Connecticut students attend workshops at Quinnipiac

Education Connection workshop
Miranda Garcia, a sophomore from East Haven High School, discusses the environmental impact of producing a protective case for a photo ID with Lynn Byers, professor of mechanical engineering.

Dec. 18, 2013 - Over the course of two mornings, more than 300 high school and middle school students from across Connecticut traveled to the Mount Carmel Campus to attend workshops on Digital Media and Movie Making (DM3) and Research, Design, and Development (RD2) programs and science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Led by Quinnipiac faculty and staff from the Center for 21st Century Skills at Education Connection, the events took place on Dec. 16 and 18.

On Dec. 16, students participated in workshops on team building, producing, interviewing, directing, multimedia and web design, journalism, video editing, mobile app design and theory, and audio acquisition.

Students from Crosby, Danbury, East Haven, Engineering and Science University Magnet School, James Hillhouse, Metropolitan Business Academy, New Britain, Newington, Newtown, Pathways to Technology, Simsbury, Terryville and Thomaston high schools and Long River Middle School in Prospect participated in the program, which ran from 8:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Rebecca Abbott and Liam O'Brien, professors in the School of Communications at Quinnipiac, kicked off the day's events by discussing their most recent documentary, "Ireland's Great Hunger."

O'Brien praised the DM3 and RD2 programs hosted at the University. "This program is unique nationally for its cutting-edge involvement in digital media arts technology for high school students, in their preparation for higher education work in film, video and interactive digital media production and design and for their future careers in the entertainment and information industries," O'Brien said.

After discussing the documentary, students broke up into groups and attended 90-minute workshops taught by professors in the School of Communications.

Kent Golden, instructor of communications and owner of Golden Multimedia, guided a group of 20 students through the process of designing a simple mobile app in Adobe Flash. According to Golden, the triangle of app development includes content, design and programming.

"If you want your app to be popular or generate money for a client, you have to think about the target audience," he said. "Who is it for?"

Sian Abrams, a sophomore at Crosby High School in Waterbury, Conn., said she wants to pursue a career as a veterinarian and is currently developing a mobile app for class that provides the user with relevant medical information in the case of an animal attack. "In order to create the app, you have to know everything that goes on behind it, including coding," she said. "That's why I came here."

Austin Martins, a junior at Newington High School, said he was interested in a career in film and animation and found the mobile app design and theory workshop useful. "I learned a little bit about programming, which I'm going to need in animation," he said.

After the workshop sessions, students took tours of the campus and the School of Communications, including the high-definition television studio in the Ed McMahon Mass Communications Center. To close out the event, students networked with Quinnipiac students, faculty and staff at a lunch provided by the University.

The Digital Media and Movie Making Program, currently in 12 Connecticut high schools, is one of two 10th grade technology courses in the Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences sequence. The other is the Research, Design, and Development Mobile App Design course, which runs in 14 schools.

Quinnipiac has been involved with the Connecticut Career Choices' Digital Media and Movie Making program since its inception and is now a partner of the Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences.

On Dec. 18, the 10th Grade Academy Experiential Event featured programs on science, engineering, technology and mathematics and its intersection with technology. Sophomores from Bethel, East Haven, East Hartford, Engineering and Science University Magnet School, James Hillhouse, New Fairfield, Pomperaug, Wilbur Cross and Wamogo schools, which are part of the Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, attended the day's events.

Heidi W. Erickson, senior associate director of admissions, welcomed the students to the Quinnipiac campus. Lucie Howell, director of the Bristol-Meyers Squibb Center for Science Teaching & Learning, then introduced Karen Bliss, assistant professor of mathematics, who delivered the featured presentation.

Bliss structured her talk by discussing the series of events in her life that led her to hold several different jobs, including teaching for the Navy, studying boron carbide used in body armor for the Army, and studying red blood cells for her PhD. In the end, she finally found the work she wanted to do, which was teaching at Quinnipiac.

"I never expected math to take me where it did," said Bliss. "I got to learn about and study some amazing things just because I had a background in math."

She concluded by advising the students to "keep an open-mind and follow your bliss."

Following the feature presentation, students formed smaller groups and participated in interactive workshops with College of Arts and Sciences, School of Business and Engineering, and School of Communications professors. The students engaged in workshops on biochemistry, engineering design, mobile app design and theory, and directing.

In his engineering design workshop, John Reap, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, challenged students to design a protective case to hold an ID card that allows the user to unlock a card-swipe mechanism without removing the card from the case. In addition, he required the students to evaluate the environmental impact of their product's life cycle.

Reap introduced the students to the engineering design process which included determining the problem, listing the requirements to solve the problem, and then designing a solution. He provided the students with an industry standard tool to determine the environmental impact of their design, called Eco-Indicator 99.

Aided by Reap, as well as Lynn Byers and Mary Phillips, professors of mechanical engineering, students worked in groups of two or three students to sketch their redesigned card holders. At the end of the session, the students voted for the design they thought best solved the problem.

Nico Margues, a sophomore from Wamogo Regional High School in Litchfield, said that the workshop was a lot of fun. "I am interested in maybe business or doing some engineering design work. It was interesting to try something like that."

Miranda Garcia, a sophomore from East Haven High School, said the sessions were interesting and helpful for her to begin thinking about her options for a college major.

Justin Kile, associate dean of engineering, associate dean of engineering, underscored the importance of events that promote STEM disciplines. "We need students to be inspired to enter into engineering. Their creativity and energy are what will help us find solutions to the grand challenges of our time posed by the National Academy of Engineers, such as how to provide clean water to everyone on the planet and solutions for sustainable energy. And, of course, the next cool piece of technology, like the iPad."

These programs, initiatives by Connecticut Career Choices and the Center of 21st Century Skills at Education Connection, engage high school students throughout Connecticut in education that stimulates interest and develops skills in science, technology, engineering and math. Connecticut Career Choices recently received an Investment in Innovation Grant (i3) from the U.S. Department of Education to develop a 9th-12th grade Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences.

Visit our Facebook gallery to see more photos from this event.