Technology

BG Women in Computing gets Google grant

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS The BG Women in Computing (BGWIC) student organization at the University has received a Google igniteCS grant for a proposed mentorship program benefiting middle school girls (grades 5-8). The $10,000 grant to promote computer science education provides funding and resources for Code4Her, a new computer science mentorship program for girls. Proposed and administered by BGWIC, the program will connect middle school-aged girls with BGWIC mentors to learn about computer programming. In the session that will begin in January 2017, lessons will be come through exploration of Lego EV3 Mindstorms robots. Each girl will work with her own BGSU student mentor; the mentors are all computer science majors and BGWIC members. “Our members are very passionate about supporting girls in computer science, and we wanted to expand our outreach to the community,” said Rebeccah Knoop, BGWIC president. “We have deep admiration for Google’s commitment to making computer science accessible to all, so we are incredibly honored to have been selected. We are not a large organization, but we believe that we can have a great impact on the community and are very thankful to igniteCS for recognizing that and supporting our program.” The Google igniteCS website indicates only one other program in Ohio has received funding. “This is a wonderful opportunity for the middle school girls and the BGSU student mentors,” said BGWIC adviser Jadwiga Carlson, a computer science faculty member. “The girls are paired with BGWIC members to learn about programming and computer science education. The BGWIC members are able to share their enthusiasm and interest in computer science in hopes of encouraging the girls to pursue computer science careers.” Knoop pointed out that she and other members of BGWIC did not have access to computer science education until college. “We are beyond excited to give these girls that opportunity. We want to introduce young women to programming concepts in a fun way and inspire them to pursue computer science in the future.” According to Google igniteCS website, the company is “committed to developing programs, resources, tools and community partnerships which make computer science engaging and accessible for all students.” A computer science education offers “a pathway to innovation, creativity and exciting career opportunities.” BGWIC’s inaugural session will be held from 1:30-4 p.m. in 020 Hayes Hall computer…


High school teams Bet the Farm in BGSU robotics competition

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Robots invaded farm country Saturday. They came with only the best intentions though. Farmland in question was a course set up on the floor of the Stroh Center at Bowling Green State University. The robots were miniature farm tractors tricked out by 17 teams from high schools from around the state and Indiana. The teams came to compete in the fourth Falcon BEST Robotics Game Day… this year the theme was Bet the Farm. The “farm’ in this case was divided into four quadrants, one for each team. The teams had to maneuver their machines through the course to collect and plant corn seeds, harvest corn cobs from racks as well as plant lettuce, and harvest lettuce and pumpkins – all plastic facsimiles. For Laura Dietz, the advisor for the Bowling Green High School team, the event, gives students as chance “to learn engineering process and problems solving.” For the Bobcat team that problem solving involved a working on a last minute adjustment to their robot’s arm. That’s all part of the competition, said Brandi Barhite, a member of the Falcon BEST committee. “If something breaks down you have to make adjustments,” she said. In that, the robotics competition is much like a sports event. That wasn’t the only way. Parents were on hand to cheer on the teams. School mascots added to the spirit. And a couple drummers beat out their cadences between the three-minute rounds of competition. Then there were the trombones and vuvuzelas contributing tuneless blats of encouragement. The 17 teams, Barhite said, were the most since the competition started in 2013. The university provides all the robotic kits. The cost means it must expand the field slowly, and seek corporate sponsors. Lathrop Corp. And First Solar were this year’s sponsors. She said President Mary Ellen Mazey was key to bringing the program to BGSU. She wanted something to promote the study of science, technology, engineering and math on campus. More than 300 students competed this year. While the focal point is the robotics competition where teams maneuver through the farm course vying to see who can harvest the most, the competition has other aspects. Students present marketing plans as well as a design t-shirts, websites and make streaming videos. “We don’t want students to think…


High school robotics teams to compete at BGSU Oct. 8

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS Teams of students from 17 area high schools and middle schools will showcase their talents during the fourth annual Falcon BEST Robotics competition Oct. 8 at Bowling Green State University. Area schools with teams competing this year are: Anthony Wayne High School, Bowling Green High School, Cardinal Stritch Catholic High School, EHOVE Career Center, Hamilton Southeastern High School, Maumee Valley Country Day School, McComb High School, Millstream Career Center, Patrick Henry High School, Paulding High School, Perrysburg High School, Port Clinton High School, Sandusky Central Catholic School, St. Francis de Sales School, St. Ursula Academy, Sylvania Southview High School, and Vanguard Technology Center. Game Day kicks off in the Stroh Center at 9:30 a.m. with opening ceremonies, which will include a welcome and parade of robots. The competition will follow at 10 a.m. as the teams and their robots master Bet the Farm 2016, a competition of skill and strategy. The event will conclude with awards at approximately 3:15 p.m. The public is encouraged to attend Game Day to support the teams and their robots as they compete; all events are free. Students are coached by dedicated and enthusiastic teachers and team mentors, some of which come from the professional tech community. Each team is provided with an identical kit of parts and equipment, and then spends a month and a half designing, building and testing a remote-controlled robot that the team expects to outperform those created by its competition. The BEST Award is presented to the top three teams that exemplify the concept of BEST – Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology. Criteria include creativity, teamwork, sportsmanship, diversity of participation, application of the engineering design process, ethics, positive attitude/enthusiasm and school/community involvement. Awards are also presented to the top three robotics game teams, and to the top teams that compete in oral presentations, educational displays, project engineering notebook and spirit/sportsmanship. New award categories for this year include Most Photogenic Machine, Best Web Page Design, Best CAD Design, Best Team Video and Top Gun (most points scored in a single round). Falcon BEST is hosted by BGSU’s College of Technology, Architecture and Applied Engineering and the Northwest Ohio Center for Excellence in STEM Educational. Sponsors include BGSU and BGSU’s College of Business. Corporate sponsor Lathrop, who has been involved…


