UMBC Senior Markus Proctor creates startup that uses virtual reality as an educational tool

edupalCapitalizing on the growing interest in virtual reality and its applications, Markus Proctor ’16, interdisciplinary studies, has created EduPal, a technology startup that uses open-source design to turn smartphones into virtual reality displays, with the goal of increasing engagement opportunities in teaching and learning.

Inspired by his custom tech-entrepreneurship major, Proctor has developed a custom dashboard that can be used in conjunction with Google Cardboard, a low-cost virtual reality framework, to convert smartphones into educational tools for students and teachers. Most recently, Proctor’s product was featured in a Daily Record article on Betamore’s Beta City event held earlier this month.

“We just want to help students achieve their highest potential,” said Proctor. “We see virtual reality as a very promising vehicle to make that happen.”

The dashboard offers access to virtual tours using 360-degree still images licensed from Google. Educators can subscribe to EduPal’s program and use its library of panoramic images and videos to create virtual tours that supplement courses. EduPal offers tours for science, technology, engineering, art, math, history, and culture–all of which include lesson plans that can be integrated with existing course learning objectives.

EduPal is currently testing its technology in several high schools in the region and plans to extend its offerings by incorporating “augmented reality” and other interactivity.

LightCityU Information Session (10/12)

12004707_1630128543909170_1476213516687559568_nThe campus community is invited to attend an information session about the LightCityU Innovation Conference (March 28 – April 2, 2016) on Monday, October 12, at 2 pm at 331 The Commons. Light City team members will provide an overview of the concurrent Light City Baltimore festival as well as a request for proposals for LightCityU sessions.

UMBC will be the lead sponsor of LightCityU, a production of the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts (BOPA).

Premiering in 2016, Light City Baltimore will be the first large-scale, international light festival in the United States. Light City will provide a backdrop for the celebration of ideas, ingenuity and creativity through art, music and innovation. Light City will shine a light on Baltimore’s abundance of creative, cutting-edge, multi-disciplinary talent, and festival welcomes participants from across the globe. Light City’s innovation programming will generate an ecosystem of ideas and learning during the day — while lights, performances and live music reimagine the Inner Harbor at night.

LightCityU, Powering Social Change, is the Innovation Conference that will take place during Light City Baltimore. This dynamic event aims to be a catalyst for change by bringing together business innovators, thought-leaders and change-makers to explore the latest innovations and creative practices that will help us build a more responsible and equitable society.

LightCityU will explore six tracks in the first year:
1. Health Innovation: Advancements in how we take care of ourselves and our health.
2. EdTech: New uses for technological tools in learning.
3. Sustainability: Technologies and innovations that minimize our impact on the environment.
4. Social Enterprise: Businesses and organizations driving social change through innovation.
5. Creative Industries: Professional pursuits in advertising, digital marketing, media, wearables, mobile, augmented reality, virtual reality, gaming, design and more.
6. Makers: Innovations in DIY, next-gen manufacturing and engineering-oriented pursuits like electronics, robotics, and 3-D printing.

Information about the LightCityU RFP is here, with a submission deadline of Monday, October 19. General information about the Light City Baltimore festival is here. For additional information, please contact Tom Moore at

U.S. News names UMBC one of 2016’s “Best Global Universities”

UMBC spiritLess than a month after naming UMBC as the #4 “Most Innovative” university in the U.S. and #6 for commitment to undergraduate teaching (tied with Yale), U.S. News & World Report has included UMBC in its 2016 Best Global Universities ranking.

This is the second edition of the Best Global Universities rankings, which now includes the top 750 universities from 57 countries around the globe. Rankings are based on 12 indicators, in areas from research reputation to publications to PhDs awarded.

The 2016 Best Global Universities list includes 184 U.S. universities, featuring three USM institutions: UMBC; the University of Maryland, Baltimore; and the University of Maryland, College Park.

Maurice Berger, CADVC, Latest “Race Story” in The New York Times

In the latest essay for his Race Stories column in The New York Times, published October 6, Maurice Berger, research professor at the Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture, examines the work of photographer Ishiuchi Miyako and her magisterial images of postwar Japan. “Ultimately, Ms. Ishiuchi’s photographs summon our compassion by asking us to acknowledge our shared vulnerabilities in a world we largely cannot control,” says Berger. “They appeal to our sense of empathy, our sense…that these images could apply to any one of us.”

Read “Photographing Japan, Through Shadows of the Past” and view the photographs at The New York Times Lens blog.

Berger’s Race Stories column, which appears monthly on The New York Times website, is “a continuing exploration of the relationship of race to photographic portrayals of race.”

Jeff Halverson Explains Why it’s So Difficult to Predict Where Hurricanes Will Make Landfall

As Hurricane Joaquin threatened to make landfall on the East Coast last week, Jeff Halverson, a professor of geography and environmental systems, was interviewed by NPR’s All Things Considered about why models used to predict hurricanes receive such different results. Halverson, who is also a severe weather expert for the Capitol Weather Gang, explained that several different factors are taken into account when the various models are run.

halverson_jeffrey“The data is very similar, but the way that these models are formulating it is – or constructed – very, very different. There are different scientific teams that put these models together. There are different assumptions that are made about what physics to keep in, what physics to keep out. And you know, it’s a trade-off. The more physics you put in, the more accurate the model, but it would take much, much longer to run. So you trade accuracy of the physics versus the efficiency of computation,” he said.

