Computer Science Could Lead to Change of Mindset for the Students Who Perform Poorly in Mathematics

Most students would walk into a mathematics class with an already formed opinion of how they will perform in the subject, most how poor they will perform. This is the attitude of most students who have looked at themselves as very poor in mathematics and are only in class because it is a must that they should attend the class. However, computer science has proved to be a real game-changer for this mindset. Without knowledge, the same students with the same attitude have drastically improved in the subject. What was the secret? Introduction of computer science in school. This is an account of one teacher of mathematics who shifted from teaching mathematics to computer science and was able to observe the change of behaviour among his students.

This teacher has discovered that computer science provides a special and unique opportunity and environment for students to change the way they perceive things especially as it relates to their abilities and capabilities. One thing that this teacher did is that he gave an equal opportunity to all kinds of students who come to his computer science classes to discover things on their own. He ensured that in his class no one attends thinking that he/she is incapable or will fail. All of them are meant to believe that either individually or as a group, they are able to solve the problem.

He has gone ahead and exposed these students to many problems which he has allowed them to wrestle with them until they have cracked them. Students have had to meet many algorithmic challenges and puzzles and try to solve individually or as a team until they have solved whatever the problem it is. With this same attitude, the initially week students in mathematics have risen and now they perform very well. The magic was in computer science.



Rebekah Loving from University of Hawai’i at Hilo Earns Awarded a Finalist for National Fellowship

During this year’s award for the finalist students that qualify for the national PhD fellowship for the year, The Fannie and John Hertz foundation named Rebekah Loving. Loving is a computer science and mathematics students at UH at Hilo who successfully was mentioned among other 41 graduate students for the award nationwide. This award is one of the most competitive awards which she was able to secure out of more than 840 students that applied. Any of the recipients of the award will receive academic support for about five years that is worth about $250,000. According to the chair of UH Hilo Department of Computer Science, Rebekah is known to be an outstanding student who deserves the honour.

Loving is known to have grown up at Hamakua Coast in the Island of Hawai’i together with her siblings and has really done a lot. To begin with, she was among the participants that carried out three research programs first at Harvard University, then at California Institute of Technology and finally at the University of California. She also participated in Heidelberg Laureate Forum, a conference held in Germany last year and brought together many highly innovative and creative young researchers worldwide.

As a result of her outstanding performance, Loving has received several acceptance letters from various universities in the world offering her full funding for her PhD program, just to mention a few, Caltech, Harvard, Columbia University, UC Berkeley and many more. All these are offering her a scholarship to study biostatistics, computational biology and computer science. She is so excited at the offers because she is sure to continue with her career that she loves so much in order to improve lives of many by helping them to have a deeper understanding of various biological processes through analysis of data, development of computational methods and software engineering.


Automated animal identification in wildlife research

Scientists have come up with a new automated method to prepare digital photos of animals to help in the analysis done by wildlife researchers. Frequently, these researchers depend on photographs in identifying individual animals by their unique markings. Together with scientists from Microsoft Azure, wildlife biologists from Penn state they improved how photos are turned to usable data through a cloud computing service and machine learning

Derek Lee, an associate research professor of biology, said that researchers require to identify and collect data for their work hence instead of human-applied markings and tags which could interfere with the animal’s behavior, these researchers take photographs of the animals. As much as there are software used to analyze the photo, they, however, need to be manually prepared for analysis which is time-consuming.

Lee uses photographs to understand births, deaths, and movement of more than 3,000 giraffes in East Africa. He collaborated with the scientists from Microsoft who provided him with a new image processing machine services. The service was essential for automating the time-consuming process that Lee and his team had to go through, by using machine learning technology on the Microsoft Azure cloud.

By using a computer algorithm for objective detection, the team trained a program to recognize some of the giraffe’s torsos through using the existing photos. The program improved using an active learning process whereby the system was able to show predicted cropping squares on new images to a human who could immediately verify or correct results.

The new images were fed back into the training algorithm for further improvement and updating of the programme. The system could identify the location of giraffe torsos win the picture with higher accuracy even if the giraffe is a small portion of the photo or its torso is semi-blocked by vegetation.



Smartphones Help in Improving Civil Infrastructure

A recent report done by the American Society of Civil Engineering rated the civil infrastructure systems available with a D+ rating. This is because civil infrastructure systems are aging in the United States. With that, scientists from the University of Missouri have developed a smartphone technology that can screen civil infrastructure systems like aging bridges, crumbling roads in order to save lives.

According to estimations, scientists say that the civil infrastructure system failure like roads and bridges could lead to a 1 percent drop in the US GDP. The number was $200 billion in 2017. The problem of these aging civil infrastructure systems suggests that there is a need from developing an innovative monitoring solution.

Through the use of various sensors on smartphones like a gyroscope, an accelerator measuring speed and camera or a small external sensor like the infrared sensor, scientists will be able to determine the precise makeup and worsening of a road surface in real time. When the sensor is plugged into a platform, any individual can effortlessly transfer data collected through crowdsourcing this technology will allow better-informed decisions about the conditions of the road and bridge

According to Amir Alavi, the assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering in the MU College of engineering, the existing methods of monitoring civil infrastructure systems have technical issues, and at the same time, they are not user-centered. He says that people are looking for smart, scalable, cost-effective and user-centered approaches.

With the development in technology, people can assist in monitoring or detecting problems by using their own devices and smartphone technology allows people to achieve that. The professor partnered with Bill Buttlar, the Glen Barton Chair of Flexible Pavement Technology to create an innovative solution for monitoring bridges and roads. According to Buttlar, a smartphone can put together many reasonable measures to accurately assess things like degradation of a road surface.