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News Update 05-13-2003

Improving Education through Integrative Design

Brenda Laurel, Ph.D., and Chair of the Media Design Program at the Pasadena Art Center College of Design, an accomplished designer, researcher and writer in the field of human computer interaction and the cultural aspects of technology, is one of the featured keynotes at Syllabus2003. Dr. Laurel will present her ideas on how connections among students, between students and faculty, across disciplines and between the academy and the community may be enhanced through technological infrastructures. Syllabus2003, July 27-31, offers five days of outstanding keynotes, panels, breakout sessions, networking, and more! Don't miss the opportunity to participate in this summer's 10th annual conference at the new San Jose Marriott, with a special day of programming at Stanford University. For complete conference details and to register, go to Register before June 27 and save up to $200 with the Early Bird discount.

Study Finds Wireless Content Enhances Higher Ed Learning

A study by the Mobile Learning Consortium, a group of college-level institutions, educational publishing and technology companies, has found that digital content helped first-year college accounting students to learn accounting. The study objective was to gain insights on the effectiveness of integrating wireless technology into the classroom. The consortium includes: Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT); Seneca College, Ontario; McGraw-Hill Education; Bell Mobility; Blackboard; Hewlett-Packard; Avaya; and Cap Gemini Ernst & Young. Students in the pilot consistently reported that online interactive exercises accessible via wireless were useful to student learning. In addition, instructors noted that wireless technology enabled them to encourage independent student learning because they could adopt a coaching role in the classroom.

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Business-Tech Hybrid Degrees Popular in Down Economy

Universities are adopting a new brand of master's degree—the Professional Science Master's (PSM)—combining business and technical education to give their graduates a head start in getting hard-to-find high tech jobs. A study by the Conference Board consultancy showed about 90 percent of graduates of PSM programs found jobs in their chosen fields, with 39 percent naming biotechnology as their target industry. That is about twice as many as the second-most-cited industry, computer hardware and software. Universities now awarding PSM degrees include Case Western Reserve, Georgia Tech, Michigan State, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Northeastern, Rensselaer, Arizona, UC Santa Cruz, USC, and Wisconsin-Madison.

JCS University Researching 'See Through' Security Tech

Johnson C. Smith University (JCSU) in Charlotte, N. C. has mounted a project funded by the NASA space agency to evaluate an imaging device for its potential as a homeland security tool. The project, funded by the NASA Glenn Research Center, has allowed the passive millimeter-wave (PMMW) imager to be built and delivered to JCSU for further research. It may open the door to new ways of handling airport security, aircraft landing, space shuttle diagnostics, and battlefield combat. "The passive millimeter-wave imager is a camera that can detect objects through clothing, dense fog, walls, and other visibly opaque materials using millimeter-wave radiation. One advantage is its ability to see through severe weather conditions," said Dr. Alan Lettington, professor emeritus at the University of Reading. Currently, most air traffic control systems and surveillance cameras use infrared waves, which are significantly weakened in poor weather.

Kettering Prof Models Sweeter Baseball Bat 'Sweet Spot'

Kettering University applied physics professor Dr. Dan Russell is using a variety of high-tech tools, including Mathematica math modeling software and AVI digital video, to research the physics of composite baseball and softball bats in order to "tune" them for greater effect. The work is being done for CE-Composites Baseball Inc., one of Canada's leading producers of composite hockey sticks. Composite bats have what is called a "trampoline effect" that can increase the amount of energy transferred to the ball. Russell believes that a well-designed bat can be "tuned" so the natural vibration shape coincides with optimal transference of energy to the ball. Russell feels that unraveling the physics of the sweet spot is a new approach to bat design. "Industry-wide, there has been a lot of focus on making hollow bats thinner, or using double walled barrels. "Whether they understand the physics of it or not," said Russell, "what they are is dropping the frequency, in effect 'tuning' the bat."

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Latest Contracts, Deals, Grants in Higher Education

MICROWAVE TECH—B'eing Corp. donated patents to Washington State University for microwave technology. The system was originally designed to dry out spacecraft after ocean landings and cure composite materials for fighter aircraft. Researchers believe that it could now be used to produce new, flavorful, dried fruits and vegetables that are free of additives. Called the Microwave Vacuum Dehydration Technology, or MIVAC, the process integrates microwave energy and vacuum to dry food quickly at very low temperatures. The result is lightweight dried products that retain their original color, flavor, shape, and nutritional value. Strawberries remain naturally red, for example, and grapes stay tangy and tasty without the use of chemical additives.

ENGINEERING—B'eing also ranked first among corporations and U.S. government agencies in its support of historically Black engineering schools in the United States. In a survey conducted last month by Career Communications Group, publisher of U.S. Black Engineer & Information Technology magazine, the deans of the country's ten accredited engineering programs at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) were asked to identify corporate or government sponsors they feel contribute most to their institutional missions. Of the 42 different corporations and government agencies named for going "above and beyond" in their relationships with HBCU engineering programs, B'eing was cited most often.

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