Although the European model has received recent praise for its accuracy in predicting Hurricanes Sandy and Joaquin when compared to American models, Halverson said that it has also missed some storms, so the human element in forecasting is vital when interpreting data that is available.

“And that’s the challenge to meteorologists. That’s the art of interpreting all this guidance in front of you. You have to really know what are the strengths and weaknesses of each individual model. Some models do better in winter. Some do better in summer. And that is where the human interpretation is so vital.”

Listen to the full interview on NPR’s website. Read more about Halverson’s research on the geography and environmental systems department website.

Celebrating 50 Years of Grit & Greatness

umbc-50-gg-headerTO: The UMBC Community
FROM: President Freeman Hrabowski and Provost Philip Rous

The UMBC community’s journey started when the University welcomed its first students on September 19, 1966. We are delighted now to provide a preview of exciting plans to celebrate our 50th anniversary. Over the past year, Office of Institutional Advancement colleagues have laid the groundwork for this important milestone, working closely with the President’s Council, Senate heads, and a 50-member Anniversary Engagement Team representing all colleges and divisions.

Our celebration will honor many facets of the UMBC experience and span the period between October 2015 and May 2017. You will see several early elements of the celebration during Homecoming this week.

  • Introduction of the anniversary brand – UMBC 50 Grit & Greatness. This brand statement, developed through a year of consultation with alumni and others, is inspired by our mascot True Grit as well as the innovation and perseverance of our faculty, staff, students, and alumni. The statement reflects how far we have come as a campus and as individuals, as well as our understanding that excellence is a continuous pursuit, not a destination.
  • Launch of 50th anniversary outreach to alumni leaders who will help us reconnect fellow graduates with the campus. Our message to them: We Need Hundreds of You to Reach Thousands of Us. We are delighted that hundreds of graduates will be on campus Friday evening, October 9, for an event celebrating the important role alumni play in the University’s success. We look forward to greeting them, alongside members of the President’s Council, Senate leaders, academic department chairs, 50th Anniversary Engagement Team members, and Student Alumni Association members.
  • The Office of Institutional Advancement also seeks partners to plan the celebration and is designating funds to support innovations in alumni outreach. A Request for Proposals seeks campus and alumni suggestions for developing and executing 50th anniversary programming and events this academic year and next, with special emphasis on a celebration weekend planned for September 17-19, 2016.

UMBC’s 50th anniversary is an important time to celebrate our success. It also represents a vital strategic opportunity. As the campus completes a new strategic plan and prepares for a comprehensive fundraising campaign, anniversary events and communications will build pride in the campus and its extraordinary impact in just 50 years. The celebration also provides a significant opportunity to renew and deepen relationships with our more than 65,000 alumni. During the past 10 years, 20,000 alumni have been event participants, volunteers, or donors. Alumni engagement is a central focus of 50th anniversary planning, with the aim of increasing the number of active alumni by 10,000, or 50 percent. Change at this scale depends on a campus-wide effort.

We deeply appreciate the ideas, energy, and resources so many of you are bringing to this once-in-a-generation opportunity. Our alumni are the best advocates for our endeavors and aspirations, and we are confident that the campus celebration of the 50th will benefit UMBC for decades to come.

If you have ideas to share about the 50th celebration, please contact Lisa Akchin, associate vice president for engagement, at You can also follow 50th anniversary plans online at

We look forward to celebrating this exceptional campus community with you.

Retriever Fever: UMBC Homecoming, October 7-10

TO: The UMBC Community
FROM: President Freeman Hrabowski and Provost Philip Rous

We take enormous pride in all that UMBC has accomplished since its founding in 1966.

The campus continues to build traditions that celebrate our achievements, from singing the Alma Mater at Convocation and placing a mortarboard on the head of True Grit on graduation day to recognizing the accomplishments of faculty and staff at our annual awards ceremony. Homecoming is a special opportunity for the entire UMBC community—faculty, staff, students, alumni, parents, and friends—to come together.

As we prepare for the 50th Anniversary next year, Homecoming presents a wonderful opportunity to engage and connect with alumni and members of the campus community and build excitement for our anniversary. There are many events scheduled for this year’s Homecoming celebration, and we encourage you to participate in the festivities, from athletic, social, arts, and award events to alumni- and family- centered events.

The following activities may be of special interest to faculty and staff:

Wednesday, October 7

  • Faculty & Staff Social, 4:30-7:00 p.m.
  • Bonfire, dusk

Thursday, October 8

  • Alumni Awards Ceremony, 6:30 p.m.

Friday, October 9

  • Big Prize Poetry Slam, 6:00 p.m.
  • 50th Anniversary Hundreds Launch Party, 6:30 p.m.
  • Retriever Rally, 8:30 p.m.

Saturday, October 10

  • 5K Dawg Chase, 8:00 a.m.
  • Homecoming Festival, 12:00 p.m.- 6:00 p.m.
  • Men’s Soccer vs. Albany, 2:30 p.m.
  • Crab Feast, 5:00 p.m.
  • Comedy Show, 8:00 p.m.

Visit the Homecoming website to see the full calendar of activities and to register for some of our most popular events. We hope to see you at this year’s Homecoming.