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A Faculty Commons Quarterly Volume 6

Spring 2015


Volume 6 | Spring 2015


N EW YOR K CIT Y COLLEGE OF T ECH NOLOG Y of the City University of New York

Faculty Commons

Russell K. Hotzler President

A Center for Teaching, Learning, Scholarship and Service

Bonne August Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

Julia Jordan, Director Avril Miller, College Assistant

Miguel Cairol Vice President for Administration and Finance Marcela Katz Armoza Vice President for Enrollment and Student Affairs Gilen Chan Special Counsel/Legal Affairs Designee

Assessment and Institutional Research Tammie Cumming, Director Kimberly Johnson, Institutional Research Specialist Olga Batyr, Survey Services Liaison James Jeannis, Research Assistant Office of Sponsored Programs Barbara Burke, Director Patty Barba Gorkhover, Associate Director Eleanor Bergonzo, Assistant Director

Stephen M. Soiffer Special Assistant to the President/ Institutional Advancement

Grants Outreach Coordinator 2014-2015 Professor Soyeon Cho

Pamela Brown Associate Provost

US Department of Education Title V A Living Laboratory Charlie Edwards, Project Manager

Karl Botchway Dean, School of Arts and Sciences

Design Team Professor Anita Giraldo, Artistic Director Kevin Rajaram, Web Master Maen Caka, Web Developer Chelsea Allen, Arianna Bollers Raciel Guzman, Mandy Mei Marlon Palmer, Dorian Valentine, Designers

Kevin Hom Dean, School of Technology and Design David Smith Dean, School of Professional Studies Carol Sonnenblick Dean, Division of Continuing Education

Curator Professor Sandra Cheng Photographer Andie Lessa

Professional Development Advisory Council (PDAC)


Daniel Alter Isaac Barjis Esteban Beita

Gwen Cohen-Brown Susan Davide Lynda Dias

Paul King Darya Krym Xiangdong Li

Susan Phillip Marcia Powell Estela Rojas

Nadia Benakli Lucas Bernard Karen Bonsignore Candido Cabo Sanjoy Chakraborty

Mary Sue Donsky Aida Egues Boris Gelman Pa Her Louise Hoffman

Janet Liou-Mark Karen Lundstrem Zory Marantz John McCullough Djafar Mynbaev

Walied Samarrai Rebecca Shapiro Kimberly Strickler Ryoya Terao Shauna Vey


Volume 6 | Spring 2015

Gail Williams Farrukh Zia Pamela Brown, Chair


Spring 2015

Being Present


Developmental Math: Reimagining the Course Outline


Defining and Integrating Technologies Across the Curriculum


Putting the “Instruction” into Instructional Technology


Real Time Internet


Bonne August

Pamela Brown

Johannah Rodgers

Karen Lundstrem Lucas Bernard

Simulation As Transfer of Knowledge 12 Candy Dato

Project Based Learning


Perspectives in Mathematics and Computer Science Education


Scholars Exchange: A New Forum




Anne Leonhardt

Sandie Han, Boyan Kostadinov, Ariane Masuda K. Andrew Parker, Satyanand Singh, Johann Thiel

“The Safest Cab Driver in the World” George Guida

“ It is envisioned that eventually the Lab will consist of a sequence of inter-related spaces: a computer lab, a video production space, a stereoscopic presentation and workshop space; a building performance testing space with daylighting and wind tunnel testing, and building envelope testing chambers.” Anne Leonhardt Architectural Technology

Biomimicry product

The Visualization/Fabrication/Performance Testing Lab CoverPhotograph by Andie Lessa

E d itor s, Ba rba ra Bu rk e and Ju li a Jo rd an | D e s i g ne r, Ma rlon Palm e r | P r i nt i n g , D ig ital Im ag ing C e nte r at C it y Te ch NUCLEUS: A FACULTY COMMONS QUARTERLY

Volume 6 | Spring 2015


Getting Your Hands Dirty, Making a Mess, Falling on Your Face, and Being Present Bonne August

tasted good, and it gave me some useful lessons for next time.


baked a cake this week. My daughter had requested it for her birthday. It was a lemon cake that has a glaze of lemon juice and sugar brushed all over the hot cake. When it cools, the glaze is pungent, lemony, and crackly against the soft cake. Having followed this recipe many times, I measured, mixed, and prepared the batter, and put the pan in the oven with confidence. Once the correct time had elapsed, I tested the cake with a low-tech device—a toothpick—to make sure that it was done. Although the tester came out clean, the cake did not look quite done. The hour was late, though, close to midnight, and I wanted to go to bed, and so trusting the tester rather than my experience, I took the cake out of the oven, let it cool for a few minutes, and proceeded to turn it out of the pan. As several large pieces of cake remained stuck to the pan, I realized my mistake, actually several mistakes. With no time to do it over, I carefully scraped the pieces from the pan and put them back in place as well as I could, relying on the glaze to hold everything together. The result was more than a bit lumpy and certainly not beautiful, but it 4


I like to work with my hands. Cooking, gardening, and making things or trying to, are satisfying to me even when the result is far from perfect. I play a musical instrument, the violin, enthusiastically but not very well. Much of my professional work, doing things with words, is inherently messy, and I enjoy that. At City Tech, we like to say that our work is “hands-on.” Hands-on means getting your hands dirty, making a mess, learning from mistakes, trying again. This is as true when the tools are high tech, like those described in this issue of Nucleus, as when kneading bread, sewing a dress, installing a switch, or unclogging a drain. Lately, I’ve seen a number of articles and studies about error and failure. The message is consistent:

mistakes are


making errors, even failure, is essential to learning.

When we are too afraid to make mistakes or refuse the opportunity to try again, we won’t learn. Because they limit negative consequences, high tech teaching tools, models, and simulations can actually facilitate learning, including handson learning, by enabling neophytes

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to make safe errors. As competence increases, they become more ready for real hands-on, that is, for the possibility of consequences. Several years ago, at a meeting of the advisory committee of the Nursing Department, a member of the committee who worked at a large hospital was expressing concern that as medicine had become increasingly high tech and focused on recording procedures for insurance purposes, young nurses were not getting enough hands-on experience with basic, direct patient care. As an example, she described the behavior of a recently credentialed nurse whom she had observed at the hospital. The young nurse entered the patient’s room, and without introducing herself or speaking a word, approached the bed, checked the medical devices, picked up the patient’s arm to check the IV, and then left. For whatever reason—nerves, perhaps, or fear of making a mistake—she’d attended to the technology very capably, but not to the person the technology was there to assist. Although I would not want to be that patient, I like to think that a young nurse would have had the opportunity to learn from the experience of a senior nurse: that doing it well means personal sensitivity as well as technical competence and that technology does not replace the need for hands-on.

Using Technology to Reimagine the Course Outline and Other Initiatives in Developmental Math Pamela Brown

components, to be developed, implemented, and evaluated during the First Year Programs’ Summer 2015 Immersion offerings. Additional components, which incorporate peerled-team learning, include:


ack in the 1990s did you ever imagine that one day you could use your cell phone to do everything from take pictures, send emails and texts, to check on traffic or look up the answer to any trivia question that came to mind? Have you ever thought of the untapped potential of course outlines and transforming yours to be a more useful tool for students? Faculty members in the Mathematics Department are reimagining the developmental math course outline to provide a suite of easy-access supports for students. An informative, interactive course outline for MAT 063/065 will link to open source texts and problem sets so students do not have to purchase an expensive text book and will be able to access materials on their mobile devices or a computer. Problem sets will have appropriate video links. There will also be links to virtual help from Drexel University via Dr. Math and Khan Academy. A CUNY Office of Academic Affairs grant is funding this project, which includes several other experimental

