Our representatives from the BlackBerry® Academic Program at Research In Motion® (RIM®) had a chance to meet with Antonio Mondragon from the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) at this year’s Frontiers in Education (FIE) conference. Antonio is an Assistant Professor at RIT in their Electrical, Computer and Telecommunication Engineering department. He joined the department in 2009 as an assistant professor with more than 20 years of industrial experience. Today, his research is focused on embedded systems design, an interest that catapulted the launch of RIT’s ARM® Developer Day held on December 2, 2011. Antonio sat down with us to tell us more about the event and RIM’s participation.
Hi Antonio, thanks for taking some time to talk about the 2nd annual ARM Developer Day that took place at RIT this year. Could you tell us more about the event?
ARM produces one of the most used micro-controllers for electronics nowadays. Different semiconductor companies such as Research In Motion license ARM cores and integrate them into high performance chip systems. The ARM Developer Day was an event that focused on letting students and faculty at RIT gain hands-on experience with different platforms that use these micro-controllers. These platforms range from simple hobby-like applications to sophisticated, high level application development such as those done with the BlackBerry® Tablet OS. By exposing students to different platforms at different levels of their academic program, this type of event helps ignite creativity and gets students innovating.
How did RIM become involved in the event?
I met with representatives from the BlackBerry Academic Program during the Frontiers in Education Conference (FIE) in South Dakota this year. We chatted about what kind of academic offerings are available from RIM and how we could partner to introduce students to BlackBerry application development – enter the ARM Developer Day. Since the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet contains an ARM processor, it was a natural fit for the event. RIM had a full day workshop that covered an introduction to the Native Software Developer Kit (SDK) for Tablet OS, game development using the BlackBerry® Native SDK for Tablet OS and a hands-on lab session using the BlackBerry Native SDK. They also gave away a total of 10 BlackBerry® PlayBook™ tablets throughout the workshops to student participants.
What impact does this type of event have on the students of RIT?
This year the event was great! It grew dramatically from last year, when it only had four workshops and a single lab. Thanks to industry participation and growing student interest, we had 20 sessions and workshops throughout the day. Students were able to pre-register for workshops of interest. We hope that getting students to attend this type of workshop will spark innovation and get them developing their own creative applications. These events are great as resume builders and networking opportunities for students to engage with industry and senior faculty.
The event wrapped up with an RIT design contest announcement. What is the contest about? What kind of projects can we look forward to?
At RIT, we are encouraging students to design the next generation of applications. Our job as educators is to provide the tools that will encourage students to apply technological applications in ways we cannot imagine. The theme of the design contest is “creating a better quality of life,” and the purpose is to have students create an application that is designed to help those in need. This could include applications for young children, elderly, disabled or underprivileged persons. This type of project prompts students to identify situations in their day-to-day lives that they may take for granted, and to take a step back to see how technological applications can help people overcome everyday challenges. One of the contest categories challenges students to create an application for the BlackBerry smartphone or BlackBerry PlayBook tablet that will interact with an embedded system to make someone else’s life easier. Proposals are set to be submitted by January 13, 2012 and designs will be completed by April 27, 2012. All final designs will be showcased at “Imagine RIT”.
These projects really create technology with heart – it seems like there is a lot to look forward to. You mentioned that the projects will be showcased at “Imagine RIT”. What exactly is Imagine RIT?
Imagine RIT is an annual festival held at RIT that allows students an opportunity to showcase their end of term design projects. Over 30,000 people from on campus and within the local community attend to see that latest and greatest in technology developed at RIT. Students always have a great time, and it gives them a chance to show off all of their hard work. We are living in a world where “The Internet of Things” is becoming a reality. We are more connected than we know. The new generation of engineers should take advantage of this inter-connectivity. This event showcases what this new generation is capable of.
Thank you for your time, Antonio!