Do-it-yourself punch cards and other amazing feats: DIT’s Paper Programming booth at Dublin Maker 2018

img_5842With the annual Dublin Maker fair on July 21st, DIT’s RoboSlam group of volunteer staff and students headed to Marrion Square for an action-packed Saturday. After four years of teaching visitors to Dublin Maker about build robots, we shifted focus to activities that could engage even more people at a time.

My clever colleagues in DIT’s School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering designed a booth on the theme of “Paper Programming” to teach the history and theory of using paper to program computerized gadgets that date back to the industrial loom for weaving fabric and the computer punch card.

img_5850The set of photo galleries below shows my weekend activities helping run this booth at Dublin Maker 2018. You’ll learn about and see photos of:

  • Getting to the fair
  • Setting up our booth
  • History of Paper Programming
  • Visiting other exhibits
  • Our activities
    • Fraktalismus
    • Scan2 Tweet
    • isitpop.art
    • Music Box
  • Time enough left for a relaxing Sunday!

Getting to the fair

My trip from London to the fair included a trip to London City Airport via the Docklands Light Rail on Friday. Exploring the city center of Dublin, I discovered a number of welcome changes. Namely, a second bike rental scheme has entered the city! This scheme requires locking the rental bike to a bike rack but doesn’t require using a docking stating like Dublin Bikes (of which I’m a member and enjoyed using twice this weekend). I also observed a slight increase in the use of the electric-car-charging stations. As I didn’t want to disturb my flat-mates, I dined out at Porto while reviewing calls for conference papers, and then took in a film about Oscar Wilde at the IFI. The next morning I woke early for my cycle ride to Marrion Square.

Setting up our booth

The team arrived an hour an a half before the official opening of the event, to get everything up and running. As every single activity we offered was brand new and designed for this event, we had some tweaking to do! The two main developers–Ted Burke and Frank Duignan–did an amazing job, and that enabled the rest of the crew to set up the activities. We learned a lot and had many successes at this event, and we will expand and continue to develop these activities for use in the future.

History of Paper Programming

Damon Berry and I served as the welcoming committee, of sorts–greeting people and providing introduction and background. Damon discussed the history of programming with paper, as described in the poster pictured below.

Visiting other exhibits

Before things got rolling, and on the way to pick up a lunch box, I got to visit other booths, check out the incredibly wide range of learning events, and make a few things myself.

Fraktalismus

For Fraktalismus, each participant drew one or two small sketches. Then a group of recent DIT graduates would capture the sketched image(s) and import them into a laptop.

The laptop was running a program developed by Dr. Ted Burke that applied a mathematical equation that would repeat the image in a fractal pattern. The participant could then use our computer mouse to adjust the “z” value in the equation–to flip through various iterations of the equation. The equation is included in an image below.

After selecting one fractal as the favorite pattern, the participant would then select a favored color combination. The DIT folks would print the image on glossy cardstock and provide the participant with it and an envelope to take home.

The results were artistic and consistently stunning! People of all ages got involved. I loved making my own greeting card using fractal geometry along with my hand-made sketch of a beloved fragment of London’s skyline.

Scan2 Tweet

in Scan2 Tweet, the participant used a barcode sheet with a hand scanner. Each barcode corresponded to one letter or keyboard character (space, delete, enter, for example). By scanning barcodes from this sheet, the participant could compose a short message and “Tweet” it from our group’s Twitter account. DIT’s Shane Ormonde ran this activity.

isitpop.art

Ted managed to pull a rabbit out of the hat at the last minute, getting his design-it-yourself video game programme up and running that he calls “isitpop.art”. Participants could input their own drawing to use as an icon in the game, and control the background to be an image of their choice (such as their own photo, or a video clip from the internet).

Music Box

In the Music Box activity, designed by Frank Duignan, participants received a sheet of paper with a grid for plotting musical tones in sequence. They were given a quick briefing on how the technology worked—they would color one square per row with a black marker. When this colored square passed its corresponding color sensor, a note would play. Thus, participants with knowledge of music theory were able to predict or orchestrate the sequence of notes to play a tune.

