Think Bink: Alumnus to release series of animated shorts

April 29th, 2016 | No Comments | Posted in From Our Alumni

By Vicki L. Kroll

binklogoYou know Nemo and Dory and Woody and Buzz, Simba and Nala and Shrek and Donkey. But are you ready to meet Bink?

An adorable seafaring creature with yellow fur, blue spots that match an upright comb, and big brown eyes, Bink will be coming soon to a screen near you, courtesy of Eric Miller Animation Studios.

Bink strikes a martial arts defensive pose“We needed an animated short to show potential clients, so I wanted to create a main character that’s cute and likable,” Eric Miller (Univ Coll ’05) said during a call from his Los Angeles home. “But animation can get really expensive, and since I was funding this on my own, I was trying to find ways to keep costs low.”

He found inspiration in the Minions’ shorts that feature the yellow hooligans on a white background.

“I thought a similar style was a good idea; I could use a simple background and it’ll be character-driven and comedy-driven, and that’s where the initial idea for Bink started,” Miller said.

With former fellow DreamWorks Animation co-worker Charlie Petrek, Miller began shaping his small, sociable star.

Eric Miller, right, and Jeff Shiffman, co-owner of Boom Box Post, work on sound effects for Bink.

Eric Miller, right, and Jeff Shiffman, co-owner of Boom Box Post, work on sound effects for Bink.

“We started throwing around ideas. We came up with a creature that’s in a lab being tested, and each episode will be a different test,” Miller explained. “Because we’re trying to keep costs low, each episode is only 30 seconds. And this allowed us to spend more of the budget on making higher-quality characters and higher-quality renders.”

His sharp focus on art and cartoons began when he was growing up in Canton, Ohio.

“I was inspired most by Disney, whether the company or the person. Originally, I had a few different things I really liked and was passionate about, animation or art being one of them,” Miller recalled. “I also found I really had a passion for business. I think it was learning about Walt Disney’s story and how he started his own company and brought the two together, the art world and the business world, and realized I could make a business doing animation and that’s where my dream came from.”

And Disney said, “If you can dream it, you can do it.”

So the disciplined teen — he earned a black belt in kung fu at age 11 — started to look for a college to make it happen.

“I went to The University of Toledo and met Peter Patchen, and he told me about the cyber arts program and part of that was 3-D animation, something I was really interested in,” Miller said. “And I also really liked the school, so I decided to go to Toledo.”

“Chessmate” was an animated short Eric Miller created as a UT student in 2001.

“Chessmate” was an animated short Eric Miller created
as a UT student in 2001.

At UT, Miller created two animated shorts: “Chessmate” in 2001 and “Mediocrity” in 2005.

“Mediocrity” was an animated short Eric Miller created as a UT student in 2005.

“Mediocrity” was an animated short Eric Miller created as a UT student in 2005.

“Eric was a creative and talented young artist who had a passion for storytelling through animation,” said Patchen, chair of the Department of Digital Arts at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, N.Y., and former UT associate professor of art from 1993 to 2006. “He was very demanding of himself and researched his projects independently and well beyond class assignments. He was also generous with what he learned and often helped other students.”

With a little assistance from a high school acquaintance who offered a place to crash in Los Angeles, Miller headed West in July 2005. Three months later, he moved to Sherman Oaks, where he shared an apartment with two UT graduates: John Kundly (Eng ’03) and Ben Hatch (Bus ’05).

Miller worked at a slew of places — Apple Store, Walgreen’s, B1 Media. Then he took a position at a temp agency that had a reputation for helping wannabes find work in entertainment. That led to a placement at DreamWorks Studios as a facilities production assistant, a job he later landed.

“I did interview for Steven Spielberg’s [production assistant] position for ‘Indiana Jones IV.’ The position was only a temporary one, so one of the questions they asked in the interview was, ‘If you get this job, what do you want to do when it ends?’ They try to help the PAs get to where they want to go, and I told them I really want to get into animation. And they smiled and said, ‘We know some people in animation.’

“So while I didn’t get the PA position for Spielberg, I was promoted to lead facilities PA. And, more importantly, when I applied for a position on ‘Monsters vs. Aliens,’ Spielberg’s office called the DreamWorks Animation producers, who originally said they were looking for someone with more experience, and then they wanted to meet with me. This shows how important your network is in Hollywood.”

He joined the studio in 2007. Miller was central office coordinator for “Monsters vs Aliens,” animation coordinator on “Kung Fu Panda 2,” cross-site coordinator for “Madagascar 3,” and modeling and surfacing production supervisor for “Home.”

