00:00 AM

The Virtual Education

ECE’s Samuel Dickerson introduces students to “The Internet of Things” with a new course designed to develop ideas from concept to completion

PITTSBURGH (December 8, 2016) … Despite exponential advancements in computing and internet technology, the majority of digital devices still rely on human-computer interface to gather and use data. The technology community has been buzzing recently about a new landscape in which devices spend more time interacting with the physical and virtual world than actual users. However, people are not entirely removed from the equation - in fact, more than ever before they will be able to reap the benefits of all this data.

Samuel Dickerson, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering, has designed the course “Introduction to Cyber-Physical Systems” to teach students about the emerging field of cyber-physical systems—or what is more commonly referred to as “The Internet of Things” or simply “IoT.” The course will be available to undergraduate students beginning spring 2017.

“The Internet of Things is projected to be the next industrial revolution,” said Dickerson. “It’s a new area in itself. Not many universities have an entire course dedicated to it, but we’re going to take a top-to-bottom approach. Students will begin with building and attaching sensors to devices, then be challenged to find effective ways to use the data collected and even develop business plans to look at product markets for their creations.”

Many business leaders and publications are projecting the IoT market to be worth more than $1 trillion by 2020. Smart cars, wired homes and wearable devices herald a future in which people have complete connectivity with their devices and the ability to seamlessly share data on demand. However, much of the technology required to make this possibility a reality has not been invented yet.

“Now more than ever we require innovation to keep pace with the speed of our imagination,” said Dickerson. “Students that complete Introduction to Cyber-Physical Systems will have a good understanding of the present and future demands of this new industry as well as a concrete understanding of how to turn engineering knowledge into marketable products.”

After students acquire an understanding of “IoT” related skills, Dickerson will introduce the “Lean Launchpad” methodology, which teaches entrepreneurial business and product development by encouraging experimentation and hands-on experience. The students will take their technical projects and look for ways to innovate and prototype IoT devices.

“More than 200 universities have adopted Lean Launchpad since its inception in 2011,” said Dickerson. “Building off some of the ingenuity in emerging fields, Pitt students are not just going to learn about startups and innovation, they might also leave the class as entrepreneurs.”

“Introduction to Cyber Physical Systems” received funding as one of eight teaching proposals selected by the Office of the Provost’s Advisory Council on Instructional Excellence as part of the 2016 Innovation in Education Awards Program.


Image above: Dr. Dickerson with sophomore David Skrovanek.

Author: Author: Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer

Contact: Paul Kovach