1. A 15 hour self-paced workshop, with pre/post skills evaluation, focused on basic skills in preparation for MAT 065, as an alternative to MAT 063. Both MAT 063 and MAT 065 are 0-credit developmental math courses, and cover the same material. Students with lower placement test scores enroll in MAT 063. MAT 063 meets 7 hours per week (105 contact hours) during the regular academic semester while MAT 065 meets 5 hours per week (75 contact hours). (A 3-credit course will generally have 45 contact hours). 2. An alternate pathway to MAT 1190 for non-STEM/non-business students who do not meet the mathematics placement criteria. Passing the new, interactive, 30hour MAT 1190-prep workshop in the summer will allow students to register for the 3-credit MAT 1190, Quantitative Reasoning, in the Fall. Evidence collected at other CUNY campuses has demonstrated that their existing developmental math course/ sequence is not necessarily the best preparation for student success in their non-STEM/non-business math courses. The university is thus encouraging campuses to develop and evaluate pathways which better prepare nonSTEM/non-business students to succeed in credit bearing math courses. City Tech’s MAT 063 and 065 were developed before MAT 1190 was created, and were

designed to prepare students for math courses needed by STEM majors. Once students pass MAT 1190 they will meet the CUNY mathematics placement criteria. Development of this workshop is thus an opportunity to improve student success with a more effective alternative to MAT 063/065. The need to explore alternatives is compelling. In Fall 2014, 631 students enrolled in MAT 063 and only 17.7% met the placement criteria, becoming eligible to take a credit bearing math course instead of repeating MAT 063. That same semester, 1108 students enrolled in MAT 065 and only 28.4% met the placement criteria (Source: Office of Assessment and Institutional Research (AIR) website). The initiatives described above are intended to not only increase pass rates in developmental math but enhance student engagement and success in subsequent math courses. The team leading this effort includes Lauri Aguirre, Director of the First Year Programs, Dean Karl Botchway, Professors Dominick DeSantis, Satyanand Singh, K. Andrew Parker, Janet Liou-Mark, Thomas Johnstone and Grazyna Niezgoda, and myself. Dr. AE Dreyfuss is providing administrative support. The suggestions and support provided by interim Mathematics Chair Jonathan Natov are gratefully acknowledged.


Volume 6 | Spring 2015


Writing And/As Technology: Defining and Integrating Technologies Across the Curriculum


Johannah Rodgers


n his book Keywords, the cultural critic Raymond Williams proposes that “some important social and historical processes occur within language.” This phenomenon may be nowhere more evident in the present day than in this word technology. Of the many issues involved in understanding what technology is, the first complication arises in relation to our contemporary use of the term as one that refers primarily to digital devices and to an unstated promise—one intentionally vague and undefined—of what these devices and their use may foretell. In fact, as many members of the City Tech community already know, the word technology refers to much more than such devices and is far more complicated as a term and a phenomenon than most contemporary uses of it would suggest. Technology is also—to name just a few other examples—scissors, highways, 6


nail polish, photocopiers, automobiles, buildings, and composite fillings for teeth. Furthermore, technology encompasses not only artifacts, or things, but also processes and systems, which are sometimes mechanical, sometimes digital, and often human and creative. For these and many other reasons, technology is a word that is now used—or perhaps overused—in ways that Leo Marx, a professor of technology, science and society at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and many others have pointed out, appear to only increase its power and its potential hazards. Hidden in plain sight, this term technology raises numerous questions that only multiply as the term itself is increasingly understood as being part of some already existing and assumed “common knowledge.” Given my disciplinary affiliation with the English Department, it may be

Volume 6 | Spring 2015

no surprise that I draw our collective attention to this phrase “instructional technology” and to the term technology itself. However, I do this not only because attending to language and its uses is part of what I study and teach, but because, as an instructor and scholar of writing, one of the oldest technologies still in use, I am directly involved in the study of the impact and implications of technologies in educational and other social contexts. Although the many technologies involved with reading and writing practices—the alphabet, pencils, pens, books, printing presses—may be so familiar to us as to seem almost “natural,” they were all at one time new technologies that have had—and continue to have— numerous and profound effects. As the historian Ruth Schwartz Cohen explains, “even languages and the things that contain languages (such as books, letters, computer software, and

student essays) are technologies: they are things that people have created so as to better control and manipulate the social environment.” Thus, however complex the process of defining and understanding technologies may be, and however paradoxical it is that very few of the students in this college of technology will ever take a class dedicated to studying the subject of technology as a socio-cultural and historical phenomenon, both of these facts speak to how timely and worthwhile the endeavor of thinking about instructional technologies very broadly may be. The study of technology, whether as a word or as a phenomenon or as a concept, is not the domain of any one discipline. Rather, the study of technology is by definition interdisciplinary. Each department and program and office at City Tech has its own unique insights and perspectives to contribute to the discussion. In fact, making a commitment to discuss the role, functions, and implications of technologies in one’s particular field or discipline in both historical and contemporary contexts is itself one instructional technology that we can all adopt. Furthermore, collectively,

we, as a college community whether we are administrators or advisors or faculty members, can insist on the need to understand this term technology and its many definitions—both literal and metaphorical—and to use it with care, precision, and intention. What are we talking about when we talk about technology? Are we using this word as a place-holder to signify some hope or solution that is in some way divorced from human agency? If so, can we replace this term technology with a word, or a set of words, that are both more concrete and specific? What are we talking about when we talk about technologies in an instructional context? Are we talking about chalk? At times, yes. At other times, we may be referring to various systems, programs, and networks, or to digital tools that may but do not necessarily always ensure the advancement and improvement of educational practices. Technologies in general and instructional technologies specifically are neither independent agents nor benign objects. Rather, they are humanmade tools with distinct histories that can, or cannot, be used in the best in interest of humans and whose definition

depends on the specific context in which they and the words describing them are used. We are in a unique position at City Tech, where this word technology and its history are inscribed in the very name of the college, to negotiate with and educate around this word and its many meanings and functions. I hope we will all take the opportunity to think about instructional technologies not just as high tech tools from outside that we may now, or at some point in the future, could use in our classrooms, but as tools and techniques that grow out of the fabric of our teaching methods and support them. Instructional technologies, like all technologies, are all around us and come in many different shapes and sizes. As educators, we get to assist students in developing their knowledge of the world, of themselves, and of the methodologies and methods of particular disciplines. In the process of doing this, we have an opportunity to help them better understand not only what technologies are, but what they are not: they are not solutions, but parts of equations, their impact on which may have some benefits and may have some drawbacks but will necessarily change whatever it is that they are a part of.

“We are in a unique position at City Tech, where this word technology and its history are inscribed in the very name of the college, to negotiate with and educate around this word and its many meanings and functions.”

Works Referenced: Hughes, Thomas. The Human Built World: How To Think About Technology and Culture. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005. Marvin, Carolyn. When Old Technologies Were New: Thinking About Electric Communication in the Late Nineteenth Century. New York: Oxford University Press, 1988. Marx, Leo. “Technology: The Emergence of a Hazardous Concept.” Technology and Culture 51.3 (2010): 561-577. Project MUSE. Web. Rodgers, Johannah. Technology: A Reader for Writers. New York: Oxford University Press, 2014. ---. “Technology Is.” WSQ: Women’s Studies Quarterly 37.1 (2009): 240-241. Project MUSE. Web. The New York City College of Technology. “Where Can Technology Take You?” Advertisement. New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority. 21 Feb 2015. Williams, Raymond. Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society. New York: Oxford University Press, 1976.


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Putting the “Instruction” into Instructional Technology Karen Lundstrem


hen I came to City Tech in 2000, there was no formal Department of Instructional Technology. I say “formal” because there were ample informal uses of technology integrated into instruction throughout the college. Some faculty members were using mature technologies, such as PowerPoint presentations or videos in their classes. Others were just starting to teach online and meeting in small cohorts to share their practices. Fast forward to 2015, and we have professors discussing the use of Prezi, Flickr, Tweepy, Instagram—the list is growing endlessly—and a growing number of professors are asking what each one of these does and are they really needed? Often professors hear about using technology to help them meet their course learning outcomes. Some technologies fit well into this category, such as a simulation that can visually help a student understand complex problems, or a Prezi presentation that can help organize information into chunks for presentation. Other technologies, such as Blackboard Collaborate or iTunes U are not so obvious or might not be very useful until put into the hands of experienced professors. What I would like to address now is the work of some of our professors who are eager to experiment, push their teaching beyond its current parameters, and share results with one another. The following examples show how technology can be integrated into instruction and be a useful tool for student engagement. By teaching with technology, they have actually gone well beyond some of their original goals.



