School of Information event brings technology, assistance

Virginia Lozano/Daily
College of Engineering Seniors Eyad Makki and Kun Shao view the applications of the Arduino microcontroller at the UMSI MakerFest held at the Union Wednesday. Buy this photo

By Amia Davis, Daily Staff Reporter
Published March 26, 2014

At Makerfest, so many attendees tested out the Google Glass that eventually the battery died before everyone had a chance to gaze at its tiny display.

Students and members of the Ann Arbor community gathered in the Pendleton room of the Michigan Union Wednesday for two reasons: to get hands-on experience with the latest technology and learn about the new Bachelor of Science in Information.

The Center for Campus Involvement and the School of Information teamed up to organize the first-ever Makerfest event. Other participants included the Ann Arbor District Library, Maker Works, U-M Computer and Video Games Archive and Michigan Makers.

Makerfest was the brainchild of LSA freshman Kenny Heindel, program assistant for the Center for Campus Involvement, a student-focused department that aims to offer both undergraduate and graduate students a variety of organizations and events, such as UMix.

According to Heindel, the idea for Makerfest came about when the Center for Campus Involvement asked him to collaborate with an academic department to create an event.

“I suggested a Makerfest where people can go to different stations and do things that have to do with technology,” Heindel said.

Makerfest gave both students and the general public the opportunity to interact with new technologies at a variety of stations, including Google Glass, Xbox One, 3D printing, laser etching, squishy circuits, Raspberry Pi, Arduino, coding, crochet and cookie decorations.

Attendees could also find a station on the new Bachelor of Science in Information, which provided information about the program and the opportunity to schedule an appointment with an advisor.

The BSI program, an upper-level program for juniors and seniors, focuses on how people connect with technology and how people share information with organizations. The program also focuses on making a bridge between the client and the technical sides of an organization.

Undergraduate program adviser Katy Ross said the School of Information had been discussing creating the program for many years. Ross said she kept hearing from students who wanted to take courses outside of their school and engage with the School of Information.

“We felt like it was time to go ahead and launch our own degree,” Ross said.

The BSI program will be offered beginning in Fall 2014. To apply, students must have at least sophomore standing and must have completed a series of prerequisite courses.

Ross said the School of Information already accepted the first round of students into the BSI program, including Information sophomore Madison Garver, and Heindel who will be transferring to the School of Information next year.

Heindel said he was pleased with the turnout of the event and hopes to organize the event again in the future.

The Google Glass station was the most popular attraction among event participants. Attendees waited in line to test out the new piece of technology, which integrates Google’s Android user interface into glasses that the user can wear and use hands-free.

Garver was among the attendees who waited in line to try out the Google Glass. Though she did not have the opportunity to fully test the Google Glass, she enjoyed the other stations as well.

“I’ve seen some really cool stuff that indicates where the future of technology might be going,” Garver said.