Category: Engineering and Robots


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.

 

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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.

 

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.

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

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.

 


 

 

This past Saturday, the RoboSlam founders — Damon, Ted, Frank, and Shannon — travelled to “sunny southeast Ireland” to deliver a RoboSlam for 18 students (ages 7-14) in Enniscorthy, County Wexford. Many thanks to the local sponsor Taoglas and to the parents who stuck around to help. Extra special thanks for helping organize and host the event go out to John O’Connor at the Enniscorthy Enterprise & Technology Centre, the CoderDojo mentor Sam, and Charlie Pritchard. Thanks to Edith Pritchard for a delicious follow-up dinner.

We’re pleased to report that 18 functioning robots left for happy new homes at the end of the day. The new robot design uses an Arduino Nano, which is very easy for people to continue coding and re-coding at home, after the formal workshop concludes. Frank Duignan came up with dual sensor design he calls “Two Eyes” and uploaded the newest code to out RoboSlam blog.

I’ve posted a couple photos silly selfies below. More photos are available on the RoboSlam blog. I worked up such an appetite that the hotel brought me two full breakfasts the next morning, as captured by Frank’s stealthy camera phone.

Thanks to everyone there for a fun and successful event!

 Catherine Simpson is here at DIT tonight describing the research she does as a Forensic Engineer. You can also call her an expert in thermal modeling and a Building Services Engineer.

She can make digital models of buildings and predict their future energy performance. She can also go into a functioning building to identify, analyze, and rectify errors in thermal performance. She says that very often, buildings do not end up performing the way experts predicted. These are skills she uses:

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Catherine says Forensic Engineers must avoid using clues as if they were actual evidence (of the problem and its causes). These are clues: complaints, anecdotes, consultant reports, BMS data, ad hoc solutions, staff theories, and staff observations. On the other hand, these are useful forms of evidence:

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Catherine models problems digitally and physically. She also develops theories that she can combine to test her theories:

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Catherine gave an example of a shopping mall that had a very windy atrium and a very steep heating bill. No one could identify the causes of these problems. But after six years experiencing these problems, the owners called her in.

With careful analysis of data she collected (using dozens of different routes, including studying air flow by blowing bubbles in crowded spaces where smoke tests couldn’t be used) she identified a number of problems. One was a poorly placed rotisserie oven that was triggering vents to open. Another problem was that the building controls “thought” the building’s vents were completely closed when many were only partially closed.

Catherine devised a £50k solution to closing the vents in winter that is saving the owner £60k every month, in heat alone. There were reduced wind drafts and reduced tenant complaints. She says it saved about £500k in capital and restored people’s confidence in the facility.

Here’s one tool she uses to measure air speed:

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She also uses thermal imaging to study air infiltration, like so:

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We use this kind of technology in our Energy Cube project. This is a picture from that class last week:


Catherine’s work involves fixing problems and also providing expert witness testimony. Forensic engineering seems fascinating! Catherine is a veritable Nancy Drew.

Forensic engineering, she says, is like a jigsaw. You’re given clues, you find evidence, simulation gives context, you test theories, and ultimately prove a solution. She obviously loves her job!

Shannon Chance IJEEI’m celebrating the publication of a new journal article today, with the help of Sally O’Neill. She’s one of the librarians here at DIT, and she secured permission and posted the article on DIT’s website, making it free for you and anyone else to download.

The publishing process is glacially slow. I submitted the paper in March 2014, based on a conference paper delivered in 2013. And here I am, in February 2016, with the final publication finally in hand.

Many time, in research, it takes time to see the results of your work. Seeing this in print helps make all these days, sitting at a computer analyzing text, feel more worthwhile. Once I can see that people are downloading it, and once I start getting feedback and citations in other people’s research papers, I’ll celebrate some more.

I know what I’ve learned through this research is useful, because I get to apply it in the classroom and in the design studio. The rewards of printed research are more slow to crystallize but also extremely important, especially for people who want to gain credibility in research and build a career around research.

This new article, written with the help of John Marshall in Michigan and Gavin Duffy here in Dublin, is about Using Architecture Design Studio Pedagogies to Enhance Engineering Education. Simply put, we believe that design education and hands-on forms of learning can help improve the quality and experience of learning in engineering and other STEM disciplines. The results reported in this paper provide support for that claim.