The new normal: social media, m-learning, and Learning Analytics The Web has become a major repository of information, a shared space to collaborate, and a readily accessible place to publish one’s work. Add to this the ubiquitous use of cellphones, tablets, and the in-between sized phablets, and you have the perfect combination for Web-enhanced, blended, and also mobile, or m-learning. Professor Amit Mehrotra of Hospitality Management has experimented with mobile applications, including Poll Everywhere and Instagram. He explains, “These tools provide an enriching experience for students to provide feedback and also act as a forum for formative assessments of the learning objectives.“ Not just a trend, the shift towards online course platforms combined with social media tools is permanently changing the way professors teach and students learn (Johnson, Adams-Becker, Estrada, & Freeman, 2014). Moreover, the data collected online can provide valuable information about a student’s progress and what is effective. George Guida, Professor of English and a former Scholar on Campus, notes:

Teaching with technology allows our work and more important, our students’ work to be visible. Volume 6 | Spring 2015

Using course platforms, especially in a hybrid course format, we create a rich repository of course material; ask students to respond to this material in writing; and reinforce their understanding of material through online and in-class studentcentered exchanges and activities. This practice yields not only effective courses, but also an invaluable record of our teaching and learning. Professors, such as Renata Budny of Restorative Dentistry, find that their professions require students to have greater digital experience and that “It becomes indisputable that the delivery of instruction using modern technologies like interactive text used in e-textbooks and e-journals, active web links, graphics and videos, live classrooms, webinars, image collections, and similar electronic means allow online learning to be alive and active, and necessary for leaders of any profession to embrace and implement in everyday tasks.” While she finds customizing online materials and experiences to meet the needs of her students demanding, she finds that the “overwhelming majority of students agree that they prefer electronic course delivery of theoretical material.”

Blending resources for blended learning Some professors and students appreciate the flexibility of blended, or hybrid, classes. Professor Kate Falvey of the English Department notes, “The obvious benefit of an online course is that students can structure their own time. My working adult evening students appreciate the flexibility of online learning, even though the format demands even more self-discipline than a face-to-face class might.”


However, hybrid courses offer much more than convenience. According to a meta-analysis by the U.S. Department of Education (2010), hybrid courses offer better student learning outcomes than either fully face-to-face or fully online courses. Some professors have come to believe that the reason is a pedagogical shift to flipping the classroom, which involves presenting lecture and course materials online so that the face-toface class period can be dedicated to discussion, problem solving, and application of the material. Others find that the online portion of the class involves careful preparation to engage students more fully and have them take ownership of their learning. Adaptive learning, which occurs when the course activities change based on the student’s interaction with the material, is the result of highly customized efforts. Professor Denise Scannell of the Humanities Department states, “I try to create highly interactive online assignments that engage students and require more feedback on the discussion board. My course content and instructional resources are consistently changing with the current knowledge and practices of digital media and the communication discipline.“ In terms of instructional design, blended courses can work better with blended environments. For example, some

professors give frequent quizzes and tests, so they use Blackboard as their course management system. Others want their students to have a greater Web presence and interact through a superior blogging system. They either use OpenLab exclusively or integrate it into Blackboard and use the two together. For those preferring strictly synchronous online communication, Blackboard Collaborate is the tool of choice. However, Collaborate can be used as a lecturecapture tool as well. Professor Lynda Konecny of the Nursing Department explains, “Used as a lecture tool I record sessions to augment textbook readings or demystify theoretical concepts. On course evaluations students have highly rated these Blackboard recorded sessions.”

Experimentation with course delivery in biological sciences Professors Isaac Barjis and Walied Samarrai have been experimenting with innovative ways of putting lab courses online for over a decade now, and the results have included interactive lab simulations and videos. Having mentored and encouraged others to teach with technology, Professor Barjis candidly states that “some instructors neither use technology as an instructional delivery system nor integrate technology into their curriculum. Society and our

21st century students have embraced technology and allowed it to reinvent the ways in which we create, find, exchange, communicate, interact and even think about information. We should not ignore such a deeply permeating innovation, thus we should thoughtfully implement technology into our teaching.” One newcomer to the Department of Biological Sciences who does not shy away from experimenting with technology is Professor Evgenia Giannopoulou. Here she explains how she uses technology to teach online in the rapidly changing, complex field of Bioinformatics: From my personal experience, it is important to prepare students by giving examples as well as motivation to attend school-organized workshops on online learning. Moreover, when students take online quizzes chapter by chapter, they perform better in cumulative exams. I have noticed that online discussions (with credit), where students have to watch a video, read a paper or article, answer specific questions and respond/comment to their classmates’ posts, make students aware of the topic to be discussed in class and leads to more interactive conversations. Finally, yes, we can teach computer programming online! There are plenty of resources for online programming, such as code academy (http://, code (http://code. org/), and r-fiddle (, an online


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environment that allows students to not only write and run R-code inside a web browser, but also easily share their code in blogs and websites, and comment on others’ code.

Recording student success stories through ePortfolios When selecting a platform for our students’ ePortfolios, OpenLab seemed like the smartest choice. Students could cull their best work from many courses and share it on an open platform. Professor Satyanand Singh of the Mathematics Department, who has been working with ePortfolios since their implementation in the college, speaks about the transition and its impact on students: The ePortfolio has since evolved from its inception into a forum where people connect within their fields and dwell in a diversified environment within the realm of OpenLab. ePortfolios span the gamut, with creations by students that reflect artistic, social, and intellectual abilities. There are many striking ePortfolios of student work, but one that comes to mind is a creation of my former City Tech Calculus I honors student, Mr. Erez Gatti. He emboldened his image into a robotic form in his portfolio as he pondered his future. A few years later (2010) he was part of a team of students from CUNY that designed a robot that took first prize ( bs64KWYJJOs) by defeating the Princeton University team. This is one of many success stories that I have encountered and it shows how technology effectively gives us an edge as we further our aspirations. This year, professors in the First Year Learning Communities have introduced ePortfolios into their work. Professor Maria Cipriani of the English Department, who provides models from her own work to her students, anticipates that “by introducing the possibilities of ePortfolio to Computer Systems Technology students as early as

possible during the first semester, and encouraging them to use it throughout the semester in at least three classes, they will begin to integrate this platform into their educational experience.”

Online Learning Advisory Council mission statement The Online Learning Advisory Council (OLAC) is a group of faculty who are actively involved in fostering student and faculty readiness for online teaching and learning. We investigate and recommend college adoption of best practices, including pedagogy, software, equipment, and services for online learning. Members of OLAC also advocate for increased use of appropriate instructional technology. We insure quality control in the use of Web-enhanced, hybrid, and fully online instruction by certification and professional evaluation of colleagues using these modalities, and by providing methods of student feedback. We provide a forum for exchange of best practices and bring awareness of issues related to online, hybrid, and Web-enhanced learning to City Tech’s policymakers and the larger college community.

For further reflection To help you decide which tools can sharpen your teaching, the Department of Instructional Technology & the Technology Enhancement Centers (iTEC) offer a series of workshops for faculty each semester. By faculty request, we create workshops on new technologies, and we also offer workshops to your students on the tools that you find most effective. In our two Technology Enhancement Centers, G-600 and V-217, we provide student support for many of the instructional technologies described here. For more information, visit our website: http://

Online Learning Advisory Council Isaac Barjis Lucas Bernard Renata Budny Candido Cabo Peter Catapano Sandra Cheng Soyeon Cho Candy Dato Mery Diaz Mary Sue Donsky Kate Falvey Evgenia Giannopoulou George Guida Tina Kao Theresa Keane Anne Leonard Eric Lobel Yelena Melikian Amit Mehrotra Carmen Negron Maria Pagano Silvia Ramos Pat Rudden Denise Scannell-Guida Davida Smyth Adam Wilson

Works Referenced: Johnson, L., Adams Becker, S., Estrada, V., Freeman, A. (2014). NMC Horizon Report: 2014 Higher Education Edition. Austin, Texas: The NewMedia Consortium. U.S. Department of Education, Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development. (2009). Evaluation of evidencebased practices in online learning: A meta-analysis and review of online learning studies. Washington, DC.



