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UA study finds that objects in our visual environment needn’t be seen in order to impact decision making.
(BPT) - Every day, more than 1 million people become victims of cyber crime, according to the 2013 Norton Cyber Crime Report. The Heartbleed bug, which attacked vulnerable versions of the OpenSSL software, put even more people at risk of hackers accessing their personal information shared on many websites. In 2013, the Target Corporation data breach affected 110 million customers. Yet, according to Norton, nearly 50 percent of tablet and smartphone users continue to neglect basic precautions such as passwords, security software or back-up files to secure their mobile devices.
The University of Arizona saw increases in graduate program rankings this year – particularly in its part-time master’s in business administration, computer science, education and mathematics. The programs were ranked in the 2015 U.S. News & World Report’s Best Graduate Schools.
In today’s job market, having an edge is crucial. The right credentials can mean the difference between living paycheck-to-paycheck and having a meaningful career. More than ever, a high school diploma or equivalency credential is essential to landing the job or career you want. In fact, approximately three out of four U.S. jobs required at least a high school diploma or equivalent in 2012, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics.
(StatePoint) In today’s job market, having an edge is crucial. The right credentials can mean the difference between living paycheck-to-paycheck and having a meaningful career. More than ever, a high school diploma or equivalency credential is essential to landing the job or career you want. In fact, approximately three out of four U.S. jobs required at least a high school diploma or equivalent in 2012, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics.
"This award is well-deserved recognition of the McGuire Center's decades of impact and success as an innovation engine for the region," said Len Jessup, the UA Eller College of Managementdean. "Next year marks the center's 30th anniversary, and there is so much more to come."
Each of the four finalists for this year's award in the academia category was from the UA. In addition to the McGuire Center, the Controlled Environment Agriculture Center, the iPlant Collaborative housed at the UA's BIO5 Institute and the Landscape Evolution Observatory at the UA's Biosphere 2 were in the running.
Ranked No. 2 by U.S. News & World Report and in the top 10 by The Princeton Review, the McGuire Center is one of two U.S. entrepreneurship programs that made the cut in a recentstudy on entrepreneurship education issued by the World Bank.
"Receiving this award brings a special honor to the McGuire Center," said the center's executive director, Robert Lusch.
Established in 1984 as one of the first university-based entrepreneurship programs in the country, the McGuire Entrepreneurship Program is the McGuire Center's signature experience. Since the program's founding, nearly 3,000 students have completed the competitive, year-long program, and have gone on to launch hundreds of business ventures.
"We have been recognized nationally and internationally for our outstanding programs, but to be recognized at home is even more meaningful," Lusch said. "All of what we accomplish would not be possible without the hard work, ambitions and dreams that our entrepreneurship students have brought to us over three decades.
A selection committee of experts independent of the Arizona Technology Council chose the winners, commending the McGuire Center on its successful track record in educating students in effective entrepreneurial practice.
At the center, UA students learn and experience the entrepreneurial process from start to finish as it is one of the only programs in which students create, validate and implement new ventures. Also, the center's cutting-edge research sets it apart from other programs and has a lasting impact on entrepreneurial education, according to the selection committee.
In addition to housing the undergraduate and graduate education programs, the center also offers support and resources to research faculty in disciplines across campus and entrepreneurial students in other UA departments.
"As we begin to see improvements in the economy, innovation is more important than ever," said Steven G. Zylstra, president and CEO of the Arizona Technology Council.
"It is essential that we celebrate the creative spirit of Arizona by recognizing and honoring the state's most innovative thinkers," Zylstra said. "We congratulate all the winners and extend our thanks for their part in advancing Arizona as a top-tier technology state."
The other finalists for the Innovator of the Year Award in academia are:
The Arizona Technology Council is Arizona's premier trade association for science and technology companies. Recognized as having a diverse professional business community, the council's members work towards furthering the advancement of technology in Arizona through leadership, education, legislation and social action.
The council offers numerous events, educational forums and business conferences that bring together leaders, managers, employees and visionaries to make an impact on the technology industry.
With almost 750 member companies throughout the state, the council is Arizona's largest science and technology organization. Members of the Council include technology companies, service providers, government agencies, academic institutions and not-for-profit organizations.
Researchers at the University of Arizona and University of Tübingen have made a breakthrough in retinal implant technology that could help people who have lost their sight see more than just light and vague shapes.
