Thursday, May 29, 2014

Flinders University of South Australia

Our group visited Flinders University, where we saw research by Dr. Paul Gardner-Stephen and participated in a lab and lecture.
We spent the full day at Flinders University in Adelaide.

Flinders University is ranked in the top 10 Australian universities. While at the university, we were given a tour of the labs.

Pictured below is our group next to a meta-stable ion electro-spectroscopy machine. This allows the researchers to do experiments on a nano scale. The original machine was not so large, but over time, attachments were added so different aspects of the sample could be studied.


We were also able to sit in on one of Dr. Paul Gardner-Stephen's lectures. It was a software engineering class, and the topic he was discussing was pair-programming.

Pair-programming is not just about collaboration; the goal is to have one programmer direct and the other work on the technical aspects. The professor compared this to rally car driving; one navigator, one driver.

We got to put this technique into practice later than day by participating in a lab section.

We were each paired with an Australian student and given the task to write a program that counts the number of seconds since 1970, given a date and time. We had to use innovation and work together to tackle the problem that the given dates and times were all formatted differently.

Lastly, we toured Dr. Gardner-Stephen's lab. Here he explained his work, the Serval Project.

The Serval Project uses WiFi signals in cell phones, allowing them to interact within a Mesh Network rather than on a traditional phone carrier. This is intended to be used in third-world countries or in areas after a natural disaster. One of his major challenges right now is that this technology only works over a fairly small distance.

Another, bit sillier technology Dr. Gardner-Stephen has developed is a shoe phone. We saw the first prototype of this device in the lab. It looks like a simple dress shoe, but there is a speaker in the sole of the shoe that you can speak into.