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Karen Lundstrem, Chair

Real Time Internet: An Impactful Tool in the Practice of Business Lucas Bernard

and almost every class has material wherein it seems nearly impossible to motivate a student’s curiosity. Fact is, even the “hottest” subject has its dry parts and elements that students won’t relate to. As educators, it is our challenge to convince students to learn such material; yet, it actually makes our lives easier, and our teaching more effective, when students “buy in” to the process. So, let us “fast forward” to the Internet-equipped classroom and/or the hybrid class.


s a college student in preInternet New York City, I remember finding economics stultifying. It seemed, at the time, an endless litany of tiny interest rates of one sort or another. Every illustration was either some sort of X-shaped graph or a bar-chart, again, showing interest rates. Watching the economic news on television was not much better—stodgy people reading lists of numbers and talking about “basis points.” I am still surprised that I went on to complete a PhD in this field. Yet, other subjects could be equally challenging. From my own educational history, I remember a professor had us role-play Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, with Yehuda Schwartz, my friend from high school playing Romeo. Yehuda was on the sleepy side and, I guess, the professor thought giving him this task would wake him up. Unfortunately, it was an almost sure way to kill anyone’s interest in Elizabethan theater forever. Gaining the interest of the typical 18 year-old is difficult for any instructor

To those who came of age in the dotcom era, learning in the traditional classroom can be a little like trying to appreciate a soufflé by reading the recipe. With Internet access, we have, quite literally, not only access to almost all the world’s libraries, but to disparate events (news, on-the-spot, live, etc.), international, entertainment, etc. In other words, rather than look at chalkdrawn illustrations of what the Federal Open Market Committee has decided about interest rates, we can watch the effects of that decision on the stock market in real time. Stocks chosen based on students’ interests are displayed. With Internet access, we open a virtual teacher’s toolbox, limited only by our imagination, our pedagogical creativity, and the speed of our connection. In science, we can link to photos and videos; in mathematics, we can use online symbolic calculators; in literature, we can link to multiple professional readings, using professional actors who understand the language—all this, and more, according to student interests.

student-directed. Although we guide the discussion, the examples we use and the tangents we explore are suggested by the class. Second, by adding realtime information, we make our subject connect with their (our) world. No longer must we promise that, someday, the students will see the point. Instead, they can often see it immediately. Third, instead of being at war with students’ technology (cell phones, tablets, etc.), we embrace it and make it part of our class. Nowadays, many students have instant access to the Internet on their cell phones. They enjoy it and are affirmed in the ready acceptance of their choice technology. Instead of saying “turn it off,” we say “turn it on.” By bringing live Internet into the physical or hybrid class, we add relevance for our students; we incorporate their ideas, explore their suggestions, utilize their technology, and link our lessons to the real world. Without even realizing it, instead of rebelling, they buy in to the class and invest themselves in the learning process. This not only makes our classes more efficient for them, but more interesting for us.

Thus, by accessing live Internet in the course of our lessons, we solve many problems. First, we make lessons


Volume 6 | Spring 2015


Simulation As Transfer of Knowledge Candy Dato


nursing student in a crisp green uniform walks across a patient’s hospital room, introduces herself, and takes note of the beeping cardiac monitor and intravenous pump while reaching to check the identification bracelet. The patient responds to the student’s voice asking his name. Wait! Is that a human patient speaking to the nurse? No, it’s a high fidelity simulator. This is not your mother’s nursing school experience. This simulator and the entire simulated hospital room is a typical and essential aspect of clinical education for nurses. What is simulation? It is the replication of situations in which nurses can develop, practice, and achieve competency in

nursing skills in a safe environment. There have always been issues around the provision of clinical learning experiences that would afford students the opportunity to provide care while increasing their clinical reasoning and decision making capability. The challenge of providing high quality clinical experiences for nursing students has never been greater than now. Hospitals have very high patient acuity levels, a proliferation of patient safety regulations, and an expanded demand for clinical sites for students. This has resulted in competition for traditional clinical placements and the need to supplement them with experiences that hospitals are increasingly forced to deny students.




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How does simulation help fill this gap? Simulation scenarios are designed to elicit actions and responses that are used for practice and/or competency assessment. Simulation scenarios use high fidelity simulators that mimic bodily functions (normally or abnormally) and change health status as a faculty member decides as he/she observes a scenario. These simulators are a far cry from Mrs. Chase, a life size mannequin who would now be about 100 years old, who was often referred to as a dummy. Today’s simulators seem anything but dumb. They can speak, vomit, have a fever, deliver a baby, and more. The scenarios are planned for individual or small groups of students who enter into a situation that has been made as “real” as possible.


groups, together and separately in both educational institutions and hospital settings. As a young nurse I recall regular disaster drills with community volunteers coming to my unit wearing signs saying they were bleeding, etc. I would be attending to their simulated needs while taking care of real patients. This would never happen in the health care environment of 2015. Yet the need for practice that does not endanger patients remains higher than ever. There is a growing awareness and acceptance of the value of supplementing traditional clinical experiences through simulation. A landmark large-scale simulation study by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing provided evidence for the replacement of up to half of traditional clinical hours with well designed quality simulation experiences. NURSING STUDENT IN NEONATAL LAB

The students meet specific objectives that typically involve assessment, intervention, and responses to the changing clinical status of the “patient” and the actions of the student. The high fidelity simulator may be supplemented with a standardized patient, an actor who might portray another patient, a family member, or another health care


professional. The simulation is followed by an evaluation and discussion—a debriefing with students and faculty that may include reviewing a video tape of the scenario. Simulation is used in the education and continuing development of nurses and most other health professional


Volume 6 | Spring 2015


Project Based Learning in the Center for Performative Design and Engineering Technology Anne Leonhardt


he Visualization /Fabrication / Performance Testing Lab of City Tech’s Center for Performative Design and Engineering Technology originated in 2012 as part of a National Science Foundation, Transforming Undergraduate Education in STEM (TUES) grant. The project’s aims include: lab planning and development of industry collaborations, support tutorials, and curriculum development for the lab’s software and hardware tools. The impetus for the interdisciplinary lab initiative has come from significant shifts in the practice of the architecture, engineering, and construction fields (AEC) and product design. Less than ten years ago, computer-based tools largely divorced form creation from analysis. Since 2006 though, an intensive 14


development of related software and hardware areas has occurred, bringing improved simulation tools of finite element, solar, thermal, and acoustic performance [1], as well as releasing ease-of-use tools to the market, which along with falling price-points has led to more widespread use. The result of these new tools’ capabilities is an expanded inclusion of performance factors from the initial stages of the design/engineering process that involves multidisciplinary teams of engineers and designers. Autonomous processes for collective algorithmically (computer) driven workflows are deeply inlaid in a collective digital communication infrastructure.  A n exa mple f r om a rc h it e c t u r e i s design t hat has become a complex workflow in which geometric, spatial,

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and technical information is filtered via soft ware t hrough “simulation, analysis, and optimization processes. The aim is to form integrated parametric building information models that can generate an array of output ranging from energy usage to manufacturing i n st r uc t ion s. The r el ia nc e on t he visual as a primary source of design production and evaluation is increasingly supplemented by rules, numbers, and other forms of quantitative logic [2]”. To start, the project personnel worked with the School of Technology and Design department chairs to establish a taskforce that put together a visualization/fabrication/performance testing lab plan that would encompass the range of interests across the school’s disciplines.  At the same time, the

grant participants made contacts with industry partners, who work with some of the relevant leading edge software/ hardware tools, to gather suggestions for curriculum research projects and tools. Parallel initiatives were then taken to develop curriculum modules and to create tutorials to support both these curriculum projects and the software and hardware associated with the lab. Within the first year, a web-based tutorial system was developed to support the ease of student access to learning lab tools.

provide the professor with feedback on which areas of tutorial material should be reviewed during the class period. A number of well-qualified people with adjunct faculty and specialists have provided strong support for these initiatives.

