Design Thinking, diversity, Education, Engineering, Innovation, STEM

IHAWKe-a-Thon: Engineering Tiny Homes for the Hurricane Homeless

This past Friday and Saturday, IHAWKe students at the University of Kansas, came together at the NEST, to use human-centered design to build a life-sized, low fidelity tiny house for those left homeless by a hurricane.  IHAWKe (Indigenous, Hispanic, African American, Women, KU Engineering) is the Diversity and Women’s Programs at KU that brings together AISES, NSBE, SHPE, and SWE students to change the world, connect with others, and conquer their classes.  The students were guided by empathy to understand and design for the needs of those impacted by a natural disaster.

75AD6B81-6063-4C80-B012-0562A39DA10A

Students took time to interview to learn what others were thinking and feeling when they were left without the conveniences of home or even when they lived in a country for a month without power.

681AC326-C0E0-4A9E-81EE-09E6D5846743

The IHAWKe students represented several engineering disciplines including architectural engineering, computer science, mechanical engineering, chemical engineering, and information technology.

C6D70FA1-CABF-4EA3-99C8-A9AD14F850B1

They defined and reframed the problem and launched into a brainstorm for solutions.  They were encouraged to think outside the box for a period.  Then the IHAWKe student leaders gave them the real constraints they needed to heed for their solutions.

24563FF8-F4F5-4E6F-96BF-697365248CB0

Each student team was responsible for a different section of the house including the bathroom, kitchen, bedrooms, power supply, and exterior skin, or building envelope.  They researched existing products, thought about how they could be modified, and estimated costs. And then the fun began with building the prototypes.

F0C15A20-4B54-43EF-B01A-354144953747

The students remarked that seeing the prototype as it filled the mock PVC frame gave them insight that just having it sketched on paper didn’t.

310516DE-7E61-40EF-A6ED-DE927E33DF2D

Determining how to store, catch, and use water was one of the challenges that was prototyped for the IHAWKe Tiny House.

78C7334A-A72A-42A9-A8CC-390EE4809C89

Students prototyped a way to create power for essential uses and what would be the best type of toilet to design in a natural disaster setting.

4B55DFFC-6F59-4A40-A250-3145D4EDD6EF

DDB065F2-0465-4455-94CE-09E3319F9B25

Of course, the students had to conceptualize and create a place to sleep on the bottom floor and an imagined loft area.

7FEE204D-76F3-4518-96AE-3E519494141D

The IHAWKe students entered the next phase of testing and getting feedback from engineers from HNTB , the KU Civil, Environment, and Architectural Engineering and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Departments.

159A28A8-4713-4B92-B8D3-73B967B705FC

The next step is to incorporate the feedback from the engineering professionals and students, design it in Revit, and then begin building the house.  The students are planning on visiting school children in Houston and Puerto Rico for outreach, community service, and for testing their new prototype.  Engineering rocks!

Standard
Computer Science, diversity, Education, Engineering, STEM, Uncategorized

Conquer Your Classes by Learning How to Learn #STEM

What does playing with NERF toys have to do with “learning how to learn” technology and engineering?  Can making baskets in a NERF hoop teach you how to learn physics or calculus, the language of engineering?  Or can it help you do well in thermodynamics or data structures? Last week, we set out to find out in our IHAWKe Conquer Your Classes Funshop.  IHAWKe (Indigenous, Hispanic, African American, Women, KU Engineering) is the University of Kansas Engineering Diversity and Women’s Programs.

Our engineering and computing students began “learning how to learn” by forming a team to make NERF goals while racing against the clock and the other teams.  Learning how to learn begins with setting your learning, or academic, goals, and managing your time.

The students then discussed what are the obstacles they face that try to prevent them from reaching their academic goals. Some the “enemies” of their learning goals were dealing with stress, procrastination, their friends, and other distractions.  Being able to share their experiences and struggles with one another in a supportive environment showed the students that they weren’t alone.  The students competed by literally taking aim at targets that contained these “enemies” written in text on cups using a “NERF projectile flight apparatus”.

The bulk of the “funshop” consisted of the students learning a proven method for studying, or being ON PLAN, from Dr. Donna Johnson’s book, Guaranteed 4.0.  The method takes advantage of how the brain moves knowledge from short-term memory to long-term memory.  The key is working the plan consistently.  So what are the steps for being ON PLAN in a nutshell?

