News & Events
Google Ignite- CS Awarded Grant
Engineering and Computer Science students mentor 7th and 8th graders at RMES in computer programming for an outreach called codeShack.
In March 2017, the Department of Engineering & Computer Science (ECS) received a grant from Google’s igniteCS program for their outreach program titled “codeShack.” igniteCS offers funding and resources for university students to help them mentor their communities in computer science.
codeShack is the ECS outreach program at Ruth Murdoch Elementary School on the campus of Andrews University, where they provide a coding and creative project class for grades 7–8.
“We plan to use the funds from this grant to acquire more robust equipment, software, and other necessary supplies, as well as to enhance and expand our coding program for all grade levels,” writes Evelyn Savory, RMES principal, in an open letter. “Though the demand for coding is high with teachers and students, the lack of equipment and staff prevents these classes from regularly being offered.”
codeShack’s website describes how it was designed to offer coding as part of the curriculum for RMES students, as the founders had noticed the lack of computer science courses in the past.
“As a result, we designed a hands-on program that lasts an entire quarter for the elementary students and half a semester for the college students,” comments Huang, one of the student leaders involved in the program. She adds that codeShack teaches how to code in the programming language “C” and how to work on team projects using the “Arduino UNO,” a simple computer board designed to perform single tasks.
“We started this effort last year in partnership with RMES and it has been hugely successful,” says Hyun Kwon, chair of ECS and faculty advisor for the group. “We try to elicit interest in engineering and programming through hands-on activities and coding experiences, and we think the approach is working well.”
codeShack is student-led, with ten mentors and six student leaders. The student leaders are Daniel Bronowski, Nathaniel Gutierrez, Darrick Horton, Shannon Huang, Mykhaylo Malakhov and Justin Wiley. The students visit RMES two times per week to work on the coding project.
“The aim is to introduce kids to computer science in a fun and meaningful way,” commented Wiley.
Additionally, the student leaders are responsible for other aspects of ensuring codeShack’s smooth operation.
“I was the one who compiled and edited all of the information for the application at the end of the process as well as assisted in the making of the codeShack website.” Huang explains. Kwon recommended Huang to the team because of her experiences as an English major and a leader of Women in STEM at her high school.
codeShack specifically provides optional after-school classes where concepts and applications of computer science can be taught. According to the program’s website, codeShack aims “to simultaneously pace and challenge students.”
“Many kids do not have the exposure to coding and programming that allows them to develop an interest in this amazing field,” explained Wiley. “The purpose of our program is to provide that experience.”
Wiley adds that because students lead out in the project, codeShack divides the RMES students into small groups. Each group of two to four RMES students is mentored by a University student who visits the group twice a week as teacher and mentor.
“I’m so proud of all our six student leaders who promoted this program and the ten student mentors who participated in the program this semester,” Kwon comments. “Programs like this are impossible unless students who want to serve the community and become role models put in the necessary time and dedication to make it happen.”
The students’ hard work does not go unnoticed.
“I greatly appreciate all the Andrews students and their faculty advisor who come to the classroom and interact with our students,” Savory says. “It requires great responsibility on the part of the University students to committing many hours twice a week as volunteers for this service to our young people.”
Google’s igniteCS program is one of many initiatives to foster learning in computer science.
“Our short-term goals involve using that funding and the addition of professional mentorship to our advantage in the coming year,” Huang comments.
Ongoing support is given to these funded programs, which will receive access to discounts, guidance and industry mentors of their own.
“I’m so glad that we received Google igniteCS recognition for this effort,” Kwon comments. “The funds will be used to improve, promote and sustain the program.”
“We hope to continue applying for igniteCS funding and becoming a part of their ‘legacy’ team,” Huang explains. “If we succeed, the codeShack program at RMES can grow and expand to the other students and fields, and offer new opportunities to University students, too.”
For more information about codeShack, visit sites.google.com/view/codeshack. To learn more about the Andrews University Department of Engineering & Computer Science, visit andrews.edu/cas/ecs, email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com, or call 269-471-3420.
A Rock in the Stream- Dr. Jay Johnson
This week, Jay Johnson, professor of engineering at Andrews University, received word that two grant proposals for research on which he is co-investigator have been selected by NASA. The two grants together total nearly $1.5 million and will fund two separate but related research projects.
The first grant is for a research project studying how fast-flow events bring energy stored in the tail of the magnetosphere toward earth and how the flow of energy ultimately accelerates electrons and ions near the earth. The principal investigator for this grant is Yu Lin, professor of physics at Auburn University (Alabama).
“This project will investigate how the fast flows excite kinetic or small-scale waves that carry energy along the field lines to the ionosphere,” says Johnson. “These waves can lead to electron precipitation (responsible for the Aurora Borealis/Australis) and ion outflows from the ionosphere.”
