Success in the inaugural Catalyst Grant Program

Quote: As we prepare to announg the 2019-20 Catalyst Innovation Program Recipients and change the program coordinators, we want to take a moment to reflect on some of the highlights of year #1, what we learned, and a bit about our hopes moving forward, said Jess Knott.

As we prepare to announce the 2019-2020 Catalyst Innovation Program recipients and change program coordinators, we want to take a moment to reflect on some of the highlights of Year #1, what we learned, and a bit about our hopes moving forward.

The first year of the Catalyst program saw a wide variety of projects and opportunities, spanning a number of disciplines. In August, we highlighted Drs. Sunil Chakrapani and Jenifer Saldanha of the College of Engineering and CREATE for STEM. They, along with engineering student Jorge Mateus installed a virtual reality system for the purpose of putting engineering concepts both literally and virtually in the hands of their students. Initial data collection shows positive results, and we can’t wait to amplify their findings as the research evolves.

In a more technical focus, Drs. Erica Chifflet-Chilla and Monaca Eaton in the School of Social Work realized that in order to help faculty become better online teachers, they needed to figure out how to make sure they had access to the tools they needed and support in learning how to use them. Their Catalyst project put together several easy-to-use recording kits that faculty could check out, as well as training and help on how to use them and what it meant to make effective multimedia for online and technology-enhanced courses. They’re currently gathering feedback and will have more to share in future highlights.

Finally, for the purposes of this brief reflection post, Dr. Eva Kassens-Noor in Urban Planning introduced a new “friend” in the Human Ecology Building. Using a robotic telepresence drone, Dr. Kassens-Noor engaged her urban planning and sustainability students in understanding both the possibilities and implications of artificial intelligence and surveillance technologies. Her measurements and observations are also in development and will be shared in future highlights.

Looking forward to 2020, we’re focusing on learning from the past to keep our MSU futures fresh. As Dr. Jessica Knott transitions into a role with MSU Information Technology, she hands the Catalyst Innovation Program reigns over to the more than capable direction of learning experience designer Rashad Muhammad. Rashad will facilitate year 2 of the program, supporting the project and teaching strategies in collaboration with our winners. He will also facilitate project spotlights and updates on how the measurements from Year 1 evolve.

We invite you to follow along, not only with Year #1 and what was learned, but also Year #2 and the potential the soon-to-be-announced projects offer to the student experience here at MSU.