Academic Papers:

6. Mobile Technology Consortium (MTC): An Industry-University Alliance (Paper accepted based on this abstract)

Abstract:

MTC is a non-profit entity that was formed in 2008 in South Florida with the intent to foster alliances between industry and university participants. The stated vision was to bridge the university wisdom with the local entrepreneurial spirit for the growth of mobile technology and user experience. The mission was to bring together systems companies, small businesses, universities, and government agencies to evolve next generation mobile technology platforms, applications, and automation. This vision and mission statements of collaboration and innovation translated to the following goals: (1) to identify common needs/topics/projects for the consortium, (2) to collect needs of the local entrepreneurs and businesses, (3) to provide a quarterly session for status updates, (4) to review “hot technology topics” to enable emerging businesses and (5) to find best students match to local businesses.

True to this spirit, the first MTC gathering was held in November 2008 at Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, FL, as a half-day conference. It contained six university presentations on radical increase in engineering design productivity, as applied to mobile platforms. This was based on a six year long $1M+ funded project from Motorola. The conference also featured presentations on early entrepreneurial activities from three companies. The latest conference, scheduled for later part of April 2012, shows the progress we have made since those early days: the first presentation will be on a highly successful NSF funded Industry-University Collaboration Research Center (I-UCRC) that involves Florida International University (FIU), Miami, FL and FAU. The FAU center has 16 participating companies that provide a total of $1.5M in membership fees. We presently have 17 active research projects in the Center with 12 faculty involved and more than 20 graduate and undergraduate students. This first presentation will be followed by a set of presentations which represent current industry-university alliances, on topics of health care, health monitoring, mobile Apps, semantic web, mobile virtualization, and security threats to smart phones. The conference will end with an industry-university panel session on ways to improve collaborations further.

We believe that MTC has facilitated the following during four years of its existence: (1) A networking environment for South Florida companies. It has brought together people from different industries to help resolve each other’s problems; (2) Facilitation of the NSF I-UCRC center at FAU. This provides businesses with a way to research and resolve difficult problems and innovate, with a lower cost and personnel overhead; (3) Start-up of three student-led small businesses with focus on smart phone Apps; (4) Student presentations of their smart phone Apps to business leaders and venture capitalists; (5) Recruitment of best students by the local industry; (6) Mentoring of students at both FAU and FIU; (7) Expansion of MTC’s reach by holding conferences at two Miami area universities: Miami Dade College and FIU; and (8) Development of several state-of-the-art courses on smart phones and related technologies.

5. Impact of Motorola’s Vision on FAU’s Engineering Curriculum (Paper accepted based on this abstract)

Abstract:

Motorola Mobility funded us during the past decade to develop a methodology to radically increase their engineering design productivity. The project, entitled One Pass to Production (OPP), had the stated objective of a design cycle of 24 hours. Motorola’s internal evaluations concluded that our approaches could reduce the time period to 3 months, an improvement of 7 fold, over the then time frame of 18 to 24 months. This paper will document our effort to incorporate those principles in a different context, viz., teaching project oriented courses. ABET encourages team projects in engineering curriculum to expose students to real world challenges. However, such courses tend to have multiple challenges for professors and students alike, resulting in poor results. Our process leads to state-of-the-art team projects that are successfully completed in a reliable, timely, efficient, and methodical manner.

Engineering productivity is enhanced by Design Reuse (in our case, via platforms, libraries, components, & standards). Use of Open-source, by providing transparency to underlying architecture and code, allows for a faster learning curve, innovation, multiple perspectives, and reduced cost to all. These are the norm for innovation and high productivity in every field that has embraced these principles.

Our overarching goal here has been to educate students from high school level to graduate level in various advanced areas of high tech, in a synergistic manner that is cognizant of their strengths and needs, while realizing a pipeline of engineering products that are potentially marketable. One particular field, viz., Smart Phone App development, has achieved maturity: Graduate students use their intellectual maturity and knowledge to develop advanced Android components in the fall semester; In the spring semester, undergraduate students use their technical savvy and programming skills to incorporate these components into their Android App platforms; and during the summer semester, in a 3 week session, high school students, utilize their creativity, imagination, and artistic skills to develop marketable Apps from these platforms. We have successfully repeated this cycle two years in a row. We have 26 marketable Apps. We expect to put some of them soon on the market. Please visit android.fau.edu to see our results. More than 100K visits have been recorded for this site. From a productivity perspective, high school students (with entry level skills) achieved in 3 weeks what typical undergraduate students achieve during a regular 15 week semester, a potential improvement of about ten fold. We have begun involving students and professors from non-engineering disciplines this semester, at the undergraduate level, to encourage even truer real world experience in project work.