Over the course of the second year, an assessment system was developed in Ruby on Rails to help evaluate student learning of the new tools and to explore use of the flipped classroom learning, where students complete the tutorial and quiz before arriving to class, and thereby

In addition, a centralized license server system will soon allow all the departments to host the same versions of software, which will be an enormous boon to interdisciplinary collaborations. A new GIS

As for the development of the lab, an interdepartmental computer lab, V-Tech, was opened in Voorhees, carrying software from all the school’s departments.


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server has been set up to operate as a key hub for geospatial data, including urban elements like roads, climate, air quality, wind, topography, transportation, and utility infrastructures. It is envisioned that eventually the Lab will consist of a sequence of inter-related spaces: a computer lab, a video production space, a stereoscopic presentation and workshop space; a building performance testing space with daylighting and wind tunnel testing, and building envelope testing chambers. The digital fabrication area will contain robotic arms, CNC mills, vacuum molding machines, 3D scanners, laser PCB (printed circuit board) machines, digitizers, and multimaterial 3D printers, and an assembly area. This lab will allow students to participate in a full realization of projects from design conception through prototyping and testing as experienced in the work place.

Figure 1. Analysis of optimization and efficiency of structure and form



One key example from the grant is the interdepartmental “Closing the Loop” project, involving faculty from three departments and industry collaborators from energy consulting and sheet metal

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fabrication firms. The project consists of a design-engineering project for a building facade sun screen in which the design follows from climate analysis, and automatically responds to solar intensity across the façade. Later rapid prototyping occurs (and in a future iteration, physical performance testing of the prototype for lighting performance). These interdisciplinary collaborations have led students to a greater understanding of first science principles, and exposed architecture and engineering students to both the digital communication tools and the workflows involved in real world projects for building information modeling. Additionally, two highly technical lighting and acoustics modules in building science courses are currently led by engineers from Arup and SOM. The Arup Acoustics Engineers take the students to test their designs in the firms state of the art ambisonic chamber. Also, adjunct faculty from the most influential technology-based engineering firm’s, namely Thornton Thomasetti, KPF, Parabox Labs, Arup,

and CASE Design, have come to teach at City Tech. These opportunities have burgeoned in the past three years, primarily as a result of the NSF TUES and the ATE Fuse Lab grant partnerships, providing an infusion of learning to the City Tech programs that possess great value for the students by opening their knowledge of current industry practices and providing inspiration. One notable indicator of st udent enthusiasm lies in the creation two years ago of two active student clubs in sustainability and digital fabrication.

Both were founded with the goal of exploring concepts and projects beyond the classroom, and have resulted in three public art installations as well as leading to a successful Solar Decathlon 2015 entry in which City Tech was awarded one of 20 spots in the prestigious Department of Energy competition to design and build a high-efficiency solar residence. This is probably the ultimate project-based learning experience— and notably, the college was the only all-undergraduate college to be selected for the competition.

[1] Branco Koloravic and Ali Malkawi, Performative Architecture, 2006.London: Routledge Press. p. 14 [2] Scott Marble, ed. Digital Workflows in Architecture: Design, Assembly, Industry. 2012. Birkhauser. p. 8

Participating TUES Faculty from the Departments of Architectural Technology, Computer Engineering Technology, Construction Management and Civil Engineering Technology, Entertainment Technology, Environmental Control Technology, Mechanical Engineering Technology, and Restorative Dentistry Daniel Alter Alexander Aptekar Iem Heng (dec.) Daeho Kang Jihun Kim Anne Leonhardt John McCullough

Masato Nakamura Hamid Norouzi Robert Polchinski Brian Ringley David Smith Douglas Thornhill Sanjive Vaidya

Amanda Waal Adam Wilson Organizational Support Nicole Dagostino


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Perspectives in Mathematics and Computer Science Education within the Realm of Technology Sandie Han, Boyan Kostadinov, Ariane Masuda, K. Andrew Parker, Satyanand Singh, Johann Thiel We are linked today by technology in every facet of our lives. Technology facilitates communication and provides us with tools to elevate, educate, and explore. In March 2015 a group of six mathematicians attended the Association for

Computing Machinery Special Interest Group on Computer Science Education (SIGCSE) conference in Kansas City.

The largest national symposium on Computer Science Education (CSE) brought together over 1,700 participants from all over the world. It provides a forum for educators to discuss issues related to the development, implementation, and evaluation of CSE programs. We were aided in our program review endeavors by Associate Provost Pamela

Brown and Dean Karl Botchway. The college provided full financial support in our efforts to explore current

instructional technology in Computer Science and Mathematics education. Attending the conference together was a professionally rewarding experience that allowed us to get even more inspired. In the series of reflections that

follows, we share our views and address various issues in teaching abstract concepts while engaging students in

the learning process. The list is by no means exhaustive, but it sheds light on techniques that can elevate instruction and bring awareness to crucial issues.



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Gender Disparity in Computer Science Despite efforts to narrow the gender gap in the participation of men and women in STEM fields, the proportion of women in computer science continues to decline. After initial increases in the 70’s and 80’s, the share of computer and information science bachelor’s degrees awarded to women has declined steadily from 37% in 1984 to 27% in 2003, then sharply to 17.6% in 2011.

At City Tech, the gender disparity is more critical than the national trend. Only 10% of the computer science students and 15% of the computer systems technology students are women. Moreover, women are almost twice as likely to drop out of the computer science program after the first semester compared to men. Why are women disinclined to enter computing fields? In the book, Unlocking the Clubhouse: Women in Computing [5], Margolis and Fisher pointed out that the “boys club” climate among young boys with computers is the main reason that girls are disinclined to enter computing fields. Even the women who are excited and excel in computing find disappointing, even demoralizing

experiences as they pursue the field. In the male dominated environment, many computer science women struggle with the feelings of isolation and frustration while men bond and huddle over computers [8]. Moreover, the “boys club” behavior leads women to feeling low sense of selfefficacy, self-concept, and intention in computing [4]. Studies have shown that women are more likely to be interrupted and are less likely to be heard by the instructors when they talk. Piazza, an online educational platform, in a recent analysis, found that female computer science students are uncomfortable speaking up in class; they answered 37% fewer questions than male students. However, when gender identity is removed, e.g., in anonymous online discussion, women are just as willing to participate and answer questions [8]. To understand the gender differences in the perception of computing, Margolis and Fisher interviewed more than 100 male and female computer science students and found women prefer to “compute with a purpose.” Women focus on contexts in their study of computing. Many women indicate that versatility and applicability of the field are the main reason for choosing computer science. Related reasons include problem-solving and job opportunities. Many women in computing also indicate that they have been personally encouraged by parents, teachers, or peers [5]. To d a y, c o m p u t e r s c i e n c e a n d engineering are among the top-paying jobs for college graduates. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the United States Department of Labor, the job outlook for occupations in

computer and information technology is projected to grow from 12% to 30% by 2020 [3]. The stakes are high to include women as a viable and important work force in computing. If not, there will be a critical labor shortage; moreover, the situation will only propagate further stereotypes and a culture built around male dominance. To break away from the narrowly focused hardcore CSE curriculum and to attract the full range of talents in the field, many colleges and universities are revamping computer science programs in the direction of i nterd i sc ipl i n a r y, rea l world problem-solving and computing [1] [6]. Recognizing the changing climate in computer science education, the Association for Computing Machinery, the world’s largest educational and scientific computing society, published curriculum guidelines in 2013 that called for “building courses for diverse audiences—not just students who are already sure of a major in computer science —is essent ial for mak i ng computing accessible to a wide range of students. [2]” To reduce the disparity in enrollment of women in computer science, educators and administrators must work to recognize gender bias and make conscious efforts to promote gender equity that is sensitive to women’s learning perspectives. Below are some helpful teaching practices. While they address the gender issues, they can also be used to help promote student retention in general. • •

