Thomas and Wenskovitch Exhibit Collaborative Research

Ceramics and Sculpture Technician Ian F. Thomas and Visiting Professor of Computer Science John Wenskovitch had an exhibition of their collaborative research titled “Resonance” in Kansas City, Missouri, coinciding with the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts conference.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Hanzhong Zheng ’17 and Professor Jumadinova Publish Work in Artificial Intelligence Symposium

Hanzhong Zheng ’17 and Assistant Professor of Computer Science Janyl Jumadinova published a research article in the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) Symposium titled “Monitoring the Well-Being of a Person Using a Robotic-Sensor Framework.” The paper describes an integrated intelligent system, consisting of multiple mobile robots and wearable sensors, that is able to monitor and report on the health and the general well-being of an individual. The work was conducted during an independent study and student/faculty summer collaborative research funded by the provost’s office. This spring Hanzhong and Dr. Jumadinova will present their work at the AAAI Symposium, Well-Being Computing: AI Meets Health and Happiness Science.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Wenskovitch Publishes in Journal of Nursing Education and Practice

Visiting Assistant Professor of Computer Science John Wenskovitch, Debra Wolf from Chatham University, and Bonnie Anton from UPMC St. Margaret published an article — titled “Nurses’ Use of the Internet and Social Media: Does Age, Years of Experience, and Educational Level Make a Difference?” — in the peer-reviewed Journal of Nursing Education and Practice. The article summarizes a statistical analysis of a survey sent to nursing groups nationwide, looking at the safe and appropriate use of technology by nursing professionals.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Professors Rich and Wenskovitch To Discuss the Commodification of Violence

Assistant Professor of Art Byron Rich and Visiting Assistant Professor of Computer Science John Wenskovitch will be showing their work at Stimulus/Call/Affect at Oakland University in October 2015. They will also be speaking at the symposium, discussing the commodification of violence and their interventionist work titled TWEET_SHOT 2.0.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Faculty Serve As Artists in Residence at Research Station in the High Arctic

Assistant Professor of Art Byron Rich, Visiting Assistant Professor of Art Heather Brand and Visiting Assistant Professor of Computer Science John Wenskovitch were selected as artists in residence at the prestigious Ars Bioarctica Residency, part of the University of Helsinki, at their biological research station in the high arctic of Finland. They spent two weeks exploring the ecology of this arctic region and producing work in response to their observations. In addition, Professors Rich, Brand and Wenskovitch presented their research at the 2016 meeting of the International Symposium on Electronic Art in Vancouver, Canada in August of 2015. They spoke about their collaborative work IMMOR(t)AL.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Just Learning in the Sand

AR 4

Allegheny College’s newest piece of technology offers students a chance to roll up their sleeves and act like a kid again — a combination of sands and smarts. This augmented reality sandbox, located in the basement of Alden Hall, arrived in late January and creates three-dimensional topographical maps based on the way students physically shape the sand.

Read more.

Tyler Pecyna is the fact-checker for Pittsburgh Magazine. This article appeared in Pittsburgh Magazine’s Great Minds newsletter.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Students Get Their Hands Dirty With New Augmented Reality Sandbox

AR 1

Allegheny senior Kristy Garcia rolled up her sleeves and dug right into the sandbox, piling up clean, white sand to form a mountain.

Senior David Olson joined in as well, using his fingers to dig a trench at the base of the mountain.

As they watched the colors change from deep reds and oranges to bright greens to blues, they braced themselves for the fun part – placing their hand over the camera overlooking the sandbox to “make it rain.”

“That is so cool!” the wide-eyed environmental science majors said in unison as virtual rain washed over the mountain and sloshed into the trench.

It’s a common reaction when someone first sees Allegheny’s newest piece of technology, the augmented reality (AR) sandbox, in the basement of Alden Hall.

The AR sandbox, which arrived at Allegheny in January, combines the playfulness of a child’s sandbox with advanced technology to create a learning tool that can be used by students of all ages. When students shape the sand, a Microsoft Kinect 3-D camera and a projector with powerful software detect the movement and display a three-dimensional topographic and colored elevation map in real time.

