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Home > Blog > 2014

Archive for 2014

ITN sponsored Seed Assistance Grant creates ongoing collaborations at Harrisburg University.

Posted June 19th, 2014 by admin

A start-up company was in need of development services to advance their product prototype in order to attract venture funding. The company president contacted ITN in search of funding and expertise to get them to the next step of the development process. As a company they specialize in envisioning educational games to enhance class room learning. Specifically, for this project they were interested in a cardiac physiology activity which would teach how the cardiac system functions and assess students on their grasp of this knowledge. The company had illustration and physiology expertise but needed gaming, social media and pedagogy expertise.

I am Spike Moyer a faculty liaison with ITN and I travel among our network of 15 colleges and universities to acquire a 10,000 foot view of academic expertise in Central PA. No one does educational gaming better than HU and I was sure this collaboration would create a win-win situation. HU has a Center for Advanced Entertainment and Learning Technologies and an undergraduate degree in Interactive Media. I met with Professor Charles Palmer, Executive Director of the Center at HU and he immediately recognized several synergies and was interested in collaborating.

One important synergy is a philosophy: “Changing perspective improves understanding.” HU has been experimenting with a virtual reality simulator called the Virtusphere. So far they have used the tool to develop a training module for an industrial plant and a prototype of an “inner space” style game called Plasma Runner. The game uses a racing mechanic to facilitate physical locomotion through a virtual body. The race cumulates with a “walk through” the heart but also quizzes players on their knowledge of the various systems in the human body. Another synergy is experiential learning. HU has a requirement for undergraduate experiential learning and this collaboration was good opportunity to engage students in a real project. http://www.harrisburgu.edu/faculty-staff/research-centers/virtusphere.php

I arranged an informal meeting with Mr. Palmer and the company president; they shared goals and interacted well. Within a few weeks, they developed a work plan and were ready to write a Seed Assistance Grant proposal. The time frame was short. It was November 2013 by now and we had a deadline of Dec 15 to submit the grant proposal. HU would provide their gaming and educational pedagogy knowledge and the company would provide an illustrator and subject matter expertise. The project would then start with the beginning of the Spring 2014 semester.

The proposal was accepted and the grant was awarded. HU hired an undergraduate student and alumnus to work on this project. The deliverable was mutually defined after the team began taking a closer look. It was completed on time and it demonstrated that a classroom process like a laboratory exercise can be converted into a game. The company is using the result to attract funding and expects an award in July. The company plans to continue this collaboration and would like to fund the HU team in the Summer and Fall semesters to carry their product development to another funding round. The next phase is including multiple players using social media so that an entire class could compete in the game environment and digitally share their achievements with the outside world. Sounds like interactive media to me.

Who wins what?
HU now has a full featured prototype that is getting polished and can be used as a teaching tool. A student and an alumnus are benefiting from experiential learning and receiving an income. The alumnus is acting as a mentor to the undergraduate student. HU’s primary mission is to educate students. ITN acted as an advocate to introduce a company to HU they would not have encountered. Aside from Professor Palmer, staff member Tony Ortega serves as the team’s project manager and lead designer managing all client and team interactions as well as designing the game’s mechanics and visual aesthetics.

This program is expected to continue generating experiential learning opportunities. The client wins by completing the demonstration phase. They have used this result to attract additional funding. They are growing a collaboration relationship with HU and at least two HU graduates may be hired.

A win-win Seed Assistance Grant is completed at Penn State Harrisburg!

