Science & Technology
Local Students Excel at State Robotics Competition PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Rachel Chamberlain   
Friday, 25 January 2013 15:45

"3, 2, 1 - LEGO!"  This enthusiastic phrase was on repeat last Saturday at Iowa's FIRST LEGO League (FLL) state competition held on the campus of Iowa State University in Ames, IA.  72 teams from around the state (including twelve from the Quad Cities) qualified to attend the event.  Each team of 9-14 year olds was armed with a LEGO Mindstorms NXT robot they designed, built, and programmed themselves.

 

The results are in, and the Quad Cities has reason to be proud!  Four of the twelve teams from our region received awards – BIG ONES!

 

Team "World Changers" (Trinity Lutheran, Davenport), brought home top honors with the Champion's award.  Not far behind was team "Technical Difficulties" (Rivermont Collegiate, Bettendorf), winner of the third place Champion's Award trophy.  Other big winners included team "Charged Up", (Rivermont Collegiate, Bettendorf) winning 1st place for Core Values, and the "Robodawgs" (Bettendorf Middle School) winning 1st place for their project.

Rivermont Collegiate's robotics coach, Rachel Chamberlain, praised the program, saying, "FIRST LEGO League provides a fun and creative platform for kids to learn basic engineering techniques.  Students work really hard during the four month season, but it's all done in a fun, hands-on way that allows them to make discoveries every day with their team mates.  It's a great way to learn!"  Rivermont Collegiate had five teams at the regional competition in Davenport last month, three of which qualified for the state competition, and two who brought home with big wins.

 

"I'm so proud of all the teams from the Quad Cities." Says Chamberlain, "FLL teaches 'Gracious Professionalism' and the kids all know it's not about what you win, but about what you discover along the way.  The trophies are neat (especially the ones made out of Legos), but what's even neater is the pride the kids feel when they talk about what they learned.  It's music to my ears to hear them encourage their peers to participate next year.  It's an experience they will never forget."

 

FIRST LEGO League is an international robotics competition for teams of two-ten students.  This year there were over 20,000 teams in more than 70 countries, including over 400 teams from the state of Iowa.  56 teams from the Quad Cities competed in the regional qualifier last December at the Putnam Museum in Davenport, IA, and twelve teams were selected to advance to the state competition at Iowa State University on Saturday, January 19, 2013.

 

During the four month FLL season, students work together with their team to build a robot that can accomplish predetermined missions on a common playing field to earn points.  Each team receives the same field with the same missions at the beginning of the season.  With a 2 1/2 minute time limit, teams must figure out how to make the best use of their robot's time to earn as many points as possible.  At the competition, teams go head-to-head in a race against the clock, and then add up points at the end with referees.  The robots are completely autonomous, meaning they are preprogrammed and not controlled by any sort of remote or handheld device.  The programming is done on the computer ahead of time, and then uploaded to the robots before the competition.

 

In addition to building and programming a robot, teams are tasked with creating an innovative solution to a real world problem to present in front of a panel of judges.  This year's theme was "Senior Solutions" - solving problems affecting senior citizens.  Students solicited the help of local experts when designing their inventions and shared their ideas with members of the community before the competition to get feedback and advice.

 

The third and final piece of the FIRST LEGO League competition was Core Values.  According to the First Lego League website, the FLL Core Values are the cornerstones of the FLL program. They are among the fundamental elements that distinguish FLL from other programs of its kind.  By embracing the Core Values, participants learn that friendly competition and mutual gain are not separate goals, and that helping one another is the foundation of teamwork.

 

Harrison Brown, a 5th grader at Rivermont Collegiate, was on team "Charged Up" (winner of the Core Values award).  "I'm proud that our team won the Core Values award." Says Brown, "This is actually a really important award. I feel like our team worked well together and had fun.  That's probably why we won.  If a team doesn't have strong Core Values, it would be hard for them to be successful because they wouldn't be able to work well together."

 

"The real life skills these kids learn through this program are priceless." Says Chamberlain, "We're not only teaching kids how to program and become future engineers, but we are teaching them how to problem solve, brainstorm, build presentations, and work on a team.  These skills are invaluable and will cross over into many different areas of their life and future careers."