The piece of paper was attached to a drum (in this case a large drink bottle) and spun on its axis. This allowed the grided paper to pass across the set of color sensors, one row after another. A tennis ball was used to hold the bottom of the bottle in the correct place (effectively weighing it down).

We tried to use a similar system to run four small motors to operate a small robotic arm and its claw, and I suspect we will see this up and running in subsequent later events. Watching the teamwork on this activity gave a sense of what it’s like to work as an engineer, working to troubleshoot and address problems that arise with the parts.

I really enjoyed this activity and enjoyed hearing the short tunes that participants created.

Time enough left for a relaxing Sunday!

In the wee hours of Sunday morning, I hailed a cab for Dublin Airport. Landing at Gatwick, I grabbed breakfast to go and headed to the train platform. When the next train to Brighton pulled into the station, Aongus popped out to welcome me aboard for the half hour trip to the southern coast of Britain.

We spent the day on Brighton Beach, with lunch in the town and a visit to Brighton Pier before enjoying a peaceful 1.75-hour trip back by train to our place in Mile End.

 

“Paper Programming” tomorrow at Dublin Maker

On my way—headed to Dublin Maker via the DLR and London City Airport!

Regarding this year’s DIT/RoboSlam booth at Dublin Maker, which is tomorrow, 21 July, in the beautiful Merion Square.

Our team’s big news is that we have taken over three booth spaces this year to accommodate all the activities we will offer. Into these booths will go Frank Duignan’s amazing music machine, Ted Burke’s latest crazy but brilliant idea, “fractalismus,” courtesy of Ronan, Padraic and Ciaran, and “Scan2 tweet” by Shane Ormond.

Come check out the fun of “paper programming” and meet our RoboSlam crew!

http://www.dublinmaker.ie/

Excursions from London: Weekend trip to Rye

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Window shopping in Rye.

During May, we celebrated our third “bank holiday weekend” of the year in the quaint medieval town of Rye. Enamored with England’s southeastern coast from the two prior weekends, we boarded the Southern high-speed train service headed to Kent for a new adventure there.

Arriving in Rye, we found ourselves in an amazingly tranquil and sunny, exquisitely preserved town not far from the beach.

Top memories from our three-day weekend are identified below and also shown in a gallery of photos. I hope that if you’re planning an outing to Rye, this info will inspire you and help you plan.

Day One

  • Arrive at the pretty little train station and check in at the Regent “Motel” where it’s possible to park a car
  • Find the bike rental shop and make arrangements for the next morning
  • Walk around scenic Mermaid Street and its surrounding cobbled streets
  • Eat, drink, and be merry at Mermaid Hotel, Pub, and Restaurant
  • Attempt to see Lamb House (which was temporarily closed, unfortunately)
  • Stroll through Cemetery of St. Mary’s Church
  • Visit Ypres Tower/Castle, its courtyard and Woman’s prison tower, and its panoramic terrace with historic cannons
  • Grab a second lunch at Fletchers House or next door to it, at Simon the Pieman (my guy gets very hungry)
  • Tour St. Mary’s Church, its annual flower festival
  • Climb St. Mary’s bell tower to reach the spectacular panoramic view—this is a climb suited only to brave and well-coordinated folks (the passageways and stairs are extremely narrow and I tripped any number of times on the roof)
  • Shop in the boutiques around town and visit the Kino to check show times to see if any suit
  • Wander around town, visit the fun fair, and drive like a maniac at bumper cars
  • Dinner at The Devil in Rye, in the bright, sunny indoor courtyard area in the back
  • Enjoy a scenic night stroll through the town
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Blown away by Rye!

Day Two

On our second day, we set out for a leisurely bicycle trip toward Rye Harbour and Winchelsea town.