According to Sam Reese, lab technician for the geology and environmental science departments, unlike street maps, topographic maps display 3-D characteristics of an area using lines, called contours, to represent elevation above or below sea level. Using topographic maps, engineers know where best to build a road, scientists know where rainwater will flow after a storm and hikers know where a trail is steepest.

“By using this technology, students can actually see how a topographic map portrays a 3-D world. Sometimes people don’t grasp that concept on a flat 2-D map,” Reese says. “The beauty of the sandbox is the simplicity of the model, as it tells a very complicated story.”

Reese explains that the College acquired the materials to construct the sandbox through a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. Allegheny carpenters built the actual box, and Craig Newell Welding in Cambridge Springs, Pa., built the metal apparatus that holds the camera and software in place. Dave Wagner, network and systems administrator in computer science and information technology services, set up the operating system and installed the software.

The idea for the AR sandbox came from a group of Czech researchers who posted a YouTube video displaying an early prototype that included elevation maps and a basic form of fluid movement, Reese says. A team at the W.M. Keck Center for Active Visualization in the Earth Sciences (KeckCaves) at the University of California Davis then added the topographic contour lines and improved the simulated fluid flow to create the current prototype. UC Davis provides the blueprints to build the system as well as the necessary software free of charge on its website.

Reese estimates that only a couple dozen AR sandboxes exist, mainly at museums. “It’s so new. The day our sandbox went live – Jan. 21 – an article appeared in the New York Times about augmented reality,” he says. “It’s really cutting edge for Allegheny to have this.”

AR 4

Allegheny senior Kristy Garcia digs in the AR sandbox.

In addition to the geology and environmental science departments using the sandbox in labs and for independent research projects, the computer science and biology departments also plan to incorporate the technology into their class curricula.

College students won’t be the only ones digging in the sand. Creek Connections, a partnership between the College and K-12 schools that focuses on hands-on watershed education, plans to incorporate the AR sandbox in activities that explore topographic maps, watersheds and stream geology.

“People are used to street maps and Google maps that are very flat. But when we talk about watershed delineation and where rain will go, the concept becomes much easier when you can use a 3-D topographic map like this,” says Wendy Kedzierski, director of Creek Connections. “With the sandbox, you can see it as the sand builds up and the colors change. It makes the connection so much easier.”

Student Kristy Garcia, who works as a project assistant with Kedzierski and the Creek Connections program, agrees. “It’s definitely easier to understand topography when looking at the sandbox,” she says.

Kedzierski believes another benefit is that the sandbox will give students who prefer hands-on activities another opportunity for learning.

“The education that we provide in schools is a lot different from what they do every day in the classroom. Some of the children who have a hard time with traditional lecturing react differently when we do our Creek Connections activities,” Kedzierski says. “This is another tactile experience for those students.”

Reese believes that the AR sandbox is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to hands-on education.

“I believe virtual reality is going to augment the augmented reality,” he says. “It will be interesting to see how the AR software upgrades will add more bells and whistles to the sandbox over the next year or two.”

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Wenskovitch Publishes in BMC Bioinformatics

Visiting Assistant Professor of Computer Science John Wenskovitch published a paper in the journal BMC Bioinformatics. “MOSBIE: A Tool for Comparison and Analysis of Rule-Based Biochemical Models” describes the accompanying software, an interactive exploration system that enables the highlighting of similarities and differences in the structures and behaviors of rule-based models of cell signaling processes.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Kapfhammer Paper Demonstrates One of the First Mutation Testing Methods That Can Be Readily Applied to Real-World Programs

Associate Professor of Computer Science Gregory M. Kapfhammer and co-authors René Just (University of Washington) and Franz Schweiggert (University of Ulm) recently published a paper in the Proceedings of the 23rd International Symposium on Software Reliability Engineering. “Using Non-Redundant Mutation Operators and Test Suite Prioritization to Achieve Efficient and Scalable Mutation Analysis” demonstrates one of the first mutation testing methods that can be readily applied to real-world programs. More details about this and other papers by Kapfhammer and his colleagues and students are available here.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Come One, Come All

Allegheny's food co-op group.

