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: Science Museum

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The Mathematics gallery, designed by Zaha Hadid and partners.

London’s Science Museum is so interesting that we went two days in a row. We hadn’t had our fill after just one visit, so we woke up Sunday morning and said “Let’s go back!” Incidentally, entry is by donation, so you can give what you like.

In the photo gallery below, you’ll see the Science Museum’s spacious entry hall and some images on the display about space exploration. You’ll see images from other parts of the museum that cover technological developments over time (related to transportation, homes, and appliances).

There’s special exhibit on Mathematics that includes visualization of air flow around a small aircraft (a display designed by the late/great architect Zaha Hadid) and there are displays about bridge and tower design.

I’ve included a few images from the special exhibition on technology in India–feeding my fascination with step wells. We also visited the exhibit on “Superbugs” to better understand the evolution of bacteria resistant to antibiotics.

Bread Board Games

The best way to spend a rainy Saturday in November? Teaching kids about electronics!

On Saturday–as part of Ireland’s 2017 Science Week, our RoboSlam team delivered two workshops in Bunclody, county Wexford. Kids as young as seven participated, and each built a working video game developed by our team’s very own Frank Duignan.

Workshop 1 – For students with coding experience.  Build the controller, play a game, change elements of a game using coding (15 Students, 10.45a.m. – 1.00 p.m., 8 – 12 years)

Workshop 2 – For students with no coding experience.  Build the controller, play a game (15 Students, 2.15p.m. – 3.30p.m., for kids 7 – 10 years)

The kids were such fun, and all were completely engaged and excited to learn. Bunclody Library hosted the Workshops, Toaglas sponsored the event, and DIT retiree Charlie Prichard organized sponsorship. For more photos and info, visit our RoboSlam blog.

 

Collecting Data

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Wednesday’s RoboSumo class was going a-ok!

I’m gearing up for the new research fellowship by collecting data here in Ireland–data that I can analyze once I’m situated in London.

In the past few weeks, I’ve been interviewing women who are studying engineering in Dublin. Most of the women I’ve interviewed in this country have completed the design projects that you’ve seen in my prior blogs (RoboSumo, bridge design, and Energy Cube). Although I can’t show you the actual participants in my study for reasons of confidentiality, I’ve included a photo from this past Wednesday’s RoboSumo lab. Our big tournament is in two weeks, and excitement is mounting.  I’m asking students who took these courses three years ago about their experiences with engineering and with working in teams.

I truly believe that interviewing women from DIT over a period of years has helped me become a better teacher, particularly since I started teaching on these projects last autumn. In prior years, I was lending a hand occasionally in Energy Cube, RoboSumo, and bridge design, but most of my time was spent observing classroom and team dynamics.

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Trinity College’s main courtyard in all its mid-day splendor.

Today, I got to sit down and talk with a lovely young woman who started in DIT’s program four years ago, and who transferred to Trinity’s engineering program half-way through. To do this, I hiked across town to Trinity’s campus and the two of us chatted for 80 minutes, over coffee at Trinity’s Science Gallery. I hope the audio recording is clear enough, as I normally work in a much more controlled environment. There were far more distractions today than usual, yet the content of the interview was fascinating.

I interviewed all these women in the past as well, when they were first year engineering students, and now I’m catching back up with them after they completed several years of study. This is what’s referred to as a “longitudinal” study, and I am looking at changes and development over time. I have three more interviews lined up for next week, and I can not wait to hear about these students’ adventures in education and engineering.

 

Back to School: Engineering Induction at DIT

The first year students have arrived at DIT and are getting orientation this week. Today, the whole group of incoming engineering students were at our Kevin Street campus to learn about electrical and electronics aspects of their first year curriculum. Dr. Ted Burke led the introduction.

I really enjoy the chance to teach in various programs and on multiple campuses of DIT. I’ve posted images from my morning walk from DIT Bolton Street to DIT Kevin Street.

HEDY! Performance in Dublin

My sister brought the play she has written and performs solo to Dublin, Ireland last night. She has shown it in New York, Florida, Indiana, Virginia, and Pennsylvania–and she will soon bring it to Zimbabwe as well. Aongus, Mom and I organized this private showing in Dublin to give my colleagues and friends a sneak peek.

The Stag's Head inn's upstairs Parlour Bar provided an ideal setting for the performance, and the managers and staff there couldn't have been nicer!

Today Heather is headed to the Galway Fringe Festival, where you can see her perform July 21, 22, 25-29 at 7 pm. Please go to galwayfringe.ie for information. For tickets it's http://www.galwayfringe.ie/event/hedy-the-life-inventions-of-hedy-lamarr-2/




Show Website: www.heathermassie.com/hedy

“In Lily Tomlin-esque fashion … Massie channels the iconic star … vividly yet matter-of-factly, and often very humorously … In a balance of high energy and poise, Heather Massie is no less than captivating.”
The Huffington Post
“Richly realized. Both convincingly real and larger than life … she has us thoroughly swept up.”
Blogcritics Magazine
“Highly entertaining … compelling and humorous … considerable elegance and skill.” – Splash Magazine
“Lively and enlightening … engaging performance.” – Sarasota Herald-Tribune
“Heather Massie has created a tribute to this amazing woman … And she does it well.” – OffBrwy
“Gorgeous … Heather Massie is the image of Hedy Lamarr.” – Total Theater
“Fantastic … A truly remarkable performance.” — Andy B Sports