To give you a feel for what I’m describing, this is how we learn in architecture:

Above are pictures from design studios in Lisbon at IST and one for a study abroad program  offered by Hampton University. Very, very hands-on!

These days I’m helping promote similar ways of teaching engineering, which looks similar in many respects:

These are photos from electrical and mechanical engineering projects I’ve helped conduct at Dublin Institute of Technology.

This brand new article is about a specific design studio, conducted at the University of Michigan, that blurred the boundaries distinguishing art and science. It involved students and teachers from architecture, materials science engineering, and art+design working together to design and build “SmartSurfaces.” The paper reports learning outcomes — things the students learned in the  class — as illustrated by the blogs they posted during the semester. Here’s a glimpse of what that experience was like for those students:

For this new paper, I created a matrix to describe design behaviors in relationship to epistemological development (which has to do with how we view knowledge). I compared what the students wrote in their blogs to the definitions in my chart. Doing this, I was able to identify development of design skills as a result of students working in groups, and I even pinpointed some instances of epistemological development. John and Gavin helped check the work so that it would be more credible and reliable. They offered perspectives of insiders in the studio (John) and outsiders interested in group-based learning, Problem Based Leaning (PBL), engineering education, and epistemological development (Gavin).

This article should be of interest to any teacher who wants to help students develop new design, design thinking, or epistemological skills. Please feel free to read it and email me any questions you have, at irelandbychance [at] gmail [dot] com.

Chance, S., Marshall, J. and Duffy, G. (2016) Using Architecture Design Studio Pedagogies to Enhance Engineering EducationInternational Journal of Engineering Education Vol. 32, No. 1(B), pp. 364–383, 2016.

Our RoboSlam facilitators team has been growing this semester as we have been recruiting and training people to conduct their own RoboSlam robot-building workshops.

As it turns out, we also have also recruited a RoboSlam ambassador! Ten-year-old Luke Buckley, who I first met at ResearchNightDublin, attended a workshop on how to assemble robot circuitry that we held during Science Week. He rebuilt his robot on his very own, at home, and then brought his robot to school to show his classmates. He demonstrated how it worked and how to put it together.

The RoboSlam should get Luke into a programming workshop very soon (and then, who knows, maybe a facilitator training session, too). With enthusiasm like his, the sky’s the limit!

Here’s a note his mom sent to let us know about his experience. We love to receive followup stories from our participants–if you have any more, please email them on! We’re just a click away.

Dear Shannon,

I just wanted to say a big thank you for the RoboSlam workshop that my son, Luke attended. He asked me to say thank you from him too.

Just to give you some feedback on the outcome of your RoboSlam outreach activity, I thought that you might be interested to hear that Luke was able to disassemble and rebuild the robot on his own afterwards without any difficulty.  He also brought it into school (Glasnevin Educate Together National School) where he gave a demonstration to his class (31 pupils aged 10-11). Apparently the robot behaved perfectly during the demo and generated plenty of interest!

Many thanks again,

Niamh

Luke's robot

Luke O’Dowd at home, perfecting his robot design and testing it with an arena he built for himself. This robot is programmed to detect the change in color from black to white and to follow the line.

Dr Matteo Zallio seminar at DIT 4Assistive technologies can help us age more safely and gracefully, and live independently for much longer than we could on our own. My colleagues in engineering have been involved in growing these technologies. They’ve established the tPOT research group here at DIT to facilitate innovation in this area.

I recently attended a seminar at DIT by Dr. Matteo Zallio who has done very interesting research. Matteo is an architect with a PhD in assistive technologies and he spoke about “Environments and Smart Objects: Ambient Assisted Living for Long Lives of People.”

Matteo has developed a rating system to help people assess how well various products and places support aging. The rating system is hypothetical at this point–it’s been well-developed but not yet adopted for implementation. I’m hoping it will be soon.

I’ve researched facilities and designs to support aging in place in the past, so I had many questions and comment at the end of Matteo’s presentation. I even Skyped with him following his lecture to answer questions he had about moving to Dublin. I’m pleased to say he’ll be joining the tPOT group as a postdoctoral fellow next fall!

Pictures from his lecture, and his impressive book, are posted in this photo gallery:

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