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Tetra Forming
Tetra Forming is a study on combining the notion of world building with the world of gaming and the concept of computational design and digital fabrication in architecture. World-building or con-worlding is the process of constructing a fictitious world, sometimes associated with a whole fictional universe, it is a metaphoric vehicle that allows us to imagine a set of problems and contextualize them within a worldview. We investigate this topic as a potential empowering tool that can provide us with a new set of tools and skills to contextualize and tackle design problems. Therefore we use it as metaphor to create the design space upon which we develop a non linear computational design scenario. This approach combines gaming theory, with basic tectonic and geometric principles as well as the real time user experience and feedback that video gaming involves . Inspired by natural phenomena such as termites and their building activities, as well as technological advancements in digital fabrication and material science this project outlines a ubiquitous game that speculates on a swarm construction system in which robots and people cooperate to build 3D structures much larger than themselves in order to expand the territory of a fictitious island located in the pacific ocean.
Participants: Evangelos Pantazis, Arsalan Heydarian, Ye Tian
Exhibition Website: USC World Building Media Lab


Hosted Two LAUSD Teachers as Part of the USC Viterbi NSF Research Experience for Teachers Program
National Science Foundation Research Experience for Teachers (PI: Dr. Gisele Ragusa). A group of LAUSD (Los Angeles Unified School District) middle school STEM teachers’ took part in USC ACCESS 4Teacher’s NSF RET (USC Viterbi National Science Foundation - Research Experience for Teachers Program). This collaboration between USC and LAUSD teachers to plan, design, pilot, and help implement engineering-driven 6-8th grade curricula based on current research in the classrooms and beyond. From the group of LAUSD teachers participating in the program, two teachers (an environmental and life science teacher and a physical science teacher) spent 5 weeks in our lab, working closely with Ali Ghahramani (2nd year PhD student in iLAB) and Dr. Burcin Becerik-Gerber, researching human building interactions for energy efficiency - Facilitated Human Interactions for Reducing Energy (FHIRE). The teachers participated in research by exploring energy related technological advancements in commercial and residential buildings, and how human energy related behaviors influence building energy performance. Specifically, they took part in experiments, where we modeled personalized thermal comfort preferences for occupants in a shared office space. Their tasks included collecting data using surveys and sensors. The teachers worked together to integrate their research experience with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and they will be implementing their lesson plans in 2014-2015 school year.
Leader: Ali Ghahramani

 

Hosted LA Community College Student in our Lab
Department of Education, Award #: 45000176833 (PI: Dr. Gisele Ragusa). i-LAB hosted, Guillermo Castro, a second year Civil Engineering undergraduate student in partnership with East LA College’s STEM Academy. Through a 10 week long program, the student worked closely with Ali Ghahramani (2nd year PhD student in iLAB) on a research project that aimed at learning human’s thermal preferences by sensing the performance of human thermoregulation system. We designed an infrared radiation-sensing device that captures how blood flow changes in specific points on a human face. The student helped with the fabrication of the device, data collection, and data analysis using different software packages including LabView and Matlab.
Leader: Ali Ghahramani

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Curiosity Machine Experiments and Projects for Children and their Parents
Our research will be featured as part of a scientist’s history video series in the Curiosity Machine website which is powered by Iridescent Learning (http://iridescentlearning.org). Curiosity Machine is an interactive website that uses science, technology and engineering projects to develop persistent curiosity and show that knowledge is empowering. We are currently working on designing exciting activities related to our research for children to build with their parents. We hope to encourage curiosity, creativity and persistence.
Participants: Burcin Becerik-Gerber, Saba Khashe, Farrokh Jazizadeh, Nan Li, Zheng Yang
Activity Mentoring: Generate electricity to light up an LED
Activity Mentoring: Candles in the dark

 

Presentation to Middle School Students
We presented to middle school students (6th graders) at the Foshay Learning Center on the topic: “How Energy Efficient Buildings Work?”
Leader: Burcin Becerik-Gerber

 

Body Engineering, Los Angeles
Body Engineering, Los Angeles (Award number: 1045595): This is a program whose research theme is body engineering, i.e leveraging human body as a machine to study, experiment upon and analyze concepts in science, engineering, technology and math (STEM) to foster interactive learning amongst K-12 students. As a fellow, Geoffrey Kavulya spend an average of 10-12 hours per week working along with teacher partner, Ms Mary Lewis at Foshay Learning Center to design and implement inquiry based lessons and class activities. Some of the lessons and class activities explored the body as a machine and approaches by which engineers and scientists work to foster innovation in a STEM curriculum. Specific lesson activities included quantification and analysis of appliance energy consumption and building of arduino crafts to measure electricity usage by common household and office appliances. We also designed, built and tested a Mars rover to help students understand the concepts of engineering design.
Leader: Geoffrey Kavulya, Engineering Degree, Graduated Spring 2013

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Center for Engineering Diversity (CED) Summer Institute
We partnered with the Center for Engineering Diversity (CED) Summer Institute for helping three freshmen, who are underrepresented in engineering majors, acclimate to college life through a short project, where students worked together as a team on an assigned project, which required them to set up a sensor system for measuring ambient climate conditions and use the variations of ambient conditions for detecting changes in occupancy of a room. The students got familiar with sensor systems and some simplified concepts of machine learning techniques. The students learned how a wireless sensor system is set up, they learned about research validation concepts and understood the need for collecting ground truth data.
Leader: Farrokh Jazizadeh, PhD Candidate

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Presentation to High School Students
We presented out research to high school students in collaboration with the Iridescent Learning, http://iridescentlearning.org/. Students from Jefferson High School, Bishop Conaty Our Lady of Loretto, New Designs Charter School, and West Adams High attended to a research presentation that focused on "Who is a Civil Engineer?"
Leader: Nan Li, PhD Candidate

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