“Remarkable … I congratulate chameleon Heather Massie.” – Theatre in the Now

Outstanding Actress in a Staged Reading – 2016 Planet Connections Theatre Festivity, NYC
Bestseller – 2016 United Solo Festival, NYC
Best Actress – 2017 SaraSolo Festival, Sarasota, FL
Official Selection – 2017 Divafest, Indianapolis, IN
Inaugural Artist-in-Residence – Grange Hall Cultural Center, Waterbury Center, VT
Audience Choice Award – 2017 Shenandoah Fringe, Staunton, VA

HEDY! The Life & Inventions of Hedy Lamarr explores the life, inventions and person of Hedy Lamarr, Viennese-born Hollywood film star of the 1930s-1950s. Known as The Most Beautiful Woman in the World, Hedy Lamarr stored away knowledge of munitions while married to Austrian arms dealer, Fritz Mandl. She employed this knowledge to support the US Navy’s war effort during WWII by inventing The Secret Communication System with composer George Antheil, to make torpedoes more accurate. Also referred to as Frequency Hopping or Spread Spectrum Technology, her invention is used today in cell phones, WiFi, CDMA, GPS, Bluetooth and a myriad of other wireless systems.

Featuring Heather Massie as Hedy Lamarr:

Show Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/hedytheplay/
Personal Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/heathermassie
Twitter: @HeatherMMassie
Instagram: @HeatherMMassie
#HedyThePlay

Heather Massie (Writer / Solo Performer) is a NYC Actor and Writer. Originally from Virginia, Ms. Massie has always been fascinated by the sciences, especially Astronomy. She studied Astrophysics at the University of Virginia, and Theatre Arts at The Virginia Tech School of the Arts, graduating Summa Cum Laude. Ms. Massie has performed extensively regionally and nationally with: Mill Mountain Theatre, Allenberry Playhouse, Flat Rock Playhouse, Phoenix Theatre, Arizona Jewish Theatre Company, Nearly Naked Theatre, Oklahoma Shakespearean Festival, Southwest Shakespeare, Southern Appalachian Repertory Theatre, and Harrisburg Shakespeare Festival. In NYC she has performed at Signature Theatre in readings of the plays Legends and Apples & Oranges by playwright Leslie Lee. She is a member of WorkShop Theater, Manhattan Theatre Works, NyLon Fusion Theatre, Firebone Theatre, Abingdon Theatre, and the Negro Ensemble Company. She has also performed on Theatre Row, at LaMaMa, Metropolitan Playhouse, The Lamb’s Theatre, 45th St. Theatre, Manhattan Theatre Club, The Dramatists Guild, New Dramatists, The Actors Studio, and more. She received the Jean Dalrymple Award for Best Supporting Actor and received three AriZoni Award Nominations. She served as a Cultural Envoy to Zimbabwe for the 2008 Intwasa Arts Festival, and worked in Ecuador and St. Petersburg, Russia. Ms. Massie collaborated for many years with the late Tony-Nominated playwright Mr. Leslie Lee, another scientist turned artist. She performed at LaMaMa in his plays The Book of Lambert, and Mina, about the life of painter-poet, Mina Loy; and in Mr. Lee’s musical Martin: A New American Musical with music and lyrics by Charles Strouse, with the Negro Ensemble Company. Upon Mr. Lee’s passing in 2014, Ms. Massie founded the Leslie Lee Legacy Foundation to foster the continued production of Mr. Lee’s writings. In an effort to join her love of science with her passion for theatre, Ms. Massie wrote and performs her solo show HEDY! The Life & Inventions of Hedy Lamarr. She has been awarded as the Outstanding Actress in a Staged Reading – 2016 Planet Connections Theatre Festivity, NYC; Festival Bestseller – 2016 United Solo Festival, NYC; Best Actress – 2017 SaraSolo Festival, Sarasota, FL; Official Selection – 2017 DivaFest, Indianapolis, IN; Inaugural Artist-In-Residence – Grange Hall Cultural Center, Waterbury Center, VT; and Audience Choice Award – Shenandoah Fringe 2017, Staunton, VA. She has upcoming performances of the show in New York City, Pennsylvania, Dublin, Galway, Indiana, and Zimbabwe. Further info at www.heathermassie.com/hedy

Research Internship at DIT

Learning to train new and upcoming researchers, I recently welcomed an intern from the States. Allison “Allie” Wagner has been here at DIT since the start of January, as part of the Masters in Higher Education Administration she is completing at the Central Michigan University. She is working with me for a total of two months.

In her time here, Allie is learning about how we manage programs at DIT and what it is like for students to live and study here. She is also doing a research project with me. We have conducted phenomenological interviews with five female students from the Middle East, and we hope to interview 2-3 more. This adds a “longitudinal” component to my prior research, since I interviewed all five of these women two years ago. Allie and I are following up to see what new expediences these women have had and how things have changed for them.

Overall, we want to produce a journal article with findings to help teachers do a better job in supporting international students — and particularly Muslim women studying engineering in Western contexts.