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Fostering everyday engineering education

Ye Duan, assistant professor of computer science, discussed his work with 3D computer models to an attentive audience at MU's first Saturday Morning Science program of the winter semester.

Three Mizzou Engineering faculty members are being featured in a campuswide campaign to increase public understanding and support for science.

This semester’s Saturday Morning Science (SMS) Series line-up includes Ye Duan, a computer science assistant professor; Craig Kluever, a mechanical and aerospace engineering professor; and Marjorie Skubic, an associate professor in electrical and computer engineering and computer science who serves as director of the MU Center for Eldercare and Rehabilitation Technology. The SMS program is a weekly public lecture series that presents MU science and research in an entertaining and accessible way.

Skubic said her participation in the series offers a way to spread the word about her research into advanced “smart home” technologies that aim to increase the safety and independence of the elderly.

“In this talk, we’ll have an opportunity to show the public what kind of information we can get out of this research so we can benefit people,” Skubic said.

Longstanding efforts to improve scientific literacy among the public have received a boost in recent years from National Science Foundation grant requirements calling for recipients to pursue outreach programs in connection with their research, said Anna Waldron, director of the MU Office of Science Outreach. At MU, that movement helped lead to the establishment last year of the Office of Science Outreach, as well as to a new course for graduate students to help them develop presentations aimed at promoting public understanding of science, Waldron said.

And it has strengthened support for the Saturday Morning Science program, which assumes no prior science knowledge and draws on average about 150 attendees each week. Mizzou Engineering topics in the series range from space exploration to three-dimensional (3D) computer graphics, specifically focusing on:

  • January 31: 3D Computer Imaging in Science and Medicine. Duan discussed how 3D computer models contribute to science and medicine, highlighting his use of 3D imaging to research ways in which doctors may detect autism in childrens’ brains.
  • February 21: How Home Sensors Can Help Keep People Functionally Active. Skubic will offer an overview of the smart home technologies she has been helping develop to monitor the health and safety of the elderly while maintaining their privacy.
  • February 28: The Reality of Space Flight. Kluever will talk about the planning that goes into space flight and where the field may be headed.

Each talk begins at 10:30 a.m. at the MU Bond Life Sciences Center, along Rollins Road near College Avenue. Admission is free and open to the public.