Imagine students at four different high schools working collaboratively and in real time on a project to create a mechanically-fed birdhouse monitored via the Internet. The bird feeder automatically refills itself, based on a preset schedule.
One school team acts as project manager, while another is responsible for aesthetic design. The third school handles computer programming for refilling the bird seed. The fourth school determines the type and amount of bird seed used.
That example is provided by Julie Michael Smith, executive vice president at Applied Systems and Technology Transfer (AST2
), to illustrate its Virtual Collaborative Learning Environment (VCLE
“VCLE is a hardware and software technology that enables students at different schools to collaborate and communicate on projects in real time using social media, design and visualization," Smith explains. "It’s offered in a private cloud to integrate equipment, people and information in a secure, virtual manner.”
VCLE enables people to use design software to create ideas and develop solutions collaboratively in 2D and 3D environments, according to Smith. “The design can then be prototyped by remotely accessing equipment such as 3D printers, milling machines and laser cutters.”
AST2 has developed a curriculum focused on innovation and creativity that helps students prepare for future jobs requiring skills in science, technology, engineering and math. “Over the past 10 years, STEM careers grew three times faster than non-STEM jobs,” Smith says. “That strong growth is projected to continue.”
The company will begin offering its curriculum and program to several high schools this fall with a goal of making it available to 1,000 high schools by 2016-2017.
AST2 recently landed a potentially multi-million dollar contract award from the Department of Defense’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) for its MENTOR (Manufacturing and Experimentation Outreach) initiative.
Source: Julie Michael Smith
Writer: Lynne Meyer