When the solar wind blows toward the earth, it pushes against the magnetosphere around the planet, stretching it up to 400,000 miles out on the dark side of the earth, creating what is called the magnetotail. Solar wind particles leak into the magnetosphere and are stored in the magnetotail. Dynamical events in the magnetotail, such as reconnection, can release tubes of particles that slingshot towards the earth at high speed. These fast flows bring energy to the inner magnetosphere, where they suddenly slow down and launch waves, which propagate towards the ionosphere. The waves can heat ions leading to a buildup of the ring current. The energetic particles brought from the magnetotail can also energize radiation belt electrons through complex wave-particle interactions.
The second grant is for a research project studying leakage of solar wind particles across the magnetospheric boundary into the magnetosphere. This leakage is caused by collisions between particles and small-scale waves. The principal investigator for this grant is Katariina Nykyri, professor of physics at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (Daytona Beach, Florida).
“The magnetosphere around Earth creates sort of a ‘rock’ in the stream of the solar wind,” Johnson explains. “The magnetosphere is not really moving compared with the solar wind, so you get an instability that develops in the boundary. The boundary starts getting wavy and develops into curls.”
We have all experienced this type of instability when we see waves develop when there is wind over water. To demonstrate the principle, Johnson holds a piece of notebook paper between his index finger and thumb, blowing on the edge of the paper. The paper quickly wiggles into waves, and is lifted by the “wind” blowing over it.
“The instabilities cascade to small scales on the size of the orbit of the particles,” Johnson continues. “As the ions encounter the magnetic field structures they scatter, and this turbulence allows particles to leak into the magnetosphere from the solar wind.”
Johnson is working to understand the nature of this interaction between the solar wind and the boundary of the magnetosphere. This work is important because it determines how energy is transferred from the solar wind to the magnetosphere, driving the latter’s dynamics. Ultimately, the transferred energy affects the radiation belts inside the magnetosphere, which in turn can have an effect on any satellites in the vicinity.
“The belts change dramatically,” Johnson says. “People in my field are interested in understanding when the fluxes increase and what causes them to change so dramatically.”
And why is NASA interested in this? Because fluctuations in the outer radiation belt can be a danger to satellites.
Between Earth and the sun is a satellite run by NOAA, which scientists use to monitor activity on the sun. This allows for a 30-minute warning if anything is coming toward the Earth. Researchers like Johnson are looking to find a way to predict events ahead of those 30 minutes so necessary measures can be taken to mitigate damage to any assets nearby.
Johnson recalls that in 2012, a major event took place on the sun that hit a couple of satellites monitoring for such things.
“If that event had gone toward Earth instead of in the direction where the satellites happened to be, we would have been in a lot of trouble,” he says. “It could have knocked out major power grids and satellite communications, among other things. The idea is to understand more of what’s happening out there and how it affects our magnetosphere so we can predict the probability of events like that coming this direction.”
The two research teams will begin their research with these three-year NASA grants in fall 2017. Johnson will be working with colleagues across the country at institutions such as University of Alaska, Princeton (New Jersey) and University of California-Los Angeles. He also has four Andrews University students working with him on the research; two in physics and two in engineering.
“It’s exciting to be able to do this research,” says Johnson, who has a long history of receiving research funds from NASA. He is currently the principal investigator on two other NASA grant research projects and co-investigator on several others.
Johnson is the newest member of the engineering faculty, beginning his tenure at Andrews in fall 2016. Prior to accepting the position at Andrews, Johnson worked in the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, where he led the space physics group for the past 11 years—a group he quadrupled in size during his leadership through a successful flow of external funding.
In 1987, Johnson graduated with a degree in physics from University of Colorado-Boulder, with distinction. In 1992 he completed a PhD in physics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT; Cambridge, Massachusetts).
By: Becky St. Clair
Solar Run 5K
The Andrews University Engineers Without Borders Chapter is currently pursuing a power installation project in Madagascar for a school and clinic that does not have electricity. We are going into our second year of this project and our first step - the assessment trip - is coming up in 2018 and thus we are seeking funds to make this service project a reality. Therefore, we are putting on this 5k event as a fundraiser, with all proceeds going towards this project’s furtherment.
The 5k fun run is being held on the campus of Andrews University on Sunday April 2 at 9:00 AM. The route is mostly flat, starting out at the campus track, meandering around the campus loop drive, going around the Garland Apartments, and then looping back to the track for the finish. This event features chip timing courtesy of the Andrews University Alumni services. Come get your Solar Run 5k tee shirt and get some great exercise, all the while helping those in need abroad!
All information is available on our event website: https://andrewsewb.wixsite.com/solarrun5k
Questions? Contact: Greg Zdor at one of the following:
âÂÂ 269 605 9891
âÂÂ 269 471 3768