1. Obama to nominate Janet Yellen for Fed chair
University of Arizona aerospace and mechanical engineering professor Erdogan Madenci will head a new multi-university research program to predict damage and failure of materials used in applications spanning microchips to spaceships.
Some people use Twitter to keep up with the news, others to stay in touch with friends, but researchers at the University of Arizona have identified yet another potential use for the popular social networking site: keeping track of what people eat and why.
An epidemic is sweeping the nation. Girls are at a disadvantage when it comes to success in math and science, and the future does not look bright if parents don’t act now.
Pima Community College Continuing Education, in partnership with SparkFun Electronics, is offering a workshop for educators as part of the SparkFun National Education Tour, a mobile teaching initiative to convey the benefits of electronics education to teachers in every state across the U.S.
After a series of miscommunications at a surface mine in Ray, Ariz. in 2012, a haul truck, several stories tall and used for transporting enormous loads of ore, rolled over a regular-sized vehicle that was invisible to the driver of the haul truck, killing the driver of the vehicle and injuring another of its two occupants.
"It's usually a number of circumstances that compound together that ultimately lead to a tragic situation," said Leonard Brown, a doctoral candidate in thedepartment of computer science at the University of Arizona. In that case, it is believed that several miscommunications and small errors in safe mining practice led to the fatality.
Fatal accidents happen each year in mines across Arizona, despite ongoing efforts to curb their prevalence by carefully analyzing each accident to find its root cause and instituting new practices to prevent future accidents.
Now, UA scientists are stepping in. Funded by grants from the Mine Safety and Health Administration, or MSHA, and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, or NIOSH, and support fromScience Foundation Arizona, UA researchers are developing interactive computer games to better train miners to avoid fatal accidents and potential emergencies while working in mines.
The effort is headed up by principal investigator Mary Poulton, a professor and head of the UA's department of mining and geological engineering; John R. M. "Ros" Hill, director of the San Xavier Mining Laboratory and a professor of practice in the department of mining and geological engineering; and Brown.
"Our goal is to eliminate accidents and fatalities in mining," said Hill. "We're approaching it from a training standpoint of how can we best develop a tool that miners could use that would teach them to make appropriate decisions or see where wrong decisions have been made."
After a fatal mining accident, MSHA investigates the events leading up to the incident and produces a report, known as a fatalgram. Each year, these accident reports are used to help train miners to know what types of accidents can occur in a mine and what to do to avoid or avert them.
The standard training approach has been a paper packet of information to read through, with summary questions at the end. Hill and Brown are taking a different approach: By allowing miners to play the role of characters in each situation, they can make decisions leading to alternate outcomes and can replay the games as many times as necessary to understand the potential consequences of each decision they make.
"These interactive fatalgrams enhance the learning experience by pairing visual information with events leading to fatal incidents, to help miners understand the accidents and the need for relevant safety practices," Brown said of the computer games he and Hill are developing. Brown, who worked in the gaming industry for two years before beginning graduate school at the UA, is intimately familiar with computer game technology.
Brown has created computer games based on the MSHA fatalgram reports, replicating the incidences as playable scenarios in which miners can take the role of individuals involved at the scene and can make decisions that influence the outcome and may lead to avoiding the accident.
"One of the objectives of our simulations is to get users more involved in the learning process, to make them think critically in the context of the situation," said Brown.
With the interactive fatalgram simulations, "you can step into the game and replay it for different outcomes," Hill said, thus teaching miners to recognize situations that could lead to harmful outcomes.
The second goal of the computer game simulations is to train miners how to respond to a mine emergency, for example a fire in an underground mine.
NIOSH has prepared a scenario, known as Harry's Hard Choices, which trains miners to deal with the types of difficult decisions they may face in the stressful and frightening event of a fire in an underground mine.
An important part of the scenario is knowing when to try to get out of the mine and when to go to a mine refuge chamber, which is protected and supplied with enough oxygen for 48 to 72 hours, depending on the number of people inside.
Brown built the scenario into an interactive computer game in which the player takes on the role of Harry, a section foreman in an underground coal mine. With the meager information about a fire in the mine, and carbon monoxide alarms going off, Harry is told to evacuate his crew. He must first decide how best to do that: don breathing apparatuses and attempt to walk the long way out, jump in a truck and drive out, or go to a shelter and wait for help to arrive.
Each decision is not as easy as it may seem.
"This is kind of like a 'fog of war' situation where you don't have a complete picture of what's going on, there are a lot of unknowns, there are a lot of gray areas that factor into the decision making, just like in a real life situation," Brown said.
