Since early summer, Oregon Institute of Technology, “Oregon Tech,” associate professor Kevin Pintong has been working with IPC Education Foundation to engage STEM students in workshops nationwide using Project Owl.
The foundation works to prepare students for careers in the electronics industry by providing learning opportunities focused on electronics manufacturing and improving the perception of manufacturing as a stable and well-paid sector.
Project Owl is a hands-on learning and technical training kit designed to encourage middle school and high school students to pursue STEM majors and careers in engineering, taking a cross-disciplinary approach by integrating computer science, computer engineering and electrical engineering.
The intent of Project Owl is to engage students by incorporating both hardware and software-based concepts into one tool, called the OwlBoard. Pintong, a Computer Systems Engineering Technology department professor, and program director of Computer Engineering Technology, developed the board with help from a Commission on College Teaching grant, with the intention of teaching prospective students about circuits, soldering and programming.
Through the foundation’s nationwide program, students participating in Project Owl are tasked with utilizing eight types of components that perform different electrical functions and can be engineered to work together to complete a task. A microprocessor, LEDs, resistors, capacitors, a linear regulator, a fuse and a USB connector are supplied to assemble the OwlBoard. Basic concepts such as Ohm’s law and electronics are taught as part of Project Owl. Once students complete building the OwlBoard they can use the Arduino IDE to program the board. Current tutorials show students how to blink the LEDs and interface with buttons; additional tutorials are being developed.
Pintong is helping the foundation develop and adapt materials for the organization’s educational programs and providing support with technical design and teaching materials for workshops, and program management.
“I’m really excited that this has taken off, as it will increase Oregon Tech’s visibility. Typically, STEM outreach activities focus on only software or only hardware. With the OwlBoard, we’re able to take an interdisciplinary approach and target students interested in software and hardware at the same time,” said Pintong. “IPC Education Foundation will be able to advance STEM education throughout the country with this project.”
At this time, workshops are scheduled in San Diego, Chicago, Atlanta, Raleigh, Pittsburgh and Huntsville, Alabama.
The foundation plans to introduce the Project Owl teachers program to career technical education teachers across the country this fall, providing teachers with learning resource guides and assembly instructions, industry training standards and online training videos.
Pintong continues to use the OwlBoard for teaching opportunities at Oregon Tech, including recruitment at community colleges and high schools, and at various school camps and activities including Oregon Tech Hour of Code and Girls Got STEM. The project is open-source and project materials may be found at www.oit.edu/academics/degrees/computer-engineering-technology/open-source-projects.
Pintong has worked at Oregon Tech for five years. Among the classes he teaches are Digital Logic, Digital System Design and Embedded Security, in addition to serving as an adviser of senior projects. He obtained his M.S. in electrical engineering and B.S. in computer engineering from Binghamton University.