Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Joint Class and Project with University of Maryland

This year our university has an exciting new project in collaboration with University of Maryland.  Each of us will send a team to work together in Rwanda to set up a community learning centre in May.  We will set up a self-contained computer system with a server and a number of client computers based on a bunch of inexpensive micro-computers, the Raspberry Pi.  We will install a lot of electronic resources on the server, to make a self-contained "Internet-in-a-box” without expensive broadband connections to the actual Internet. The whole thing will be powered by a solar panel electrical system that we designed.   We are responsible for teaching both groups of students the setting up of the system.  Maryland is responsible for teaching both groups of students to develop the training classes for the local youths making use of the system. This is a truly joint effort both in teaching and in carrying out the project.

We have already started running classes via video-conferencing.  In the first class, we taught our own students in Hong Kong and the Maryland students in Maryland (remotely) to construct a computer using a Raspberry Pi microcomputer, a small touch screen, a keyboard and a mouse.  

Then we showed them the design of the solar panel charging system that we designed last year.  In future classes, there will be a lot more to teach and learn.  

The fun has just started. 

1 comment:

Cyiu Chau said...

Calling it "Internet-in-a-box" might be a bit inaccurate and overrated, since the word Internet conveys a notion of a system that is connected globally. I am guessing "Network-in-a-box" will do.

Nevertheless, this sounds really exciting and amazing. Attaching a touch screen and a battery to a R-Pi to get an affordable tablet is an engineering project that I always wanted to do. I might have proposed to do this in some of our service projects back in the old days but we could not pull it off due to resource constraints, so now I'm really glad and excited to know that this is actually happening.

By the way I believe there are some Android images for R-Pi out there available. Which version of R-Pi are you guys using? Speaking of which, R-Pi 3 was released just a few days ago and its spec looks really impressive for the price.

I'm also curious about the background of the Maryland students. Do they have a STEM background by any chance? Which campus are they from?