WiE-UC September Newsletter

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WiE - UC Newsletter IEEE Student Branch of the UC - Women in Engineering Affinity Group


IEEE Interviews Adeilsa Ferreira Adeilsa Ferreira is from Caruaru, Pernambuco, Brazil. She’s a pedagogue, passionate for education and technology and teaches educational robotics. She’s also an enthusiast in arduino, member of the moviment Maker, manager of the innovation in education and coordinates the programs “Letramento em Programação” (Caruaru) and the brazilian creative network (core of Caruaru). 1. Why did you choose a career and how did you start to work with robotics? Actually, I really wanted to get a degree in communication, but when the first federal university opened in my city, that was not an option. I have always liked to teach, and in fact, everything I learn is for teaching others. So, I decided to get a degree in pedagogy and started teaching at a school to find out if that is what I wanted to do with my life. After a while, the school opened a position for a robotics teacher, and I got a recommendation from a colleague as they needed someone with the right profile to fill it. As I have always liked to work with new technologies and did a lot of innovation in this area of the school, I accepted it and started in the robotics field. But as I started my job, I realized that no actual teaching and learning was going on in class. Instead, it was a bland copy and paste of the proposed material. All the children ever did in class was reproduce what we placed in front of them. That bothered me immensely, perhaps because it was a brand new project at the school, so I started researching new materials and found out about the Arduino. No one had even heard about it in Caruaru, and the internet had very little information about it, so I decided to take a course on how to use the Arduino in Recife. After that, I realized that the material used at my school didn't make sense. Not only that, but I also noticed that I didn't know anything at all about robotics! So I decided to study on my own and started a Masters in Education and Technological Mathematics at UFPE. So throughout the years, I found myself within the subject of robotics, mostly because I had to teach it, but also because of the encouragement it gave to the girls at the school. Then, 3 years ago, I started publishing articles about robotics and Arduino, which led me to be invited to speak at events about these subjects. I wasn't expecting too much, I accepted the invitations mostly because it was what I loved to do and to help other teachers. After that, I got a call from the Instituto Ayrton allto

Senna for a project named "Letramento Digital", where we teach programming and robotics for students at public schools. I’ve studied my whole life at public schools, so I know how much the opportunities are limited. My dream has always been to do something for the public sector, so I accepted the project in an agreement with a university. We started the project as a pilot, with 200 kids. Today, we have almost 4000 kids. 2. We’re aware that you do an amazing project with children, related to initiation in robotics and technology. Can you tell us a little bit more about how it works, the challenges and how did kids react to it? They love it! And I started to realize that robotics was something that used to have a lot of boys, and the fact of having a female teacher started to bring a lot of girls in. My challenge with it was about how to explain to a kid that did not have physics class, things like what is a resistor? How the shower works or a light turns on? Since last year, I realized the importance of kids to understand how electrical things worked, to help it make sense to them. So I realized I needed to teach a little before robotics and programming, they needed to understand a little of electronics. So I created an electronics kit with products that are low cost and could use waste, and kids would be able to do interesting stuff! In the beginning of the school year, they all had it at home, so even during the pandemic we could keep the projects back home with online classes, adapting with things I found on the internet and with the help of their families. Nowadays, everything I taught them about electric circuits has been brilliantly applied to robots and I proudly tell you: my kids can give amazing lessons about resistance and its types, and even how to calculate resistivity. 3. We’ve heard that you have been working on a project about education with the Rede de Aprendizagem Criativa (partnership ......... NEIFNRar


between Fundação Lemann and MIT)! Can you tell us a little more about it? It’s a project about creative learning! 2 years ago, I was invited by the Rede de Aprendizagem Criativa (which is a partnership between the Fundação Lemann and MIT) to participate in an event called Conferência Brasileira de Aprendizagem Criativa. Since I’ve been there, I was invited to coordinate the nucleo of creative learning and to teach it to other teachers. Anyways, they have this program of fellows with Mitchel Resnick, creator of the Scratch platform, that is used for programming with kids. It happens every year, and after 2 years trying, I’ve been selected last year with a project named “Programação e Arduíno nas terras de Vitalino”. It’s a program about teaching to teachers, to implement a space-maker, a learning lab, in public schools. The objective is that teaching programming stops being punctual and starts being transversal, in a way that we can make a didactic transposition to inside the classroom. That’s because everything I learn in programming can be applied to other things, I usually say that our life is an algorithm. 4. What was the most challenging work experience you ever had? Why? It was not hard work, but really challenging because I did not believe it was possible. That’s because kids have this idea that we, teachers, are superheroes and can do everything, so they don’t take it when we say “I can’t do it, I don’t know”, because, to them, we can and know everything. Well, we worked on robotics competitions with robots in tug of war and sumo wrestling. In one of those competitions, I let my students choose which modalities they wanted to get in. Then, six girls got together and brought me a video of a mannequin that was made into a robot and was dancing, and decided that they wanted to compete in the dance modality. I explained it was impossible but they didn’t take no for an answer. After a while, they found a doll that suited their project just right. We had to adapt the choreography they wanted to be within the possibilities of a dancing robot. After a lot of trials and programming, we could make the doll dance, shake its body, and even swing its arms around. So we went to a national competition and the girls took first place! So that’s it, and the funniest is that whenever I said it was not possible or would not work, they showed me how to do it. This way, I understood that programming cannot be limited, there isn’t “it does not work”. children.

