Into the Lab: Computer Science and Software

Computer science and software engineering faculty member David Umphress and graduate students Matthew Hardwick and Matthew Swann are developing mobile software for teaching middle-school children physical science. The team is using a suite of educational programs called FutureLab as its inspiration, which was written by Auburn Engineering alum Walt Woltosz, ‘77 aerospace engineering, and his company in the 1990’s as part of a National Science Foundation grant to teach science to students with physical challenges. The original software featured a simplified interface that could be operated by children with limited manual dexterity. Umphress and his team are modernizing FutureLab so that it will run on Android tablets and cell phones. The software simulates elements of physical science using four learning modules — optics, circuits, gravity in space and gravity on Earth ­— and is being designed with a programmable interface so that educators can develop their own learning modules. Once software is written for Android devices, the team will implement the software for Apple iPads and iPods.

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