Friday, 18 March 2011

Satellites in Space: Launching Internet for Everyone!

National Science and Engineering Week 2011
Thursday 17th March 2011, King's College Conference Centre, University of Aberdeen

Last night's Satellites in Space event took us on a journey; from building satellites to shuttle launches, and back down to earth again with Internet service provision for rural areas.

Watch the full recording of the event here soon!

dot.rural’s Professor Gorry Fairhurst introduced presentations by four experts from the space and satellite industries before chairing the interactive audience Q&A session.

The panel of guest speakers included: Dr Taj Sturman (Senior Systems Engineer, Astrium Ltd) on how to build a satellite and launch it into space...

...Mr Paul Febvre (Satellite System Architect, Inmarsat Ltd) - the man with all the props!...

...Mr Graham Peters (Director, Avanti Consulting, Avanti Communications Ltd) asking how can satellites ‘up there’ provide universal Internet access ‘down here’?...

...and Dr Nick Race (School of Computing and Communications, Lancaster University) demonstrating the real social impact of Internet provision via the Wray case study...

This timely event marked the launch of dot.rural’s DART (Digital Advanced Rural Testbed) and SIRA (Satellite Internet Rural Access) projects.

The event was preceded by an informal exhibition of dot.rural projects, presented by Ruth, Nimbe, Leanne, Nico, Arjuna and Hien.

Hopefully, this one-off showcase will be followed by more public engagement opportunities and collaborations with these partners.

The events for National Science and Engineering Week continue until Sunday, including tonight's Bring Your Own Brain... but for dot.rural at least, its all over!

Three events later, ~150 members of the public engaged... and we're left wondering, what's the plan for next year?! :)

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Cafe Scientifique in the Shire - Can Technology be Persuasive?

National Science and Engineering Week 2011
Tuesday 15th March 2011, Woodend Barn, Banchory

For a special National Science and Engineering Week edition of Cafe Sci in the Shire, dot.rural's Hien Nguyen (Computing Science Research Fellow) asked 'can computers be persuasive?'.

Hien's interactive and free public talk formed part of the established Cafe Sci in the Shire programme and attracted an enthusiastic crowd of ~40 people.

Are the people of Banchory now more aware of dot.rural and the Digital Economy programme? Tick!

Do we have a better understanding of the thought processes behind Amazon's 'one click', and the Swedish piano staircase as an alternative to escalators? Tick!

Are we equipped to 'defend' ourselves against the more negative implications of persuasive technologies? Tick!

Do we now know how these technologies can be used for the better, particularly in the field of Healthcare? Tick!

For more information on the Cafe Sci in the Shire programme, or indeed on any of the other Cafe Sci events...

Cafe Sci in the City, Waterstones, Aberdeen:
Cafe Sci in the Shire, Woodened Barn, Banchory:
Cafe MED, Suttie Centre, Foresterhill, Aberdeen:
Cafe Controversial, Satrosphere Science Centre, Aberdeen:
Cafe Light, Lighthouse Museum, Fraserburgh:

Great job Hien!

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

SpeedScience - scientists and the public interacting against the clock!

National Science and Engineering Week 2011
Monday 14th March 2011, Under the Hammer, Aberdeen

Last night's innovative Speed Science event proved a great success!

A brief insight into this unique event:
What happens when you take the quick-fire Speed Dating format and invite scientists to present their cutting-edge research in an exciting and innovative way? Can they beat the clock and impress you, to be voted the ‘winner’? Come along to this unique event to hear snapshots of science, before voting for your favourite researcher. You will get the chance to hear more from the ‘winner’ and join in with the lively discussion that follows. The clock’s ticking!

I’d like to thank the following people for their parts in delivering this: Alice, Andy, Chris B, Chris M, David, Gina, Lizzy, Peter, Hien, Rob, Ruth and Toni...

A special mention for, and congratulations to, Chris B (the ‘winner’ with 9 votes and also the birthday boy)...

to Ruth (2nd place with 5 votes)...

... and to Rob (3rd place with 4 votes).

The official University of Aberdeen photographer popped in, along with Laura Young & co (some RGU journalism students) to record the action for coursework. Watch the finished footage here.

Laura Young and the RGU camera crew...

Also, we had a surprise visit from STV! They filmed and interviewed for a short piece (watch it by clicking 'here' [2 mins in]). You can read their associated Speed Science article here:

Mark Mathers (STV video journalist) capturing the magic...

In terms of public audience, I counted a whopping 47. I don’t think we could of hoped for more from a brand new format and venue... or had room for more!

The calm before the storm...

And SpeedScience in action...

The evaluation forms are positive, with a couple commenting on the periodic 'chaos' that ensued every time the researchers were buzzed on to the next table, and many overwhelmed by the “enthusiasm” in the room!

Looking forwards...
- Perhaps other researchers from within dot.rural would want to repeat this, in a month or two?
- Perhaps other research groups, of any discipline, across the University would want to take this and run with it? i.e. dot.rural could facilitate a regular series of these, opened out to all researchers at the University, but each one (say monthly) based on a different theme/topic... First Engineering, then Medicine, Ecology, Maths, Chemistry...
- Any thoughts on a 'Speed Science for Schools' version? I can feel another dot.rural schools tour coming on (uh-oh!). Every school has a canteen (tables and chairs are all that's required!) and the fast-paced, interactive and fresh format could really suit the younger audience...

And finally, Speed Science is the first of three dot.rural National Science and Engineering Week events taking place this week:

Speaking of other dot.rural NSEW events, I'm off to hear Hien's Cafe Sci in the Shire talk about computers being persuasive!

Big thanks to all those involved,