University of Illinois – Chicago
Legacies & Leaders
I have not visited my alma mater in years until I attended a beautiful gathering in celebration to some distinguished faculty members last Friday. The preceding reception exhibited a few of many new developments in the engineering, public health and design and architecture schools.
Revealing design: Like magic, my fingers touched screens of
multiple brand tablets and in each touch gorgeous patters emerged, constructing new designs (faces, abstracts, animals) as my fingers danced on the screen. The experience, from a collaborative program among design, engineering, and software bright students, was not only fun but exquisitely beautiful.
Conductive ink: A new ink, composed of silver nano particles invented in Champaign was one of the novel components of History Moves, a mobile, modular and collaborative gallery on wheels where Chicago history is made and recorded as it happens. Watch for that bus around your neighbors and be literally part of the city history.
Walk in Someone Else’s Shoes: A program from the college of Urban Planning, uses interactive maps, video narrative and photographs to illustrate and educate about health issues such as food deserts. The program attempts to find issues with a degree of specificity and broker solutions within communities.
TEDx IIT – infinite Impact
The student-organized TED talk delighted the packed audience with a symphony of creative and expansive thinking.
- Andrew Nelson Little, Impact of Infinite Space
How can we fund the next generation of space exploration? By harvesting space minerals, suggested. For example, the “16th Psychic asteroid, made of 98% iron and nickel, could fulfill humankind demands for hundred of thousands of years. Nature broke a piece (the asteroid) for us, a gift of $19.2 Billion-trillions”.
- Katherine Darnstadt, Interstitial Systems
Is architecting the purview of high-class buildings and homes? The engaging presenter demonstrated projects that bring high design and style built and shared within low-income communities. In the process she delighted us with a fresh design philosophy captured in phrases: “Voice vs Vice”- what do we want to show?” and “Define the context before designing content.”
- Raed Tawil, Delivery Drones: Your Daily Lives
When we hear the word drones, war comes to mind and maybe Amazon. Raed helped us understand that drones have multiple uses with impact in our daily lives. As a delivery device, it could save millions of dollars in transportation if such as, pharmacies would use them to deliver prescriptions. Likewise, drones could help many people in distressed war or disaster zones by delivering food and medicine. The scary scenario would be that the U.S. lawmakers fail to grasp the many applications of this technology while other countries advance it. There are many counter arguments, but it merits discussion.
The Museum of Science and Industry
Robots, Vertices and Disney
It’s been so long that since I last visited the Museum that I got off at 47th instead that 57th street! With many new live sciences experiences, I could only visit a few areas in three hours.
Electronic sounds and flashing lights abounded so did children showing their creations and parents beaming with pride from the FIRST (www.usfirst.org) robotics preliminary and increasingly popular competitions.
In the professional class, my favorite advanced robots were the swarm robots whose behavior show that of flocking birds. They figure out together the best way to move by learning from what each to other is doing, team-selecting the one in front, rotating place and realigning without intervention. If only humans could do that.
Visually appealing, these hands-on show showed a miniscule representation of nature forces by leveraging high-tech and simplifying science for all of us.
THINK, explores major scientific and technical advances. One has to experience before understanding. The dress with the most circuits in a wearable was stunning but I’m equally impressed with the Reactables music created by touching and combining modules of tunes in a physical button that air floats on a table. Reading the Creed of the Sociopathic Obsessive Compulsive within the show arrangement provokes thinking.
Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives
Walt Disney’s roots to Chicago made these treasures exhibit highly relevant. Although everyone is familiar with the magical Disney characters, not everyone realizes the many new photography, filming and design technologies that Disney invented. One is the unique multi-plane camera with each level or plane providing a new layer of perspective and depth to each scene.
The most amazing piece of the exhibit was live: a happy young autistic boy recreating some of the scenes and music from Mrs. Poppins while watching the exhibit. Ultimately, the ability to spark happiness in everyone is Walt Disney best invention and contribution.
Chicagoans are proud of Midwestern roots and values. Be proud and excited about the many technical developments at our universities, companies and entrepreneurial centers such as 1871. The Chicago tech beat needs recognition, stimuli and funding.
Then soon Chicago can emerge as a recognized technical hub proving the type of jobs and infrastructure transformation required to stay competitive in our digital world.
This will be music to our ears.