R.I., Mass. students collaborate on STEAM

By Patricia Daddona
PBN Staff Writer

Collaborating on science, technology, engineering, arts and math through a highly selective workshop that involved students at three universities in Rhode Island and Massachusetts has led participants to new insights and, for some, pursuit of a new STEAM initiative. More

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HIGHER EDUCATION

R.I., Mass. students collaborate on STEAM

COURTESY RYAN MATHER
THE RIGHT BEAT: Brown student Alex Czulak tries on the prototype of a wearable device Czulak and RISD student Evan Brooks designed that communicates pulses wirelessly.

By Patricia Daddona
PBN Staff Writer

Posted 2/24/14

(Corrected, Feb. 25, 10:36 a.m.)

Collaborating on science, technology, engineering, arts and math through a highly selective workshop that involved students at three universities in Rhode Island and Massachusetts has led participants to new insights and, for some, pursuit of a new STEAM initiative.

A prototype device that communicates a pulse wirelessly between two people turned out to be one of several highlights of the Human + Computer workshop series launched by Rhode Island School of Design junior Ryan Mather.

Fourteen students culled from 99 applicants participated, said Sophia Brueckner, a graduate student and researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab, who along with two other graduate students from the MIT Media Lab and Mather, served as an instructor.

With no corporate sponsorship but about $2,000 raised in funding from the three universities and their affiliates, the four-week workshop that ended earlier this month involved students from RISD, Brown University and MIT, Mather said. Classes were held at both MIT and RISD. Study of the methods and implications of merging humans and technology culminated in a show at RISD Feb. 20 of the various prototypes developed through the program.

Mather conceived of the workshop series in the fall semester as a way to strengthen the relationships between the three schools, he said, noting that all three schools set goals and built the syllabus.

“One of the goals was just to get people from the different schools to work together across disciplines and learn from the way each other thinks,” said Brueckner. “And also, the goal was to see what we could build in four weeks.”

Evan Brooks, a senior majoring in graphic design at RISD, and Alex Czulak, a first-year graduate student studying food dynamics at Brown, developed the pulse-detection device. They also produced an entertaining ad and video that amplified the potential value and danger that such a device might have on relationships generally and things like airport security in particular, Brooks and Mather said.

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