Tag Archives: Technology

Guest Blog: Writing and Copyrighting: A Student’s View on its Necessity at a College Level

The following post is contributed by freshman Honors Student Karina Rambeau ’16. Karina’s personal blog can be found at http://thelifeinprogress.wordpress.com/

Writing and Copyrighting – a Student’s View on its Necessity at a Collegiate Level

The ability to write is something that many people overlook. Writing does not apply simply to English majors, it is a skill that all members of the professional world need. Writing, blogging, and social media are a few of the ways that people communicate today. At many universities, writing is valued, but still not as much as it should be. Simple email etiquette is the perfect example: forgetting to address the recipient, failing to use proper grammar, and neglecting a closing remark are all egregious errors that should be taught to students so that when they email their professors they are paying them proper respect.  I have often thought to myself, instead of two kinesiology classes, why not require one kinesiology class, and one required “writer’s prep” class? While there are classes like that offered here, I think that their importance is undervalued. I am often frustrated when students think that they will not use writing again after high school because they undoubtedly will.Writing Textbooks

I am a science major and often times I find myself missing the allegorical and introspective English pieces that I used to write in high school. I miss that writer’s “fluff,” or pizazz when I write Chemistry papers. However, my strong foundation in writing allows me to write concise and intelligent science papers. In science the prepositional phrases go away and extraneous words become unimportant, despite their stylistic value. No matter what kind of writing is necessary for a given class, there is a basic foundation that should be emphasized to prepare college students for the professional world. Whether they are an English major preparing to write a book or a science major preparing a periodical for a medical journal, writing is a necessity for success in the real world. Literacy alone is a respectable skill for all professionals.

Creativity is an intrinsic part of the writing process. Expressing oneself creatively entails publishing one’s intellectual material. After attending a seminar given by Associate Professor Gail Clements, I learned a great deal about the importance of intellectual property.  There are many rules about plagiarism and copyright, especially in today’s world where the increase in self-publishing options has become more apparent.

I have a WordPress blog where I post much of my more creative ideas, especially when I am in need of a creative rampage after writing a perfectly stagnant and statistical science paper. Interestingly, the blog served as the perfect example for Professor Clements. Professor Clements made the point that anything that I post on my blog is mine. My blog was not created to generate profit; it was merely a fun creative exercise. Let’s pretend for a minute that I am using my writings to earn some money. Let’s say another blogger copies my piece, and posts it on their blog and starts to profit from my writings. This is not allowed. In other words, unless I permit others to share this material on their websites, I have the right to sue them for using my information inappropriately.

I went to Paris this summer and I took a lot of pictures at the Louvre museum. One of my blog entries had several pictures of my trip, but I was careful to avoid putting any works of art on there. I decided to opt out of posting anything that I had taken pictures of in the museums.  Fair Use is essentially the permission to use certain copyrighted material without obtaining that permission from the artist. Fair Use protects people heavily in regards to social media and the Internet but art is a completely different story. If I were to post a picture of a copyrighted work of art on my blog I would be violating the ordinances of Fair Use. The only way I would avoid this violation would be to get permission from the owner, or, if it is an old piece of artwork like the Mona Lisa the age of the painting supersedes the copyright. The discussion of Fair Use was probably the most complex part of our discourse.  There are a lot of details that surround Fair Use but the best advice I learned is that it is better to err on the side of caution when publishing other material that is not your own.

The conversation covered a range of topics: The time limit on copyrights, privacy as an interwoven part of copyright and basic right, and the fact that you cannot copyright or own an idea. Ideas need to be “set in stone” or written down before a person can claim it as their own. Overall, the seminar proved to be highly educational and was the perfect example of the kind of class and information that needs to be taught to college kids. I feel that this is exactly why we students need reinforcement and education about writing in today’s world. Many people think that the basic high school English class is preparation enough for the real world. This is not true and this seminar is just one example. The creative world around us has broadened with the presence of the Internet and social media. It is important that students understand the intricacies of issues like copyright and privacy in writing and beyond, in order to avoid issues in the future. Only then will students be able to access their true scholarly potential.