  • Reading the assignments and outlining the key concepts in “bullet points” before class
  • Attending class and alertly taking notes
  • Outlining the key concepts from the class notes you have taken
  • Doing the homework and outlining the key concepts after receiving it back
  • Seeing the professor every week during office hours
  • Keeping these 3 sets of notes with you and reviewing them often

Easy?  Time-consuming?  As Dr. Johnson puts it, you either pay now or pay later.  In the “typing, smartphone, Twitter, Google” age, we have forgotten how to learn and retain information.  We tend to somehow think this knowledge will instantaneously come from just typing our question into Google and expecting that knowledge to magically appear in your brain while taking the test. The real “magic” is reading, listening, reflecting, writing it down with pencil and paper and reviewing it.  Isn’t that how Einstein did it?

 

Standard
Computer Science, diversity, Education, Engineering, STEM, Technology

Reaching our Engineering and Computing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Goals In 2018 #Tech #STEM

In 2018, KU Engineering has ambitious diversity, equity, and inclusion goals. As part of the American Association of Engineering Education (ASEE) Deans Diversity Initiative, engineering deans across the country pledged to post their plans to increase the number of women and underrepresented minority students and faculty.

As part of this agreement, these institutions were to post their plans this year. Many institutions have yet to post their plans. If the Tech industry plans to diversify its workforce it has to start with graduating more women and minority engineers in our colleges and universities. See the University of Kansas School of Engineering ASEE Diversity plan here. Let’s hold each other accountable and work together to make these things happen in 2018.

Standard
Innovation, Uncategorized

The iPhone X: A “PreFace” to Emotion Understanding, Mobile AI & Touchless Computing?

Is the iPhone X’s technology worth the hype or is it just an incremental change from the iPhone 8? Soon the iPhone X probably will be able to “understand” our emotions, lead us to touchless augmented reality computing interfaces (think Minority report or Iron Man) and give us something similar to the original Star Trek’s tricorder AI device.

None of this technology is that new but the iPhone X is unique in trying to integrate all of it in a small, mobile computing device. Apple’s ability to engineer the hardware for FaceID in such a small package makes it a leader in this technology integration effort.

How Well Does FaceID Work?

What are the biggest differences from my iPhone 7 Plus? The first one is the Face ID. To put it simply, the iPhone X can use sensors placed at the top of the phone to detect your unique facial features in order to unlock your phone screen. More technical detail is given here. The FaceID seems to work well in different lighting conditions but sometimes seems to not work and has to be “reset” by canceling the open trial, swiping up, or setting the phone still in front of my face.

With that said, FaceID “works” and is pretty cool. It still requires you to swipe up from the bottom of the screen. I was kind of hoping it would just open by itself to the home screen to see the initial page of apps.

When I have my iPhone X in my phone holder in the car, it is inconvenient to have to move my face to a fixed point in front of the phone to unlock it. With Touch ID you can just reach over and touch the phone to open it. With Face ID you have to bring the phone in front of your face. FaceID is also used to authenticate my Apple Pay and my iCloud password storage.

A “PreFace” to Emotion Detection

The front-facing camera and system are used to create Animoji. The camera tracks your facial expressions and projects them on animated characters. The precise mapping of facial features and the precise tracking of facial gestures will lead to emotion detection. Your phone will know how you are feeling. Also, as I think about how this will all be used for other computing devices, I see that we may not even need to touch them in the future. We will be able to look at computers just with facial gestures, voice and hand motions like we see imagined in Iron Man or the movie Minority Report.

A Handy Design

What about the physical design of the iPhone X? It’s easier to use with one hand and seems to confirm that Steve Jobs was right when he said super big phones are not optimal for use with one hand. The iPhone X is slimmer, or has less width, compared to the iPhone 8 Plus, so it makes it much easier to do almost anything with one hand. From advertising, I was led to believe that the iPhone X screen size is bigger. While that may be true in total area, the iPhone 8 Plus definitely looks wider than the iPhone X. Taking out the home button on the bottom allows the iPhone X to have a longer screen. I like the way the X feels over the 8 in one hand.

