Technology

Students at BGSU robotics camp engineer summer fun

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Games of cornhole are on the summer fun agenda of many young people. Earlier this month, a dozen teenagers from Northwest were looking at ways to make the game more exciting using robotics. The students, one from as far away as Antwerp, attended robotics camp for commuters at Bowling Green State University. It’s the second year BGSU has provided a robotics camp. Last year, one session was held at the Toledo Museum of Art targeting students from the Toledo Public Schools. That program continues, but teacher Mohammad Mayyas, an associate professor of engineering technologies, said he wanted to offer one on campus for other students. They decided to have the camp for students on campus “to help our program to grow,” he said. “We want to expose future students, prospective students, to what we can offer,” Mayyas said. “The university is paying attention to robotics and advanced manufacturing.” Northwest Ohio needs a workforce trained in robotics and automaton, and the state recognizes this. That’s helped BGSU land grants to develop its program. “We have very good equipment,” he said. “It excites them to see the actual equipment used in industry.” Employing open source software, the students learned to integrate hardware with software to make sensors so cornhole is more interactive. That can mean keeping score, or having lights or sounds go off in response to scoring tosses or misses. Maybe it’ll play a song or show a hand waving. Ekumjyot Kaur, from Perrysburg, said she was enjoying the camp. “It’s really in-depth. You wouldn’t think you’d go to robotics camp and learn so much,” she said. “Here they focus on the on software as opposed to the moving parts.” This was her first real exposure to BGSU, she said, and for other interested in engineering she’d recommend the camp. Sisters Chloe and Mia Wegener, from the Anthony Wayne district, were working with Kaur. The work consisting of tossing bean bag toward a cornhole board trying to activate a light. The light should be going on when the beanbag goes into the hole, but the vibration of a miss also caused the light to go on. Chloe Wegener, a rising senior, is no stranger to campus. She’s taken College Credit Plus courses on campus. She’s planning on majoring in engineering. Her sister, who will be a sophomore, said she’s also interested in the field and has participated in Girls Who Code program. Claire Heilman, from Columbus Grove, said she had an interest in engineering and felt the camp would be “a good way to find out if I like it.” She was pleased with her experience. It started off with the basics, she said, learning the inputs and outputs, then moving on to doing their own coding. Alex Lehman, from Antwerp, said her father encouraged her to enroll because “I’m interested in programming and robotics.” And the experience has been “awesome,” she said. Though only going into her freshman year, she’s already considering attending BGSU. Mayyas said he wasn’t surprised by the number of young women, five out of 12, in the class. “Robotics as a specialization is much more exciting for both genders. They find a way to apply their creativity.” Mayas said the campers are learning soft skills including creativity and team work…

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Daniel Eisinger: Energy Star program should be maintained

As a business owner, I do not use the term “invest” lightly. As anyone with a mind for business knows, a favorable return on investment (ROI) signifies a prudential investment. Some simple math will illustrate the point. Imagine a program that has saved Americans $430 billion since 1992 at a cost of roughly $50 million per year; the programmatic profit (herein meaning America’s saved capital expenses), is $428 billion. By dividing this profit by the total invest of $1.25 billion, we find that the ROI of said program is 343%, or roughly 13.72% per year. But this ROI is very real, since the above example is actually of the Energy Star Program. Energy efficiency is the driver behind Energy Star’s ROI. Individuals and businesses pay lower utility bills because they are using (or losing) less electricity, water, heat, etc., and my business provides the analyses that illustrate where money can be recouped through greater energy efficiency. To discontinue the Energy Star program would be senseless. The program beautifully models the interplay of efficient free-market economics and effective public policy. Washington must act prudently; continue investing in America by investing in Energy Star. Dan Eisinger Toledo