STEM in the Park makes learning loud, messy & fun

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Learning can be pretty loud and messy. Just ask the kids covered in foam bubbles. Or the kids making concrete. Or the ones building rockets. For the seventh year in a row, a whole lot of learning masqueraded as fun at STEM in the Park at Bowling Green State University on Saturday. “We want to make learning fun and we want to spark interest in the STEM fields” of science, technology, engineering and math, said Jenna Pollock, coordinator of the event organized by the Northwest Ohio Center for Excellence in STEM Education. An estimated 5,000 grade school kids, their parents and volunteers showed up to play. All the events were hands-on, with the messier ones relegated to the outside. There was a “Cootie Camp,” where kids could enter a black tent to get a peek at the germs covering them. There was a giant foam machine shooting foamy bubbles all over kids. There was a sloth and a vulture from the Toledo Zoo. And yes, before you ask, this is education – just in a sneaky form. “We do make it fun,” Pollock said. “They are learning without thinking they are learning.” One outside tent was devoted completely to water issues. Children – and in some cases, their inquisitive parents – got to use a remotely operated vehicle, similar to those used by oceanographers to study shipwrecks and coral reefs that are too deep for divers to venture. “They go places man cannot,” explained Matt Debelak, of the Greater Cleveland Aquarium. Another display showed kids about erosion in watersheds. Powdered hot chocolate represented the dirt, powdered Kool-Aid represented pesticides. As the young scientists sprayed water onto the “terrain,” they could see how rain sends soil and pesticides into waterways. At a nearby display, dirt and roots were turned into a lesson on how plants can hang onto nutrients and water. “They are really into shaking the jars of dirt,” said Jessica Wilbarger, of the Lucas Soil & Water Conservation District. “They’re really impressed when the water reaches to bottom,” following along roots that extended about two feet deep. One of the hot spots of the STEM event was the foam pit, where an endless stream of bubbly foam was shooting out at kids. Jodi Recker, of Spark…


Huffine offers software consulting with a personal touch

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Susan Huffine brings a personal touch to computer software issues. Huffine has launched HSC Services – Huffine Software Consulting Services – as a full-time business in August. She started the business in March as a part-time endeavor. Now the 1982 graduate of Bowling Green High School is offering knowledge acquired over several decades to area businesses. The software consultant offers a range of services, all customized to the customer’s particular requirements. That includes finding just what software a company needs and how to adapt it to its operations “so the software can work for their company rather than them working for the software.” Huffine also consults on how best to manage systems and analyze a business’s processes. She can set up a basic website and creating advanced databases and spreadsheets for companies. That wide range of services is all delivered with a personal touch. “I need to listen to them,” she said. “I need to ask them questions before I can get to the nitty gritty of what they really need. I cannot create database without them, constantly meeting with them asking questions.” Huffine comes from family of business people. Her father, Bob Huffine, ran a car repair shop in Custar, and her mother, Kay, did the books and continues to work part time at the Farmers and Merchants Bank in the village. “My mother taught me my love for numbers.” She’s proud to have the Huffine name on another business and feels her father, who died in January, is “watching me.” That family background in small business also gives her insight in what it’s like to operate a business, including how tight finances can be. She tries to set her fees accordingly. Huffine, though, didn’t set out to operate a business. She has always loved music and influenced by long-time high school choral director Jim Brown she went to Bowling Green State University to study vocal music. “But life didn’t direct me in that way.” She switched to business education. “I was floundering.” As a student worker in the Career Center at a time when computers were first taking hold, three counselors noted her high tech skills and advised her to go into business. She graduated with a business degree with specialization in Management Information Systems in 2000….


