Students for a Smarter Planet ..leaders with conscience
Student Projects
October 28th, 2015

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The Penn State Altoona Team has still been hard at work completing the cyber security workbook. In fact, the individual team members have composed summarized updates of the aspects they have been working on for the application.

My name is Whitney Hernandez and I am the team leader on the Cyber Security workbook. I am currently a junior majoring in  security and risk analysis. I came up with this because I became interested in cyber security without any previous knowledge of its concepts or terminology. Once I began taking my introductory courses at Penn State Altoona I felt some of the information should have already been familiar to me. When learning about the smarter planet opportunity I decided to take the idea of introducing cyber security at a younger age and put it into action. Our current focus is establishing the content of each module in detail. In addition, the data model has also been established. To further explain each member has summarized some of their individual work.

First to explain his work thus far is Joshua Clark, a senior at Penn State Altoona majoring in security and risk analysis.


“So far I’ve been working on the data design for the application and investigating the requirements for using Google’s Play Services. The content data model is close to being finished, and I will be transcribing these models into code soon. The user data models will take some more time to complete. They’re currently pending my investigation of Google Play Services and it’s requirements. I have to caution you, that these models are subject to change as the application is implemented. I also made a design decision about how to cache the content data locally inside the application. My idea for this, is versioning the content, which means applying numbers to the content and any changes to it. This will be implemented in the data service backend, and the client will use the version number to check if it needs to grab a new version of the data service. The content will then be stored either as files or in an embedded database. I’m also beginning to work on the data entry website.”

Next, Jessica Seifer a sophomore at Penn State Altoona majoring in security and risk analysis will discuss her accomplishments


“This past week I have worked on the content for modules four, five, and eight. Module four covers cryptography. Cryptography is a broad topic that can often take a lot of time to understand, I tried to focus on the basics. Students will learn a variety of terms, such as encryption and decryption. They will also learn why these concepts are important and how they are beneficial in the different work fields. Near the end of the module, the decoder ring will be introduced and students will learn how a Caesar cipher is created and used. They will then be challenged to decipher a message using a Caesar cipher. Now that they will know how to use one form of encryption and decryption, they can send secret messages back and forth with their classmates! In module five the topic is risk management. A common concept that goes along with risk management is “know yourself, know your enemy.” This concept and its significance will be explained in this module. Next, students will be introduced to the three phases of risk management and partake in a game that uses all three phases in order. The final module that I worked on was module eight, which focuses on threats. Since there is such a broad number of threats I tried to keep the attention on common threats—even ones that students may face in their lifetime. Common types of malware will be introduced as well as the three most common forms of human threats. Key differences between threats are covered in this module as well. After creating the content for these modules, the next step is to come up with visual representations, such as pictures, charts, gifs, and most importantly lesson videos!”

Michelle Colucci a junior majoring in security and risk analysis at Penn State Altoona has also documented her progress with module content development.


“So far, I have been working on two modules for the cyber security workbook application. These topics were focused on components of an information system and firewalls. The topic of firewalls is a difficult topic for even most adults to understand. I am concerned that it will be hard to express what firewalls do without using very technical terms. However, I have been able to compose a general outline for the firewall module. I believe that with the input from my team, we will be able to successfully introduce firewall concepts. Currently my information system outline is complete for that module. Our team leader has introduced us to the tool Storyboard That which will allow us to turn out content scripts into videos. This tool allows us to create animated storyboards that can be used within videos.”

Please continue to follow our blog updates as we continue to create our cyber security application.

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Sherlock Holmes, the fictional detective, was regularly whipping his trusty magnifying glass out of his greatcoat to examine clues at crime scenes.  In both the printed short stories and novels, as well as on film, his deeper scrutiny of evidence – via the enlargement by lens – was most often followed by an “a-ha!” moment that typically leads to the villian(s)’ undoing.  Now, imagine that every man, woman and child all over the planet could engage in their own “a-ha” moment…not necessarily as a crime-solver, but for the simple pleasure of seeking out answers.

That’s the dream of one Manu Prakash, a professor at Stanford University in California.  He wants everyone to have the tools available to “think like a scientist”!  High-tech usually equates to high dollars to obtain the equipment necessary for scientific study.  School budgets are notoriously strapped in both developed and developing countries.  Professor Prakash and his research mates at PrakashLab have given the every-man a solution – their unit is a print-and-fold optical microscope that can be assembled from a flat sheet of paper:


Foldscope: Microscopy for



Photo credit:


Released in 2014, and much publicized then (check out: Foldscope Is A Paper Microscope That Can Fit In Your Pocket on Inquisitr) and since (take a look at this video posted on the Stanford Medicine Scope blog this June: Microscopes for the masses), the intervening time has been spent making this patented invention available in all corners of the globe.

And take a look at the many uses that have been devised by the folks who were part of their highly successful beta program:

Foldscope Explore: Exploring the Microcosmos


The endless possibilities for exploration and learning and disease control and…  well, what will YOU do with the microscope in YOUR pocket?  Or will you create the next affordable equipment that we can all have access to?  The journey has begun – where will you take it?

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October 8th, 2015

On October 5th (Monday), we had a meeting with Sustain U, a committee responsible for sustainable initiatives at our student union. As we would like to implement the paraSOL project on one of the terraces in the student union, we are working with Sustain U to move forward with our ideas.

We presented our solar charging table project to the Sustain U committee, Sustain U’s assistants, Sylvia and Kathy, and CSULB’s Recycling Coordinator, Lee Johnson. They were very excited to see a collective group of students working together to improving sustainability on campus and opening people’s minds to the impact of energy emissions. After our presentation, we opened the floor for questions and suggestions. We got a range of questions from safety concerns, electrical grounding, the location, and the budget. Some critical factors we have to consider is the pathway access to the 3rd floor of our student union; whether the table can fit into a building’s freight elevator, whether the table can be taken apart for storage, and who will professionally install the table to meet code regulations.

There are still a ways before we can actually start on constructing this project, but we have received a lot of support and help. We are also working with the International Society of Automation (ISA) chapter at CSULB in designing the tables. We are excited to see what cool things we can do with this project!

CSULB Tables

Regular tables at the Southwest Terrace of the University Student Union.

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Hello, we are Engineers for a Sustainable World at California State University, Long Beach (ESW CSULB). We are excited and honored to have been awarded a grant for our project, the paraSOL Charging Table.

ParaSOL Logo v4
ParaSOL is a solar charging table that will provide our university’s community a place to charge their electronics while relaxing or studying outside. ParaSOL will produce energy through a series of square solar panels fitted on an umbrella or canopy with external weatherproofed outlets and USB ports built into the tabletop. The table will store energy in a battery built into the base to provide energy during cloudy or nighttime conditions. Our hope for the paraSOL is to promote energy sustainability and open dialogue on sustainable alternatives use of self-sustaining energy sources.

Solar Table Design 2 Render.png

This is our current design for the paraSOL project. It is still being developed, so the final product’s design may look different.


We are also working on other projects at our campus, such as a solar kiosk and an aquaponics research. The solar kiosk is a cart with a solar panel canopy to collect energy. The solar kiosk’s purpose is to utilize various kitchen appliances, such as a blender, to provide refreshments and snacks for sale. Aquaponics is a system of a garden and an aquarium. The fish in the tank will produce waste, which will fertilize the plants that then filter the water of the tank.

We’re looking forward to working on this project for our school as well as making progress on our other projects. We will update our progress on here. For more information, you can also find us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and on our website.

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