Symposium brings entrepreneurial ideas into focus

December 07, 2017 / by / 0 Comment

Students, staff and faculty at Ethington Theatre Wednesday morning got to hear from Grand Canyon University’s top five Learning Communities at the Semi-Annual Learning Community Symposium. President Brian Mueller said the event was “a hallmark of who GCU is becoming.”

Shaun Wang donned a Microsoft HoloLens to demonstrate what his Smart Urban Fabrics (SMURF) team has been doing.

Story by Jeannette Cruz
Photos by Suede Williams
GCU News Bureau

Five presenters from Grand Canyon University’s Learning Communities spoke to an audience of faculty, students and staff Wednesday at Ethington Theatre as part of the semi-annual Learning Community Symposium, hosted by Academic Affairs.

Dr. Antoinette Farmer-Thompson, Vice President of Institutional Effectiveness, and Trish Anderson, Program Manager for Student Development and Outreach, introduced the top performing learning communities and their research-inspired projects. 

Members of the Alpha Chi National Honor Society present a rundown of their activities.

Kara Morrow, Zachary Merhavy, Anna Cofrancesco, Gianni De Bruyn, Emily Ghena and Tyler Guenette of Alpha Chi National Honor Society, one of the largest college honor societies in the world, presented highlights of their Alpha Chi experiences. 

Kevin Hoskins and Dr. Isac Artzi of the College of Science, Engineering and Technology found an effective way of determining specific dimensions of a subject that was scanned, using a 3D scanner.

In a presentation titled, “3D Scanning of a Human Body for Dimensional Measurements and Detections of Changes,” Hoskins explained how a machine-learning based classifier software tool was developed that categorizes human body segments after being presented with diverse set of human bodies. The algorithm process identified dimensions of a mannequin’s body parts given their location down to the millimeter. Ultimately, proportional measurements were then able to be applied in a physiological context.

“It turns out that the shape of the human body is an indicator of various health conditions,” Artzi said. “If you are shaped like an apple, then you might have weight accumulated due to a level of stress. Maybe I can scan you and see how stressed you are.”

Dr. Isac Artzi

Cheryl Martin and Robert Libberton of the College of Doctoral Studies described how the Doctoral Community Cohort supports learners in their doctoral journey with the mission to provide a forum to develop relationships, share research interests and motivate each other towards success.

IDEA Club, presented by students Connor Brinton and Spencer Bazz of the Colangelo College of Business, discussed the club’s dedication to assist all online and ground students in the creation and implementation of ideas – from Entrepreneurial Fridays, to the Lazarus Lab, to Shark Tanks, an opportunity to vet potentials for the annual Canyon Challenge competition at GCU.

“One thing we want to push is that any business that goes through the IDEA program will be able to pitch at any almost pitch event in the Valley or around the world,” Brinton said.

Brinton also shared the success story of Storage Together, which connects people who need space to store their possessions with those who have space to rent or share. Coming back for the second year, Storage Together won the sixth annual Canyon Challenge in April. Storage Together then won Phoenix’s second annual Smart City App Hack competition and won a trip to Barcelona for an international competition at the Smart City Expo, where it also won first place.

“We have 1,000 registered members, but the thing that is pretty cool is that a lot of our members come from different colleges,” Brinton said. “Think about it – if you want to start a church, you still have to balance a budget. The IDEA gives students even basic business teaching.”

Kevin Hoskins

The SMURF, or Smart Urban Fabrics team, centered on “The Future of Science Education with Virtual and Augmented Reality.” 

The group of CSET students who conducted the research included Shaun Wang, Chandler Van Dyke, Tommy Fowler and Joshua Lee.  

Weaving together electronic, computer, sensory, engineering and software components, SMURF set out to develop a mixed-reality program using the Microsoft HoloLens and Unity game engine. The program combines virtual balls in a real-life room that has been mapped by computer.

After providing a video demo demonstration of the HoloLens, Wang said, “If you are amazed, think about what we could do if we had two HoloLens.”

In closing, GCU Provost Dr. Hank Radda said President Brian Mueller “challenged us five or six years ago to think about how to develop the next generation of students, and one thing that was important to him was entrepreneurism. When I am sitting here watching this, you guys have done it – you are doing it and it is very real and humbling.”

Mueller said, “This has been a point of emphasis for Dr. Radda and for the rest of the deans. We just have a phenomenal set of deans with a willingness to collaborate and encourage students to work together. That is unique and a hallmark of who Grand Canyon is becoming.”

Contact Jeannette Cruz at (602) 639-6631 or [email protected]

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