5. Do you have any future projects in mind, already? I have some future projects planned, but there is one that I only realized the importance of during this pandemic: online resources for children. The project is aimed at kids that don't have this kind of material in their school. I'll soon be launching the "Creative Canastrinha" (Canastrinha Criativa) project, which will be an online course, in which each child will receive a hands-on electronics kit. They will then have access to online classes, which I'm currently recording. That is so it will be possible for kids to learn that sort of thing in their own homes, without needing to be directly taught by me. The materials provided will all be low-cost and recyclable. That will serve as a way for parents and children to connect over a shared project during the quarantine. 6. What’s the most important advice you could give to a woman starting a career in science? One of the things that bothers me a lot is the stigma that has been created that this is not an area for women. When I got into class on my first day of the arduino course, I was the only woman there and could notice the amazement of people around, because of this idea that is not a career for women. So, first advice would be: you can do what you want, where you want, you just need to want it, that’s the start point. The second piece of advice is that being the only woman there cannot feel as a bad thing, it needs to feel like an example that says: I’m here and I’m gonna bring more women too! So that’s it, be where you want to be and don’t be uncomfortable of being the only one there! 7. If you were shipwrecked on a desert island, but all your human needs - such as food and water - were taken care of, what two items would you want to have with you, and why? I’m absolutely sure that I would take an Arduino! That’s because I’m sure I could get basically anything with it, Arduino is life! (laughs) Besides that, a battery, to keep it working. Those were the two things because I think I could even get in touch with someone outside the island, depending on what I could do with the Arduino there.

Her legacy, now more than ever, will forever be cherished.

Beatriz Negromonte


Curiosity of the month... By Miriam Santos

Some girls would kiss a frog to magically transform it into a handsome prince. Others… would rather have a talking frog. If your kid, sister, niece, a friend or yourself are the type of woman that would surely dissect said frog to understand how it “works”, then this book is a must-read! “Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World” (PT: “As Cientistas: 52 mulheres intrépidas que mudaram o mundo”) charmingly tells the story of notable women in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) from the ancient to the modern world, who have paved the way for the next generations of female engineers, mathematicians, astronauts, biologists, physicists, and more! The Portuguese edition also includes the story of Portuguese scientists Branca Edmée Marques (nuclear physicist, worked with Marie Curie) and Elvira Fortunato (inventor of thin-film transistors). If there was ever any doubt… “it’s a scientific fact: women rock!”.


Achievement FÁTIMA CARNEIRO Fátima Carneiro, born in 1954 in Angola, is a Portuguese Medical Doctor. She is a Professor of Anatomic Pathology at the Medical Faculty of Porto, Head of the Department of Anatomic Pathology at Centro Hospitalar São João and a Senior Investigator at Ipatimup. SOURCE: UNIV. PORTO

She has held several leadership appointments, including being the President of the European Society of Pathology and the Coordinator of the Portuguese Network of Tumor Banks. Her a

research focuses on the field of gastric cancer which has led her to write over 250 papers and several book chapters. In 2018, she was nominated “The most influential pathologist in the World”.

Beatriz Santos



The co-founder and CEO of Epibone Born in 1980, Nina Tandon grew up with three siblings in Roosevelt Island. She developed a taste for STEM sciences at an early age, taking apart TVs, playing with static electricity, and actively participating in science fairs at her school. Her parents encouraged all their children to try out various scientific experiments, and the results were better than expected: Nina and all her siblings have well developed scientific careers. She started hers at The Cooper Union, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering in 2001. After receiving her degree, Dr. Tandon worked briefly in telecommunications before receiving a Fulbright Scholarship to study biomedical engineering in Italy. But, while taking an evening class in physiology, she started to see parallels between electrical engineering and the human body. She found that the equations governing the transmission of signals along nerves were the same ones developed for transatlantic cables. That inspired her to apply to grad school and make a shift into biology. She graduated from MIT with an MS in Electrical Engineering in 2006, after achieving a Presidential Fellowship in 2004. She then studied at Columbia University, graduating in 2009 with a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering, with a concentration in Cardiac Tissue Engineering. Her first attempt at creating human tissue happened right there at Columbia, where she attempted to force growth and stimulation of cells using electrical currents. During one of these experiments, she met Dr. Sarindr Bhumiratana, who was working on developing bone tissue. This chance meeting led to a life-long partnership, and eventually, they drafted an ambitious business plan. In 2012, they co-founded EpiBone, “the world's first company growing living human bones for skeletal reconstruction.” EpiBone uses stem cells from patients in need of new bones to produce skeletal structures based on each individual's DNA profile, which will decrease the likelihood of rejection, simplify surgeries, and possibly shorten recovery time for patients.

The company’s Three-StepProcess to bone grafting is deceivingly simple: it all starts with a CT scan, to accurately determine the exact 3D size and shape of the bone a patient needs. At the same time, they extract adult stem cells from the patient’s abdominal fat. Next, they create a precise, personalized scaffold of the needed bone.


A custom bioreactor accompanies it, to incubate the new bone as it grows. Finally, the harvested stem cells are infused into the scaffold and grown inside the bioreactor. In that carefully crafted environment, the cells remodel into a personalized bone graft ready for implantation. The whole process takes only 3 weeks to complete. EpiBone's groundbreaking approach to bone grafting has already been approved by the FDA, and human trials are well on their way. The company prides itself on working on the "new frontier in healthcare", personalized medicine. They achieve that not only by having cutting-edge technology but also by building a diverse team of expert scientists and entrepreneurs, as their website suggests. In addition to her tangible work regrowing bones, Dr. Tandon has authored 10 journal articles, six book chapters, and is the co-author of Super Cells: Building with Biology. She has also hosted three TED talks, is an Adjunct Professor of Electrical Engineering at the Cooper Union, and formerly worked as a Staff Associate Postdoctoral Researcher in Columbia University’s Laboratory for Stem Cells and Tissue Engineering. Dr. Tandon has three patents and was named one of the 100 Most Creative People in Business by Fast Company.

Her contributions to the STEM world are still growing, and we're sure to hear more about her in the years to come.

Letícia Simon

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