"For example, if you don't check your gas meter for methane buildup, there's a chance that when you get in the truck, it explodes and everybody dies," Brown said. "There's a big graphic simulation of wheels rolling off in flames and so forth. There's a little bit of campiness to it, but hopefully it's memorable, something to reinforce the learning objectives of this scenario."
Brown has added variations to the theme, such as the truck breaking down on the way out, or team members suffering injury or dying due to fatigue or bad air: "We can mix up the way that the story unfolds to make it dynamic, so every time you play the game you get a little bit different set of circumstances."
In the role of Harry, the player also is responsible for the morale of the crew. As the situation gets worse, the crew's stress levels and fatigue intensifies, and also their distrust in their leader. The player must make decisions under pressure to ensure that his crew makes it through the scenario safely.
"When you create this software you have to create every little piece that goes into it," said Hill. "The facial expressions, the subtle humor that might be used in the mines or the types of people you might find in the mine. We're trying to capture a lot of that culture into the software."
Brown's team of developers, including Michael Peltier, an independent contractor in Tucson and Arthur Griffith of Desert Owl Games, has engineered the lip-syncing of the game characters to match up with both English and Spanish dialog, so that the game is bilingual. In addition, the games help to reinforce workplace literacy, using mining lingo and jargon to enhance the technical realism of the mining scenario.
Also, "these games are going to be usable on several different platforms from desktop PCs up to stereoscopic display systems that can enable an immersive virtual reality," Brown said. "And you’ll be able to use a number of different interaction devices and techniques, from keyboard and mouse and gamepads to natural user interaction with hands-free gestures."
By giving miners a tool that allows them to think about the types of decisions they would need to make to avoid an accident or avert an emergency situation, Hill and Brown hope to be able to drastically reduce or eliminate mining accidents in the future.
Springtime is near, and with it the start of dust storm season in the southwestern United States.
Arizona experiences some of the worst dust storms in the country during the spring and summer months, leading to poor visibility and potentially dangerous driving conditions on the state's highways.
To help protect drivers from dust-related dangers on the road, the University of Arizona has created a mobile application for iPhones that provides dust storm alerts and safety tips.
Available for free download on iTunes, the app uses a person's geographical location anywhere in the country to determine if there is danger of a dust storm, or any other type of storm, in the area. The warnings come directly from the WeatherBug service.
An Android version of the app is expected to be released later this month or next month.
In addition to storm alerts, the app provides a list of specific tips for what to do when a dust storm hits, such as:
The app also offers a place to list emergency phone numbers or insurance policy numbers drivers may want to have readily available in a storm, as well as a list of things people should keep in their cars as part of a Dust Storm Survival Kit. Some of those items include water, snacks or energy bars, a basic first aid kit, flashlight, dust mask and a whistle or pocket siren to signal for help.
The Dust Storm app was the brainchild of Kirk Astroth, UA assistant dean of Cooperative Extension and director of the Arizona 4-H Youth Development program in the UA College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
Developed by University Information Technology Services' web/mobile services team, with support from Student Affairs Marketing, it is among a group of mobile apps designed and developed by members of the University community as part of the UA's Mobile Matters initiative. The forthcoming Android version of Dust Storm is being developed with additional support from the University's SBS Technical Services group and UA computer science senior David Celaya.
Astroth said he got the idea for the app after seeing something similar in North Dakota that provided tips for staying safe in a blizzard.
"Dust storms are so common in Arizona, and so many people are killed on the road because they don't know what to do," Astroth said. "We wanted to help."
According to a report by the Arizona Department of Transportation, 193 crashes in 2011 occurred in weather conditions that included blowing sand, soil or dirt, resulting in two deaths and 140 people injured.
Astroth hopes those numbers will go down with education, noting that many people simply don't know the proper action to take in a dust storm, especially out-of-state visitors who might not be accustomed to those types of events.
One of the most common mistakes, he noted, is simply attempting to drive through the storm, even when blinded by a curtain of dirt.
While dust is a fact of life in the desert Southwest, Arizona's ongoing drought makes for even stronger dust storm conditions, said Mike Crimmins, UA Cooperative Extension specialist and associate professor of soil, water and environmental science.
With little moisture or vegetation to hold dust in place, high winds can quickly lead to blowing dust, said Crimmins, who was not involved in the development of the Dust Storm app.
There are two dust storm seasons in Arizona, Crimmins said. During the spring season, which typically starts in March, large-scale weather systems with lots of wind can kick up enough dust to close major highways including I-10 and I-40. Those storms may last for the better part of a day, with 20-30 mph sustained winds and gusts up to 50 mph.