  • Enjoy breakfast at Whitehouse Rye, then rent bikes at Rye Hire, Ltd.
  • Pack a picnic lunch, and make a cycling tour, heading in the direction of Rye Harbour taking time out along the way for whatever pops up, such as an RV open house at JC Leisure
  • Relax I the courtyard and cemetery of the Church of the Holy Spirit and the nearby playground
  • Stop off at William the Conqueror, and attend special bank holiday events, such as traditional musicians and traditional folk dancers (Morris dancing) performing I. The streets in both Rye Harbour and Winchelsea town
  • Explore the WWII bunkers along the coast, the seawall at the mouth of River Rother, Rye Harbour Nature Reserve, and many protective structures along the coast and at Winchelsea Beach
  • Experience sunset rays piercing through slit windows at the spectacular St. Thomas the Martyr church in Winchelsea, and search for famous names in the cemetery surrounding g the church
  • Enjoy a refreshment at The New Inn, in the lovely, floral Biergarten, a walled secret garden
  • Head home via rugged footpaths, as long as you’ve got an off-road bike–but next time, I’ll go for the electric bike rather than rent a push bike, so I can cover more distance
  • Dine again at The Mermaid Inn in Rye, “The Mermaid’s doors had been opened 150 years when Elizabeth I visited Rye in 1573” since it serves food late into the evening
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Cycling from Winchelsea back to Rye.

Day Three

On the final day, we checked out of the hotel, the. We de died to:

  • Enjoy breakfast in Rye, and jump on the Wave 101 bus to Camber Sands Beach (21-minute trip)
  • Sit on the beach, play in the shallow water, and walk along the beach and seawall until time to head back
  • Return to Rye, pick up bags at the hotel and enjoy a quick cookout meal at the pub in the old Water Works building, constructed 1869
  • Head to the Historic train station for the small two-carriage train back to Ashford International Train Station and on to London

Note that evening trains are extremely crowded on bank holiday Mondays.

Continental Conference-Hopping

img_4547It’s been a hectic few weeks, beginning with Inspirefest in Dublin, Ireland (21-22 June) to the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) conference in Salt Lake City (June 24-27), a quick visit to Virginia Tech and around the state, and ending today with the UK Royal Academy of Engineering and University College London Centre for Engineering Education’s symposium on Inclusive Engineering Education (July 9-10).

Inspirefest: Women in Tech

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Live drawing made during my sister Heather’s performance of “Hedy! The Live and Inventions of Hedy Lamar”, by Liza Donnelly.

Inspirefest is an annual celebration of women in technology, and this was its fourth year. It’s organized by Ann O’Dea and Silicon Republic. I attend the very first year it was held, and was invited this year as a VIP since my sister, Heather Massie, was performing the one-woman play she wrote, produces, and performs. The play is “Hedy! The Life and Inventions of Hedy Lamar” and Heather has been performing it all over the world. Just before heading to Dublin, she spent five weeks performing around Zimbabwe and South Africa. A major highlight of this year’s Inspirefest was Heather’s abbreviated 65-minute performance in one of Ireland’s largest theaters, the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre.

Other highlights this year were the opening address by Ireland’s Minister for Health, Simon Harris, Ranjani Kearsley’s talk, “it’s time to level the playing field”, meeting new friends and reconnecting with ones I’d met at the first Insirpefest, like head STEMette, Anne-Marie Imafadon. Many of the talks were recorded and made available online.

I’ve inserted a small gallery below with a few pictures from Inspirefest of Heather, me, and other special guests. My colleague and frequent co-author, Bill Williams flew in from Portugal on other business and joined us for Heather’s play. I’ve also included photos with Ann O’Dea, Anne-Marie Imafadon, and Mary Carty, who I met at the first Inspirefest.

ASEE

I hopped on a plane to Salt Lake City to attend my first ever ASEE conference. I presented two research papers at this event:

Chance, S. M. & Williams, W. (2018). Preliminary findings of a phenomenological study of Middle Eastern women’s experiences studying engineering in Ireland. American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) conference in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Chance, S. M. & Duffy, G. (2018). A model for spurring organizational change based on faculty experiences working together to implement Problem-Based Learning. American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) conference in Salt Lake City, Utah.

