What is a Playdate?

What is a Playdate?
Picture by Tom Martin: ICAT’s first playdate hosted by then PhD candidate Jason Forsyth on October 20, 2013.

“In the early days of ICAT, we didn't have completed projects available for talks, so as a way of building community, we had hands-on activities (how to build things with Arduinos, for example). That seemed like a play date for kids...so that's what we called them.”

- Tom Martin

When perusing the ICAT website or receiving updates on our emails, you might notice that we have these weekly events called Playdates. Though the name is a good hint as to what you will find there, the Playdates are often more than what meets the eye.

So, what’s a Playdate?

A Playdate at ICAT is where we shine a spotlight on our latest research projects, welcome visiting artists, and dive into the cutting edge of creativity and technology. While many institutions may have a form of this, what sets us apart is our Playdate’s predictable weekly format, brevity, and more relaxed, laymen tone. The purpose of the Playdates is to make our fun and playful higher-level work at ICAT more accessible to the community, so people from all educational backgrounds and walks of life can be a part of what we do here.

The majority of our Playdate speakers are researchers whose projects have received funding within the past year through various grant programs, including our SEAD Grant funding. Whether the research is in its final stages or just beginning, there's always something intriguing to learn.

Another highlight of our Playdates is the presence of visiting researchers and artists. Whenever someone noteworthy visits ICAT, they're often invited to share their insights on a Friday morning. Past Playdates have featured guests like Miller Puckette and Kerry Hagan, who shared their music technology, and Pinckney Benedict, who showcased an AI chatbot developed using creative writing principles.

Finally, some Playdates can also be talks centered around specific topics that vary widely. Some recent topics have ranged from meeting with the ICAT Communication team to a topic-based Playdate on uses and innovation in AI.

So, what can you expect when you attend a Playdate?

Join us every Friday morning in the Assembly room at the Creativity and Innovation District (CID) Resident Hall, 185 Kent Street. Look out for the black cushioned seating and the large projection screen in the lobby—that's where the magic happens!

Or, join us online! Every one of our Playdates is streamed live from our website and YouTube channel. These recordings also go online for you to watch at anytime.

It is important to note that Playdates only happen while students are in class. If there is a holiday or break, ICAT does not host playdates that Friday. If you are unsure if there is a Playdate, our website is always updated to let you know.

Here's a rundown of what goes down:

  • Pre-event:
  • 8:15 am - 9:00 am: Fuel up with donuts, coffee, and engaging conversation.
  • Playdate proper:
  • 9:00 am - 9:20 am: Dive into the Playdate as our speaker(s) captivate you with their presentations.
  • 9:20 am - 9:30 am: Ask questions and engage with the speaker during the Q&A session.
  • Post-event:
  • 9:30 am: Playdate wraps up, but feel free to linger for more discussions or grab another donut.

Don't miss out on the fun—join us this Friday!