News Update :: Tuesday, July 11, 2006

News

Pushing for Gender Parity, SMU Hosts Girls Summer Camp

Southern Methodist University’s engineering department is sponsoring a summer camp for girls to promote interest in and the value of engineering as a field of study. The SMU Engineering Camp for Girls, taking place in three week-long sessions, hopes to help SMU – and U.S. higher education as a whole – meet the goal of doubling the number of engineering graduates it generates each year to meet an expected 51 percent increase over the next three years in jobs that require engineering training.

"We have a critical need to increase the number of engineering and technical graduates in our country, and since females make up just 15 to 20 percent of the typical engineering class, they represent a largely untapped source of potential students," said Tammy Richards, assistant dean of the SMU School of Engineering. SMU Engineering, which already reached about 30 percent female enrollment, has launched a “Gender Parity Initiative,” designed to make it the first engineering school in the country to have an equal male/female enrollment ratio by 2008.

Camp curriculum is based on the Infinity Project, a high school engineering program created by the SMU School of Engineering and Texas Instruments to spark student interest in engineering and technology. Events include a luncheon with female engineers from Texas Instruments, Raytheon, and Nortel; an engineering labs tour; and talks on the role of civil and environmental engineers and workshops in completing college applications.

For more information, click here.

Tech in Education Society to Revive Ed Tech Standards

K-16 education technology leaders met last week to accelerate a dialogue on the National Educational Technology Standards for Students (NETS-S). The town hall-style meeting was held during the annual conference of the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), which launched NETS in the late 1990s to help define what students should know and be able to do with technology.

At the town hall meeting, Tim Magner, the U.S. Department of Education's director of the Office of Educational Technology, suggested participants “be bold," adding that ISTE's NETS are the "gold standard" for the field. Participants discussed educational applications of new technologies such as GPS and GIS, cell phones, interactive TV, 3-D gaming environments, and nanotechnology. This is the first step to a complete refresh of the NETS series over the next several years. The NETS Refresh Project is supported by funding from Apple and Intel.

For more information, click here.

U. Oregon Banks Major National Science Foundation Grant

The National Science Foundation awarded the University of Oregon a five-year, $3.2 million grant designed to link Oregon universities to international technology firms. Funded by NSF's Integrative Graduate Education Research and Traineeship Program (IGERT), the award builds on the Oregon’s Materials Science Institute's internship program, which places gradate students in industrial and academic settings for one year. This grant extends the internship program to doctoral candidates at Oregon State University (OSU) and Portland State University (PSU).

Managed by the University of Oregon, the expanded program provides for placements at the participating universities and its other partners, including Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute (ONAMI), the Engineering & Technology Industry Council, Hewlett Packard Co., Invitrogen, LSI Logic Corp., Intel Corp., Hynix Semiconductor America, Triquint Semiconductor, the FEI Company, Dynea, and Bend Research Inc.

The grant benefits not just the University of Oregon, but the entire state, said OSU Distinguished Professor of Chemistry Doug Keszler, the grant's co-principal investigator. "The IGERT award brings our universities even closer together by placing students in university research laboratories on other campuses, while maintaining a strong connection with their home institutions," Keszler said.

For more information click here and here.

Wearable Device Would Catch Seizures Before They Occur

Researchers at MIT and Harvard are preparing trials of a device for treating epilepsy. If successful, it would be the first technology to automatically detect and treat seizures. John Guttag of MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab said the device could assist the estimated 2 million people in the U.S. with epilepsy.

Guttag is working on a pacemaker-like device that would be implanted in a patient's chest. The device would be connected to an electrode that wraps around the vagus nerve, a large nerve that runs down from the brainstem into the abdomen. The device is designed to help physicians search long streams of physiological signals or epileptic precursors.

For more information, click here and here.

Carnegie Mellon Poker Program Aims to Flush Competition

A Carnegie Mellon University computer scientist is working on a computer program that can win at poker. A knowledge of game theory is at the heart of the poker robot called GS1, which was developed by Tuomas Sandholm, director of Carnegie Mellon’s Agent-Mediated Electronic Marketplaces Lab, and graduate student Andrew Gilpin.

Though not yet the equal of the best human players, GS1 outperformed two leading "pokerbots" in playing heads-up, limit Texas Hold’Em in tests at Carnegie Mellon earlier this year. Both of GS1’s opponents were commercial programs that, like other pokerbots, incorporate the expertise of human poker players. Instead, GS1 develops its strategy after performing an automated analysis of poker rules.

Sandholm and Gilpin have since developed an improved version of their game-theory-based program, called GS2, which will compete in the American Association for Artificial Intelligence’s first Computer Poker Competition during the National Conference on Artificial Intelligence next week in Boston.

Much as computer chess was an early test of artificial intelligence (AI), computer poker has emerged as an even greater AI challenge, said Sandholm. "Poker is a very complex game," he said. "Computer poker programs really require sophisticated technology."

For more information, click here and here.

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