But that vision of his own company still beckoned.

“July 3, 2014, was my last day at DreamWorks, and July 4 was my first day of independence,” he said and laughed.

His first client? Toys R Us. “We did visual effects for more than 40 commercials for them.”

Before long, Bink was calling.

The first short is expected to debut online in May.

Eric Miller at the 2016 Producers Guild Awards

Eric Miller at the 2016 Producers
Guild Awards

“When you think of DreamWorks and Pixar, they have huge rooms full of processors called render farms. Rendering is a term used to describe the process where computers calculate what each pixel will look like based on the lighting calculations and reflections of different elements, and how they all come together to form a frame of animation. When these frames are played together is when you get animation. That takes a lot of computing power,” Miller said.

“So as we’re finishing up lighting, we have to render these images. We obviously don’t have the computing power like Pixar and DreamWorks, so it takes us a lot longer to render because normally we’re running it on one or two computers. I was talking to my lighter, and he was saying some shots were taking about 25 minutes per frame. So when you multiply that by however many frames, the time it takes can definitely add up very quickly.”

Another exciting arrival: Miller and his wife, Karen, are expecting their second child in May. Their son, Kelton, 2, will have a sister soon.

“It’s kind of funny how it’s working out that Bink and the baby will be here around the same time,” he said and laughed.

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UT astronomers, student discover free-floating planetary-mass object in family of stars

April 28th, 2016 | No Comments | Posted in From Our Alumni

By Christine Long

A young, free-floating world sits alone in space in this illustration from NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology. The object, called WISEA J114724.10-204021.3, is thought to be an exceptionally low-mass brown dwarf, which is a star that lacks enough mass to burn nuclear fuel and glow.

A young, free-floating world sits alone in space in this illustration from NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology. The object, called WISEA J114724.10-204021.3, is thought to be an exceptionally low-mass brown dwarf, which is a star that lacks enough mass to burn nuclear fuel and glow.

Astronomers at The University of Toledo have identified a new object in space approximately 100 light years away from Earth estimated to be roughly five to 10 times the mass of Jupiter and 10 million years old.

The free-floating planetary mass object identified by researchers as a brown dwarf is called WISEA J114724.10-204021.3, or just WISEA 1147 for short. A brown dwarf is a lightweight star that lacks enough mass to fuse hydrogen into helium, the process that makes stars like the sun shine.

The new object is a member of the TW Hydrae family of stars and is located in the Crater constellation.

“We estimate it is one of the youngest and lowest-mass free-floating objects yet discovered in the solar neighborhood, which is within 300 light years,” said Dr. Adam Schneider, UT postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Physics and Astronomy and lead author of the new study to be published in The Astrophysical Journal. “This is not orbiting a star, so it is not a planet. It likely formed on its own in isolation like stars. We can use this to help us inform our understanding of chemistry and cloud structure of exoplanets, which are planets that orbit stars other than the sun.”

This map from NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology shows the location of the TW Hydrae family of stars where UT astronomers found the lone planetary-mass.

This map from NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology shows the location of the TW Hydrae family of stars where UT astronomers found the lone planetary-mass.

According to NASA, this discovery provides new clues in a mystery of galactic proportions regarding possibly billions of lonely worlds that sit quietly in the darkness of space without any companion planets or even a host sun. Where do the objects come from? Are they planets that were ejected from solar systems, or are they brown dwarfs?

“We are at the beginning of what will become a hot field – trying to determine the nature of the free-floating population and how many are planets versus brown dwarfs,” said co-author Dr. Davy Kirkpatrick of NASA’s Infrared Processing and Analysis Center at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

UT undergraduate student James Windsor, a sophomore studying astrophysics, is listed as one of the study’s co-authors.

UT sophomore James Windsor is an astrophysics major who helped astronomers identify the new object in space.

UT sophomore James Windsor is an astrophysics major who helped astronomers identify the new object in space.

“James played a vital role at the outset of the study by identifying WISEA 1147 from a candidate list of several thousand,” said Dr. Mike Cushing, associate professor of astronomy and director of UT’s Ritter Planetarium. “Exposing undergraduates to cutting-edge research plays an important role in their education, and I am happy that in this case it resulted in a pretty amazing discovery.”

“To make the discovery and have a student be involved is just awesome,” Schneider said.

“The ability to do research like this as an undergraduate student is one reason I chose to attend UT,” Windsor said. “This whole experience is mind-blowing. I’m a kid who grew up in the village of Paulding, Ohio, dreaming of becoming an astronomer.”

