Saturday, July 28, 2012

Week 4 Day 5: Last day of camp!

On our last day together, students and instructors worked tirelessly to add any final touches to our city. Although our city had been completed yesterday, the real challenge was to transfer all of the canvas, models and demonstrations downstairs to the display room. With the help of everybody, we were able to do this effortlessly.

When the clock stroked 5:00 pm, we opened our doors and welcomed everybody who came to see the fruits of our labor. The cities and demonstrations were a success. Our students were able to explain to our guests why our city is smart and how certain technologies, just like companion farming, work together to help the city be more efficient, convenient, clean and smart. Eon and Genesis were in charge of demonstrating the energy week's activities, and they did an excellent job showing guests how a solenoid generates electricity; a small scale model of how electricity is produced in our power plants.  As a college student and a camp instructor, I am very proud of all of our students today because they've all worked really hard to put the cities together, learned a lot and had fun in the meantime.
Breadboard hotels in Clearview city. On the demonstration tables, the breadboard buildings have LED lightbulbs connected in series to a wind turbine. 

Summer of Smart Cities summer 2012 staff, thank you all for making this possible. 

If knowledge and intelligence can be weighed on a nanoscale, parents, your kids had gained a bit of weight over the course of this program. On behalf of the staff at the Science of Smart Cities summer 2012 program, thank you for being a part of this experience, good bye.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Week 4 Day 4: Finalizing our cities

It's hard to believe that in less than 24 hours, I would've concluded my role as an instructor in the 2012 NYU Poly Science of Smart Cities summer program. It's been an incredible journey and these past four weeks were properly structured to allow our city to grow. After learning about energy in the first week, we came up with a plan to maximize the amount of electricity that can be generated from renewable sources. We decided to place wind turbines, solar panels, reservoirs, canals and a desalination plant in strategic locations throughout our city to make the most use out of our natural resources.

In the second week, the food and sustenance week, after seeing how easy it is to grow local food at the Added Value farm, we decided to place a farm in our city. This farm is at the epicenter of our city and it serves as a source of local food and as a drop off point for our city's compost. Reusing our city's organic wastes in the form of compost can and will prove beneficial to the quality of life of our city's inhabitants and to the general quality of our environment. We told our students, what our professors always tell us, as engineers we are always striving to work with nature not against it. We introduced the concepts of sustainability and waste management, and students understand that earth's resources are renewable as long as they are not consumed faster than they are generated.

Our city's layout became more clear in the third week after we learned about transportation. We designed our city's road network, highways, commuter railroads and the general layout of our city's infrastructures. In the fourth week, the communications week, we learned a lot about wireless communications. After our visit to Northrop Grumman, we saw the importance and benefits of having a advanced metering infrastructure and automatic vehicle locaters in a city. We decided to place a universal automatic metering system in our city's buildings and houses to help citizen's monitor their utility bill. This can help customers become more aware of their usage and even encourage them to use their utilities more efficiently.

Our city is oriented in the east-west direction, the turquoise strips make up our road network and the big green space on top is our farm. 

Today we finalized our cities, and with the productive contribution of everybody in our class, we were able to finish painting our cities, construct the underground subway network for our cities and worked on our presentations for tomorrow. After our last day of class tomorrow, there will be a celebration from 5:00 - 7:00 pm, that will give the student's families and everyone involved with SOSC to see the student's smart cities and to learn why it is smart. I am really excited about tomorrow and I look forward to meeting you and our students' families. We've all worked very hard on our cities and tomorrow is our time to shine, thank you for reading!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Week 4 Day 3: Trip to Northrop Grumman

Today's trip to Northrop Grumman is "the best trip I've ever been on" as quoted by Mohaimanol. Although all of our trips have their own distinct value, being able to visit Northrop Grumman and learn about wireless communication technology, through the perspective of engineering professionals, is indeed a very rare and unique experience. Northrop Grumman is one of the world's top defense contractors, and their prestige is derived from their success in projects that range from designing state of the art military aircrafts to developing a secure wireless network for New York City emergency personnels. 

Our students were greeted at Northrop grumman with a giant television screen that displayed live footage from  cameras throughout the city, and by Monique, Steve, Janice and their wonderful coworkers. Our students were so engaged and curious about wireless technology that it took about 15 minutes to get through the first slide because they were asking a lot of questions. Later on in the day, we did an activity that simulated cellular reception by placing LED antennas throughout various locations in a lego city. The intensity of the light and overlaying of the lights on the surface represented the signal strength.

Steve from Northrop Grumman explaining to our students how an Emergency Call Box works

Monique (Second from left) and our judges (From Left) Omar Rosado, Doug Brown and Rhea Altamura, preparing to announce the results of the competition. 