 

Although teams don't know details yet about next year's challenge, they do know the theme - "Nature's Fury".  The 2013 season officially kicks off on August 27, 2013.

 

For more information about First Lego League, visit www.firstlegoleague.org.  For more information about this year’s championship at Iowa State University, visit www.isek.iastate.edu/fll.

 

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Governor Quinn Announces Gigabit Internet Partnership with City of Evanston and Northwestern University PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Leslie Wertheimer   
Friday, 18 January 2013 16:22

Strategic $1 Million State Investment Will Help Northwestern University and Area Businesses to Build Innovation Corridor, Create Jobs

EVANSTON – January 18, 2013. Governor Pat Quinn was joined today by leaders from the city of Evanston and Northwestern University to announce a $1 million state investment to help the city become an Illinois Gigabit Community, bringing ultra-high speed Internet to one of the nation’s top universities and the surrounding area, home to more than 160 start-ups. This gigabit service will be crucial to developing an economic innovation corridor that will attract entrepreneurs who create jobs as they grow the next generation of world-changing companies.

Announced during Governor Quinn’s 2012 State of the State Address, this investment advances the governor’s efforts to encourage world-class broadband infrastructure across Illinois.

“To compete in the 21st century economy, we must have technology infrastructure that is second to none,” Governor Quinn said. “Internet service that’s 100 times faster than what we have today will help businesses, universities and governments to revolutionize our communities and make them stronger today and in the future.”

The governor’s strategic investment of $1 million will help connect fiber optic gigabit Internet service from downtown Chicago to Northwestern University, which will then place more than 400 access points in locations throughout campus and in surrounding Evanston.

This will enhance the research capabilities of Northwestern University and the ability of the city of Evanston to offer the kind of ultra-high speed Internet service that technology businesses need to start-up and grow. In addition, the capability will boost the city’s efforts to create an innovation corridor that will utilize proximity to Northwestern University’s extensive academic resources and robust public transportation.

“Evanston is home to over 160 technology start-ups housed in various scattered locations with limited synergistic relationships or facilities.  The awarding of this Gigabit Community Challenge Grant Award will build a direct link between technology start-up companies, Northwestern University, the city of Evanston and private investors via gigabit fiber connections. The researchers on Northwestern University’s campus, workers in technology start-up companies and entrepreneurs will be able to access faster data speeds leading to greater discoveries and commercial applications,” said Evanston Alderman Melissa Wynne (3rd Ward). “This award will be a catalyst allowing the city of Evanston and the state of Illinois to keep great thinkers, innovators, entrepreneurs and growing technology companies here in Illinois through a critical public-private-non-profit partnership.”

"Northwestern is grateful for the opportunity provided by Governor Quinn and the state of Illinois and for the prize awarded to our community via the Illinois Gigabit Communities Challenge," said Sean Reynolds, Northwestern University's vice president for Information Technology and chief information officer.  "This support will allow the University to again partner with the city of Evanston to enhance our mutual and collective competitiveness through the advancement of technology – in this case, by advancing networking capacity to the University and the city of Evanston and the interconnection between them.  We are excited about the potential for increased reach and interactions for researchers, startup companies and other commercial and public entities throughout the city of Evanston, the Chicago area, the state and the wider connected world."

coLab Evanston is just one of many small and growing businesses that will reap enormous benefits from ultra-high speed gigabit Internet service. The company provides shared working space for companies and individual entrepreneurs who are often looking to take ideas and grow them into larger enterprises. The company acts as an incubator for innovation and provides its clients with the resources to be successful.

“At coLab, we’re committed to helping professionals by giving them the tools they need to be productive and innovative,” said Eric Harper, co-founder of coLab Evanston. “Gigabit will be a key benefit we offer as we strive to create an environment where ideas can turn into reality.”

The city of Evanston is also collaborating with Urban Communications, Inc. to expand broadband availability to residential and small business entities throughout the city. In addition to traditional Internet, the company plans to provide other IP-based services such as VoIP, video conferencing, web hosting, disaster recovery and email.