Posted June 10th, 2014 by admin

Everyone wins! This is how an ITN Seed Assistance Grant, SAG, program should work. A company and a professor communicate. They generate an idea, want to collaborate to accomplish a goal and need some funding to get started. A grant proposal is written, with the help of ITN. The funds are awarded, about two months late. The project time line is accelerated, three students are engaged and the project deliverable is completed on time. The company is happy, the students and the professor are happy. But that’s only the beginning of a fruitful collaboration.
So who wins what? To name but a few, the company wins with the project delivered on time. They are building a relationship with Penn State Harrisburg and collaborating to outsource and improve their product development. The students gain experiential learning, course credits and of course a paycheck. Penn State wins by engaging with a local company who hires graduates, provides continued funding for capstone projects and engages in curriculum development dialog. And of course the professor wins by attracting additional funding, performing research and generating publications.
How did this get started? I am Spike Moyer and I work as a faculty liaison with ITN. Dr. Ma’moun Abu-Ayyad, maa21@psu.edu, sent me an email asking about the ITN SAG. He had been communicating with a local company that wanted to begin working with Penn State Harrisburg to improve their product. I met with Dr. Abu-Ayyad to better understand what he was up to. The company builds cranes and wanted to develop their equipment control systems from manual to automated using a joy-stick type of human interface. More importantly, the company wanted to begin a relationship. They wanted to donate a bench top size crane to Penn State and begin interfacing with faculty and students.
Dr. Abu-Ayyad had a list of tasks that he wanted to include in the project. I encouraged him to think about a win-win proposal and define a project scope that would fit into the budget and timeline. Think about whom the players are, who is the “project team”? Define deliverables that all of the players want and can be accomplished with high confidence within the schedule and budget. This was the first engagement with the company and it was critical to succeed. Take baby steps, first impressions are lasting.
The budget was small and the schedule was tight. It got even tighter when the funds were released two months after the anticipated project start date. The deliverable was sufficiently defined and could not be reduced, so the resources had to be increased. Two undergraduate students and one graduate student were hired. Training had to be done quickly so the company engineer also increased his hours to work with the students. The team pulled together and the deliverable was completed on time and within budget!
The company has hired one of Dr. Abu-Ayyad’s students: a great opportunity for communication about curriculum and company training needs. The student graduated on a Friday and started working at the company the following Monday. The student is de facto ambassador who can communicate with both Penn State and the company. The undergraduate students are entering their senior year and will work on the next phase as a Capstone project. The company will work with the faculty/student team to define planning details during the Fall Semester. The work begins in Spring Semester with the help of additional company funding.

WHAT’S HAPPENING AT FRANKLIN & MARSHALL COLLEGE!

Posted May 7th, 2014 by admin

WHAT’S HAPPENING AT FRANKLIN & MARSHALL COLLEGE!

I am Spike Moyer, faculty liaison for the Innovation Transfer Network, ITN. I visit our 15 member schools and acquire a 10,000 foot view. There are two programs at Franklin & Marshall College that I want to share with you. Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster has a new Office of College Grants (OCG) aimed at supporting faculty members and the institution as a whole with grant and fellowship-seeking endeavors. Another is benefiting the Plain Community. It is an example of the many student-faculty research efforts producing outstanding undergraduate research and outreach. This research addresses inherited disorders specific to the Plain Community.

The concept behind the OCG and, particularly, its emphasis on promoting faculty development, originated due to the insight of Associate Dean Dr. Michael Billig, http://www.fandm.edu/michael-billig. Established in 2012, the OCG works hand-in-hand with F&M’s new Faculty Center to support faculty members throughout all stages of their careers. http://www.fandm.edu/faculty-center

The OCG is helmed by Ryan Sauder, http://www.fandm.edu/ryan-sauder. It employs 5 staff members, including director of faculty grants Amy Cuhel-Schuckers, http://www.fandm.edu/amy-cuhel-schuckers. One of their core goals is to support sponsored projects at F&M by helping faculty leverage internal financial resources and seek external grants and fellowships to support their scholarship. The office is on campus in Buchanan House, a cozy red brick residence that used to be the house of the Campus Caretaker, from bygone days. Ryan targets sources of institutional support. Amy works with faculty members to capture grant and fellowship funding to promote faculty members’ scholarship. In each of its first two years of existence, the OCG’s staff has had meaningful interactions with 100% of tenure and tenure-track faculty members on campus. External pressure is reducing the amount of available grant dollars while this office is working to increase the awards to Franklin & Marshall College. As the OCG anticipates its third year of operation, Amy and the rest of the staff are beginning to see new volume and improved quality in submitted proposals and they will be tracking the progress. http://www.fandm.edu/grants

