GVSU kicks off Tech Week with an immersive showcase from PCEC

Grand Valley kicked off its offerings for Tech Week GR September 19 with an immersive display of projects, collaborations and partnerships that stem from the Padnos College of Engineering and Computing.

On display at the Shape Corp. Innovation Design Center were initiatives from all of PCEC's research and development centers, K-12 community outreach, student organizations and alumni businesses.

two people stand at table, robot from FIRST Robotics in the foreground
Team members from Hopkins High School operate their FIRST Robotics entry September 19 at the Shape Corp. Innovation Design Center.
Image Credit: Kendra Stanley-Mills

Shelby Harrison, office coordinator for PCEC Student Services, worked with a committee to pull this Tech Week event together. Harrison said the event was similar to the college's Project Day, "but this time it's a showcase for faculty and staff."

"This is every piece of PCEC on display," Harrison said. "This is who we are."

Hayden Avery, a junior from Hopkins High School, joined others from the school's FIRST Robotics team to operate their robot that made it to the world championships last year. PCEC students, faculty and staff are heavily involved in FIRST Robotics throughout the year and offer teams practice space in the IDC.

Hayden said he's been involved in robotics since middle school. "I've learned a lot: everything from working with simple tools to welding to learning how to use a CAD machine," he said.

President Mantella holds a guitar while students and others look on
President Philomena V. Mantella holds a 3D printed guitar created by student Andrew Goodling and Erik Fredericks, assistant professor of computing. The pair created an app called Walk and Draw.
Kendra Stanley-Mills
group of people standing around projected monitor
At right is Paul Plotkowski, dean of PCEC, at the Power Mobility display. At far left is John Farris, professor of engineering.
Amanda Pitts

Near the Hopkins team was a group of engineering students with their own robot, one they designed during a 72-hour period in February. Daniel Ostrander, a senior majoring in electrical engineering, said he and others will mentor high school robotics teams and volunteer to staff regional competitions.

Mark Tellier, founder of Michigan Cyber Threat Response Alliance (MiCTRA), talked with visitors about the benefits of the university's Cyber Threat Range, housed in the School of Computing. The range opened last spring.

"Undergraduate and graduate students have this opportunity to learn about cybersecurity on a range that students at most other institutions do not have," Tellier said. "It gives them a leg up to be able to talk about when a network may be compromised and understand the tools used by the hacking community."

Other displays highlighted collaborations like Roger That!, a partnership among several university departments and the Grand Rapids Public Museum; manikins from the Simulation Center; and the university's ArtPrize entry, showing augmented reality of Mathias Alten on a scale model.

Grant Alphenaar, applied computer science masters student, laughs while holding an iPad
Grant Alphenaar, applied computer science graduate student, laughs while holding an iPad.
Kendra Stanley-Mills
group crowded around display
The MiSTEM Network was among the partnerships on display at the Tech Week event.
Amanda Pitts