A second round of dust storms typically appears during the summer monsoon season, when thunderstorm conditions create shorter-lasting, but more intense, dust storms known as haboobs, which can see winds gusting up to 100 mph, Crimmins said.
Officials statewide are working to address the dangers of dust.
During a recent dust storm workshop in Casa Grande, Ariz., organized by the Arizona Department of Transportation and the Phoenix and Tucson offices of the National Weather Service, officials said they have gotten more aggressive about monitoring dust storms and shutting down the state's highways when visibility is poor.
Astroth hopes the Dust Storm app can also be part of the solution. He encourages drivers to check the app before they get on the road so they can avoid dangerous weather conditions in the first place.
"This seemed like an easy and good thing to do," he said. "It's free, and it could save people's lives."
For four years, students at the University of Arizona College of Medicine in Tucson and Phoenix have worked toward "Match Day" – the day they learn where they will spend the next several years as resident-physicians, a major step in building a medical career.
Many of the most significant, globally impactful companies and products recently created are tied to digital communications and computational technologies – wireless networks, social networks, smartphones and big data mining applications are among them.
Despite the pervasive nature of digital communications, few academic programs actively train students to understand and effectively manage the social aspects and implications of the Digital Age.
With that in mind, University of Arizona faculty members have developed the new eSociety program, which will be offered beginning in fall 2013.
"Technology is the most important revolution of our lifetime," said J.P. Jones, III, dean of the UA College of Social and Behavioral Sciences.
"It has completely transformed the way we interact with one another, learn new things, and form communities. It’s even changed the way we govern ourselves and the forms of protest we see today. Democracy is now technologically mediated," Jones said. "And every social science discipline has a role to play in understanding these changes."
In addition to being highly marketable, particularly to students interested in pursuing careers that incorporate digital communication and social media, eSociety already has captured the eye of top-level executives. The UA program will be offered as an undergraduate degree option and a minor, and students are already being advised for admission.
"There are some universities offering programs in Internet studies that are technically driven, but there are not many looking at how information technology is changing how we behave, communicate and practice as members of society," said Pamela Coonan, the research support and enrollment manager for the UA College of Social and Behavioral Sciences.
"That's how our program is different. You have a lot of people who have the technical skills, but do not have the ability to communicate effectively and analyze the data," Coonan said. "That is what brings the information to life; understanding the social practices of what we do."
Understanding Emerging Social Interactions, Practices
Housed in the UA School of Information Resources and Library Science, or SIRLS, eSociety is interdisciplinary with a two-part intent: to provide students with both the social science and data management skills and theories necessary to engage in the world of Internet-based data and interactions.
"This degree is about society – the ways we relate to social and historical changes, enact our roles and work collaboratively," said Catherine Brooks, an assistant professor with a joint appointment in SIRLS and the communication department.
But this requires moving beyond the existing belief that information and data are merely products that can be transferred. Instead, data, especially data derived from and transferred in digital formats, are social processes, Brooks said.
"Data are laden with our philosophies of knowledge and laden with issues of identity, class and culture," said Brooks, who led the curricular development for eSociety and noted that the program would prepare students for life and work in contemporary society. "Data are more than just a thing and a product; they are laden with societal concerns."
To better understand what is driving the need for such a program requires a quick look at the evolution of companies and sites such as Pinterest and Netflix or the impact of social media on global events such as the Occupy Movement and the Arab Spring of the last year.
Expertise in eSociety should lead to understandings of social media marketing or other networking skills, as well as more complex understandings about Web-users, such as their shared ideologies, typical human practices, interpretations of information or perspectives on differing modalities for receiving digitally based information.
The program is not just about teaching students how to best collect user information for the benefit of marketing.
Within the UA program, courses offered will cover topics that include social media strategies, artificial intelligence, identity in the digital realm, privacy concerns, Internet communications law, information ethics, strategies for managing a social presence and the access and barring of access to information, among others.
"Blending all of these topics is very novel and exciting," Brooks said, adding that in addition to learning how to find and analyze information, and while learning about social practices and cultural implications of digital practices, students also will learn how to manage and use large data sets.
Consider Don Fallis, a SIRLS professor, who proposed a course on knowledge in the digital world.
Fallis is an expert in the theory of knowledge and is concerned with the pervasive nature of disinformation – the intentional practice of misinforming others. Coupled with that scholarship is an interest in lies and deception.