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UT in the News

April 28th, 2016 | No Comments | Posted in In The News
UTMC to transition to new leadership

The University of Toledo Medical Center will transition to a new leader June 1 following an announcement by UT President Sharon L. Gaber Tuesday that Dave Morlock, CEO of UTMC and executive vice president, will leave the institution for a new opportunity based in New York.

Read More

College of Business and Innovation ranks in top 100 in nation

Alzheimer’s researcher at UT on verge of breakthrough

Lourdes, UT partner to offer law program

Two area universities struggling with declining enrollment are partnering in a program that officials describe as beneficial for students and the institutions.

Read More.

Giant sturgeon poised to spawn again

A major effort to re-establish powerful, ancient lake sturgeon in the Maumee River will begin this fall if the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the Toledo Zoo, and the University of Toledo get federal grant money to set up what officials call a “streamside rearing facility.”

Read More.

Rocket engineering prep program

How to build a major in a young field

The University of Toledo’s new disability-studies program attracts undergraduate interest.

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Changing body images

When Roy Schneider received his medical illustration degree more than 30 years ago, he routinely transferred his knowledge of the minutiae surrounding the human body to foam board with pen and ink.

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Study links geography, life expectancy for low-income Americans

Doctor’s make house call for zoo’s gorilla

Kwisha’s ticker is strong and chugging along, exactly as it should be.

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Environmental science professor talks impact of climate change on public health

Explorer Ann Bancroft speaks at UT

Rapper David Banner speaks at UT

Celebration of Life for professor Don Reiber

A memorial service for Don Reiber, a much-loved University of Toledo associate professor of communication, is set for Sunday at Savage Arena.

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Women’s golfer becomes first from UT to earn spot in NCAA regional

University of Toledo senior Sathika Ruenreong was one of six individuals selected to participate in an NCAA regional hosted by the University of Alabama, the NCAA announced Monday evening.

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RockeTHON 2016

Students make pizzas to fight hunger

Holi Toledo 2016

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Class Notes

April 28th, 2016 | No Comments | Posted in Class Notes

Please submit your class note to:


*Randy Schafer (Ed ’75) was inducted into the Varsity ‘T’ Hall of Fame at The University of Toledo. Schafer won four letters in baseball at UT from 1972 to 1975, earning first-team All Mid-American Conference and team MVP honors as a designated hitter in 1975. He went on to play professionally in the Montreal Expos and Detroit Tigers farm systems until 1981.

Dr. Rick Markoff (PhD ’78) officially retired on December 31, 2015 from Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI). The past 15 years he has served as executive vice president of the Simon Youth Foundation; visiting senior advisor to the chancellor of IUPUI, and founding president of the Damar Foundation. He is currently serving a two-year appointment as chair of the Indiana University School of Nursing Advisory Board. Rick and his wife Beverly Markoff (Ed ’71) recently built a home in Carmel, Ind. Beverly will continue to operate her award-winning business, Beverly Markoff Interiors, LLC, at the Indiana Design Center. markoff
**Roy V. Armes (Eng ’75) announced that he will retire on August 31, 2016 from his position of chairman, chief executive officer and president of Cooper Tire & Rubber Company. Roy_Armes

**Steven L. Root (Eng ’85) was recognized by the Toledo Section of IEEE as the 2015 Engineer of the Year. Root was identified for his service to the Toledo Section as a member of its executive committee for the past 18 years. He is employed as a project design supervisor for American Electric Power and is located in the Tiffin, Ohio service center.

Heringhaus **The Hon. Pamela A. Kaufman Heringhaus (Law ’81), magistrate in the Wood County Common Pleas Court, has been elected president of the Ohio Association of Magistrates.

Kathleen Phipps (A/S ’89) is the new media director for the Elida school district in Ohio.

Dr. Martino Harmon (Bus ’87, Med ’98, PhD ’13) was selected as Iowa State University’s next senior vice president for student affairs. Harmon was formerly the associate vice president for student affairs at ISU. He previously served at Cincinnati State Community College, Rhodes State College, Washatenaw Community College and The University of Toledo.

Michael McAlear (Bus ’82, MBA ’90) is a new member of the Owens Community College board of trustees. Owens Community College is located in Perrysburg, Ohio.

Doug McCartney (Univ Coll ’82, Med ’84) has been elected president of the Consortium of College and University Media Centers. He will host the 2016 CCUMC Conference in San Antonio, Texas, this November.