Encourage experiential learning through technology and exploratory activities; Actively engage and encourage women to participate in class;

[1] Abelson, Hal (2007) MIT’s curriculum revision in EE and CS en/us/university/relations/eduSummit2007/HalAbelson.pdf (accessed February 2014) [2] ACM & IEEE, Association for Computing Machinery & IEEE Computer Society. (2013). Computer Science Curricular 2013. (accessed April 23, 2015) [3] Bureau of Labor Statistics. (accessed April 23, 2015) [4] Dempsey, J., Kishi, I., Snodgrass, R., and Titcomb, A. 2015. The Emerging Role of Self-Perception in Student Intentions. SIGCSE 15 Conference Proceedings, pp. 108 – 113. [5] Margolis, Jane and Allan Fisher. Unlocking the Clubhouse Women in Computing. The MIT Press, 2002. [6] Myers, Andrew (2012) Period of transition: Stanford Computer Science rethinks core curriculum. (accessed Feb. 2014) [7] National Center for Education Statistics (accessed April 23, 2015) [8] Sankar, Pooja. “The pervasive bias against female computer science majors.” Fortune Insider. (accessed April 20, 2015)


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• •

discourage men from dominating the discussions; Use relevant examples that are meaningful to women; Allow students to create projects that appeal to them; encourage personal expressions and creativities in the projects; Implement ways that facilitate collaboration among students, increase learning and decrease feelings of isolation, ie. online discussion, group work; and Recognize and adjust the curriculum to accommodate inexperienced computer science learners, i.e., provide tutorial sessions, give step-by-step instructions, and avoid using jargon.

–Sandie Han and Ariane Masuda

Computational Thinking In this technological age, computational t h i n k i ng should be considered a f u nda me nt a l a n a ly t ic a l sk i l l i n education, along with reading, writing and arithmetic. This is a vision for the 21st century supported by the National Research Council of the Academy of Sciences. Many important applied and pure research questions across disciplines involve computing as well as theory. Computing brings additional insight and understanding that theory alone cannot achieve. The ever-increasing spread of computat iona l dev ices must be supported by the widespread promulgation of computational thinking across the sciences, starting at the K-12 level, and further supported and enhanced by college curricula. We can encourage computational thinking in students through handson activities that empower them to create with technology. By tapping to the creative and the artistic side of the individual, students can use a number of modern tools to create animated stories, games, interactive art, music, anything which sparks their imagination; these are activities which engage computational thinking and attract talents from diverse backgrounds. 20


The SIGCSE Symposium presented many ideas and tools aimed at inspiring creativity and engaging students in computational thinking across different disciplines. Ideas, such as the MIT project Scratch and the Google project PencilCode, are mainly based on the increasingly popular web-based, opensource and free visual-programming, block-based platforms. They offer visual educational programming environments, which could help students bridge the learning gap between visual and text-based coding. More importantly, they provide visual explorations via drawing, animations, interactive art, music, games and creative storytelling, suitable for K-16. Sample Scratch screenshot is shown. The NSF-sponsored project JythonMusic, showcased at SIGCSE, inspired music creation through creative programming with Python.

become the software of choice for many industries, thus increasing the chances of our graduates to get internships and jobs related to their fields.

In the City Tech Mathematics Department, computational thinking with technology is implemented in all upper level courses. For example, R, a free open-source software that offers high-level procedural and functional programming, is used by the Applied Mathematics students to create simulations, animations of deterministic and stochastic models involving random phenomena, statistical computing, visualization, data analysis, as well as interactive apps. R has been getting increasingly popular and it has

In introducing students to programming and its applications in computer science, one can easily run into a chicken or the egg situation. Should students first learn how to program so they can solve problems, or should they try to solve problems to motivate them to learn how to program? The traditional CSE generally takes the approach that one should first develop programming language skills before attempting to solve computer science problems. The more recent computational thinking

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Some of the educational resources for computational thinking include: • SHODOR—a national resource for computational science education; • Exploring Computational Thinking —a curated repository of teaching resources to strengthen problem solving skills and algorithmic thinking, managed by Google; • CS First—free, easy-to-use computer science enrichment materials that inspire computational thinking, managed by Google.

–Boyan Kostadinov

Programming for Everyone

approach focuses on problem-solving from the very beginning, while building programming language skills. By lowering the barrier to entry into development, students can produce applications that interest them despite not having significant prior experience. For example, visually interactive languages like Google’s Blockly can serve as a viable alternative introduction to computer science. Instead of emphasizing programming rigor, students can create interesting apps for Android devices from day one using Blockly within MIT’s App Inventor 2 website interface (http://ai2. In fact, the latest iteration of MIT’s App Inventor 2 (see Figure 1) puts almost every technology available on an Android smartphone or tablet within reach of a beginner. A motivated student can easily leverage the Bluetooth, wireless, SMS, GPS, and storage capabilities of a smartphone very quickly. While the apps created may not be optimized for speed or memory management, they can help students creatively solve everyday problems of their own choosing. For more advanced students with some programming background, there are more powerful tools to help them develop cross-platform apps for smartphones. PhoneGap (http:// offers an interesting alternative to the standard way of creating smartphone apps. Instead of having to write an application in different languages for different operating systems, PhoneGap allows students to design their work with HTML using Javascript (languages which are more common). PhoneGap can then export the work to various platforms. Essentially, a student needs to be able to build a webpage to create an app that can run on a variety of devices. These and other technologies offer us a chance to capture the interest of students that might still be inexperienced or unsure of their desire to pursue a career in computer

science. By giving students the tools that allow them to create a fullyfunctioning product quickly, we hope to inspire them to develop their skills to help solve even more interesting and difficult problems.

–Johann Thiel

New Beginnings As we introduce newer technology into teaching, our roles are sometimes switched with that of our students. We see more active learning as the passive roles are relinquished. This creates a different dynamic in the classroom and increases motivation, self-esteem, and creativity. Today, with the availability of open source software, we can freely access technology at the highest level for all aspects of teaching. To illustrate the amazing reach of technology from the context of instruction, I will provide a recent example that is easily reproduced and mimicked in other disciplines for appropriate problems. In particular, technology in the form of computer algebra systems allows students to achieve complex tasks in a relatively short time. A recent assignment that I gave to my Discrete Mathematics class dates back to a

popular game “Instant Insanity”, which is a puzzle that consists of four colored cubes that must be arranged in a certain configuration. See http:// Insanity for additional details. Students were given the opportunity to play with a puzzle, which captured their attention immediately. As they discovered patterns they were able to decipher the solution by using models in graph theory. It was then a natural progression to write code to solve the puzzle. In this class assignment students were actively involved as a group. Collaboration amongst peers was extensive and the innovative techniques were amazing. They were able to literally think outside the box by reducing three dimensional objects, namely the cubes, to two dimensional objects with vertices and paths. This example is a microcosm of the slew of techniques that technology brings to the forefront of mathematics and computer science education. It brought students together in a common quest as they pitted their wits against an interesting problem. It further showcased the ubiquity of technology in enhancing learning and instruction in this paradigm shift. –Satyanand Singh

Figure 1 – MIT’s App Inventor 2 website interface


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Musings and Reflections on Mathematics Education Math education is currently facing an identity crisis in the United States. The current focus on pass rates and standardized testing scores pushes the discipline of math onto its own proverbial island, separate from other disciplines. Students are increasingly taught formulas and techniques with little to no connection to the outside world—as though math exists for its own sake. Attending conferences for disciplines outside mathematics serves to reinforce the need for math educators to push students deeper than just mechanical repetition of mathematical concepts. One of the most profound moments of the SIGCSE conference, for me, was attending the discussion section entitled “What Math is the Right Math for Computing?” There were more attendees than chairs, and there were just as many different perspectives on how math should serve the discipline of computer science. After an hour of debate, one thing was clear—it is not the knowledge of calculus or statistics, number theory or analysis that will serve a computer science student best; rather, it is what the group collectively agreed to call “mathematical maturity.” This notion of maturity refers to a student’s ability to think in the abstract, to understand the technical tools at hand, and to apply tenacity and creativity to pursue multiple paths to solve problems that stand in their way. As one of the few mathematicians in a room filled with computer science professors, I listened carefully as the group displayed their lack of satisfaction with students emerging from upper-level mathematics courses. They questioned the necessity of advanced calculus studies, and debated the possibilities of reducing math requirements in favor of more specialized computer science courses. As the discussion continued, I felt the need to interject a perspective from the side of mathematics. I shared with them the struggles of being a math professor attempting to bring students to those 22


levels of “mathematical maturity”— the preparation involved, the varieties of skill level among students, and the balancing of expectations due to those variations. My comments clearly resonated with some of the participants, and I was then able to have several productive discussions following this particular session. It is my view that we, as mathematics professors, must keep in mind that it is not just our students’ ability to take derivatives or find the area under curves that determines our success in the classroom. It is a deeper

“It is my view that we, the mathematics professors, must keep in mind that it is not just our students’ ability to take derivatives ... It is a deeper understanding of the logic underlying the entire process that we seek to convey.” understanding of the logic underlying the entire process that we seek to convey. It is a curiosity about what the techniques that we’re teaching could be used to accomplish. And finally, it is a persistence to wrestle with difficult problems until they are completed.