Astronaut Mark Kelly was guided by the women in his life

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News To hear Mark Kelly tell it he’s lucky to be alive, never mind standing before an admiring crowd speaking. In his Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives talk Tuesday at Bowling Green State University, he spoke glowingly of his wife, former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords, and his mother, and spoke with wry self-deprecation of his own failings and how he overcame them. Growing up in New Jersey he lacked motivation, he said. His father was a stereotypical Irish detective who’d come home about once a year cast on his hand. ”Fighting crime,” he would tell his twin sons, Mark and Scott. They would later learn that these were as much the results of bar fights as crime fighting. Kelly’s mother worked as a secretary and waitress before she decided she too wanted to become a police officer. A small woman she would have to scale a seven-foot, two-inch wall in nine seconds to qualify. Unbeknownst to her, her husband made it an inch taller. When it came time for the test, she scaled it in under five seconds, faster than most of the male candidates. She became one of the first female police officers in New Jersey. “That was the first time in my life I saw the power of having a goal and a plan and what it meant to work really hard for something,” Kelly said. “It certainly motivated for me.” He set a goal of becoming a Navy pilot and beyond that a test pilot and beyond that an astronaut. His ultimate goal was to be the first person to walk on Mars. After graduating from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in 1986, he headed off for pilot training There were snags along the way. He was not a gifted pilot. After his first go at landing on an aircraft carrier, the instructor pilot asked him: “Are you sure this career is for you?” Still, “I did not give up,” Kelly said. “How good you are at the beginning of something you try is not a good indicator of how good you can become. I’m a prime example of somebody who’s able to overcome a serious lack of aptitude with practice, persistence, and just not giving up. Always remember effort, that counts twice” Later on his first combat mission during the Gulf War, he made an almost fatal decision. In order to avoid running a gauntlet of Iraqi missile defenses after attacking his target, he decided to return to his aircraft carrier by heading through Iranian air space. His navigator questioned the decision, but he continued anyways. As he flew back, he heard radio traffic about an enemy fighter heading out of Iranian air space and fighters on their way to intercept it.  That Iraqi plane had no chance, he thought to himself. Then he realized the plane’s coordinates matched his own. He was that “enemy” aircraft. “Do not shoot down the moron in Iranian air space,” Kelly hollered into the radio. “There’s never an excuse for not communicating with the people you work with. … That night I didn’t it, and it almost cost me my life.” That mission also provided another lesson. On the way to the target, a missile was headed directly for his plane.  He told his navigator, who…


Diplomat finds plenty to fear in North Korea’s nuclear build up

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News It took a global community to help North Korea become the international, nuclear-armed pariah it is today. Thomas Snitch, an expert in nuclear armaments and diplomat whose career dates back to the early days of the Reagan Administration, returned to his alma mater, Bowling Green State University, Monday to detail how North Korea became the global threat it is today. His talk was the opening event in the “Seeking Peace in the Nuclear Era: A Peace Symposium” which continues through Thursday. Try as Snitch might, he could offer little solace to those like one woman who said she wouldn’t be able to sleep that night after hearing his analysis. And, after delivering the Nakamoto Peace Lecture, Snitch faced criticism from another distinguished guest at the symposium. Setsuko Thurlow, who will speak Wednesday night with a fellow survivor of the Hiroshima bombing, said Snitch spoke too little of the United States’ responsibility for initiating nuclear war, and too little of how the world can work to eliminate nuclear arms. Impassioned statement Thurlow spoke about her experiences with the horrors of nuclear war. There was a double standard she said with the five nuclear powers having their own arsenals but telling others they should not have them. There are 15,000 nuclear weapons in the world, she said, and 95 percent are in the hands of Russia and the United States. That has a positive side, as Snitch noted earlier in his speech. Those countries, which have reduced their arsenals, are among those who have the best safeguards to prevent accidental launches. Just recently NORAD radar in Colorado picked up a strange mass over the western United States. It wasn’t missiles. It wasn’t birds, like those that almost triggered a Soviet Union missile launch in 1983. It turned out to be butterflies, 21 million butterflies. Would North Korea, or Pakistan, be able to exercise such restraint? Snitch started his talk by mentioning that the front page of that morning’s Washington Post had a story on how to survive a nuclear attack on Washington. The North Koreans, have declared that they will not enter talks until they have a missile capable of hitting the Eastern seaboard of the United States. Snitch said when the Soviet Union collapsed, many of its nuclear scientists were now free agents, and though NATO tried to employ as many as possible, others found their way to places like North Korea. But North Korea had started before that. Snitch remembers being called into the White House not long after Ronald Reagan took office. Snitch was asked to identify something in a fuzzy photo. He looked hard. It was a Soviet-made nuclear reactor. The next day he was called back in, and asked what was missing – power transmission lines. The government confronted the Soviets. The Soviets though said they weren’t involved, but they confirmed U.S, intelligence. North Korea was seeking to build a bomb. Reagan was told. How long would it take them? At least 25 years. Why, Reagan responded, should I worry about it? That attitude, Snitch said, reflected the U.S. approach to North Korea for too long. With so many other problems, North Korea was left on the back burner. As with the reactor, which could have been used to generate electric…