How does one good idea evolve into many? At the Clinic for Special Children in Strasburg, the Plain Community is benefiting from undergraduate research efforts and outreach, thanks to the efforts of Dr. Rob Jinks. http://www.fandm.edu/robert-jinks. This is one of myriad examples of top-quality student-faculty research underway at F&M. In 2010 Rob Jinks challenged his neurochemistry students with field experience at the Clinic for Special Children in Strasburg, PA, a nonprofit medical and diagnostic service for Lancaster County children who have inherited (genetic) disorders. http://www.fandm.edu/for-news-media/press-releases/article/f-m-clinic-for-special-children-collaborate-on-life-changing-research

One year later, he and 13 students published a paper in collaboration with the Clinic for Special Children in the journal, Plos One, “Genetic Mapping and Exome Sequencing Identify Variants Associated with Five Novel Diseases”. This research, one example of how F&M faculty work hand-in-hand with students to conduct life-changing studies, was funded in large part by a 2008 grant to F&M through the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Undergraduate Science Education Program, the Eyler Endowment for Biochemistry, ConnectCare3, and a grant from the Center for Research on Women and Newborn Health, Lancaster, PA.

Four years later, student-led investigation of thirteen genetic disorders is underway, and several large grants have been awarded to F&M, including a $1.4M HHMI Undergraduate Science Education award in 2012. In addition to funding genetics research, they have been applied to enhance curriculum. The HHMI-funded program is aimed at retaining students of diverse backgrounds by providing them with transformative opportunities to engage in hands-on research and community engagement. Using HHMI funds, Ellie Rice, http://www.fandm.edu/elizabeth-rice, adjunct assistant professor of biology, has developed a course, Public Health Outreach that connects the sciences and the humanities. Her students research and write genetic disease guidebooks for families of individuals with various disorders. A senior in the Public Health Program is developing a hand-book for lay mid wives who serve the Plain community.

The Plain Community has been successfully farming the same soil for over 200 years and they know the importance of plowing today’s efforts back into the ground to sustain tomorrow’s farmers. Collaborations with the Clinic for Special Children and Lancaster General Health are growing to allow a bedside-to bench-to bedside model at the clinic. This ultimately benefits the community. That learned by treating patients today will help tomorrow’s patients.

What’s Happening at Shippensburg University!

Posted February 25th, 2014 by admin

What’s Happening at Shippensburg University!

My name is Spike Moyer, faculty liaison for the Innovation Transfer Network.  As I travel among our schools, I am always searching for new happenings to share with you.   Shippensburg University is buzzing with new activity.  Dr. Scott Drzyzga in the Department of Geography/Earth Science has put Shippensburg University on the map.  Dr. Carol Wellington, Chair of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering is happy to have Aliens in the classroom.

Putting SHIP on the Map

Geography/Earth Science Professor, Dr. Scott Drzyzga, http://webspace.ship.edu/sadrzy/, put SHIP on the map, literally speaking.  Have you ever tried to use one of those web based map sites to find a building on your campus?  What you’ll usually find is a shaded outline of the campus property and maybe a few streets with names.  Before 2014, all of the buildings on Shippensburg University campus shared a common mailing and situs address, 1871 Old Main Drive. That was fine when all we had to do was deliver the mail.  So, until recently, new web maps and navigation apps always led folks to the fountain at Old Main.  People trying to attend an event at the Performing Arts Center, piled up in front of Old Main.  Truck deliveries would end up there too, eventually having to back up and find the right loading dock.  Hopefully, you are not a first responder looking for an address in an emergency.