Jeff Wojtkowiak (UTCTC ’87) has been appointed vice president of operations for Kroger’s Atlanta division. He joined Kroger in 1981 as a utility clerk in Toledo and has held several leadership positions, including his most recent role as vice president of operations for Kroger’s Columbus division. wojtkowiak

*Mark Sobczak (Univ Coll ’80) is the new chief of staff for Mayor Hicks-Hudson in Toledo. He was promoted from his position of chief operating officer.


Rogelio Flores (Univ Coll ’91) and his wife, Flavia Flores, introduced their Brazilian cheese bread, P*DE*Q, to Northwest Ohio and Southwest Michigan via the Costco store in Perrysburg, Ohio. Their tapioca-based cheese bread has a unique texture: crispy on the outside, warm and spongy on the inside. Their retail store and manufacturing facility is located in Fresno, Calif.

Adinolfi 2011 Karen Adinolfi (A/S ’92) was elected to chair the board of trustees of the Akron Blind Center, located in Akron, Ohio. Adinolfi is a partner at the law firm of Roetzel & Andress LPA and focuses her practice on labor and employment litigation, regulatory compliance, and union matters.

*Gino Torio (Eng ’98, MEng ’06) has been named vice president of sales and engineering for AMG Industries in Mount Vernon, Ohio. AMG Industries is a highly diversified metals fabricator that supplies product to automotive original equipment manufacturers.

Dr. Eric W. Fulcomer (PhD ’03) has been named president of Rockford University, effective July 1, 2016. Rockford University, founded in 1847, is a private American liberal arts college in Rockford, Illinois. The Rockford University Eric Fulcomer_ Ph_D

Ryan J. Thompson (Bus ’03) has joined Signature Bank, N.A. as vice president in the client development group. Signature Bank is located in Toledo.

Shelly Musshel Kennedy (Law ’05), a staff attorney to James D. Jensen at the Sixth District Court of Appeals in Toledo, was recently elected to a two-year term to the Ohio State Bar Association (OSBA) Council of Delegates. The council is one of the two major governing bodies of the Ohio State Bar Association. Kennedy was chosen to chair the OSBA’s Legal Ethics and Professional Conduct Committee.

Maureen O’Connell (MA ’09) was named BCSN teacher of the month in January 2016. O’Connell teaches American studies, sociology and social psychology at Waite High School in Toledo.

Faculty, staff & friends
Hamann Michael Hamann (former UT student) was twice drafted by professional baseball teams. Hamann was drafted by the Cleveland Indians in 2009, played baseball on scholarship at UT and was then drafted by the Chicago Cubs in 2012.
Births and Marriages
Isaac Weber (Eng ’12) and Leslie Harris were married on March 19 in the Archbold Evangelical Church in Archbold, Ohio. weber
Robinson Bradyn Robinson (Ed ’12) and Morgan Kernodle announced their engagement and plan to wed on July 30, 2016 in Burlington, N.C. Robinson is a seventh grade science teacher and coach at Turrentine Middle School in Burlington and Kernodle is a sixth grade language arts teacher at the same school.
Danielle Michele Owens (A/S ’10, MHHS ’12) and Matthew Thomas Daugherty exchanged vows on April 23, 2016. Owens is employed at Applewood Centers in Elyria, Ohio and Newleaf Counseling in Avon, Ohio and Daugherty is employed at NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio. owens
Schild Ryan Schild (Bus ’11) and Katie Duffey, of Norwalk, Ohio, will marry on May 14, 2016 at St. Paul Catholic Church in Norwalk. Schild is a sales representative for Fastenal in Elyria, Ohio and Duffey is a kindergarten teacher at St. Francis Xavier School in Willard, Ohio.

Abigail Barger (HHS ’13) and Daniel Beauch announced their engagement. A June 11, 2016 wedding is planned.

*Emily Ann Miller (HS ’15) and Benjamin Noah Ray Renwand announced their engagement and will be married on July 9, 2016. MILLER
Beck Valarie Christine Beck (Ed ’11) and Lucas David Johnson are engaged and planning a June 18, 2016 wedding at The Chapel in Sandusky, Ohio. Beck is employed as a service coordinator/home visitor with the Huron County Help Me Grow program and Johnson is employed as a conductor for Norfolk Southern.
Andrew Pleiman (Eng ’07) and Abby Frilling were married in February 2016 in the St. Michael Catholic Church in Fort Loramie, Ohio. Pleiman
Paiz *Dr. Joshua M. Paiz (A/S ’09, MA ’11) and Bin Hu were married in a civil ceremony on January 7, 2016 in Rockville, Md. Paiz is a language lecturer in the writing program of NYU Shanghai and Hu is a software engineer for Hughes Communications in Gaithersburg, Md.
Scott Braddock (Eng ’05, MEng ’08) and Summer Reinke announced their engagement and will be married on October 15, 2016 at the Club at Hillbrook in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. Braddock-
Death Notices

Faculty, staff & friends

Andrew E. Anderson, Toledo at 95. Former law instructor at UT.