"This project will help Urban Communications extend the benefits of gigabit Internet service to residents and businesses all over Evanston who are always searching for better technology services at a better value," said Edmund G. Urban III, CEO of Urban Communications. "We're proud to be partnering with the city of Evanston to make our community a better place to live and work."

Governor Quinn has led major efforts to improve Illinois’ technology infrastructure and worked to expand broadband deployment in all areas of the state. As part of the Illinois Jobs Now! capital construction program, the Broadband Deployment Fund was used in 2010 and 2011 to jumpstart more than 4,000 miles of new fiber optic cable construction and more than $300 million in private and federal investments in Illinois. The governor previously announced gigabit investments in Aurora’s public and private K-12 schools, higher education and healthcare institutions, commercial corridors and community anchors in underserved areas, and major non-profit organizations across the city as well as communities across Chicago including Hyde Park, Kenwood, Woodlawn, Washington Park, South Shore, Greater Grand Crossing, Grand Boulevard, Douglas and Oakland.

For more information on Illinois Gigabit, visit Gigabit.Illinois.gov.

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Northwest Carpet One Floor & Home Introduces Free Digital Magazine for iPad PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Douglas Patch   
Tuesday, 15 January 2013 08:22

Davenport, IA – Northwest Carpet One Floor & Home is offering a new digital magazine to its customers. The magazine entitled Beautiful Design. Made Simple. features inspiration, tips and advice to make creating a beautiful home just a little bit easier. The magazine is free and can be downloaded from the Apple App Store.

Each quarter Beautiful Design.Made Simple.. will feature new ideas and inspiration. Northwest Carpet One Floor & Home’s goal is to provide their customers with design tips and trends before, during, and after they purchase flooring..

“Design is ever changing and so is your home,” said Douglas Patch, of Northwest Carpet One Floor & Home “Even if you've finished your flooring project, this magazine can help you plan your next project or make updates to other parts of your home.”

The premier issue of Beautiful Design. Made Simple. features information and ways to incorporate Benjamin Moore’s 2013 color trends, Simple tips on updating a room, inspiration and design advice from professionals Tracy Bross and Glen Peloso, carpet care tips, flooring trends and a plethora of inspiring images for the entire home.

To download this free magazine visit http://www.beautifuldesignmadesimple.com or search for Beautiful Design. Made Simple. in your App Store.

About Northwest Carpet One Floor & Home
Northwest Carpet One Floor & Home is a locally owned flooring retailer serving the Davenport area. They are part of North America’s leading floor covering co-op. Their showroom is known for carrying a broad selection of beautiful carpet, wood, laminate, ceramic, vinyl, and area rugs including exclusive brands like Bigelow and Lees. They offer a unique customer experience with the exclusive SelectAFloor merchandising system that simplifies the shopping experience and The Beautiful GuaranteeTM, which guarantees that the customer will be 100% happy with their floor. Northwest Carpet One Floor & Home is also the home of the exclusive Healthier Living Installation system. For more information visit NORTHWESTCARPETONEDAVENPORT.COM.

 
Are You Running Your Business on Obsolete Technology? PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Richard Martin   
Tuesday, 08 January 2013 16:32
Midland Communications Advises Customers on the Dangers of Operating on a Manufacturer Discontinued Phone System

