In the News

August 4, 2017

ASPIRE/INSPIRE programs provide 49 SoCal students with hands-on computer science, engineering experience

The Office of Access and Inclusion’s ASPIRE and INSPIRE summer computer science and engineering programs culminated in a special closing symposium on Friday, July 28 at the UCI Student Center’s Pacific Ballroom.

This year the program featured 39 ASPIRE high school students and 10 INSPIRE community college students from across Southern California. Throughout the intensive two-week training course, distinguished faculty from the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences and the Henry Samueli School of Engineering mentored students as they worked in teams to dream, design and complete engineering and computer science projects. In order to be selected for the programs, students must have a minimum 3.0 GPA and, more importantly, a thirst for knowledge.

During his opening remarks at the event, Engineering Dean Gregory Washington stressed the important role talented young engineers will play in the future: “We are here today because education has been democratized and is open to anyone, anywhere... In the next 10 years, 1 billion new people will have been born and will put unprecedented stress on the planet. The answers to these issues will come from engineers and computer scientists.”

The top two ASPIRE teams this year were R.O.A. Smart Watch and The Smart Home, and the top two INSPIRE teams were MEDUSA and B-One Smart Translator. Each team was chosen by the programs’ director and Assistant Dean of the Office of Access and Inclusion Sharnnia Artis. A People’s Choice Award went to R.O.A. Smart Watch, which was voted the top project by audience members.

The ASPIRE/INSPIRE experience is immersive and students with no prior knowledge of the disciplines are educated and motivated to produce working product prototypes by the end of the residential program. Coding, designing and prototype testing provide the hands-on experience these students need to inspire them to pursue future degrees in computer science or engineering.

“UCI is definitely going to be my first-choice school when I graduate,” said Na’Kya Gant, a rising senior at City Honors College Preparatory in Inglewood, Calif., who teamed up with fellow high school student Abrianna Canyon from New West Charter High School in Los Angeles. Gant said the program has motivated her to pursue a major in biomedical engineering with a minor in computer science.

Gant and Canyon’s Restaurant RC-Car project is a simple motorized platform to increase profits for restaurant owners and decrease food wait times for customers. Their design incorporates a voice-controlled remote control, Bluetooth and an automatic platform for lifting objects.

Other projects included The Smart Home, an energy- and resource-efficient house that utilizes IoT technology; Portable Photobooth Project, in which the students learned the Python language and utilized a Raspberry Pi for the first time; and AlexaBot, an inexpensive robot that the students designed to provide voice-command accessibility.

“I was truly impressed with the projects,” said ICS Dean Marios Papaefthymiou. “I hope the students realize that this is just the beginning of a long trip and I’m confident that I’ll see some of these remarkable students here, at UC Irvine, in a few years.”

ICS Dean Marios Papaefthymiou talking with Na’Kya Gant and Abrianna Canyon about their project, the Restaurant RC-Car.

Below is a list of the creative projects dreamed up and designed by this year’s high school and community college student cohorts:

ASPIRE Projects

LED Alarm Clock
Coached by Tiffany Tran
Team members: Paula Olivares, Tina Kong, Morris Lee and Theodore Rey

Coached by Clay Clark
Team members: Sergio Roman, Javon Chambers and Edantae Harris

Ding Dong Click
Coached by Leona Zhao
Team members: Assam Ismall, Berenice Cortez and Samuel Salib

Coached by Edgar Prieto
Team members: Arianne Braswell, Londyn Adams and Grant Jonghyun Lee

Photo Booth Project
Coached by Rosetta Pendleton
Team members: Dina Addis, David Bonilla and Elizabeth Alvarado

Restaurant RC-Car
Coached by Jordan Elam
Team members: Na’Kya Gant and Abrianna Canyon

Murphy: the Self-Balancing Robot
Coached by Jesus Alberto Robledo and Clay Clark
Team members: Wendy Nawa, Jewell Graham and Michelle Boulos

The Smart Home
Coached by Jordan Elam, Sarah Memon and Clay Clark
Team members: Leslie Marroquin, Jolie Tran and Shalini Rao

Solar Powered RC Car
Coached by Edgar Prieto
Team members: Onyexx Chukwumerije, Joshua Washington and Myles Bailey

Coached by Jordan Elam
Team members: Joel Kattapuram, Samantha Lee and Kevin Mazo

R.O.A. Smart Watch
Coached by Melissa Torres
Team members: Amanda Arenas, Rafael Arias-Torres and Osvaldo Martinez

Portable Console
Coached by Clay Clark
Team members: James Conley, Israel Frankiewicz and Johnny Vega

Facial Recognition Safe
Coached by Tiffany Tran
Team members: Jessica Lopez, Nathaniel Campbell and Kendrae Fleming

INSPIRE Projects

B-One Smart Translator
Coached by Hudson Hughes and Rosetta Pendleton
Team members: Sarina Kiani and Hanh Vo

Coached by Leona Zhao
Team members: Jonathan Renteria and Oscar Zaragoza

Explorer Car
Coached by Jesus Robledo and Sarah Memon
Team members: Andreas Medrano and Blessing Nwogu

Coached by Melissa Torres
Team members: Lizett Acosta and Sarah Supat

Self Balancing Robot
Coached by Jesus Robledo
Team members: Onoriode Bank and Joshua Vega

— Katherine Li Smith

ASPIRE/INSPIRE programs provide 49 SoCal students with hands-on computer science, engineering experience

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