Technology Showcases

Dr. Kyle Johnsen from the College of Engineering, assisted by several of his students, provided an assortment of demonstrations on virtual reality (VR). Three VR interfaces were offered: the Occulus Rift, HTV Vive, and Samsung GEAR VR. Students coming and going from classes stopped by to play virtual sports, take a virtual tour of the human heart, create art in virtual environments, and more. Over 20 individuals were brave enough to strap into the gear and immerse themselves into virtual environments, while dozens more looked on. Monitors were provided so that onlookers could observe what their peers were seeing in their virtual environments.
From left: Participants interact with the Samsung Gear VR, HTC Vive, and Occulus Rift systems.

 

"We are a nation increasingly dependent on technology. Yet, in spite of this dependence, U.S. society is largely ignorant of the history and fundamental nature of the technology that sustains us. The result is a public that is disengaged from the decisions that are helping shape its technological future. In a country founded on democratic principles, this is a dangerous situation." 

William A Wulf in Foreword to Standards for Technology Literacy - Content for the Study of Technology [1]. This short paragraph concisely summarizes the threat to a society that uses technology without more than a selfish self-interest or votes without consideration of the choices our politicians make about the life and death use of technology.

Technologies and their evolution influence crucial decisions in large scale arenas such as economics, ethics, politics, health, and environmental protection, while also playing central roles on a smaller scale in our everyday lives. [1] Communication, entertainment, and navigation rely on increasingly modern technologies that individuals use on a near constant basis.

Consequently, we frequently take for granted technological tools without developing a fundamental literacy of how they work. Young and Pearson note that “even as technology has become increasingly important in our lives, it has receded from view.” [2] The statement by Wulf also suggests a solution, if “disengaged” is the problem then we must find ways to “engage” our population.

Envisioned as an opportunity to showcase current technologies to students, these sessions aim to provide informative and easily consumable demonstrations. Topics slated to be featured include GPS, iBooks, virtual reality, and other common technologies with which students regularly interact without really thinking about the technological underpinnings. The Office of STEM Education hopes to partner with representatives across campus to host several such showcases each semester.

 

Standards for technological literacy : content for the study of technology. (2000). Reston,

Va.:   International Technology Education Association, c2000.

 

Young, A. T., & Pearson, G. (2002). Technically speaking : why all Americans need to

know more about technology. Washington, D.C. : National Academy Press, ©2002.