"People giving us inaccurate information gets in the way of acquiring knowledge about the world," Fallis said.
"We have to look at the various ways in which information and information technology are affecting the ways in which we acquire knowledge," he said. "There are so many ways information technology affects our ability to acquire knowledge."
Or to forget.
Brooks noted that with the proliferation of surveillance of GPS tracking, it is increasingly impossible to be anonymous.
"Everyone might know where we are at all times. But there is the human right to forget," said Brooks, who joined the SIRLS faculty in 2012 and also serves as the school's director of undergraduate studies.
"With all of this information, we can catalog and track information on events; the way data is managed and archived makes it hard to forget," she said, which gets into interesting and concerning ethical dilemmas.
Potential Benefits for Individuals, Corporations
During spring 2012, Coonan sent targeted messages to companies in Tucson and Phoenix with information about eSociety while also seeking their participation in a roundtable about the degree's applicability.
"Within less than 30 minutes, I received positive responses from a major entertainment firm in Phoenix and from a local branch of a major media outlet," Coonan said. "These firms were so excited to be a part of the talks that they've been in touch a few times just to make sure we still have them on the participant list."
The eSociety degree will prepare students to work in social media production, marketing, big data analysis, consulting with governmental and nonprofit organizations as well as in business – much of which is new for today's employers.
"They know we need to broadly train employees, but in what – it has yet to have a name but we know it is about social media analysis and social marketing; someone who can data mine and turn that into chunks of information that can be used by organizations," Brooks said.
Companies are increasingly concerned with improving data mining and analysis, improving reach and impact via social media and also with privacy and legal issues in a Web-mediated world – all of which eSociety will address.
"What that means for students, and this is classically what we believe in the social and behavioral sciences, is that you train people for the long run – not the short," Jones said. "We need to make people versatile enough that when they change their careers four times in a lifetime, they can use their knowledge to bridge careers, one to another."
Bryan Heidorn, the director of SIRLS, noted, for example, that it was only about 20 years ago that in order to be successful in any Internet realm a strong computer programming background was a prerequisite.
"But others have built up these tools for us so you don't have to build your own hammer – just take one that exists at the moment," Heidorn said.
"In a way, there are too many tools. Today, there are new tools coming out every week, and you need to discover those tools and decide which will serve the right purposes for you," Heidorn said.
"This is not just about putting messages out on Facebook or marketing to sell widgets. This is about analytics and helping you manage your operations," Heidorn said, noting that this is especially important for understanding social and political phenomena. "It's important to have the long-term view and to be able to interpret the consequences."
Graduates of eSociety could one day be those helping to solve problems with the digital divide and addressing the pervasive nature of misinformation on the Internet, and they undoubtedly will aid in the establishment of new digital communities, practices and applications.
The continued evolution of digital communications and infusion of technology in day-to-day interactions will only continue to have a strong impact, whether locally or globally, Brooks said.
That means the UA's eSociety program would also grow and evolve, eventually incorporating other disciplines.
"I see eSociety evolving as our historic milieu continues to shift. eSociety is obviously something that will continually adapt to changing technologies and shifting cultural needs, norms and dilemmas,” Brooks said, emphasizing the importance of the program's interdisciplinary nature.
"To maintain a strong program, all involved departments will need to continue to be intellectually and programmatically flexible," she said. "By keeping an open mind to the ways that cross-department and multi-college endeavors can happen, we are really going to benefit the students at the University of Arizona."
The Times of London rated seven of the top 10 universities in the world as American; eighteen of the top twenty-five world universities are American; and fifty-three of the top one hundred world universities are American. Higher education in America is considered the best in the world.
An adult male jaguar and an adult male ocelot have been photographed in two separate Southern Arizona mountain ranges by automated wildlife monitoring cameras. The images were collected as part of the Jaguar Survey and Monitoring Project led by the University of Arizona. Both animals appear to be in good health.
Pima County Public Library (PCPL) announced that it will receive one of 12 grants from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to design a Learning Lab, a new space where young people can connect with mentors and peers, as well as new media and traditional materials to pursue their interests more deeply and connect these new skills to academics, career, and civic engagement. Inspired by YOUmedia, a teen space at the Chicago Public Library, and innovations in science and technology centers, these labs will help young people move beyond consuming content to making and creating it.
A new study has found that climate-prediction models are good at predicting long-term climate patterns on a global scale but lose their edge when applied to time frames shorter than three decades and on sub-continental scales.