SEAS Dean's Update

DeMatteis School Open House

Photographer: FJ Gaylor Photography

Dean Rabbany Welcomes Prospective Students

As I write these words, a vast crowd of high school students is gathered in the Mack Sports Complex to participate in the Long Island Regional FIRST Robotics Competition. This event, sponsored by the School Business Partnerships of Long Island, and initiated by noted inventor Dean Kamen, involves teams of approximately 15 to 25 students from each of 55 high schools this year, who build and program robots to navigate their way around a field and accomplish various tasks, such as collecting and ferrying objects from one location to another. It is very exciting for the contestants, who are competing for prizes, and of course for the audience of classmates and family members cheering them on. We have hosted the event on our campus for many years now, and the legions of volunteers from local schools and from industries who work tirelessly to make the event a vibrant success each year is as impressive as the students and their robots are.

Of course, the rationale for this immense undertaking is to encourage young people to become acquainted with technology, and to develop problem solving and teamwork skills, as well as time management and working with a limited set of materials and budget. Students who step up to the challenge – and they can be involved in each of their four years of high school – gain immense insights into the real world of engineering and computer science that awaits them in college and beyond.

Nevertheless, those attributes need to be further nurtured throughout the college years as well. And that brings me to mention again a subject I briefly addressed back in December, and that is our first-year sequence of courses devoted to acclimating engineering students to the real world. Recently, Dr. Mauro Caputi, who developed and teaches these courses on Engineering the Human Made World and Comprehensive Engineering Design, had the opportunity to describe them in some detail to the distinguished members of our Dean Advisory Board, who hold leadership positions in local and national companies. As he discussed how he instills the students with the same awareness of constraints, shared responsibilities, and the need for creativity in seeking solutions for technical problems, I could see many heads nodding approval.  Their reaction confirms our long-recognized task as educators to encourage prospective engineers and computer scientists to be well-rounded persons, not just competent number crunchers.

Of course, it would be great to see many of those enthusiastic robot-builders pay a visit to our Mechatronics Laboratory, overseen by Dr. Kevin Craig, a nationally recognized leader in the field. Hearing him declaim with gusto about the training our undergraduates obtain in the sequence of courses he teaches in the field, and demonstrate some of the senior design projects built under his direction by students who have done rigorous mathematical modeling and computer simulation prior to constructing their mechanisms, ought to convince them that the DeMatteis School is the place to go to develop further their passion for robotics.

You don’t have to wait for an Open House to visit us – although there is one coming up on Saturday, April 8th, at which all our laboratories will be on display, and faculty and students will be available to answer any questions you have. Call us or drop by any time: our amiable staff will be happy to direct you to one of our equally amiable chairpersons or other faculty members to discuss your future here at Hofstra.

 

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Sina Rabbany

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