We have started adopting a similar approach to robotics and semantic web domains as well. Results may be noted at their respective websites: robotics.fau.edu and semanticweb.fau.edu. The former involves the development of low cost robots to draw geometric art and eventually play multiplayer floor games (based on board games, say, Tic-Tac-Toe, and Chess), while the latter involves intelligent reuse of information on the web. There are potential ways to combine the three areas to lead to other project oriented courses. Reuse and Open-source tools make the process predictable and productive. Some students have even leveraged their learning to start small businesses. We will provide details in the full paper.

4. Robotic Art for STEM (published conference paper)

Abstract:

In this paper, we describe our experiences in using geometric art to develop robotic skills in both undergraduate and high school students. The intent was to use robots to enhance interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) disciplines among high school students and in system level design and integration issues in the undergraduate student population.

3. Exporting Engineering Technology Practice to Enhance Pre-College Mathematics (published conference paper)

Abstract:

This presentation combines two theoretical perspectives. The first perspective, from engineering education, emphasizes the importance of communicating essential knowledge to non-engineers. The second theoretical perspective comes from the mathematics education research literature. It is well established that students may be able to recall certain facts, but fail to use those facts in solving novel problems. In many cases, students do not even recognize that solving such problems is important.

This presentation describes how undergraduate engineering majors designed robots for a class project. These robots are low cost, built with mass produced low precision parts. Calibration and error-correction techniques in software and hardware are used to enhance their precision. These robots are designed to draw geometric art, and in the process, teach Mathematics to high school students. A detailed analysis of the necessary subject matter knowledge is provided here. Furthermore, a high school mathematics teacher has examined the robots from the perspective of the classroom. Methods to motivate learners and enhance instruction are described.

Students are interested in real world problems. When students see the robots graph linear functions, they have an opportunity to analyze the relationship between algebra and geometry. Both linear functions and the Pythagorean theorem are central to high school mathematics. There is an enormous difference between drawing a line on graph paper versus writing a program for the robot to travel along a line in the real world with real error. This has the added benefit of examining the important topic of estimation.

Bringing engineering technology into the classroom includes benefits at both levels. College students learn to communicate the results of their course work to an interested audience, with less specialized knowledge. High school students benefit by learning to apply knowledge of mathematics in novel ways to real world problems. As a result, they can develop a richer knowledge base for their mathematics education.

2. STEM Education with Innovation and Entrepreneurship (published conference paper)

Abstract:

We offer a compelling vision for bringing together like-minded faculty members across our several university campuses and colleges, to develop smart phone/ mobile applications in domains that are underrepresented but have substantial potential to succeed, with social, economic, or technological impact. A university is uniquely qualified to address such Apps given the close proximity of experts innon-overlapping and distinct fields. However, the close proximity is offset by silos built for administrative purposes. A group of faculty members and/or students drawn from the colleges of arts,business, education, and engineering have worked together over the past two years, not only to build bridges, but also to chalk up several positive outcomes. Our model has potential to be self-sustaining soit can be used to expand/scale up our model to include other groups and colleges in the ensuing years.The infrastructure built will benefit the university, partnering colleges, faculty, & students, while strengthening the social fabric of the university and lowering technology barrier so one can continue to focus on their passion, while benefitting from the rapid advances in science and engineering.

1. Robotics Games for STEM Education (published conference paper)

Abstract:

This paper presents use of robotic floor games to enhance students’ abilities and interests in STEM fields. Undergraduate students will build low cost robotic platforms that will be used byhigh school students to build their own intellectual and/or fun games. These robotic platforms (or kits) will be engineered to be inexpensive so high schools can afford them. We utilize open source software and hardware to achieve this.