Dr. Hubert E. Appert, Toledo at 86. Appert taught at MCO for three decades. He joined the faculty in 1973 as an associate professor of research and physiology. In 1993, he was named professor of surgery and physiology, and retired in 2003.

Barbara M. (McGough) Rauhut, Walbridge, Ohio at 76. She was a member of the Satellites Auxiliary who volunteered in pastoral care.

Christine A. (Singlar) Sanchez (Bus ’88), Walbridge, Ohio at 50. She was a registered nurse at the UT Medical Center from 2007 to 2011.

Barbara Ann St. John (Ed ’58, Med ’60, PhD ’73), Toledo at 79. She was a former instructor at the University from 1994 to 2002.

Irene Alise Briga (A/S ’79, MA ’89), Maumee, Ohio. She worked in the UT Bookstore until her retirement in 1989.

Lois E. Driver (Ed ’61), Toledo at 82. A former cashier at UT.

**Robert Lunbeck (att. 1948), Chilmark, Ma. at 88.


Dorothy Jadlocki (A/S ’48), Bowling Green, Ohio at 94.

Marian Phipps (Ed ’48), Oregon, Ohio at 90.


Ervin Monday (Bus ’51), Whitesburg, Tenn. at 89.

Joseph Swantack (Bus ’55), Toledo at 87.

Bernard Crossen (Bus ’51), Toledo at 90.

Maryann Pakulski (Med ’58, Ed Spec ’86), Toledo at 78.

Otto Beckhoff (A/S ’56), Williamsburg, Va. at 82.

Eugene Weaver (Bus ’54), Dearborn Heights, Mich. at 84.

Frank Erme (MEd ’56), Toledo at 87.

Edgar Cann (Bus ’50), Toledo at 90.


**Jerry Finch (Eng ’62), Maumee, Ohio at 84.

Susan Powder (Ed ’63), Toledo at 74.

Beverly Case (Ed ’68, Med ’85), Toledo at 69.

**Rita Gibson (Ed ’69, Med ’85), Waterville, Ohio at 80.

Pauline English (Med ’69), Toledo at 96.


**Jay Mertz (Univ Coll ’78), Grosse Ile, Mich. at 60.

*David White (Bus ’70), Sylvania, Ohio at 69.

Gary Taynor (A/S ’76), Toledo at 68.

Willa Johnson (UTCTC ’73), Toledo at 84.

David Nirschl (UTCTC ’76, A/S ’80), Rossford, Ohio at 67.

Dr. Leonard Collier (RES ’70), St. Petersburg, Fla. at 79.

*Amos Clay (Med ’75), Toledo at 81.

Daniel Brimmer (UTCTC ’72), Toledo at 77.

*Patrick Laughlin (Eng ’76), Perrysburg, Ohio at 67.


Dr. Mark Storey (Bus ’81, A/S ’81, MED ’89), Pittsburgh, Pa. at 58.

Thomas Maher (Univ Coll ’82), Champlain, N.Y. at 66.

Catherine Smith (Med ’89, Ed Spec ’97), Toledo at 57.

Douglas Perry (UTCTC ’80), Sylvania, Ohio at 57.

Dean Myers (UTCTC ’87), Summertown, Tenn. at 52.

Barbara Smith (UTCTC ’86, UTCTC ’99), Toledo at 57.

Annette Nolan (Ed ’83), Westlake, Ohio at 57.


Margaret Lawless (Med ’97), Sylvania, Ohio at 54.

Eric Hill (A/S ’97), Toledo at 44.

Eric Pflegharr (UTCTC ’92), Toledo at 61.


Rhonda Slomkowski (Ed ’06), Lambertville, Mich. at 48.

Anthony Siciliano (Law ’00), Columbus, Ohio at 43.


*Annual Alumni Association Member
**Lifetime Alumni Association Member

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Rocket Wireless is now offering Verizon Tablets with Short Term Plans

April 28th, 2016 | No Comments | Posted in UT Technology

April 2016 Alumni Ad

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