Summer Workshops support increasing interest in informatics

The School of Informatics and Computing at IUPUI hosts Summer Workshops each year informatics logoas a way to introduce informatics and computing to area high school students and provide them the opportunity to discover their interests in technology in a variety of ways.

This year’s workshops were held June 8 through July 24 and included new sessions to engage junior high students as well, with exciting results. The workshops, taught by faculty and students in the school, covered topics in Media Arts and Science, Informatics, and Bioinformatics.

“Informatics and computing is prevalent in so many different fields including health and life sciences. So we wanted to include workshops for junior high students to introduce them to informatics and computing and allow them to explore, and also include something for high school students that have an interest in science as well as technology,” said Angela Madden, high school specialist for the School. “With the new changes, registration doubled from last year and more registered for multiple workshops, which shows how the interest in informatics is growing.”

The workshops offered hands-on experience on everything ranging from game design, 3D animation and app development for smartphones to exploring a human genome.

Students were able to work and become familiar with the latest technology, production equipment, and software during class sessions.

At the end of each workshop, students gave a project presentation. Those in the bioinformatics workshop did a team presentation that detailed their research and provided data visualization of their findings, giving students real world experience. “Presentation skills are important to have not only when preparing for college, but for a career too,” said Brian Benedict, Director of Career Services for the School of Informatics and Computing at IUPUI.

Each workshop was Monday through Friday, with class sessions going from 8: 30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily. Classes were open to any student entering, currently enrolled in, or graduating from grades 7-12.

The workshop series is scheduled annually mid-June through the end of July.

School of Informatics and Computing’s Davide Bolchini receives Google Faculty Research Award

Davide Bolchini, interim chair of the Department of Human-Centered Computing and assistant professor of human-computer interaction at the School of Informatics and Computing at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, recently received the prestigious Google Faculty Research Award.

The award is accompanied by a $44,252 grant that will support the study “Augmenting Screen-Reader Navigation by Linkless Dialogues” being conducted by Bolchini and human-computer interaction Ph.D. candidate Prathik Gadde. The study investigates how the blind and visually impaired can interact with and navigate through complex websites to compensate for their lack of sight. The study will examine novel solutions that could make surfing the Web easier for visually challenged users.

“The blind user experience with the Web is still very far from enjoyable,” Bolchini said. “There is so much more that we can do to make it not just slightly better but considerably more natural and desirable. Together with our stellar graduate students, we will explore strategies to help blind users understand where they are on a complex website, where they can go next from a page, or what to do to know more about a topic. This can make a significant difference in daily Web navigation tasks.”

The work will leverage the five-year collaboration with the Indiana School for the Blind and Visually Impaired. The study will build upon the research on “aural informatics” in collaboration with professor Steve Mannheimer and Executive Associate Dean Mathew Palakal in the Department of Human-Centered Computing, which already has a prior Google Research Award and two NSF-funded projects on Web accessibility, non-speech sounds and aural navigation.

Google Research Awards‘ mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. As part of that vision, the Google Research Awards program aims to identify and support world-class, full-time faculty pursuing research in areas of mutual interest.

This round, Google received 550 proposals from 50 countries. After expert reviews, 105 projects were selected for funding, with an acceptance rate of 19 percent.