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My first ASEE conference!

You can download and read the papers at the links above. At ASEE, I met many people who I’ve been collaborating with online, and developed new friendships as well. I attended many sessions, caught up with colleagues like former Fulbright scholars to DIT, Drs. Stephanie Ferrall (the incoming ASEE president) and Sheryl Sorby (a director of the ASEE), and met some all-stars like Prof. John Heywood and Prof. Karl Smith. Professor Smith has been bringing experts and theories from student development to speak at this conference for decades, and I hope to carry on his work.

Virginia Tech–my home place

I made a stopover in Virginia, en route back to London, taking a few days to work from home as well as four days of holiday to visit family and friends.

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Visiting Nicky Wolmarans and Jenni Case at Virginia Tech.

Virginia Tech has one of the USA’s two university schools dedicated to Engineering Education, so I grabbed the opportunity to meet with the schools’ new head, Dr. Jennifer Case, and her colleague from the University of Cape Town, Dr. Nicky Wolmarans.

Other highlights of being in Virginia were visiting my dad, dear friends (Katie, Mary, John, Wendy), aunt and uncle (Kitty and Glen), former professor (Pam Eddy) and former student (Luanna Marins) and their families (Dave and Afonzo), some former colleagues (Tony), Virginia Beach (but for a very short 1.5 hours), and my mom for a visit to the Udvar Hazy Center (a branch of the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum near Dulles Airport).

Inclusive Engineering Education Symposium

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Got back to London in time for UCL’s two-day symposium on Inclusive Engineering Education Symposium!

Landing in London Sunday morning left me a bit of time to rest up for the Inclusive Engineering Education Symposium, hosted by my colleagues in UCL’s Centre for Engineering Education. This was a chance to hear from industry leaders as to what steps they have taken to diversify and to welcome a new publication by the Royal Academy and UCL with tools and techniques for making engineering classrooms more inclusive.

The picture gallery below shows all these events and more….

 

Visiting Professors in London

West End fun with Drs. Eddy and Pape

I’ve been visiting with Professors from the States the past few weeks here in London, and morphing into even more of a Visiting Professor myself!

Two weeks ago, Prof. Pam Eddy and her husband Dave arrived for a week-long visit. Pam was my PhD advisor at William and Mary and she has been an inspiration, role model, and source of advice as I’ve moved across from teaching architectural into researching engineering education. Pam had a Fulbright fellowship to Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) in 2009. Because I’d set that very same goal—winning a Fulbright grant to work at DIT—in 2003, Pam’s advice on the matter proved indispensable. She shared valuable insight into how Fulbright and DIT operate and she helped me connect with others in-the-know. On my first working trip to Dublin, I got to interview more than half a dozen academics about how DIT works, and this gave me the context I needed to make the most of my subsequent time here. Pam and I even met local scholars together, over another spring break, also before my Fulbright, when we both found ourselves Dublin.

Pam is truly one of the most generous, energetic, and positive people I’ve ever met. I’m beyond lucky to know her and I value her advice—even if I don’t always understand the funny policy-wonk words she uses! 😜

After the excellent musical “Kinky Boots.”

Pam has featured prominently on this blog before, as she’s visited me often in Dublin and we have met up in cities all around the world: Rome, Paris, New Orleans, and Washington, DC. Now we’ve added London to that list. Her professor-husband Dave is usually in tow, and always adding interesting insight, since he’s a former engineering dean.

I’m proud to say this was Pam and Dave’s first trip to the City of London and they really seemed to enjoy the place. I think they will be back!

While here, Pam and I got to work on the journal article we are crafting along with two of my colleagues from the Irish public service. We’ve had our proposal accepted for Policy Reviews in Higher Education, and now we need to pull the parts together and synch them effectively.

Following the departure of Pam and Dave, I had the chance to catch up with another favorite professor, Ron Daniel, and his spouse, Cheryl.