DAVENPORT, IA - January 8, 2013 - The world of unified communications is centered on the idea of leveraging powerful technologies and applications to boost productivity. When individual employees have superior tools they are able to do more with less and increase bottom-line profitability. However, many businesses are becoming increasingly familiar with the concept of planned obsolescence, which is a policy of planning or designing a product with a limited useful life, so it will become obsolete, unfashionable or no longer functional after a certain period of time. Phone systems and data networks are beginning to show signs of planned obsolescence and business owners are beginning to reexamine their communications infrastructure. Small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) need to take a close look at their phone systems to evaluate when obsolescence will strike and what steps they can take to avoid this.
Many of the existing phone systems that businesses are currently running have been discontinued and no longer supported by the manufacturer. This basically means that the technology has run its course, stopped being manufactured and is becoming exceedingly difficult to service. In other words, if a business is running its communications infrastructure on obsolete technology, when it breaks down there won't be anyone to help fix it. This is a giant risk that business owners are taking when their customer relationships are on the line. An outdated phone system will ultimately crash. Businesses cannot afford to go down and cut off all contact with their customers.
"Here at Midland Communications, we are educating companies on the risks associated with manufacturer discontinued phone systems as well as their options for new technology," stated Jason Smith, Vice President of Midland Communications. "This is an exciting time in our industry because with the advent of SIP (session initiation protocol) many companies can easily cost justify the adoption of today's technology. Plus, these businesses will benefit from applications and features designed to increase their profitability, enhance their employees' productivity, and give them a competitive advantage, something their outdated phone system cannot do."

ABOUT MIDLAND COMMUNICATIONS
Midland Communications began more than 60 years ago in 1946 as the Worldwide Marketing Arm of Victor-Animagraph Projectors. In 1977 a communications division was formed due to a partnership with NEC America. Today, As a distributor of NEC America, for 33 years, Midland Communications has a customer base of more than 3,000 satisfied customers that include general businesses, government agencies, Universities, colleges, hospitals, and hotels.
Midland provides a wide range of communication services including VOIP, PBX and key systems, Wide Area and Local Area networking, computers, Computer integration, voice mail, CCIS, and video conferencing and paging systems. Our philosophy is simple, provide quality products at a fair price, backed by an average emergency response time of twenty minutes, and the best service in the industry. For more information on Midland Communications, call (563) 326-1237 or visit www.midlandcom.com.


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Rock Island Library Programs Provide Tech Help After the Holidays PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Lisa Lockheart   
Thursday, 27 December 2012 10:10

Did a new eReader, tablet or smartphone end up under your tree this year? If so, the Rock Island Public Library wants to help you learn how to use them to checkout free eBooks and audiobooks.

The library will kick off 2013 with a free “Getting Started with Downloading eBooks” program at 2:00 pm on Wednesday, January 2, at the Rock Island Main Library, 401 19th Street, Rock Island. The same program will be repeated at 5:30 pm on Tuesday, Jan. 15 at the Rock Island Southwest Branch Library, 9010 Ridgewood Road. Getting Started with Downloading eBooks will show participants how to use the OverDrive service to checkout free eBooks and eAudiobooks for a wide variety of devices, including eReaders, Kindle readers and tablets, Apple devices, and smartphones. Each session starts with a short demo, followed by time for one-on-one practice or help. No registration is required.

And if a new laptop or personal computer was on your gift list this year, the library will also offer a free “Getting Started with Computers” session at 1:30 pm on Tuesday, Jan. 29, at the Rock Island Main Library, 401 19th Street. The class offers free help for users who are either completely new to computers or for those who want to get more comfortable using one. Registration is required for this class only. To sign up, call 309-732-7341.

 

For more events at the Rock Island Public Library, pick up a winter program brochure or monthly events calendar at any Rock Island Library, check the library calendar or news sections at www.rockislandlibrary.org, or sign up for news by email. For questions, please call 309-732-7323 (READ.)

 

Additional Rock Island Library Tech Classes for 2013:

Getting Started with Email

Thursday, February 21st, 2013, 2:30 pm Main Library

Whether you need an email account or just don’t use yours very often, this class will help you become more comfortable. Registration is required: Call 309-732-7341.

 

Getting Started with Computers

Thursday, March 14th, 2013, 11:30 am Main Library

Whether you’ve never touched a computer before or just want to learn some new things, this class will help you get more comfortable.  Registration is required: Call 309-732-7341

 

Getting Started with Email

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013, 10:30 am Main Library

Whether you need an email account or just don’t use yours very often, this class will help you become more comfortable. Registration is required: Call 309-732-7341.

 

Getting Started with Library Databases

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013, 3:00 pm Main Library

Learn how to use some of the Library’s online databases to learn a new language, research your family history, and find magazine articles or books online. Registration required: Call 309-732-7341.

 
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