The Brandywine Workshop and Archives has accepted 20 high school students for the 2016 iCreate Summer Internship, in efforts to get Philadelphian teens excited for creative opportunities. On Monday, August 15th, BWA Interns were given a tour of ExCITe Center at Drexel University, by Administrative Assistant, Lauren Geary. The program is based around four main principles: research, education, entrepreneurship, and public engagement. Within the program, four things are explored; music’s relation to technology, robotics, wearable smart fabrics, and game design. We learned a little about all of them.
First things first, we were shown the MRP, or the Magnetic Resonator Piano. Its glossy, black, with many thin yellow and silver wires connected to the top where the strings are housed, and it takes a good hour to seperate wire from piano, and back again. It’s a complicated looking setup, but the cool thing is, that this is a regular piano, just with sound augmentation. Why is that the cool thing? Because you could potentially make a synthesized sound from every piano, with the technology connected to the one at The ExCITe Center.
After that we were lead into a separate room, where Richard Vallett, a Mechanical Engineer, spoke to us about Hubo the Robot. Hubo is originally from Korea. Drexel was given a grant of six Hubo Robots in 2012, and after testing all the Hubo Brothers functionality, they sent four of them to Universities all over the US in a collaborative effort to compare data and research. Every university is studying a different function of Hubo, spanning from artificial intelligence to signal processing. Drexel’s Hubo is focussed on sensing touch, in efforts to make it aware and attentive to its surroundings.
Then we were shown the Shima Seiki Haute Technology Laboratory, where functional fabrics, or smart textiles are produced and experimented with. We were told a little about how their goal is to create protective armour from spider silk, for people in service such as soldiers and police officers. One of the most interesting parts of the project was that they were able to make an the finger of a glove. Just a finger! The issue the Center faces is that the amount of silk a spider produces when in captivity is minimal. As a solution they have come up with, to use a goat that’s been genetically modified to have spider web proteins in its milk. They are still developing ways to produce the spider silk in the most time and cost effective way, but we are looking forward to the advances they will make in the future.
Lastly, Angela Buchanan, a Game Art producer, told us a little about the ExCITe Centers game developing program. One of the best opportunities for teens is found here; EGS, or the Entrepreneurial Game Studio. They have a contest for teens to submit games they have developed, with the award of having it played on the side of the Cira Centre, a skyscraper in Philadelphia, next to 30th Street Station. They also collaborated with TechGirlz, and the Girl Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania in effort to get young women ages 11-15 interested and engaged in game development.
The ExCITe Center and Brandywine Workshop and Archives share a very similar goal of giving young people the opportunity to learn about and experience STEAM as a tool for creative as well as practical uses. Both, hope that their efforts will result in a more technologically savvy future, and hopefully lead to more advancements in the Sciences, and the Arts. For more information on the ExCITe Center’s many programs visit them at their website.