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Towards these ends, I would like to offer the following for consideration: •

Students often do not know how to push themselves on their own and as such, they should not know what their exams are going to look like ahead of time.

Students will not learn to struggle with difficult problems if they are only asked to do problems like the ones they’ve seen their instructor perform in class.

Students will not be curious about how math can be used outside the classroom if they aren’t presented with real world applications of the concepts they’re learning.

Granted, it is a lot more work to create problems that require creative solutions and to find applications for concepts outside our own discipline. But it is an investment—not only in our students, but also in maintaining our relevance to other majors.

–K. Andrew Parker

2015 PSC CUNY Research Awardees Awardee



Viviana Acquaviva Nathan Astrof

Physics Biological Sciences

Oleg Berman


Mariya Bessonov Corina Calinescu Andrew Douglas Marta Effinger-Crichlow

Mathematics Mathematics Mathematics African American Studies

Laura Ghezzi Ilya Grigorenko George Guida Genevieve Hitchings Asm Delowar Hossain Delaram Kahrobaei

Mathematics Physics English Communication Design Electrical and Telecommunications Engineering Technology Mathematics

Roman Kezerashvili


Germann Kolmakov


Darya Krym Manas Kulkarni

Physics Physics

Lufeng Leng Xiaohi Li Xiangdong Li Alan Lovegreen & Laura Westengard (Co-PI) Alberto Martinez

Physics Computer Engineering Technology Computer Systems Technology English

Ariane Masuda Benito Mendoza Robin Michals Sheila Miller Diana Mincyte Eli Neugeboren Hamid Norouzi

Mathematics Computer Engineering Technology Communication Design Mathematics Social Science Communication Design Construction Management and Civil Engineering Technology

Giovanni Ossola


Kevin Patton Lisa Pope Fischer Diana Samaroo

Entertainment Technology Social Science Chemistry

Ashwin Satyanarayana Rebecca Shapiro Benjamin Shepard Davida Smyth

Computer Systems Technology English Health and Human Services Biological Sciences

Honjie Teo & William Roberts (Co-PI) Thomas Tradler Justin Vazquez-Poritz Xinzhou Wei Angran Xiao Mai Zahran

Career and Technology Teacher Education

A Novel Approach to Measuring Metallicity Preparation and Analysis of a Two Transmembrane Fragment from a Class-C GPCR Plasmonic and Optoelectronic Devices Based on Three-Dimensional Dirac Semimetals Probabilistic Models in Ecology Application of Vertex Algebras in Lie Theory Subalgebras of Semi-simple Lie Agebras Brown Girl in the Ring: The Impact of Rituals of Play on Black Women Sally Modules and Reduction Number of Ideals Superfluid Transition in Composite Asymetric Systems Virtue at the Coffee House: Poetry and Community in Contemporary America The Invisible World Around Us: Seeing Insects Through Illustration Developing a Converged PON-4G Flexible Access Network Testbed CCA Secure Cryptosystem Using Semidirect Product, Using Matrices Over Group Rings and Galois Fields as Platforms Space Exploration Using Acceleration of Solar Sail by Thermal Desorption of Coating Nanophotonic Devices Based on Dipolaritons in Semiconductor and Graphene Heterostructures Holographic Surface Superconductivity Quantum State Preparation and Long-lived Entanglement in Hybrid Quantum Systems Optical Feedback Tolerance of Integrated Semiconductor Lasers on Silicon Wearable Vision Based Sign Language Translation System for Mute People Quantum Walks in Waveguide Based Optical Quantum Device The Making of a New Writer: Tragedy and Tableau in John Steinbeck’s New York Synthesis and In-Vitro Evaluation of Multi-target Directed Ligands as Potential Chemotheraputic Agents for Alzheimer’s Disease Goppa Codes Based on Kummer Curves A Semantic-based Approach to Automatic Item Generation for CAT Pearls Under Water The Higher Infinite Constructing Distinction and Sustainability in Artisanal Economies Tidewater: My Life in the Negro Leagues Improving GPROF Precipitation Estimation Using GMI Land Surface Emission Product Automated Calculation of Scattering Amplitudes with GoSam 2.0 at NLO and Beyond That the Rains May Come Elderly Hungarian Women’s Reinterpretation of Post Socialist Change Investigating the In Vitro Molecular Interaction of Albumin with Synthetic Chlorins Efficient Filtering of Noisy Data for Big Data using Bootstrap Averaging Principles of Applied Lexicology: A Historical Anthology Public Space Research Project: Public Space for the People Using “Omics” Technologies to Investigate the Changing Microbiome of the New York City College of Technology Campus Knowledge Creation on Artifact-rich Online Discussion Forums: An Exploratorive Study Tensor Products of Inner Product Spaces Finding New Black Hole Solutions An Implementation of Data Protection Scheme for Embedded System Process Optimization in Rapid Tooling for Thermoformed Products Understanding the Relationship Between Lignin Sequence and Structure by Molecular Dynamics Simulation


Mathematics Physics Electrical and Telecommunications Engineering Technology Mechanical Engineering Technology Biological Sciences


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Scholars Exchange: A New Forum Scholars Exchange was created in Fall 2014 to provide faculty who have won PSC CUNY grants the opportunity to share their research with colleagues and bring their work to a wider audience. PSC CUNY grantees in the humanities and social sciences were invited to make presentations, highlighting areas of scholarship where external grant opportunities are more limited than in STEM fields. Held in the Faculty Commons on Tuesday mornings at 8:30 a.m., the early morning timing reduced the size of a potential audience, but a committed group of regulars provided an enthusiastic reception to the scholars listed below. The series, with a new set of presenters, will run again in 2015-2016. —Barbara Burke

Mark Noonan

City of Print: New York and the Periodical Press from the Antebellum Era to the Digital Age Like serials themselves, the history of publishing in New York can be read as a “continuing story,” with periodicals representing the diverse, shifting cultural politics of the city. Disparate voices of New York’s periodical press contended for the attention of various reading communities, relying on an extensive network of workers and printing technologies that only New York’s vast resources and talent pool could provide. “City of Print: New York and the Periodical Press,” and NEH Summer Institute, will bring university faculty from across the country to explore both the influence of place on publications and the influence of these publications on place. We will discuss new approaches for teaching periodicals that take into account the site of their production and relevant cultural, technological, aesthetic, and historical considerations.

Pa Her

Hmong American Women’s Identity and Socialization Strategies One important parental role found across all cultures is to teach their children how to think, behave, and speak within their society. Culture affects how and when parents nurture children, and what behaviors are valued. These cultural models may also be adapted as parents’ lived-experiences change or call for new strategies. When individuals experience a change in cultural models as a result of migration, they may adjust their level of ethnic identification with cultures of origin. Since these models may be adapted and contested, this talk will examine ways in which Hmong mothers’ (U.S. born/non-U.S. born) maternal socialization beliefs are interlinked with their ethnic identity, and to the messages they heard while growing up.

