School of Informatics and Computing to participate in Passport to Hi-Tech

The IU School of Informatics and Computing at IUPUI is joining with other organizations Saturday, March 8, to teach girls about careers in science, technology, engineering and math at Conner Prairie.

The school will bring two activities to Passport to Hi-Tech at the interactive history park. The event is open to all ages but targeted to girls ages 7 to 12. Passport to Hi-Tech takes place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is free with paid general admission to Conner Prairie.

It will feature interactive exhibits and hands-on experiments designed to inspire girls to learn more about careers in STEM fields such as informatics, engineering, biology, chemistry, manufacturing, computer science and others. Passport to Hi-Tech was organized by Women & Hi-Tech and Conner Prairie. It is sponsored by Roche Diagnostics.

One of the School of Informatics and Computing’s activities is dubbed “Ready, Set, Compute!” Participants jump into computing and become a working part of a machine in a fast-paced game that shows what a computer does as friends play a game on it. When the players select a move, volunteer students will race to the CPU or other parts of the simulated device to deliver a signal for action, showing what goes on in a computer game.

The other activity will be demonstrating a Finch robot, a small, two-wheeled robot with bird-like features. Polly Baker, Ph.D., a professor of media arts and science in the Department of Human-Centered Computing, has programmed the robot so it can be controlled with hand gestures.

“The robot is approachable, and young people see they can control it,” said Vicki Daugherty, a school recruiting specialist. “It’s empowering. They say to themselves, ‘Hey, I can do this.’”

Microsoft Research chief will keynote School of Informatics and Computing inauguration ceremonies

Ceremonies inaugurating the launch of Indiana University’s newly merged School of Informatics and School of Library and Information Science will be highlighted by comments from Microsoft Corporate Vice President Peter Lee, head of Microsoft Research — an organization encompassing more than 1,100 scientists and engineers across 13 labs worldwide.

Lee will speak at 3 p.m. Friday, Sept. 27, at IU Bloomington’s Whittenberger Auditorium as the guest of IU President Michael A. McRobbie and IU School of Informatics and Computing Dean Bobby Schnabel. Anyone wishing to attend either the Bloomington event or a 2 p.m. live ceremony the same day at the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis campus featuring IU Health President and CEO Daniel F. Evans Jr. are encouraged to RSVP by Friday, Sept. 20.

A live stream of the IU Bloomington ceremony and Lee’s comments will be offered at the IUPUI event, taking place at the Informatics and Communications Technology Complex Auditorium.

“Peter Lee is one of the foremost leaders and visionaries in the computer science community and draws on extensive experience from a distinguished academic career, government service and now as the leader of Microsoft Research,” Schnabel said. “I am delighted that the IU community and our friends will have the opportunity to hear him discuss his vision for the future of computing.”

Lee joined Microsoft in 2008 as distinguished scientist and managing director of the Microsoft Research Redmond Lab. He later took on leadership of Microsoft’s U.S.-based research operations, comprising seven laboratories and over 500 researchers, engineers and support personnel.

Before joining Microsoft, Lee held key positions in both government and academia. His most recent position was at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, where he founded and directed a major technology office that supported research in computing and related areas in the social and physical sciences. Before DARPA, Lee served as head of Carnegie Mellon University’s nationally top-ranked computer science department.

The live event at IUPUI, according to Executive Associate Dean Mathew J. Palakal, will provide guests an opportunity to hear Evans talk about the intertwined relationship between technology and health care.

The School of Informatics, the first of its kind in the country, was founded as a school in 2000 and introduced the nation’s first Ph.D. in informatics; IU’s longstanding Computer Science Department joined the school in Bloomington in 2005. The school is an international research leader in areas including bioinformatics, complex networks and systems, cyber-infrastructure, data and search, human-computer interaction, networks and systems, programming languages, social informatics, and security and privacy.