Aggie academics invade Amsterdam

Three Aggies were awarded travel funds from Honors Undergraduate Research to travel to Amsterdam this summer for the International Society of Optical Engineering Conference. Students spent a week in Amsterdam at the international conference, where they were exposed to new ideas and impressive discoveries, while presenting their own research to scholars in their field.

“Although we were seeing, listening, and talking about optical engineering from 8am to 8pm, there were more fascinating findings being presented every minute than we could possibly assimilate,” said Tyler Behm, senior physics major, 2011-2012 Undergraduate Research Scholar and 2010 Explorations author.

Not only did the students get to listen to other scientists, they got to present their own research at the international level.  “Presenting my research at an international conference was inspiring. I was not only representing my university but also my nation,” said Behm.

Behm’s research focused on index-matching fluids.  These are clear liquids that bend light in the same way glass does.  His experiments focused on determining whether or not these fluids are corrosive and therefore not suitable to use in telescopes.

Emily Martin, a recent physics graduate and 2011-2012 Undergraduate Research Scholar, shared her research on spectrograph design with conference participants.  This small, simple instrument is used with the Harlan J. Smith telescope at the McDonald Observatory in West Texas to study red objects in space.  It is being considered as a prototype for other instruments to study Dark Energy.

While allowing the students to share their projects with other scientists, the conference also exposed them to the universal language of science. “It was interesting to meet scientists from all over the world. It was even more exciting that though we come from different cultures we have the same passion for astronomy which draws us together,” said Martin.

With the experience the conference has given them, these students are ready to take on the field in the next chapter of their studies.  Martin will be starting her PhD in Astrophysics this fall at UCLA.  She hopes to specialize in astronomical instrumentation and continue her passion for research.  Behm will graduate from Texas A&M with a physics degree this December, then hopes to pursue a PhD in solar astronomy this fall, and continue his scientific career at a national observatory.

 Contact: Chrystina Rago, chrysrago@honors.tamu.edu

  Photos via Steven Villaneuva

Planes, trains and flying automobiles

Texas A&M University senior, Emily Boster, has been named as a 2012 recipient of a $10,000 national award by the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation (ASF).  This award is given to 28 of the brightest and most promising students across the country with interests in science or engineering.

Boster has been recognized based on her outstanding achievements.  She has worked at the Astronomical Instrumentation Laboratory in Texas A&M’s Department of Physics and Astronomy, which has a larger role in developing and assembling tools such as VIRUS, an instrument which will be used by astronomers to understand dark energy, and components of the Giant Magellan Telescope, the world’s largest optical telescope.   Recently, she has developed her own research project on flying vehicles and will be participating in a research exchange program this summer at the Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpur.

Undergraduate research has played a major role in Boster’s educational and career path. “I wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t become involved with research as a freshman at A&M. I switched to Aerospace Engineering only after being exposed to engineering and physics at TAMU’s Astronomical Instrumentation Lab,” she said.

Boster’s experience in Undergraduate Research through her work with Dr. Raktim Bhattacharya, Associate Professor in the Department of Aerospace Engineering, has helped solidify her interest in designing flying vehicles.

The goal of her project is to design a new type of flying machine that is configurable to meet various heavy lifting applications for civilian purposes. “The applications for such machines are limitless, ranging from disaster relief to parcel delivery to reconnaissance. We hope to develop the first prototype and we eventually hope to patent the design,” wrote Boster in her essay to the ASF.

She credits undergraduate research with opportunities she never thought were possible.  “My experiences in research have been the most important part of my education so far. They have helped me discover what I enjoy and what possibilities exist for my future,” Boster said.

The ASF scholarship opens many doors for its students, not only financially but also through its organization of industry-leading professionals and students.  “Other than the financial aspect, I am looking forward to being part of a network of the unique and innovative individuals that are part of the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation. I know I will be inspired by the people who I will come in contact with through ASF,” said Boster

Boster plans to graduate in fall 2013 and hopes to continue her studies by pursuing a graduate degree sometime in the future.  While Boster has not solidified her educational plans yet, she knows she would like to gain industry experience.  As for this fall, she plans to continue work in the Astronomical Instrumentation Laboratory and research on her autonomous vehicle.  Her future goals include creating “greener” technology for the planet, traveling to other countries to unite efforts in aerospace research, and the development of programs across Texas, especially in South Texas, to ignite a passion in students for engineering and sciences.