Swipe Gesture-Based Augmented Reality User Interfaces

For touchless, gesture-based augmented reality user interfaces, you will depend on swiping motions, rather than actually pushing a button. The iPhone X gets rid of the need for physically pushing a button and allows for sweeping gestures to control the interface . The biggest difference in the iPhone X user interface is having to swipe up from the bottom to exit apps or go to the home screen. You can slowly swipe up from the bottom and stop midway to see all of the apps that are open and select one. Hold down on one of these apps and not goes into exit mode as indicated by the red circle in the upper left corner of each app.

Is Personal AI Here Now?

I like being able to click the on button on the right side of the phone to activate Siri. This side button makes the iPhone X feel more like a walkie-talkie or better yet, a tricorder from the original Star Trek series in the late 1960’s. Think of how the tricorder depicted in the previous millennium was imagined to detect anomalies or help with medical issues in the future. In the TV series it was a type of mobile artificial intelligence source. Right now, our iPhone X “tricorders” can “detect” bad weather or terrible traffic or give us first aid advice via Siri, almost converse with us, recognize our faces accurately and almost detect our emotions. Real AI still has some ways to go before it could rival human intelligence but scientists, technologists, engineers, and mathematicians (STEM) have made big strides recently.

Can we finally begin to say with the iPhone X that the future is finally almost here now? Yes, the iPhone X is a preface to these new technologies but it’s taking the incremental approach to get there.

Note: This is a revised version of my prior blog post.

Standard
Innovation, Technology

Is the iPhone X innovative or incremental?

Is the iPhone X’s technology worth the hype or is it just an incremental change from the iPhone 8? I’ve used pretty much every major iPhone over the last ten years and when I selected my iPhone X 256GB online to purchase it, I had second thoughts. When is this madness of super high priced smartphones going to stop? However, since I’m an early adopter of tech, I decided to go for it (or at least my wife decided she would get it for me as a gift.)

How Well Does FaceID Work?

What are the biggest differences from my iPhone 7 Plus? The first one is the Face ID. To put it simply, the iPhone X can use sensors placed at the top of the phone to detect your unique facial features in order to unlock your phone screen. More technical detail is given here. The FaceID seems to work well in different lighting conditions but sometimes seems to not work and has to be “reset” by canceling the open trial, swiping up, or setting the phone still in front of my face.With that said, FaceID “works” and is pretty cool. It still requires you to swipe up from the bottom of the screen. I was kind of hoping it would just open by itself to the home screen to see the initial page of apps.When I have my iPhone X in my phone holder in the car, it is inconvenient to have to move my face to a fixed point in front of the phone to unlock it. With Touch ID you can just reach over and touch the phone to open it. With Face ID you have to bring the phone in front of your face. FaceID is also used to authenticate my Apple Pay and my iCloud password storage.

A “PreFace” to Emotion Detection

The front-facing camera and system are used to create Animoji. The camera tracks your facial expressions and projects them on animated characters. The precise mapping of facial features and the precise tracking of facial gestures will lead to emotion detection. Your phone will know how you are feeling. Also, as I think about how this will all be used for other computing devices, I see that we may not even need to touch them in the future. We will be able to look at computers just with facial gestures, voice and hand motions like we see imagined in Iron Man or the movie Minority Report.

A Handy Design

What about the physical design of the iPhone X? It’s easier to use with one hand and seems to confirm that Steve Jobs was right when he said super big phones are not optimal for use with one hand. The iPhone X is slimmer, or has less width, compared to the iPhone 8 Plus, so it makes it much easier to do almost anything with one hand. I was led to believe that the iPhone X screen size is bigger. While that may be true in total area, the iPhone 8 Plus definitely looks wider than the iPhone X. Taking out the home button on the bottom allows down the iPhone X to have a longer screen. I like the way the X feels over then8 in one hand.

New User Interface

The biggest difference in the user interface is having to swipe up from the bottom to exit apps or go to the home screen. You can slowly swipe up from the bottom and stop midway to see all of the apps that are open and select one. Hold down on one of these apps and not goes into exit mode as indicated by the red circle in the upper left corner of each app.

Is the Future Here Now?

