The Community as Classroom (CAC) is a project-based program at PS 37 Marva J. Daniel Futures Preparatory School (Futures Academy) in the Fruit Belt neighborhood of Buffalo that involves the children in solving real-world problems that are related to neighborhood development and creative place-making. The CAC attempts to motivate 5th-8th grade students in an underperforming school by showing them the connection between lessons learned in the classroom and their abilities to build better neighborhoods and cities. This is done through action-based projects that grapple with real issues facing the Fruit Belt, the East Side and neighborhoods across the Buffalo and Greater Niagara Region. The goal is to increase student learning by showing them the utilitarian value of education, and demonstrating how knowing and learning can be used to improve the quality of their lives. The program is not only unique in how it approaches teaching and learning — utilizing UB undergraduate and graduate students from various departments across campus as instructors — but also the way in which it uses children as catalytic agents with the capacity to change the neighborhoods in which they are embedded. The CAC is a place-conscious approach to education that creates highly interactive linkages and connections between home and family, school, and neighborhood. It also teaches inner city elementary students about neighborhood development and urban planning and how they can help redevelop the communities in which they live and go to school if they are willing to put forth the effort. It produces not only good students but also civically engaged residents dedicated to building a better city.
This project organized and developed a comprehensive evidence base on boarding and disembarking public transit vehicles, completed research to address key policy and design issues, and identified new research needs. The IDeA Center, as part of the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Accessible Public Transportation (RERC-APT), conducted laboratory research on the usability of access ramps in transit applications by employing a full-scale simulation of a low-floor transit bus and an adjustable ramp. One study evaluated the usability of ramps of different slopes during ascent and descent. The second study focused on the ease of boarding, fare payment and disembarking under different conditions of fare payment and available floor space at the front area of a low-floor bus. The data collected in this study established a model for evidence-based practice in this field for the development of policies, standards and design tools. This project was part of a larger effort to research and develop methods to empower consumers and service providers in the design and evaluation of accessible transportation equipment, information services and physical environments. Data collected in this project was used to design and evaluate vehicle features, boarding technologies and design of stops and stations. Research on the anthropometry of wheeled mobility devices and their users indicated that current dimensions prescribed in U.S. accessibility standards for transportation are inadequate, e.g. clear floor area and ramp slope. The researchers included these findings when they submitted comments in response to the U.S. Access Board’s proposal to revise and update its accessibility guidelines for buses, over-the-road buses and vans. Findings from the research were also used to provide the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA) with recommendations for new bus designs; two of these recommendations were incorporated in two new buses.
Buffalo Academy of the Sacred Heart, a private Catholic high school for young women, wanted to begin a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) program. The school was awarded funds through Education Collaborative of Western New York (formerly BISSNET) and the John R. Oishei Foundation for development of this program. To that end, they created a STEM advisory committee, and two UB professional staff members serve on this committee as consultants (volunteers). I represent the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and Jennifer Hess represents the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.
Was the guest of honor (i.e., the speaker) at Speech Day (i.e., commencement) of two secondary schools in Hong Kong, Ying Wa Girls’ School and Diocesan Girls’ School, both in 2015.
After-school club for eight weeks with 3rd-grade students at Heritage Heights Elementary School (Sweet Home Central School District).
UB Net Defense is an independent study for students who want to learn about cyber security in an applied, hands-on fashion. This class is led by a team of UB faculty, staff and volunteer industry experts, who share their expertise with the students through guest lectures and mentoring. The capstone of this class is a student-run cyber security competition hosted at UB each semester which is designed to teach the participants about cyber security. Students from other colleges are invited to compete and industry experts are invited to assist with the competition.
Each outreach workshop is conducted during a class period at a local school where students learn about a variety of cyber security topics and careers. Topics covered include password security, basic cryptography, steganography and digital forensics. Middle school and high school students from Alden, Amherst, Buffalo, Clarence, North Tonawanda and West Seneca participated in these 70+ workshop sessions. An after-school version of the workshop held at the Buffalo Museum of Science was conducted for students from the Boys and Girls Club of Buffalo.
Thirty-six local students (ages 13-17) attended the week-long UB GenCyber Camp where they participated in many hands-on computer activities to learn about different cyber security topics and also hear from industry experts. All of these activities prepared the students for the final day of camp, when they attempted to defend the UB GenCyber network from a simulated cyber-attack. The primary purpose of the UB GenCyber Camp is to educate students about cyber security principles and cyber security careers. A two-day K-12 teacher workshop was also conducted during this time frame. Approximately 15 attendees learned about basic cyber security topics, cyber security careers and how to introduce their students to these topics in a fun and hands-on fashion.
I was the General Conference Chair of the ASME International Design Engineering Technical Conferences (IDETC2014), August 17-20, 2014, and Inaugural Advanced Design and Manufacturing Impact Forum (ADMIF). The International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference (IDETC/CIE) is the annual flagship conference sponsored by the Design Engineering and Computers in Engineering Divisions of the ASME. It serves as the premier venue for disciplinary dissemination and professional networking within the corresponding technical communities. Held in downtown Buffalo in 2014, it was attended by 1,500 people (with about 1,000 papers presented in 20 parallel tracks). The Inaugural ADMIF featured 50+ high-level speakers (including CEOs of ICONICS, MOOG, Kitware, Siemens Industry and Airsep). A number of our undergraduate and graduate students participated in various technical and experiential learning capacities at the event, including: (1) UB School of Engineering and Applied Sciences Open House (where various departments and clubs showcased activities); (2) technical presentations at the conference; (3) showcasing UB strengths at the UB booth; and (4) participating in Career Fair held on Aug. 20, 2014. These activities were recognized by a Distinguished Service Award at the 5th Annual National Travel & Tourism Beacon Awards, Visit Buffalo Niagara, “In recognition of bringing the American Society of Mechanical Engineers Conference in 2014 which had an economic impact of $1,424,274.”
Founding Chapter Advisor (helped set it up and raise $2,500 for its activities). The IEEE Robotics and Automation Society Student Chapter for University at Buffalo (RAS@UB) has officially been approved and is open to all undergraduates and graduates of University at Buffalo to join and learn ongoing developments in the field of robotics. This chapter offers students from diverse backgrounds at UB a first-hand opportunity to get involved, participate, contribute, share their experience and eventually gain real-world knowledge and experience in the vast area of robotics and automation. Although this is a chapter supported by IEEE Robotics and Automation Society, it is open to people from diverse backgrounds (engineering, science and even non-technical) along as students have an interest and are looking to learn something new and fun. This student-run independent chapter primarily serves to initiate public interest, perform education outreach and provide means to directly or indirectly find support for exceptional projects in the areas of robotics, mechatronics and automation. Graduate and undergraduate students are encouraged to become part of RAS@UB and explore this new field from varied perspectives. RAS@UB is currently in the process of charting out the events in the near future including training programs, technical seminars from industrial and academic experts, robotic competitions, networking events and many more. We envision building strong, multidisciplinary student groups that are not only adept at the technical know-hows of robotic systems, but also involved in hands-on projects and problem-based learning for exploration in this area.