BGSU hosting STEM in the park, Sept. 24

From BGSU MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS STEM in the Park, a free family day of hands-on fun at Bowling Green State University, will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 24 at the Perry Field House, with plenty of free parking available. STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) in the Park will feature interactive displays and activities created by community partners, local businesses and area universities to engage children of all ages in the STEM fields. More than 140 unique hands-on STEM activity stations will be offered for individuals and families to enjoy. This event allows participants to make ice cream, dabble in robotics, launch pop rockets, pet lizards and much more. Everyone who attends the event will receive an event map, take home free STEM materials and activity ideas, and enjoy a complimentary catered lunch. Last year’s event drew more than 4,300 visitors from northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan. Back by popular demand is the “Science of Sports” zone, which displays activity stations that examine how fast participants can run, how high participants can jump, and how far participants can throw a ball. New this year will be a golf simulator where participants can take part in the longest drive contest. A “Roots to STEM Pre K-2” zone also returns this year, which features activities that cater specifically to younger children. The STEM Stage will once again feature super-sized demonstrations from Imagination Station and the Soar & Explore Bird Show presented by the Toledo Zoo. New activities for 2016 include the H2O Zone, where visitors can explore the science behind all of water’s amazing uses; the Food Science Zone for budding food technologists; and the Digital Arts Animation Station for getting immersed in the world of virtual reality. Activity Station hosts include BGSU’s Marine Lab and Herpetarium, Verizon, Toledo Botanical Garden, Challenger Learning Center of Lake Erie West, Nature’s Nursery, Ohio Northern University Engineering, Wood County Hospital, plus more than 80 other institutions and organizations. STEM in the Park is the brainchild of Drs. Emilio and Lena Duran, both faculty members in BGSU’s College of Education and Human Development. Inspired by Literacy in the Park, an on-campus spring event that brings families in for a variety of literacy-boosting activities, STEM in the Park seeks to increase public engagement in the STEM disciplines. According…


BGSU hosts forum on “The Broadband Imperative”

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS Like water, sewers and electricity, broadband has become an essential, fourth utility. Sufficient access is now critical to the economic success and survival of communities, whether urban, suburban or rural. Bowling Green State University’s Center for Regional Development is partnering with the Dublin, Ohio-based Global Institute for the Study of the Intelligent Community to explore the challenges, opportunities and next steps involved in the effort to create an “Intelligent Ohio” through the deployment, access and use of broadband capabilities. The center will host a forum on “The Broadband Imperative: Creating an Intelligent Ohio” from 2:30-4:30 p.m. Sept. 20 in 201 Bowen-Thompson Student Union. The agenda will include an overview of the broad band imperative, a brief case study of a community that has seen success through deployment and an hour of gathering input from attendees about their challenges and needs in order to move forward with deployment. In order to help plan seating space, attendees are requested to register http://globalinstitute.dublinohiousa.gov/events/the-broadband-imperative-creating-an-intelligent-ohio-northwest-region Now sponsored by the city of Dublin, the intelligent community institute will eventually become a nonprofit organization. Its goal is to serve as a resource for local governments and as a consortium of thought leaders from numerous disciplines and organizations interested in advancing broadband. It is affiliated with the Intelligent Community Forum http://www.intelligentcommunity.org/, a global network of cities and regions with a think tank at its center. Its mission is to help communities use information and communications technology to create inclusive prosperity, tackle social and governance challenges and enrich their quality of life.


McKinney returns to Air Force Academy to brush up on drones, robots & big data

From BGSU OFFICE F MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS Dr. Earl McKinney took his faculty improvement leave (FIL) to new heights. McKinney, interim chair of BGSU’s Department of Accounting and Management of Information Systems (MIS), spent last year as a Distinguished Visiting Professor at his alma mater, the U.S. Air Force Academy. A former aircraft commander and instructor pilot in the military, McKinney used the opportunity to study how the Air Force uses drones and semi-autonomous robots and how it uses Big Data to make decisions and enhance coordination efforts. At the Air Force Academy, McKinney taught MIS classes and a class that combined elements of organizational behavior and organizational theory to juniors and seniors. “Other activities included helping to initiate a plan to create a new MIS major, focusing attention on how to improve the management of the school’s network and infrastructure and mentoring junior faculty. I also had the chance to begin research projects on Big Data with academy faculty,” he said. What McKinney hopes to bring back to the BGSU classroom is the application of drones and semi-autonomous robots to more common business applications “to see how robots and artificial intelligence (AI) are transforming the workplace.” According to McKinney, “The military is a leading global adopter of drones and semi-autonomous robots. IT security is also a very essential element of their network, and I am able to apply what the academy has learned about securing a campus network to our IT security classes.” Besides the knowledge he brings to the classroom, he also is interested in the application of Big Data to decision making. “The military is using Big Data to make decisions and improve coordination in a number of ways similar to businesses,” McKinney said. “I am now a part of several research initiatives that are investigating how Big Data is used in accounting for decision making and how to educate the next generation of business students to avoid simply accepting the results of Big Data analysis and to learn to ask good questions about Big Data analysis.” One might wonder how an MIS professor can combine his scholarly expertise with his passion for aviation. McKinney explained, “One combination of flying and IT is drone technology. Having expertise in both technology and aviation, I am able to challenge students to think more completely…