With Prof. Ron and Cheryl Daniel

Ron Daniel was my professor for spring semester of my second year of architecture school. We worked closely together, along with some other amazingly dedicated students and teachers, to create a multimedia extravaganza to celebrate Virginia Tech College of Architecture and Urban Studies’ 25th anniversary in 1989. We had nine screens running simultaneously with performance artists dancing throughout the hour-long show. In preparation for that bash, we also silkscreened posters and designed and poured concrete banner stands with welded steel bases—yes, I learned to weld at Virginia Tech!

For the Anniversary show, I was most closely involved with making several of the 16mm films running on three of the nine screens. And I was one of nine diligent students running the projection booth. What a techie I was!

The following year, Ron invited me to teach film workshops to younger students, and that got me into leading activities and events for my peers. Over the next three years, I taught many workshops and also organized trips, including excursions to Charlottesville, Columbus, and New York City to hear visiting lecturers—world renowned architects visiting UVA, Ohio State, and Columbia University.

When I was nearing graduation from VT’s Bachelor of Architecture program, I went to Ron, expressing interest in the teaching role I’d seen older students doing in the past. I hadn’t realized they were actually designated as lecturers. This was a full-time faculty role, and Ron thought I fit the bill. I was soon awarded this one-year stipend position, and looking back, it seems that may have been my first fellowship.

The year lecturing at VT was a success so I continued on to earn a post-professional Masters in Architecture that would allow me to teach in the future at the university level in architecture. Ron was one of my three advisors for that Masters, and the thesis document was good enough to snag a job working as an intern architect in Switzerland for a year, at Studio Martin Wagner. I also helped teach film that year, for the SCI-Arc center Martin directed.

For the past two years, Ron has been working in London. We finally got a chance to catch up in the neighborhood in Barnes where he and Cheryl have lived for the past year. Aongus and I throughly enjoyed visiting in their home, dining out with them, and attending a jazz performance together. Photos of the Cadillac Kings are included in the photo gallery below. What a hoot!

The instrumental roles professors have had in my life is clear. I’m glad I’ve stayed connected with many who have helped grow my abilities.

Prof. Brad Grant

In the past week, for instance, I’ve communivated with Prof. Brad Grant and Prof. David Leslie, who I learned from at Hampton University and William and Mary, respectively. I always enjoy hearing from them! Their kids—Dr. Rae Wynn-Grant, Asa Wynn-Grant, and Prof. Tom Leslie are true inspirations as well, and are always raising the bar higher.

And I’m doing my bit to reach out and support others in return. I hope someday the students I’ve worked with will have similar things to say about me. I cherish the ongoing relationships I have with my former students, many enabled by Facebook. Just this week, another one earned his license to practice architecture in the USA. Monteil Crawley joined his wife, Kristina Crawley, with this status. Monteil worked on the design of the Smithsonian’s new museum of African-American History. They both took my second-year architecture studio and Architectural Ecology class. I was Krissy’s Bachelors thesis advisor. Krissy went in to get a Masters from UVA. They have two bright and beautiful children.

Profs. David and Thomas Leslie

Today, I make a point to extend the kind and gracious support to the students I meet, as my professors extended me.

Kendall Brantley and Aongus and me at the Vaudeville Theater

For instance, a colleague of mine from Hampton has a niece, Kendall Brantley, who has been studying at NYU here in London. We’ve met a few times, and I took her for dinner and a play last week, before her trip home.

A PhD supervision meeting with Thomas Empson

I hope the relationship I’m developing with my new PhD advisee, Thomas Empson, will extend far into the future as well. Thomas is a doc student at London South Bank University, and I’ve just been appointed Visiting Professor there to aid in my work with him. Our working sessions over the past few months have been quite successful and I have the highest of hopes for him. He’s a bright student, well organized, and an extremely hard worker.

