Archive for the 'Research' Category
Many people assume that superior intelligence or ability is a key to success. But more than three decades of research shows that an overemphasis on intellect or talent-and the implication that such traits are innate and fixed-leaves people vulnerable to failure, fearful of challenges and unmotivated to learn.
The point is less that intelligence is unimportant, than the idea that over-reliance on intelligence and innate ability tends to demotivate. Hard work DOES make a difference. Read the whole thing.No comments
My four-part video of the TSTC IT student trip to the Texas Advanced Computing Center at UT Austin is now edited and uploaded.Â The original post on the trip is here.
Part 1 - Leaving, Arriving, and introduction to Ranger
Part 2 - Introduction to graphic representation of data
Part 3 - Demonstration of graphic representation of data using ParaView
Part 4 - More supercomputers including LonestarNo comments
Last week I went with TSTC supercomputing guru Walton Yantis and a group of IT students to the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) at the University of Texas J.J. Pickle Research Campus.Â We were met there by their Education Coordinator Brad Armosky.Â He gave us the $5.00 tour and really focused on teaching the students as we went.Â Since most of the students on the trip are enrolled in a class where they are building small parallel systems (mini-supercomputers), they were definitely fascinated and inspired.
The main attraction for the day was Ranger, one of the fastest in the world and the first to make large-scale use of Sun’s new Constellation architecture.Â The system operates at nearly 580 TeraFLOPS peak performance (after a recent processor upgrade - all 15,744 processors with 62,976 cores) and was heavily involved in modeling Hurricane Ike (the Austin American-Statesman has an article about it here).
Here is a great video on Sun’s Constellation switches and system:
Along with Ranger, the students saw a demonstration of graphic presentation for large data sets.Â They were delighted to see the software they use in class being used at TACC (ParaView).Â We finished with a tour of the older computer room at TACC which contains a number of older but still awesome systems.
I learned a lot from the tour, including the incredible growth of parallel computing.Â There is going to be a demand for programmers who can handle the challenges involved in programming jobs across a lot of processors.Â When you take this graph into account and realize that three more computers to dwarf Ranger are in the works, you will know that we have reached a High Performance Computing “tipping point.”
Look at the complete interactive presentation here.
I made video of the trip which I will link to as soon as it is edited and uploaded to YouTube.No comments
Via a friend at the Texas Workforce Commission comes this note on a “tipping point” analysis done at the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges. The study found that compared to students who earned less than 10 credits, those who reached the “tipping point” of at least two semesters of credits and a credential had a considerable average annual earnings advantage: $7,000 for students who started in ESL, $8,500 for those who started in ABE or GED, and $2,700 and $1,700 for those who entered with at most a GED or high school diploma.
The brief synopsis that I have read does not seem to differentiate between technical and academic. I will continue to look.
At the link, a model is provided for doing a similar study at your college.No comments
I posted about the Hercules laser at University of Michigan just two months ago. My entire comment was, “300 terawatts!” The University of Texas has now unveiled a laser that makes 300 terawatts look like a GE light bulb (hyperbole alert!). The name Petawatt tells the whole story. Check it out.
UPDATE: An article with a picture can be found at the Telegraph web site.No comments
When we were at the University of South Carolina (see post here), we learned that one of the big research areas for fuel cells was finding a better catalyst. The platinum they use now is very expensive and leaves carbon monoxide that can foul the works. According to this article in Nanodot, there has been a breakthrough that combines platinum with another element that helps eliminate the fouling problem.No comments
I blogged a while back about Richard Froeschle who is Deputy Director of Labor Market and Career Information at the Texas Workforce Commission. Another interesting part of his presentation at CTAT’s Education Open Source was on first-year salaries for new graduates. Here is the slide he showed:
Please note that five of the top ten are the result of CTE AAS degrees. This is real data from real salaries, not promises made by any school. I think if there was a longitudinal study that followed these cohorts the results would show that certain AAS degrees lead to higher pay overall.
Someone may point to the data that shows 4-year degrees lead to greater lifetime earnings. My response would be that those figures are for ALL two-year degrees, including those that are general studies and purely academic.
Keep telling the young people you know that getting paid is about having marketable skills and not about having a certain “level” of degree. You may want to mention it to policy-makers as well.
Update: Froeschle’s presentation is available here on the CTAT site.No comments
It is old news and I’ve blogged it before, but many still don’t know. If you haven’t taken the time to look at the final report on contextual math learning from the National Research Center for Career and Technical Education, you should. The report, “Building Academic Skills in Context: Testing the Value of Enhanced Math Learning in CTE”, was completed in 2005. From the abstract:
An experimental study tested a model for enhancing mathematics instruction in five high school career and technical education (CTE) programs (agriculture, auto technology, business/ marketing, health, and information technology)… The experimental teachers worked with math teachers in communities of practice to develop CTE instructional activities that integrated more mathematics into the occupational curriculum. After 1 year of the math-enhanced CTE lessons averaging 10% of class time, students in the experimental classrooms performed significantly better on 2 tests of math abilityâ€“the TerraNova and ACCUPLACERÂ®â€“without any negative impact on measures of occupational/technical knowledge.