After lunch, students were treated to a workshop that allowed Northrop engineers to introduce three sets of technology to them; Modems, Advanced Metering Infrastructure and Automatic Vehicle Locator. Students saw that many of these technologies are leading the way to make a city smarter and more efficiency. Finally, to end our day, we had a friendly competition amongst our group to see who can come up with an innovative and cost effective solution to an everyday problem. Vicente and his team suggested a cell phone application that notifies the user if a bus is late. He impressed me today with his incredible knowledge, abundant ideas and skillful leadership ability. He effectively asked his team members for their input and assigned them roles to be fulfilled during the presentation, good job Vicente. On behalf of my team, thank you Northrop Grumman for this extraordinary opportunity to explore science and technology through the perspective of your engineers. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Less than one week left for the first year of SoSC!

These past three weeks have been a wonderful experience. We have had three trips: two in Brooklyn and one Uptown Manhattan. One trip we took during food and sustenance week to an urban farm in Red Hook where we learned that farms can be created in all types of settings, even those that do not seem ideal. The farm we went to was built completely on top of asphalt, across the street from IKEA!

During transportation week, we were able to experience the New York Transit Museum just a few blocks from poly. The tour guides spoke about familiar concepts of energy generation, electrons, and circuits. The campers were thrilled when they could answer each and every question. I'm sure we impressed the guides as well. In addition, new concepts and ideas about the NYC subway system intrigued many campers.

Lastly, we went to the museum of natural history. There, students learned about the requirements for life and how those concepts can be applied on a larger scale, for example, a city. Now as the science of smart cities camp comes to a close, I can only hope that every single student is excited to become a scientist and/or engineer of the present and future.
Above: The Bionic A's strike a pose in an old NYC subway at the NYTM. 
Below: Vicente and James work with a volunteer from Deutsche bank as they put the final touches on their city. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Week 4 Day 1: Wireless Communications

Last week I asked a student whether or not this camp was as they expected and her response was no because she did not expect to learn so much information, indeed! Part of NYU Poly's reputation is that we have a very rigorous curriculum, and those students who decide to stay after their first year will be in for a great academic adventure. We started off our last week of camp today by asking our students, "what did we learn in the first three weeks? and, how did we use what we learned to make our cities smarter?". This quick discussion paved the way for our posters. We started to work on our presentation posters today, one for each week, that illustrates the features that make our city smart. Since the roads in respect to the canvas is very narrow, very few details about the structure and layout of it can be put on the canvas. Therefore, these details will be put in the Week 3 Transportation poster.

(From left) Kayleen, Eon and Jelani drafting a layout of their city
In the second half of the day, we talked about Internet, WiFi and cellular technology. Everyone of our student uses the internet but none of them knew exactly what it is or how it worked. After Jim's careful guidance and mindful lecture, students left today knowing that the internet is a network of networks. It works because millions of servers and computers around the world act as passers, receivers and senders of information, as part of one giant global network. Students also left today knowing how to quantify a bit, a byte, a megabyte and understand why most media drives today are sold in gigabytes. Overall, today was a very interesting day, I along with the students learned a lot about the internet and various wireless communication technologies.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Week 3 Day 5 : A Journey to the AMNH

Our close up look at the space elevator
Jelani in orbit!
Getting 30 middle school students along with instructors into the subway showed to be a challenge as it started off the day. But, by 10 AM we had made it to the American Museum of Natural History and began our tour. Led by the fantastic Cynthia Toledo, principles we had discussed through each we came to light in the in respect to life and earth sciences. As we worked our way through the halls of biodiversity and the universe we looked at how the aspects of design that have allowed both biodiversity on this planet and the diversity of the universe can be applied to how we think about designing a smarter city. 40 minutes of Whoopi Goldberg later we garnered more knowledge of our universe and how it functions. We then took a close look at the earth and its properties. Scavenging to find information such as the benefits of living in close vicinity to volcanoes we took the hall of earth by storm. In conclusion we made our way the Beyond Planet Earth exhibit. There we could put together some of the lessons we learned at AMNH and in the classrooms, taking a close look at the possibility of extending civilization beyond our blue planet.

Week 3 Day 4: Active Collision Avoidance

What does adaptive cruise control, antilock brake systems and active collision avoidance all have in common? They're innovative technologies that helps cars travel safer, smarter and more efficiently. Students were introduced to these concepts today and were given the golden opportunity to add an active collision avoidance system to a R/C remote control car. The process was tedious and complex, however when everybody was done, students agreed that the final product was very rewarding and cool. 
Gabriel (left) and Rori (right), adding a breadboard, Arduino and Ultrasonic module to their R/C cars.

Dajah, Giovanni, Rori, Miya and Lesly (clockwise) engineering their city's road network

After the Active Collision Avoidance activity, students continued on their smart cities. Rori led the team in developing the city's road network. He, together with his team, decided where to place roundabouts, major roads and minor roads to help reduce congestion and improve air quality. Since cars only travel on the perimeter of a roundabout, he decided to place a green zone in the middle of the roundabout. We also started on the highway network today and painted in the different districts in our city. We did a lot of work today, great job team!