Loyola Students and Faculty Engage in Spring and Summer Outreach
Loyola undergraduate Vinh Tran (standing) demonstrates the Nao robot while August Meyer (seated) demonstrates his "magical ability" to guess spectators secret numbers. In the foreground is a Doodle Car, and on the floor in the background is part of the setup from the 2013 Botball educational robotics competition.
Dr. Ronald Greenberg and several students have engaged in activities in the Spring and Summer focused on broadening participation in computing. These activities respond to the shortage of computing students relative to workforce needs and the underrepresentation of certain demographic groups in computing careers.
In February, Dr. Greenberg and undergraduates Vinh Tran, August Meyer, and Cole Grover showcased robotics and other computer science activities at Family Science Days 2014. The two-day event in February during the Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science drew over 3,300 public visitors. One of the popular attractions was the humanoid Nao robot, which executed maneuvers programmed by Loyola students. Young visitors also enjoyed drawing tracks for cars with a simple robotic capability pre-programmed, sensing and following a black line on a white background. Dr. Greenberg also presented a stage show "Computer Science Magic".
Loyola undergraduate Vinh Tran demonstrates the Nao robot while other robotics demos play on the laptops.
On May 17, Loyola students participated in two different events. Undergraduates August Meyer and Dale Stout brought the Nao robot and other activities to STEM-O-Rama for Chicagoland boy scouts and girl scouts at the Kane County Fairgrounds; they reached about 300 people. At the same time, undergraduate Safa Faheem presented at Scratch Day at the West Ridge Elementary School. (Scratch is a computer programming environment particularly suited to novice programmers, and Scratch Day provided a variety of computing-related activities.) Safa demonstrated one of the robots of a middle school team that competed in the 2014 Greater Chicago Regional Botball Tournament and performed a magic trick based on computer science that involved "guessing" a participant's secret number.
In August, undegraduates Safa Faheem and Elliott Post, and graduate student Fuad Folu-Oso attended the STARS Celebration conference in Washington, DC. Loyola has a local chapter of the STARS Computing Corps comprised of students who engage in activities directed towards broadening participation in computing. Many of these students earn academic credit through the service learning course COMP 390.