UMBC Team Participates in White House Game Jam

For three days beginning September 6 the White House Educational Game Jam invited a select set of professional game developers and academics to create innovative educational game prototypes over single weekend, with the resulting games presented at the White House Executive Office Building.

There were 23 teams and about 100 participants. The team sizes ranged from 1 to 9, with most around 4-5. It was a mix of major companies and schools. Examples of large companies were: Ubisoft, Sony and Rovio. Small companies were: BrainPop, GlassLab and RocketMind. Academic teams included the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Carnegie Melon University, American University, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, the Smithsonian and UMBC.

UNC and UMBC fielded teams of undergraduates, rather than grads or professionals. The event wasn’t a competition, just brainstorming and prototyping educational games.

“Our game came out quite well, and we got a bunch of great comments,” says Marc Olano, faculty advisor and associate professor of computer science and engineering.

Participating students were:
  • Eliot Carney-Seim, BS, Computer Science, Junior
  • Paul Tschirgi, BA, Visual Arts, Senior
  • Calvin Kumagai, BA, Visual Arts, Senior
  • Alex Grube, BS, Computer Science, 2012

The students developed the game Bob Blob Bomb Lob. It is a 3D game to teach step-by-step algorithmic thinking and debugging while you save a hapless blob from the bomb he has ingested. You can see a video of the game below.

Video: Shakespeare Sonnets Recited in More Than 30 Languages at UMBC

On April 23, 2014, UMBC students, faculty and staff recited Shakespeare sonnets in more than 30 languages. The event was held to celebrate Shakespeare’s birthday and UMBC’s diverse voices. It took place at the end of Undergraduate Research and Creative Achievement Day (URCAD), and it was sponsored by the Dresher Center for the Humanities, the Office of Undergraduate Education and the English and Theatre Departments. The above video is a sample of some of the readings.

President Hrabowski Participates in Launch of White House Initiative

My Brother's Keeper White House Event

Pres. Obama speaks at the launch of My Brother’s Keeper. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

On Thursday, February 27, President Obama launched My Brother’s Keeper, a White House initiative that empowers young men of color.

My Brother’s Keeper will partner with businesses, government officials, faith leaders, non-profit organizations and private groups. These groups have pledged to invest in programs aimed at helping men of color, and replicate successful efforts across the country.

Dr. Hrabowski, chair of the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans, attended the event along with national leaders including General Colin Powell, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Congresswoman Marcia Fudge.

Obama Hrabowski Commission Signing

Dr. Hrabowski and Pres. Obama at the signing of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans Executive Order in 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

At the event, President Obama said, “Government cannot play the only – or even the primary—role… broadening the horizons for our young men and giving them the tools they need to succeed will require a sustained effort from all of us.”

Learn more about “My Brother’s Keeper” here and Dr. Hrabowski’s involvement with the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans here.

Christine Mair and Brandy Harris Wallace in Gerontology Video

Christine A. Mair and Brandy Harris Wallace, both assistant professors in UMBC’s Department of Sociology and Anthropology, appear in a new video highlighting the UMB-UMBC gerontology doctoral program—a unique, cross-campus collaboration.

As they describe, gerontology is a field that is interdisciplinary at its core, because aging is a lifelong process that impacts us all. Mair and Harris Wallace explain how interdisciplinarity functions in the field, which includes sociologists, public policy experts, epidemiologists and many others with both quantitative and qualitative approaches. They also describe their own research in how expectations of care can impact happiness in later life (Mair) and the assisted living workforce (Harris Wallace).

From UMBC to the World

Over Spring Break, a group of Chemical, Biochemical and Environmental Engineering students, Aaron Gibson, Dagmawi Tilahun, Kevin Tran, and Don Wong, led by Professor Govind Rao, and accompanied by Dr. Theresa Good and Ms. Geetha Ram, went to India in order to get end user data for a low cost neonatal incubator the team is developing for use in resource-poor environments.

If you listen to the students, they’ll tell you the project started in Professor Rao’s 2011 Sensors class, a senior elective, where students learned that over 340 neonates die an hour in their first week of life, with 99% of those deaths occurring in low and middle income countries. Most of those deaths could be prevented if appropriate technology were available.

Professor Rao challenged the class to develop incubators that would work in these resource limited environments, where electricity might only be available for 8 hours a day, and salaries might be less than $6 a day. A few students from that class have continued to work with Professor Rao on this project funded by National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance which has culminated in the trip to India, where students met with rural health care workers in the Mysore region in Southern India, to ensure that they design a low cost incubator that will meet the needs of the local population. They visited several rural health care providers and have now partnered with an incubator manufacturer (Phoenix Medical Systems) and a health care provider (Karuna Trust) to take the concept to reality. Of course, we couldn’t leave India without seeing a few famous wonders of the world – the trip to the Taj Mahal was a gift from Professor Rao to the students and his colleagues. It was breathtaking.


John Rennie Short Video Interview on “Korea: A Cartographic History”

Korea: A Cartographic History“Korean cartography is very distinctive in having this combination of rivers and mountain shown so that the landscape looks as if it’s alive,” says Professor John Rennie Short, public policy, in a new video interview about his latest book.

Korea: A Cartographic History explores 600 years of Korean maps, made by both Koreans and non-Koreans, and serves as a captivating introduction to Korea for English speakers. Thanks to a grant from the Korea Foundation to the University of Chicago Press, the maps are printed in full color, showcasing them both as historical documents and works of art.

In the new video interview about Korea, John Rennie Short describes two cartographic controversies involving the complex relationship between Korea and Japan. He also reflects on the interdisciplinary approach that has defined his highly productive career.

Eric Zeemering, Public Policy, Shares Research in New Video

In a new UMBClife video, Eric Zeemering, assistant professor of public policy, explores how local governments, constrained by tight budgets, find partners to deliver public services and achieve policy goals.

Zeemering’s work focuses on public management, intergovernmental relations and urban policy, including policy relating to the sustainability of cities. He was recently named recipient of both the Clarence Stone Young Scholar Award and the Norton Long Developing Scholar Award from the Urban section of the American Political Science Association, in recognition of his scholarship, teaching and public service.