute classes in the following categories: ACE Seminar, Studio Labs, Internships, Thesis Research, and Breadth Electives, or Specialization Electives.

The first year orients the candidate to the range of disciplines embraced by the program, and encourages an interdisciplinary exploration of possible connections among those fields. By the beginning of the second year, the candidate also should have begun to focus elective coursework on a topic suitable for the thesis. The thesis will be developed in conjunction with that coursework for the rest of the year under supervision of the candidate’s advisor.

Graduation consists of: 1) a publicly presented thesis project; and 2) a written thesis. The project component must demonstrate creative and technical achievement while the written component provides theoretical and historical contextualization to the work and the ideas that motivate it.

Thesis Requirements

Project Thesis
Public manifestation of your creative work. It must critically engage contemporary media art and technology practices. This can include hardware, software, writing, physical artifacts... that comprise a 'working system'.

Written Thesis
15,000 word minimum. Composed of the following sections Abstract, Introduction, Theoretical and Practical Influences, Project Overview, Technical Overview, Conclusion, References, Bibliography, Appendices. Sections can be subdivided however as needed given your topical breakdown.