By Heather Grubbs and Nahla Bendefaa ’16

Everyone loves a home-cooked meal.

But when you’re away at college, enjoying grandma’s homemade lasagna is often a sacrifice one must make.

Or is it?

One student-organized group is aiming to change that. The Food Co-op began two years ago as part of Class of 2014 graduate Taylor Hinton’s senior comp titled “Activism through Food: Creating a Housing and Dining Cooperative at Allegheny College.” Hinton says she initially intended for the co-op to “address inequalities in access to cooking spaces, account for a range of dietary needs and food cultures, share cooking knowledge, and provide students with local, cheap, home-cooked food.”

Hinton’s comp then expanded upon her vision by seeking to:
• Create a sustainable organizing structure for the dining cooperative.
• Expand the population that the group was serving as a cooperative.
• Acquire a house that would both support the dining cooperative and provide a second space in which students can live and cook together.

Cara Brosius ’16 helps to cook one of the food co-op group's Friday night dinners.

Cara Brosius ’16 helps to cook one of the Food Co-op group’s Friday night dinners.

Current students Cara Brosius ’16, Stephanie Latour ’16, and Hawk Weisman ’16, who live in what is now known as the Co-op House on North Main Street, are carrying on Hinton’s vision by hosting Friday night homemade dinners on campus. The dinners seek to accomplish Hinton’s goals, as well as allow students to share family recipes and cultures and enjoy each other’s company.

“Whether you want to share an ethnic meal or your family’s apple pie, this is a welcome space to do that,” says Weisman, who is double-majoring in computer science and environmental studies. “Cooking and eating meals together was something I always did with my family, so this is a way to continue that.”

According to Weisman and Brosius, students sign up to participate in each week’s dinner. Two students are then assigned to the “head chef” role – meaning they are responsible for planning the meal – and two other students are assigned as sous chefs to assist with preparation.

For those students who prefer to stay out of the kitchen, they still can participate by serving as grocery shoppers, by volunteering to clean up, or by simply enjoying the food.

“Everyone here is very friendly, and there is definitely a sense of community since everyone helps out either cooking or cleaning,” says Catherine Schnur ’17. “Also, the food is always delicious!”

“Co-op is a great way to meet people you wouldn’t normally meet. It’s also a very welcoming environment,” adds Kara Van Balen ’17. “My first time here I felt like everyone was immediately my friend.”

Hawk Weisman ’16 and Cara Brosius ’16 work together in Carr Hall to prepare a homemade meal.

Hawk Weisman ’16 and Cara Brosius ’16 work together in Carr Hall to prepare a homemade meal.

The dinners are prepared and consumed in Carr Hall, with about 20 to 30 students attending. The group asks for a suggested donation of $2 to $3 to help cover shopping costs, or students can pay $20 up front for the entire semester.

“We represent a wide variety of majors and backgrounds on campus, which leads to a diverse menu,” Weisman says.

“We’ve had everything from lasagna to soup to Mexican food, and we really try to purchase fresh ingredients when possible, especially from the on-campus garden, the Carrden,” adds Brosius, an economics major and astronomy and mathematics minor. “We’ve also had other groups on campus like Edible Allegheny and the Green Living House volunteer to cook during certain weeks. We’d like to expand this concept by having other groups on campus participate, too.”

Just like Hinton’s original vision, the group stresses that its “come one, come all” approach applies to those with dietary restrictions, as well.

“We have a number of students who are vegetarians or vegans or those who eat gluten-free or have allergies, so we always make sure there are a lot of options,” Brosius says. “Personally, I like co-op because I have problems digesting certain foods, so I like knowing how each meal is prepared. Knowing that it’s homemade is comforting to me. Co-op is kind of like our home away from home.”

Source: Academics, Publications & Research