The Waco ISD effort to teach contextualized math that I blogged about earlier is a little different. They are putting context into a CTE-based math class instead of putting more math into an existing CTE class. The concept should still work, though. I can hardly wait to see the results.
Contextualizing math (RELEVANCE) is the key to improving math skills in this country. Many teachers still confuse methodology and rigor. They believe rigor involves making it hard to learn. Rigor is about what the student learns, not how the teacher teaches. The bias in the academic world is that students must value knowledge because it is intellectually beautiful, not because it is useful. Teachers tend to think that way*, but most students do not.
*All human beings have this tendency. I can’t imagine why some people go glassy-eyed just because I go on for hours about the algebraic beauty of relational databases.No comments
As a follow-up to my post on “supercomputing” technicians, I want to offer you a link to the folding@home project. This project of Stanford is designed to use idle CPU time all over the world to help solve an important problem in medical research. It is something like the earlier SETI program, but with a object that more people can get behind. Read the site for details.
TSTC Waco has been participating in this program since interest in distributed computing spiked. We are currently ranked higher than many big, well-known universities in our contributions. It would be a worthwhile technology or service project for your CTE program, too. Lesson plans focusing on computing power amounts and values could be coordinated. The students get very excited about moving up in the stats, too.No comments
High Performance Computing is rapidly becoming a necessity for businesses and governments today. “Supercomputer” used to mean multi-million dollar specially designed Cray computers with liquid nitrogen being used to cool densely packed processors. Now, grids of networked commodity servers running open-source software make much cheaper supercomputers that can be linked all across the world.
The Supercomputing Center at TSTC Waco participates in a grid of networked clusters call the Texas Educational Grid Project. Our own small 150-processor cluster was donated by ConocoPhillips and was assembled and configured to run entirely by students and faculty. The school kicked in the money and expertise for a small “computer room” environment with special electrical and air conditioning considerations.
Here is a picture of a gang of students, faculty, and administrators with our rented truck after picking up our second donation of computer equipment in Houston.
One of the coolest things that this group of students has done, under the direction of teacher Walton Yantis, is to build small “supercomputers.” These consist of five older motherboards, a single hard drive, and power supply all networked together. All of the principles involved in building larger clusters can be practiced using this system and it is very cost-effective. Did I mention how much the students love it? Walt has to chase them out of class so he can go home!
Here is a picture of one of the “mini-clusters.” The students have gotten a lot of recognition, been on DLTV, and visited the Maker Faire in Austin because of this project. If you run a computer maintenance or networking program, consider a similar project. As high performance computing becomes increasingly important to engineering, research, entertainment, and manufacturing there will certainly be a need for more technicians who can build and maintain a cluster.No comments
I often blog about green technology. Green tech is very important to the future of technical education. I find green tech to be very cool - so I blog about it.
At the risk of being politically VERY incorrect, I don’t blog about it because I am a big believer in man-made global warming. I realize that I will be excoriated for this in some quarters, so let me explain: I believe it is hubris for us to think we have climate predictions nailed for the next ten, thirty, fifty, or one hundred years. Climate models are very complex and weather is hard to predict for next week. That doesn’t mean that I think alternative energy is a bad idea. Getting away from fossil fuels is a good idea whether green house gases are dooming us or not.
To go along with this discussion, I see that there has recently been a dramatic decrease in global temperatures. Go here and here to see that they are already arguing about what it means. I repeat what I said before - Getting away from fossil fuels is a good idea whether green house gases are dooming us or not. If it turns out that global warming isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be, I don’t want the push towards alternatives to stop!No comments
It may not be the â€śholy grailâ€ť of portable power, but it certainly will change things. According to this article in CNET News, Stanford researchers have found that using silicon nanowires as the anode of a lithium ion battery can increase charge capacity by ten times (scientific details in this article in Nature Nanotechnology). To be more specific, they knew that silicon increased battery capacity, but it wasnâ€™t durable enough. The nanowires solved that problem…No comments
How about using hydrogen to help produce energy without using it up? There is an article in Popular Mechanics about a “solar heat engine” that uses sun power to create movement and electricity that might eventually reach 60% efficiency. It has other applications where heat is being wasted as well - such as in combustion engines.
All of this is the work of the inventor of the “Super Soaker” water gun. Sales of that invention are funding the whole thing!No comments
We have some TSTC employees at the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas, but I am not one of them. I have been keeping up via blogs and Popular Mechanics online. Follow this link to an article about a Chevy Equinox fuel cell vehicle test drive by Instapundit blogger and law professor Glenn Reynolds.