Scott worked with undergraduate students to create an accurate map of the campus.   Now, buildings have addresses and there are street signs at intersections.   But what street address is used for a building, is it where the main entrance is located, or the door that is most used?  Scott’s team made those decisions and is working with Google Maps to complete the project.  Buildings are shown, all of the roads and streets are named and the perhaps most importantly, the coffee shop is located.

While the project was a technical challenge, Scott explains that political issues were equally challenging.  The new addresses had to be approved by the university, local governing authorities and of course the US Post Office.  This was to make sure that new addresses on campus were not used somewhere else in the area.

Take a look at the Google Map for SHIP by clicking on this link. https://www.google.com/maps/place/Shippensburg,+PA+17257/@40.0580154,-77.5221649,14z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0×89c90c6814002de1:0xfa0c5da50aff3005?hl=en

This is a great project for a Geography/ Earth Science/CS faculty and can provide undergraduate students with a valuable hands-on application.  If your school would like to get on the map, Scott can provide some guidance.

Aliens in the Classroom

There are Aliens in the classroom in the Computer Science and Engineering Department.  Dr. Carol Wellington is proud of the Alienware Auroras equipped high performance computer lab.  They are the fastest things around and when raw power is needed, this is the room they go to.  The Computer Engineering Lab has new equipment that students use to build custom printed circuit boards from design to populated board.  The lab includes testing and development stations that are dedicated to support testing boards and developing the firmware and device software.

Women in Computer Science, WiCS, group is completing the second version of the “wonderfall” which is a programmable water fall banner.  You have to see it!  This generation is designed to be portable and has twice the resolution as the original.

But that’s not all!  First impressions are lasting and in today’s world, a student’s first impressions are gained from browsing your departmental web pages.  The Computer Science and Engineering web pages are student focused, and highlighting things that students care about, like cool new toys.  A new web page is has been nearly completed.  It is user friendly and emphasizes student programs and projects.  https://web.cs.ship.edu/future-students/

NANO TECHNOLOGY FUNDING SOURCES

Posted January 15th, 2014 by admin

Two funding sources are listed for Nano Technology. One targets Nano Technology in Undergraduate Education and the other is in the area of Nano Biosensing. Both have proposal dead lines in 2014.

Nanotechnology Undergraduate Education (NUE) in Engineering
Anticipated deadline for 2014 proposals is May 22 2014.
This solicitation aims at introducing nanoscale science, engineering, and technology through a variety of interdisciplinary approaches into undergraduate engineering education. The focus of the FY 2013 competition is on nanoscale engineering education with relevance to devices and systems and/or on the societal, ethical, economic and/or environmental issues relevant to nanotechnology.
Related funding opportunities are posted on the web site for the National Nanotechnology Initiative, www.nsf.gov/nano. In addition, research and education projects in nanoscale science and engineering will continue to be supported in the relevant NSF programs and divisions.
http://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_summ.jsp?pims_id=13656

Nano-Biosensing
Deadline for proposals is Sept 17, 2014
The Nano-Biosensing Program supports fundamental research in engineering areas related to:
- Novel biorecognition elements
- Multifunctional nanomaterials and interfaces for biosensing applications
- Fundamental study of bio-macromolecules confinement and orientation at the micro- and nano-interfaces for biosensing applications
- Nano-biosensors for basic biology applications (protein-protein interactions, cellular signaling and cross talk, as well as other similar topics)
- Integration of nano-biosensors into portable devices for medical applications.
The Nano-Biosensing Program supports innovative, transformative and insightful fundamental investigations of original technologies with broad long term impact and applications that require novel use of bio-inspired engineering principles and sophisticated approaches to meet the engineering and technology needs of the nation. The program is targeting research in the area of the monitoring, identification and/or quantification of biological phenomena and will support potential technological breakthroughs that exist at the intersection of engineering, life science and information technology. Proposals submitted to the Program must advance both engineering and life sciences.
http://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_summ.jsp?pims_id=503353