New ways of presenting education in the twenty-first century.

  • Charting a Course to the Future August 12, 2017

    Rourke Pattullo on autonomousvehicles workshop panel

    Autonomous vehicles will soon become an everyday reality.

    And Michigan Applied Robotics Group co-founder Rourke Pattullo is–quite literally–involved in the mechanics of getting them there.

    Rourke is an undergraduate in Electrical Engineering and Electronics at the University of Michigan–one of the nation’s top schools, in the field of robotics.  He’s also the vice-president of UM:: Autonomy, the university’s autonomous boat team.

    Every year, UM: Autonomy constructs an autonomous boat, and competes in the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International Foundation Roboboat competition.

    autonomous vehciles Panel3, Sensors 17

    At Sensors 2017’s June “Automotive and Autonomous Vehicles Sensors Workshop”, in San Jose, Rourke explained that the technology involved in autonomous boats is also highly effective for self-driving cars.

    Presently, the University of Michigan has on-campus autonomous shuttles, and a 32-acre research facility, “Mcity”, dedicated to the testing of self-driving cars.

    And they’re taking the development of “smart” vehicles much further.

    University of Michigan is currently planning a four-story, 140,000-square-foot robotics facility on its north campus.  According to their website, the new building is slated for completion in 2019.  The Ford Motor company, which has given the College of Engineering a $15 million gift, plans to establish an on-campus research laboratory on the fourth floor of the new facility.  And in a July post on their website, UM announced plans for “M-Air”, a new outdoor drone complex to be completed by the end of the year.

    Rourke talked about his background, shared the story of the Michigan Applied Robotics Group and talked about some of the considerations involved, in developing autonomous vehicles.

    On this edition of Over Coffee®, you’ll hear:
    • How Rourke’s background led to his interest in autonomous vehicles;
    • The test conditions self-driving cars face, in “Mcity”;
    • Some of the technologies that may enable future self-driving cars;
    • How the Michigan Applied Robotics Group came into being;
    • How UM Autonomy used their problem-solving skills to implement a critical technology for autonomous boats;
    • The first areas in which UM students learn, while constructing autonomous vehicles;
    • Some of the obstacles researchers have found, to making self-driving vehicles a daily reality;
    • The two reactions Rourke hears from the general public, about the idea of autonomous vehicles;
    • Myths, versus the realities, of autonomous vehicles;
    • Rourke’s favorite funny experience, which illustrates one of the “human-nature” obstacles to implementing self-driving cars;
    • Some of the considerations involved in implementing autonomous vehicles in urban areas;
    • Rourke’s projections of the role of autonomous vehicles in two different areas, ten years in the future;
    • How engineers are designing self-driving cars to deal with weather challenges;
    • AND–how some overseas technologies may affect the “smart” vehicles of the future.



  • Virtually Revolutionizing Science Studies May 27, 2017
    Aaron Knox of Labster

    (Photograph courtesy of Elisabeth Eriksrud Glomseth, and used with permission.)

    For many of us, “biology class” and “fun” never used to be synonymous.

    Enter Labster: an award-winning virtual-reality science lab.

    Labster combines scientific expertise with computer-gaming scenarios.  And the result?  Students enjoying science class and seeing, first-hand, how scientific principles apply to the “real world”.  They’re also learning at an exciting rate, where they “tuned out” before.   This virtual-reality lab is currently part of the curriculum in more thatn 150 colleges and universities, worldwide.  Their clients include Harvard, MIT and the University of Hong Kong.

    Aaron Knox is Labster’s Vice President of Customer Development.  He talked about the creation of Labster’s award-winning virtual lab simulations, some of the current applications, and the directions in which the team wants to take their revolutionary program in the future.

    On this version of Over Coffee®, you’ll hear:
    • How Labster first came into being;
    • What students experience when working with the virtual-reality science lab;
    • A surprising study on student outcomes;
    • A new educational tool currently in development for the virtual labs;
    • Some of the new upcoming digital experiences presently in the works;
    • Aaron’s own experiences, after he and his family moved from the U.S. to Denmark;
    • Plans for future virtual-reality labs and simulations;
    • Some of the ways schools can obtain the digital-lab program;
    • How the company is expanding in the United States;
    • Dates for the team’s planned future appearances at conventions in the U.S.

    Labster will be at the 2017 Blackboard World conference, in New Orleans, this summer, from July 25th through 27th.




  • Creating Change Through 3D Printing May 12, 2017
    3D Design Prblem Bank founder Rich Lehrer

    (Photo by Andrew Luman, and used with permission.)

    “The last thing the world needs is more plastic trinkets,” says Brookwood 3D Design Problem Bank founder and Innovation Coordinator Rich Lehrer.

    Consequently, if his students think they’ll be 3D printing their names or plastic mascots, they’re in for a–possibly world-changing–surprise.

    Rich and his 8th-grade STEM students at Brookwood School, in the Boston, Massachusetts were one of the first student groups to 3D print a prosthetic hand device, in 2013.

    Max Lehrer with baseball grip device designed by student

    Max Lehrer (r) with 3D printing student and bat-gripping device. Photo courtesy of Rich Lehrer, and used with permission.)

    Rich’s then-three-year-old son, Max, was the recipient–and the students were able to see the results of their engineering work immediately.

    The success of this project was just the beginning.  Rich, who has served as an education coordinator for nonprofit e-Nable, in addition to his current work as a teacher trainer through the Buck Institute, was inspired to incorporate real-world problem-solving into his students’ future lessons.

    Following closely thereafter was the beginning of the 3D Design Problem Bank.  In the Problem Bank, community members submit problems which they believe 3D printing could solve.  Then, the students choose a problem and get to work, designing.

    And in an exciting STEM offshoot, the Problem Bank also sparked “Dezign Girlz” in 2016.  This was a girls-only, week-long STEM workshop that paired sixth-grade girls with residents of a local senior community.  Once they’d identified problems the senior citizens encountered in daily life, the students went to work designing adaptive 3D printed devices as solutions.

    Rich talked about his background as an educator, some of the STEM projects his students have done, how he came to implement the 3D Design Problem Bank, and shared his vision for a global “3D Design Problem Bank”, along with some resources.

    On this edition of Over Coffee® you’ll hear:
    • How Rich first began teaching STEM projects as his eighth-grade science curriculum;
    • His experiences leading his students as they built a prosthetic hand device, in 2013;
    • How that experience started him using 3D printing in a problem-solving context, for his students’  learning experiences;
    • How Brookwood came to implement the 3D Design Problem Bank, and how it works;
    • Rich’s vision for expanding the Problem Bank to be a global educational tool;
    • The ways in which similar Problem Banks might be customized to deal with certain types of design challenges;
    • How Rich and a colleague connected sixth-grade girls with senior citizens in the local community, through the “Dezign Girlz” pilot project;
    • The resources Rich recommends for fellow STEM innovators (he has a free curriculum available on his website!)


    Brookwood’s 3D Design Problem Bank Project

    Ultimaker Education Pioneers

    Rich’s website

    MIT’s D-Lab

    e-NABLE Community- open-source community for 3D printed prosthetics

    LimbForge™-nonprofit that provides tools and training for clinicians to provide pathients with 3D printed prosthetics

    Buck Institute for Education


Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on RedditShare on TumblrShare on StumbleUpon