Engineering dance features computer-controlled dance floor

Patterned after MIT model

The talent and ingenuity of Washington University engineering students are being put to the test with a large-scale, computer-controlled dance floor that will light up the night on Saturday, Nov. 12. That’s the date of the Engineering Student Council’s annual dance party, Vertigo, to be held from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. in Lopata Hall on the Washington University Hilltop Campus.

Comprising four 4 ft. x 8 ft. modules, the dance floor boasts 1,536 long-lasting and low-power-consuming LEDs that light to 4,096 different colors. Students are using substances as common as aluminum foil to achieve special effects. The dance floor, which makes use of one-half mile of environmentally friendly ribbon cable, can be controlled wirelessly by remote clients, thus facilitating visual interactions that were not possible in previous designs. The high-tech dance floor is based on one made by M.I.T. students last spring.

Students have worked hundreds of hours on the dance floor and are now putting the finishing touches on their project. They will be working on the dance floor through the weekend in 404 Lopata.

The dance-floor project is under the direction of the University’s chapter of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). The software portion of the project has been completed as a project for CSE 456, a capstone course in software engineering.

For more information, visit the project Web site at or contact Pehr Hovey, IEEE chapter president, Brandon Heller, (hardware) Garrett Eardley, gse1@cec.wustl.eydu (software), or Cheryl Simon, (software).