One of my current supervisors, Prof. John Mitchell, helped me connect to LSBU as a way to meet one of my training objectives. You see, my current fellowships aims to equip and position me to secure funding for larger grants. This is so that, someday, I can lead an independent research team. I’m gradually gaining skills in supervising and in publishing. And I’m connecting the people I know from the USA with scholars I meet here in Europe and those I’m working with globally, through networks like REEN and SEFI.

With London superstars Emanuela Tilley and Folashade Akinmolayan

I’m receiving this training as a Marie Curie Research Fellow at University College London, where I’m also officially classified as a Visiting Professor (which will help me continue collaborating with scholars here even after my two-year fellowship is done, for an additional three years or more). I’ve been learning so much from my new colleagues, like professors-in-the-making Folashade Akinmolayan and Emanuela Tilley.

Building a professional research network, connecting scholars across the ocean, and learning to supervise doc students are all important in building my skills as a researcher. And, they are a lot of fun as well!

 

 

 

Learning London: Transport for Mobility

 

My research supervisor in London, Professor Nick Tyler, is a global expert in transportation systems, with expertise in accessibility. He travels around the world advising transportation planners–and his research also has gone a long way to improve how Transport for London serves people with mobility challenges and various forms of disability.

Transportation Design

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A view from the testing platform, with Professor Tyler and some MSc students.

Nick offered a Masters-level class at University College London in Term 2 and I got to attend the opening day which was held at the research facility he heads, located on the Northern Line up in Tufnell Park.

On the opening day of this course on design for transport engineers, Nick’s students and I experienced what it’s like to navigate common street conditions while blindfolded, hearing impaired, or using crutches and wheelchairs.

The photo gallery provides a glimpse of this opening day. And, YES, it did feel like Back to the Future with Dr. Emmett Brown, who you likely remember as “Doc.”

About PAMELA

PAMELA stands for “Pedestrian Accessibility Movement Environment Laboratory.” The lab’s website explains that “PAMELA is a multisensory laboratory for the assessment of pedestrian movement.” In other words, it is a research facility with equipment for simulating real-world conditions at full scale so researchers can study how people with differing abilities deal with specific variables (sounds, ambient noise, varying light levels, tripping hazards, steps, etc.).

“Constructed between 2003 and 2006, the PAMELA laboratory is a novel and highly flexible facility,” UCL’s PAMELA webpage explains, “allowing full-scale pedestrian infrastructure to be built and tested to enable thorough assessment and evaluation. The structure includes a flexible floor surface that represents real ground conditions with interchangeable surface materials and is supported by a range of sensing equipment.” The webpage also describes specific research studies that have made a tremendous difference and yielded huge financial savings in London.

A picture of an underground carriage at PAMELA

Transport simulation research being done at PEARL. Image from http://www.engineering.ucl.ac.uk/news/pamela-develop-pearl/

Introducing PAMELA’s sister, PEARL

In 2017, Nick secured a £9m grant from EPSRC via its UK Collaboratorium for Research on Infrastructure and Cities (UKCRIC) program. This will fund the construction of a new and improved version of PAMELA, called PEARL (People-Environment-Activity Research Laboratory).

Connecting UCL and DIT

In May, during my two visits to Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT), I learned that my colleagues at DIT’s transportation engineers, led by Dr. Lorraine D’Arcy, received validation to launch a new, interdisciplinary Master of Science (MSc) degree in Transport and Mobility. I look forward to helping Lorraine connect with Nick so she and DIT can learn from–and hopefully, contribute to–the wealth of experience and knowledge Nick has accrued.

 

Learning London: Four-Day Family Extravaganza

My cousin Kaitlin has been teaching English in Spain this past year. So we (my partner Aongus and I) decided to add a second stamp to her passport and we invited her up to London for an extended weekend

Aongus meet her at the Tube station and guided her home from the airport, with a stop for dinner at our favorite Indian restaurant, Indigo at Richmix. Meanwhile, I sped back via train from my conference in Newcastle and arrived home minutes before them.

We were up bright and early Thursday morning for the start of a whirlwind tour that lasted four days.

On day one, we included:

  • Kaitlin’s first double-decker bus trip,