IU and DePauw Partner to Expose non-STEM Students to Informatics

By Ellen Glover

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Last Wednesday, DePauw University sent a group of 17 students to Indiana University as a part of its “Bridges to Informatics Course,” an intensive three-week course where undergraduate students with little to no experience in informatics learn the basics and develop their own tech-centered project. The students presented their final projects in the newly constructed Luddy Hall.

At the helm of this endeavor is Patrick Shih, an assistant professor of informatics here at IU, who has taught the course for two of the four years it’s been around. 

“This is a joint partnership that brings non STEM-majors into informatics,” Shih said at the event. “It is meant to show what tech can do for them and show them what informatics is about. Most places, like DePauw, only have computer science courses. But informatics is much more applied because it uses tech a lot more to empower people to be hands-on.” 

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The students’ majors and backgrounds ranged from Biology and Kinesiology to English and Urban Studies. They were broken up into groups of two and produced eight different projects that incorporated LillyPad Arduino circuits. They developed a hypothesis to a problem that could be solved, then they developed methods to solve it, collected data and presented the data on their posters. 

A group of three women, junior Carly Mayrose, senior Carla Cobb and freshman Lauren Masoncup, took on the issue of sleep inertia and ways that people can more efficiently get themselves up in the morning by researching light a sound. They would up developing an alarm clock using the light circuits. 

“There are a lot of ways you can explore different areas of interest at DePauw, this was one” Mayrose said. “This course provided a bridge to IU and a hands-on experience. We were able to focus on tech here and we don’t have those kinds of resources at DePauw.” 

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“This provided a different avenue for science,” Cobb said. “Informatics integrates so much more than just computer science. It was really cool to see how tech could be integrated into everything we learned.” 

Shih hopes to have the course expand to other schools and even develop a longer summer program. For now, though, he will continue to expose ordinary students to the possibilities of tech. 

“I want the students to know that they can do this on their own,” Shih said. “I want them to see that tech is friendly, that this is doable. I think that empowers them.”

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