Research Papers/Topics in Information Technology

Student Inquiries into Neglected Research for a Sustainable Society: Communication and Application

By applying the interdisciplinary approach of Science, Technology & Society, students can solve often-neglected research problems of shifting society’s operation towards a sustainable state. A recent Penn State University student research report entitled “The Mueller Report: Moving from Sustainability Indicators to Sustainability Action”, contained a detailed ecological analysis of one campus building and addressed methods to optimize its ecological performance in terms of sustainabilit...

Teaching Science by Encouraging Innovation in Appropriate Technologies for Sustainable Development

Appropriate technologies, those able to be easily and economically constructed from readily available materials by local craftspeople, have a central role in the alleviation of poverty in the developing world. Research and development of these technologies are, however, generally apportioned relatively modest support by the developed world’s institutions in part because the operation of many of these appropriate technologies is dependent on relatively well-understood science accessible even...

Teaching Physics Using Appropriate Technology Projects

Appropriate technologies able to be easily and economically constructed from readily available materials by local craftspeople have a central role in the alleviation of poverty in the developing world. However, research and development of these technologies are generally apportioned relatively modest support by the developed world’s institutions, in part because the operation of many of these appropriate technologies is dependent on relatively well-under-stood science accessible even to int...

Foreign Languages and the Environment: A Collaborative Instructional Project

The project described here—a collaborative venture between Modern Languages and Physics—provided an opportunity for students to increase their language proficiency while learning about concepts related to the environment. The Standards for Foreign Language Learning, and in particular the “Connections” goal, call for foreign language educators to integrate language instruction into other disciplines, while the “Communities” goal advocates using the language beyond the classroom. In...

Appropedia as a Tool for Service Learning in Sustainable Development

Numerous studies have demonstrated that university students are capable of contributing to sustainable development while improving their academic skills. Unfortunately for many institutions, the expense of sending large cohorts of students on international service learning trips is prohibitive. Yet, students remain enthusiastic and well equipped to assist in sustainable development. This article reports on two pedagogical experiments in service learning that overcame this challenge by providi...

Utilization of Virtual Globes for Open Source Industrial Symbiosis

Several proprietary industrial symbiosis software tools have been developed, however, without long term financial commitments these endeavors fall short of creating generalizable and sustainable tools. The recent development of virtual globes such as Google Earth (GE), an information service that provides imagery and three dimensional data depicting the entire physical earth, provides an opportunity to use a new sustainable method of navigating information to save energy and use materials mor...

Overcoming Technical Constraints for Obtaining Sustainable Development with Open Source Appropriate Technology

Open source appropriate technology (OSAT) refers to technologies that provide for sustainable development while being designed in the same fashion as free and open-source software. Facilitated by advances in information technology software and hardware, new ways to disseminate information such as wikis and Internet-enabled mobile phones, the global development of OSAT has emerged as a reality. This paper shows the sharing of design processes, appropriate tools, and technical information is en...

Overcoming Language Challenges of Open Source Appropriate Technology for Sustainable Development in Africa

Despite enormous efforts over the course of several decades, sustainable development on the African continent remains incompletely realized. Top-down methodologies have largely failed and many sustainable development organizations now support small-scale direct approaches, which provide the tools and knowledge necessary for people to help themselves. The new approach to sustainable development of open source appropriate technology (OSAT) builds on these successes. OSAT is a development method...

Open Design-Based Strategies to Enhance Appropriate Technology Development

The appropriate technology (AT) movement is being driven by inventors and innovators who are interested in designing technologies that are culturally, environmentally, and economically appropriate, and feasible to construct and use for people anywhere in the world. This paper examines how open sharing of designs, specifications, and technical information can enhance effectiveness, widespread use, and innovation of AT. This commons-based open design method has been highly successful for softwa...

Hybrid Virtual- and Field Work-based Service Learning with Green Information Technology and Systems Projects

Traditional engineering service learning (SL) projects can be classified as: 1) collaborations with a community group or non-profit organization to provide specific engineering around a community need, or 2) an internship-like experience with industry to address work requested by a client. The limitation of both traditional SL approaches is that they do not prepare students to implement unprescribed projects. In contrast, here students chose both the project and the partner for a self-directe...

Barriers to Appropriate Technology Growth in Sustainable Development

Given the urgency of development problems world-wide, as well as the opportunities of open source appropriate technology (OSAT) to help expedite sustainable development goals, a better understanding of the barriers limiting the scaling of OSAT is needed. In this study, key organizations and researchers working in the field of appropriate technology (AT) were interviewed to identify barriers to OSAT. The data was analyzed via pattern coding and content analysis. Results reveal that among the m...

The Case for Open Source Appropriate Technology

Much of the widespread poverty, environmental desecration, and waste of human life seen around the globe could be prevented by known (to humanity as a whole) technologies, many of which are simply not available to those that need it. This lack of access to critical information for sustainable development is directly responsible for a morally and ethically unacceptable level of human suffering and death. A solution to this general problem is the concept of open source appropriate technology or...

Open Source Database and Website to Provide Free and Open Access to Inactive U.S. Patents in the Public Domain

Although theoretically the patent system is meant to bolster innovation, the current United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is cumbersome and involves a significant time investment to locate inactive patents less than 20 years old. This article reports on the development of an open source database to find these public domain ideas. First, a search strategy is explained. Then the operation and use of free and open source software are detailed to meet the needs of open hardware innov...

Ensuring technical competency for management of research-focused organizations

Does a national research-focused organization need a technically competent leader? This study provides preliminary answers to that question using a natural experiment underway at the Department of Energy (DOE): a leader with significant high-level management experience superior to that of his predecessors, but no relevant technical experience was appointed to run the vast scientific research operation. The following hypothesis is proposed: A major risk of allowing technically-unqualified lead...


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