Sheriff Wasylyshyn eyes putting more drones on duty

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As special deputy Larry Moore walked across the lawn in front of the Wood County Sheriff’s Office, the hovering drone caught his every move. Even as he zig-zagged under a group of trees, the infrared camera showed the glowing image of Moore. “It could be pitch black outside and we could see him,” Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn said. The new drone purchased by the sheriff’s office is an elite – and expensive – version of the small drones that buzz the skies. This is more of an “industrial drone,” that has an infrared and a regular camera, can withstand high winds, is water resistant, can fly at night, has a range of four miles, is able to fly 40 mph, can fly as high as 400 feet which offers a square mile of coverage, and has a collision avoidance system. The DJI Matrice M210 drone came with a price tag of $23,000. But a donation of $9,000 from Michael McAlear, a special deputy and friend of the sheriff, helped the department purchase the Cadillac of drones. “That made the difference, so we could get an upgrade,” Wasylyshyn said. The sheriff is now considering the possibility of purchasing multiple smaller drones that can be deployed quickly by each shift of the road patrols. “Eventually, drones will be issued with your shotgun,” he predicted. The smaller drones come with smaller price tags – about $1,000 each. They could be used in crises where time is critical, such as a river rescue. The smaller drones, that weigh no more than 1.5 pounds, can be deployed in less than a minute. They can also fly inside buildings, which would allow the sheriff’s office to get an eye on a situation without endangering staff. The small drones can spot someone hiding or someone armed inside a building. By the end of the year, Wasylyshyn hopes to have a couple of the smaller drones on duty. Any of the drones could be used to help in searches for runaways or people with dementia who have wandered from home. The sheriff’s office new drone has already been used to help find a suspect who fled from the Fostoria Police. The drone was able to spot him in a woods. “Another success story,” said Sgt. Greg Panning, who is one of four people on the department trained to operate the drone. The drone also helped corral a herd of 52 cattle that had escaped from a farm. “There were cattle running down Poe Road and some on Carter Road,” Panning said. The sheriff’s office envisions the drone being used to take overhead photos of major accident scenes, and to get information at hazardous material spills. “We could put this right on top of it,” Panning said of spills that would be too dangerous for first responders to get close to. Wasylyshyn is also eyeing ways the big drone can be used by other county offices. For example, the drone has already flown over a new roundabout to give the county engineer’s office a birds-eye view. It could also be used on river cleanup projects to help identify where logjams are located. The drone could also be used to help with bridge inspections by photographing the underneath of bridges. “You can fly…