By Chrystina Rago, chrysrago@honors.tamu.edu

Looking to the stars

For three Physics/Astronomy students star-gazing will be more than just a pastime, it will be their research.   There is a rare opportunity this summer for students to become closely involved in a research project on campus with Summer Program for Undergraduate Research (SPUR) support from Honors and Undergraduate Research (HUR).  The program in Astronomical Instrumentation at Texas A&M’s Munnerlyn Astronomical Instrumentation Laboratory is designed to allow students a one of a kind chance to build and learn about astronomical instruments. Student researchers will interact with astronomers from around the world to understand how progress in scientific research is made.

For the summer, three undergraduate students will have the chance to work alongside astronomical instrumentation faculty, research staff and senior engineers to design, construct, test and deploy a variety of instruments to be used at astronomical observatories around the world.  This is an important program due to the lack of young people being trained in astronomical instrumentation.  “Texas A&M has a very unique opportunity to train young scientists and engineers in instrumentation now, so that future telescopes and instrumentation can be designed and maintained by these young people,” wrote Jennifer L. Marshall, Associate Research Scientist in the Physics and Astronomy Department and program leader for this SPUR program, in her proposal. 

Students participating in this program will work with Marshall and Dr. Daren DePoy, Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, in the Munnerlyn Astronomical Instrumentation Lab to assist in the design and construction of astronomical instruments.  Additionally, these students will be provided with the opportunity to visit the McDonald Observatory in West Texas, discuss their research with astronomy faculty and other students at weekly meetings, and present their research at a scientific poster session at the end of the summer. Students may also travel to the field to deploy the instruments they help design. 

Programs in undergraduate research allow students to develop their skills and passion for their field of study.  “The impact this kind of summer undergraduate research can have on a student’s undergraduate experience is immeasurable.  When students engage in academic research as undergraduates they have the opportunity of learning a lot about themselves – what they’re good at, what they like and dislike to work on, what they have really learned in their classes – and as a result are better able to make decisions about their future careers,” said Marshall.

Contact: Chrystina Rago, chrysrago@honors.tamu.edu

iPads used for more than just games

COLLEGE STATION, Texas ––As summer approaches, students now have many new and exciting opportunities to get involved with undergraduate research.  Summer provides a unique opportunity to become fully immersed in a research project, particularly one that involves travel away from campus.  To help foster the development of innovative summer research experiences for undergraduate students, Honors and Undergraduate Research has initiated this year, the Summer Program for Undergraduate Research (SPUR).  One of these opportunities will explore the use of mobile technology for data collection in Namibia.

This program will be led by Dr. Tracy Rutherford, Associate Professor in the Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education, and Communications (ALEC), Dr. Theresa Murphrey, Assistant Professor for ALEC, and Graduate Assistant Samantha Alvis.  Texas A&M University students will work with University of Namibia students to collect data on mobile devices for social and educational purposes.  SPUR funds will be used to purchase iPads which will be used to evaluate the impact of digital data collection on technology acceptance and data quality.

“Mobile technology acceptance can have a huge impact on the effectiveness of media used for educational purposes,” said Rutherford, in her proposal for the program.  “In order to harness the power of technology to improve communication and enable education to take place, technology acceptance must be understood.”         

The data obtained through the program will be used to assess the impact of different types of technology on the educational process.  This research project is an expansion of a previous project during the summer of 2011 in Namibia, where paper surveys were the means of information collection.  This summer students will use iPads to collect more types of data than were possible using paper surveys.

By participating in this program in the summer, students will have the chance to work in an international setting and be able to continue their investigations into the fall 2012 semester.  As a part of the program students will participate in a capstone research course in the fall to analyze the data collected in Namibia, and then have to opportunity to present their results at Student Research Week the following spring.  

This program is a once in a lifetime opportunity for 13 undergraduate and graduate students with the support of the SPUR award.  The program dates are set for July 6, 2012 through July 30, 2012 at the University of Namibia Ogongo Campus in Africa.

Contact : Chrystina Rago, chrysrago@honors.tamu.edu