Esteban Beita

Traditional Japanese Architecture: Design Principles and Their Application in Contemporary Architecture Over a period of centuries, traditional Japanese architecture has established design principles for improving the interaction of interior and exterior spaces. When designing traditional spaces immense attention is given to the placement of every piece in relation to the environment. A precise control of light, shadow, views, and ventilation is achieved through paper sliding doors known as “shoji”, creating a space that can adapt to every season. Although the size of traditional spaces can vary from small tea rooms to large dwellings, they all share flexibility to change and adapt. By looking at the application of traditional design principles in current architecture, we can make spaces that react and adapt to changing environments.

Jill Belli

Pedagogies of Happiness: What Self-Help, Positive Psychology, and Positive Education Teach about Well-Being The recent explosion of research into/promotion of happiness and well-being has been fueled by the growth and popularity of positive psychology, which views flourishing as both desirable and teachable, not a fixed, inherited attribute but rather something to be cultivated and even shaped into political, socio-economic, and educational policies. This presentation discusses the rhetoric, pedagogy, and real world impact of “positive education” (positive psychology efforts to teach well-being), and complicates its assumptions, values, and goals. Using the lenses of critical pedagogy and utopian studies, I explore its version of the happy individual and good society, highlighting its potential impact on our work in higher education.



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Soyeon Cho

Underutilization of Mental Health Services among Older Asian American New Yorkers: A Researcher’s Perspective The focus of my research is on mental health issues such as depression and stress adaptation with chronic illnesses among older adults and their caregivers in Asian American and other minority communities of New York City. I have a particular interest in disparities in mental health services use among elderly Asian Americans. By describing the challenges and barriers that I have encountered in conducting my research I will share my strategies for gaining access to research subjects in these communities.

Sean Scanlan “Passport Please!” Submission, Identity, and Globalization at Global Airports Airports such as Heathrow in London and Charles de Gaulle in France are much more than stopping points on a journey. They are, instead, centers of migration, points of techno-cultural transition, and, above all, places in which personal affiliation and national citizenship are tested. In this brief talk, I examine the ways in which international travel can become an extreme test of belonging: within the global airport, travelers are forced to both dismantle and to rebuild their identities. My textual examples range from the humorist David Sedaris to Sir Alfred Mehran, an Iranian asylum seeker who was detained at Charles de Gaulle airport for nearly seventeen years.

Jenna Spevack InsideOUT House: A Binaural Installation InsideOut House is a binaural audio installation in the form of a wooden outhouse, embedded with recorded woodland sounds. Using simulated blindness to enhance the aural sense, the project explores the human need for “involuntary” or effortless attention and aims to mimic the restorative experience of being outside in nature using auditory stimuli. While in the darkened structure, viewers are invited to visualize their experience by creating a drawing, which they may then contribute to the installation.

Christopher Swift Theatres of Absence: Seville, 1248-1550 As is often the case when conducting research, I stumbled upon archival material I had not set out to find during my recent trip to Spain. Mechanized tabernacles used to stage early modern religious festivals have never been studied by theatre scholars, despite the fact that altar retablos reside and articulate in churches across Spain today. In my talk I will show how a “living archive” of theatrical scenery did more than contain or define performance space. Retablos functioned as participants in the narrative of Christian drama, inviting devotees to peer through sacred portals and attain proximity to the pantheon of Christian saints.


Geographies of Servitude: Black Experiences of Industrialization in Philadelphia, 1830-1880 Racial segregation is deeply entangled with urban technological development and the idea of black servitude. This paper examines the rise of Jim Crow segregation in nineteenth-century Philadelphia by linking the development of racial separation with modern industrial technology. The creation of black neighborhoods, and the segregation of the city’s streetcars and industrial workplaces perpetuated the idea of servitude for blacks while connecting whiteness with modern technology. As Jim Crow segregation replaced slavery as a racial dividing line in the mid-nineteenth century, Philadelphia’s industrial development connected modern technology with whites while recreating a geography of servitude for blacks.



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The Safest Cab Driver in the World Fifteen circumnavigations, seven without incident. Non-stop from Azerbaijan to New York and back. Not a single scratch or dent to spoil the taxi’s sheen. But the doubt when he slides from the beaded seat to his place at the coffee truck. All the other cabs in space. All the records to keep intact. All his wishes to be free. Back to the meter and lens, fares and destinations, wanderings, years, halting talk with everyone: nothing in minutes and words. Each vagrant thought an eighth of a mile, another inch complete. Each vagrant thought plexiglassed, bulletproof, freshened with pined air. Oceans without lights. Oceans without signs, crossed without signals, limits, matters of faith. The danger of stopping for no one at all.

George Guida



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FACULTY CONTRIBUTORS Lucas Bernard is Assistant Professor in the Department of Business. His areas of expertise are international risk management and finance. He teaches Financial Management and Financial Forecasting and his mission in teaching is to make Finance LIVE and relevant to all!

Ariane Masuda is Assistant Professor in the Department of Mathematics. Her research interests lie in the areas of number theory and discrete mathematics. At City Tech she has taught the sequence of courses from Elementary Algebra to Calculus, and Statistics.

Candy Dato is Associate Professor in the Nursing Department. Her areas of expertise are mental health/ community health nursing and professional practice issues. She teaches professional nursing practice, community/urban health nursing and nursing research.

K. Andrew Parker is Assistant Professor in the Department of Mathematics. His main area of research centers on effective implementation of technology in math education. He teaches Developmental Mathematics, Calculus, Introduction to Math Education and Supervised Student Teaching and Seminar in High School Mathematics.

George Guida is Professor in the English Department. His areas of interest include creative writing, poetry, humor, ethnic studies and American literature. He teaches a variety of courses in writing and literature. He also coedits 2 Bridges Review, the national literary magazine sponsored by City Tech. Sandie Han is Associate Professor in the Department of Mathematics and coordinator of the Computer Science program. Her research areas include additive number theory (pure math) and self-regulated learning, selfefficacy, and peer led team learning (pedagogy). She was the recipient of the 2013 CUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Math Instruction. Boyan Kostadinov is Assistant Professor in the Department of Mathematics. His main fields of interest are Computational Thinking in science education, data analysis and visualization, Monte Carlo Simulations, Financial Mathematics and Fourier Calculus. Anne Leonhardt is Assistant Professor in the Architectural Technology Department, a registered architect, and PI of City Tech’s interdisciplinary NSF TUES project, the Center for Performative Design and Engineering Technology. She is also involved as the Computation Fabrication Coordinator of City Tech’s NSF funded Fuse Lab (https://openlab., which focuses on providing collaborative education in tomorrow’s technology in architectural, engineering, and construction, and with the Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2015.

Johannah Rodgers is Associate Professor in English and the Director of Composition. Her work explores issues related to representation and communication practices across media. She is the author of Technology: A Reader for Writers (Oxford University Press, 2014), the digital fiction project DNA (mimeograph/The Brooklyn Rail, 2014), and numerous articles and resources related to reading and writing practices and the teaching of college writing in a digital age. Satyanand Singh is Assistant Professor in the Department of Mathematics. His areas of expertise are number theory, statistics and analysis. He teaches all levels of mathematics courses and is a mentor to several students in mathematics and interdisciplinary fields. Johann Thiel is Assistant Professor in the Department of Mathematics. His main area of research is in number theory. He teaches Pre-Calculus, Calculus I, Calculus II, Linear Algebra, and Discrete Structures and Algorithms I.

Karen Lundstrem is Director of iTEC. Her area of expertise is the management of educational technology with a specialization in online teaching and learning. She managed CUNY Online for the University before coming to City Tech and bringing online learning to the college. She has learned that student support in college-wide instructional technologies is critical to encourage faculty adaptation.


Volume 6 | Spring 2015




Volume 6 | Spring 2015

Nucleus Volume 6 Spring 2015  

Nucleus Volume 6 Spring 2015 – A Faculty Commons Quarterly

Nucleus Volume 6 Spring 2015  

Nucleus Volume 6 Spring 2015 – A Faculty Commons Quarterly