I like being able to click the on button on the right side of the phone to activate Siri. This side button makes the iPhone X feel more like a walkie-talkie or better yet, a tricorder from the original Star Trek series in the late 1960’s. Think of how the tricorder depicted in the previous millennium was imagined to detect anomalies or help with medical issues in the future. Right now, our iPhone X “tricorders” can “detect” bad weather or terrible traffic or give us first aid advice via Siri, almost converse with us, recognize our faces accurately and almost detect our emotions. Can we finally begin to say with the iPhone X that the future is finally almost here now?

Standard
Uncategorized

IHAWKe-a-thon: Diverse Students Innovating for Hurricane Disasters

Where do you start when you want to change the way victims can respond to hurricane disasters?  Our IHAWKe students started with human-centered engineering, or design thinking, to learn to innovate in interdisciplinary engineering teams for real world situations.

IMG_4305

This month, over 40 students from our KU NSBE, SHPE, AISES, and SWE organizations gathered for an overnight engineering competition to design a new product experience for victims of hurricane disasters.  It is part of our reimagined engineering and diversity programs, IHAWKe (Indigenous, Hispanic, African-American, Women, KU Engineering).  The theme of IHAWKe is for our students to Change the World, Connect with Others, and Conquer their Classes.

IMG_4144

Our IHAWKe students spent the entire night, until 5am, before hitting it again at 8am to design ways to help hurricane victims.  They began by developing empathy for hurricane victims by interviewing those that have been victims of hurricanes, power outages, accidents and other traumatic events.

IMG_4285

The ideas they came up with were fabulous.  They are beginning a two-week iteration of another set of design prototypes in the IHAWKe Lab at the KU School of Engineering. And now the students are raising money to do even more fact and need finding in places that were hit including Florida, Texas, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.  Will you help them?  If so, please donate even a small amount to the IHAWKe LaunchKU Crowdfunding page.

IMG_0035

IMG_4030

IMG_4307

IMG_0488

IMG_0046

IMG_0061

Please donate at the IHAWKe LaunchKU Crowdfunding page.

Standard
Uncategorized

Mike Shinn: the Power of Mentors in Tech

This past Homecoming Weekend, the KU Black Alumni Network awarded its Mike and Joyce Shinn Leaders and Innovators Awards and I was touched to receive one because Mike was my mentor for much of my engineering career.

Without Mike as a mentor, I would not have received an internship at GE Medical Systems (now GE Healthcare), received an offer to become a GE Edison Engineer, finished my master’s in Electrical & Computer Engineering at Marquette University, become a GEM Consortium Ph.D. Fellow at the University of Kansas, become a KU School of Engineering Advisory Board member, and ultimately Associate Dean for Diversity , Equity and Inclusion and Spahr Professor in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at KU. Even though he’s now in heaven, what he’s given lives on in me and the countless others he has been a role model and mentor for in engineers across the country. The National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) even has its prestigious student award named after him. His legacy also lives on in the Shinn Scholarship at KU he and his wife, Joyce, still provide.

So now you see why I am so honored to get Mike and Joyce Shinn’s Innovators and Leaders award. He was a leader and innovator. Born and raised in Kansas, he was the first African American to get an aerospace engineering degree at KU. He was a roommate and fellow football player with Gale Sayers. Mike had signed a contract to play for the Green Bay Packers but decided instead to become an engineer at GE. He’s made a bigger impact on the field of engineering than he ever would have as a Packer. A football player plays football to entertain others. Mike became an engineer to inspire and change our lives for the better.

I met Mike at a Distinguished Black Engineering Alumni Award banquet at KU while I was working on my masters there. As an honoree he spoke of how his ancestors literally helped build KU by moving and transporting stones. He spoke about how he was taught to reach back and pull up someone else. He practiced what he preached. He reached back and pulled me up that night. I didn’t have a clue about what I was going to do next. He asked me what I was going to do in the summer and I said, “I don’t know.” He said, “Why don’t you come work at GE?” I said, “Sure.” And the rest is history. His act of kindness and encouragement started a chain reaction of preparation, hard work, and success. He did not know that he was an answer to my prayers to God for direction in my life.

You may not know the power of your encouraging words, the timeliness of an opportunity you provide, the kindness of the recommendation you make on behalf of others, or the significance your role modeling may be in the life of another human soul. I know. Because Mike Shinn was my mentor.

Standard