Peace Symposium to address nuclear threat

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING AND COMMUNICATIONS  “Seeking Peace in the Nuclear Era: A Peace Symposium” is the focus of a series of presentations Oct. 16-19 at Bowling Green State University. Four speakers will provide insights on the dangers of nuclear war and threats to peace facing the world today. At the end of the Cold War, the constant threat of nuclear annihilation seemed to be over. Today, though nuclear stockpiles have been reduced, the weapons are still with us. In recent years, new political and military conflicts, especially between western democracies and North Korea and Russia, have revived the specter of nuclear war. Yet the U.S. public, especially young people, are generally unaware of the issues, the nature of nuclear war, the history of Hiroshima, and effective ways to achieve peace. BGSU alumnus Dr. Thomas Snitch ’75, ’15 (Hon.), a scientist and policymaker who spent decades working on nuclear policy for the U.S. State Department, will give the Hiroko Nakamoto Peace Lecture Oct. 16. He will tell the story, based on declassified intelligence, diplomatic history, political intrigue, technology diversions, skullduggery, and his trips to North Korea, about how Pyongyang was able to successfully build, test, and now, possibly deploy a thermonuclear warhead on an intercontinental ballistic missile. His presentation will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Bowen-Thompson Student Union Theater (Room 206). Gwynne Dyer, a renowned journalist, military historian, author, and filmmaker, will provide an overview and analysis of an array of current threats to peace, with a focus on nuclear issues and North Korea. His Oct. 17 lecture at 7:30 p.m. in 228 Bowen-Thompson Student Union, titled “Don’t Panic: Threats to Peace in this Nuclear Age,” will explain how people and governments can effectively deal with threats from North Korea, ISIS, the rise of populism, and climate change. Two presentations – an on-campus talk and an event in the community – will feature a discussion with two Japanese survivors of the Hiroshima bomb. Ms. Keiko Ogura and Ms. Setsuko Thurlow will speak on campus at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 18 in the Bowen-Thompson Student Union Theater, and at 4 p.m. Oct. 19 in the Wood County District Public Library’s Carter House, 307 N. Church St. They will discuss their individual stories and their perspectives on promoting peace. Ms. Ogura is a founder of Hiroshima Interpreters for Peace and is a lifelong advocate for peace and against nuclear weapons. Ms. Thurlow is also a lifelong opponent of nuclear war. The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation gave her a Distinguished Peace Leadership award in 2015. In 2016, she was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. This past year she was working with countries at the U.N. in support of the recent Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. A reception will follow their talk at the Carter House. The Nakamoto Peace Lecture is funded by BGSU alumna Hiroko Nakamoto, who is a survivor of the Hiroshima atomic bombing. She has been a strong supporter of the Peace and Conflict Studies Program at the university as well as a “Gateway to Peace” memorial project in her hometown of Hiroshima, Japan. The symposium, hosted by the BGSU Asian Studies Program and Peace and Conflict Studies, is sponsored by the Center for Global Partnership of the Japan Foundation, Nakamoto and the BGSU College of Arts and Sciences.


BG students make the most of manufacturing day

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   There were robots scooting across the floor, fresh packaged green beans and a guinea pig named “Lil Poundcake” – all part of National Manufacturing Day. Nine Wood County manufacturers set up shop in the Bowling Green Middle School on Friday to show students that manufacturing could be a great career choice. “We want to get this age to consider a career in manufacturing,” said Sue Clark, executive director of the Bowling Green Economic Development Foundation. “When you start in high school, they already have preconceived notions. So you have to start earlier.” This is the first time the middle school has held a manufacturing day, said Jodi Anderson, secondary curriculum coordinator. “There is a crisis in manufacturing for skilled workers,” Anderson said. Friday’s event was intended to help students see that “old school traditional factories” are not the same as today’s manufacturing. Clark agreed. “We need young people in the pipeline” for manufacturing jobs, she said. Many students have archaic ideas of manufacturing jobs. “This is so kids see what modern manufacturing looks like,” Anderson said. “It’s changed drastically.” This manufacturers’ fair had students using virtual reality goggles and turning soap different colors. “I think some of them are surprised,” Anderson said of the students. The manufacturers set up in the gymnasium showed how their professions needed science, problem solving and creative thinking. Apio, the fresh produce processor, showed students how to test the bags of fresh green beans for oxygen and carbon dioxide. “Beans breathe just like we do after they are picked,” Ginger Povenmire, of Apio, said as she showed how to measure the gases in the bags of beans. At another table, students were donning virtual reality goggles used by Rudolph Libbe on construction projects to help people visualize the final product. “It’s easier than an end user who can’t read 2-D drawings,” said Trent Mahaney, virtual design and construction manager for the company. Employees from Lubrizol taught some lessons on hydraulics, air pressure and fluid flow, using a series of water tanks to see which fills up first and how the water flows. The company threw in an added attraction of goldfish in one of the tanks. “We put goldfish in there because we thought they were cool,” said Matt Paquette, Lubrizol plant manager. “They come over here to see the fish and they end up learning something.” The employees from Control Design Solutions showed students that one company can make several different products. The same plant in Bowling Green processes and packages foods – like Golden Grahams cereal and Goobers peanut butter and jelly combo – and produces parts for car seats. The Marathon Special Products display showed kids how engineering is used from the concept stage to the final product. They had a 3-D printer on hand. “Manufacturing is so innovative,” said Carol Espen, human resources manager at Marathon. “We want to excite them about the opportunities that exist. That’s our goal.” The robots came compliments of Penta Career Center. Students were making them spin across the floor, pick up items or even move a chair across the room. “Kids this age are crazy about this stuff,” said Ryan Thomas, from the manufacturing and transportation sophomore exploratory program at Penta. At the Rosenboom display, students learned…