It sounds pretty cool. As Glenn points out, it does have drawbacks. I still think that the technology is outstanding and we have a great fuel cell - alternative energy program here, as I have pointed out before.No comments
The fuel cell program at TSTC is being expanded to include other alternative energy approaches, including wind (in partnership with TSTC West Texas where there is a forest of wind turbines) and solar. Here is an interesting article with video about cheap printed solar cells.No comments
Greetings from “The Palmetto State” (South Carolina). Texas State Technical College Waco had the first fuel cell technician program in the country thanks to grants, great leadership, and a very smart hard-working guy named Sidney Bolfing. We are here looking at partnerships to enhance our cooperation with Aiken Technical College, Savannah River National Laboratory, Midlands Technical College, and the University of South Carolina.
The Center for Hydrogen Research at Savannah River is involved in hydrogen storage research. They are working to provide answers to the problems posed by trying to create a hydrogen infrastructure. The research we saw at USC was more specifically aimed at hydrogen fuel cells. Seeing the problems that fuel cells currently face helped me to understand why adoption has been slower than originally hoped. Researchers are trying to find the answers to problems like better materials for components, efficiency, durability, cost, etc.
It has all been very cool and the hospitality has been superb. Thanks to our friends at Aiken Technical College for hosting us!
BTW - when you are visiting SC, try out the “shrimp and grits” with collard greens at the Blue Marlin in Columbia. You’ll be glad you did.No comments
There is an interesting study on the National Research Center for Career and Technical Education (NRCCTE) site. It tracks the effect of teaching enhanced math lessons in CTE courses. The results were pretty impressive. To quote the study, “After 1 year of exposure to the math-enhanced lessons, the students in the experimental classrooms performed significantly better on the TerraNova and ACCUPLACER tests of math ability.”
This interested me because TSTC Waco and Waco Independent School District have been working together on a CTE math course specifically designed to raise the college entrance test scores for high school students who have already passed the TAKS (Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills - more on the gap between high school exit and college entrance another time). The idea was to base the course on the math portion of the college entrance test (Accuplacer and THEA). Technology teachers provided projects from their classes that would match the entrance test objectives.
Eventually it will come together in a course called “Analytical Integrated Mathematics” (AIM). Secondary CTE or Math teachers wishing to teach AIM will be required to take the approved teacher training that is being developed along with the course. It will be piloted in a number of school districts across Texas next year. The hope is that we will see big improvements in acceptable placement scores. If the outcome is good, AIM might wind up being certified state-wide as a fourth-year math (the legislature just passed a law requiring four years of math).
I’ll keep you posted.No comments
A recent article in Community College Week points to a study showing that dual enrollment programs provide significant benefits for high school students. Although more research needs to be conducted in this area, the study indicates that improved graduation rates, greater college attendance, and higher GPAs are all associated with taking dual enrollment classes.
I am not surprised by any of this. I am a big supporter of dual enrollment/credit programs. I have been working on expanding opportunities at my own college ever since I “went over to the dark side” of administration a couple of years ago. I have seen what can be accomplished from the faculty perspective with high school students in my college class. I have also seen it from the program side. I should also mention that it has been important to me personally. My older daughter graduated from a four-year degree in three years, partially due to dual credit ($$$ was saved). My younger daughter should have her Associate degree in pre-nursing by the time the rest of her cohort graduates from high school thanks to dual credit (and a lot of hard work on her part).
Where the article gets really interesting for me is in the discussion of technical students:
“Researchers paid particular attention to high school students enrolled in career and technical education courses, those who are traditionally considered not bound for college. They found in many measures, the gains documented for the whole sample also held true for career and technical education students.”
I will pass on the comment that CTE students are not college bound. Many are headed to health or technical careers that either require or benefit from post-secondary education. What is important is that they realized that CTE students benefit from dual enrollment just like other students. I already knew this was true, but the validation is welcome.
(On a side note, I was happy to see that my own technical college has already made progress on the recommendations of the researchers. It feels good to be ahead for a change!)No comments
Over at the National Assoc. of Secondary School Principals Policy Blog there is a post about a study showing that Career & Technical Education can make a big positive difference in transition to post-secondary education.
“According to a recent survey by NASSP and Phi Delta Kappa International, 92% of middle level students believe they will definitely or probably go to college, yet only 68% of high school students graduate, and only 39% enter postsecondary education and training. The education pipeline is leaking students, and clearly, itâ€™s time to call the plumber. Career and technical education (CTE) could be just the plumber we need.”
It shouldn’t be surprising to see that making education relevant to the students improves transfer, retention, and motivation. Educators and legislators alike continue to be amazed.No comments