Students from Booker High School in Sarasota spent the day visiting two high-powered labs at the University of Florida on Wednesday, Oct. 11, visiting the SCAN Lab at FICS Research and the Machine Intelligence Lab.
At the SCAN Lab at FICS Research, students were greeted by Dr. Mark Tehranipoor and Dr. Patrick Traynor, Co-Directors for FICS, and Dr. Swarup Bhunia, Director of Eduction for the institute. The students were divided into three groups and moved through approximately ten stations. Visitors were guided by three FICS PhD students (Nidish Vashistha, Angela Newsome, and Jasmine Bowers) to each station over the span of two hours. Each station, dedicated to a different aspect of Cybersecurity, was operated/presented by a FICS faculty members, student, and/or post doc.
While touring the SCAN lab, students saw electron microscopes used to explore the interior structures of chips, as well as a demonstration of cutting-edge technology used to block access to mobile devices while being charged in public places. At every station and throughout their tour, students were encouraged to be aware of their cyber-safety and of the importance of privacy and security in today’s world. Emphasis was also placed on potential jobs in the booming field of cybersecurity.
After the tour, about eight PhD students attended lunch with the high school students.
Later in the afternoon, at the Machine Intelligence Lab (MIL) , Director Dr. Eric Schwartz and PhD candidate Andy Gray each spoke with Booker students in two groups of more than 20 each. Students saw all five of MIL’s international robot champions, including the most recent winner, NaviGator, a boat which won the 2016 International Maritime RobotX Challenge. As the majority of the students on the NaviGator team were undergraduates, Dr. Schwartz reminded Booker students that if they came to UF to pursue their BS, they too could become world champions or at least earn a world-class degree from UF!
The event was co-organized by Dr. Rodney Guico (Director, FLEXNet), Julee Breehne (K-12 Coordinator, UF Innovation Station Sarasota County), Dr. Domenic Forte, Director of the SCAN Lab, Booker H.S. teacher Tina McCrea and instructional volunteer Tony McCrea.