Hackiamos en Guatemala: Wearables, Robotics, and more! Featured

Arduino Woman - Tenaya Hurts - participated at Hackiamos en Guatemala. Read her review!
With rain falling through the atriums in Universidad de Galileo’s campus, we began the F.I.T. experience of 2016.  Each year, students of the university can choose to participate in a special week of classes focused on technology, featuring visiting experts.  Engineering students select a track to learn essential technological skills from artists, engineer professionals, and teachers like myself, from the U.S and other countries.  With so many interesting classes to choose from, the students follow their passion.


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What is different about these students of Universidad de Galileo?  All are respectful, driven to learn, helpful, positively oriented, intelligent, talented, and knowledgeable about the latest technology.  They so appreciate the visiting teachers, and are never in the back of the classroom playing computer games…like some of my students in the U.S.  They know their options are somewhat limited for careers in Guatemala, but are also optimistic that they really can create their own way in the IoT future.  My direct experience can vouch for all of them - they are problem solvers with true engineering spirit.


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Galileo students also help to mentor a high school level robotics competition, also part of the week of events, called Balam Robotics.  Your standard sumo robot match has become a true team bonding activity where students testify that they truly enjoyed learning about Arduino, electric circuits, and programming with their friends.  Of course the robots take on identities with 3D printed decorations, fabric, wire, stickers, K-Nex, Lego, flags and cardboard.  My favorites were Darth Vader, Anonymous, SuperMan, BatMan, Frankenstein, VWBus and even a super cute Owl!  The electronics consisted of a standard kit from Sparkfun using the HC-SR04, one of my favorite, the ultrasonic distance sensor.


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For my Wearable Tech track, “I don’t show samples at workshops” is still my credo.  Even though I’m coming all the way to Guatemala, I begin as I always do with some CR2032 battery holders, alligator clips, and Lilypad LEDs.  Even E.E. students can go back to basics with their circuits, however, my class had lights illuminated faster than any students I’ve worked with in the U.S.!  Next we focused on sorting out the Arduino IDE and the drivers and libraries needed to use Adafruit Gemmas.  We decided to use Gemmas this year so we could have more projects for our finale - the first ever wearable tech fashion show in all of Central America!  We were even a part of Lady Ada’s Wednesday night Show & Tell internet show, a lucky opportunity to show her the talent of our students using the Gemma, Feather, and more.


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Students created jewelry, hats, gloves, LED parasols, pet wearables, and corbatas - that’s Spanish for ties!  One group of lady makers worked on a shirt with conductive thread creating a lattice across the back with Lilypad LEDs.  I had never seen anyone attempt that, it was definitely a challenge to not cause a short circuit because conductive thread is not insulated.  Even I got to experiment with a new wearable component, a slide potentiometer made of a conductive ribbon from Plug&Wear!  It’s simple and super fun to add to a wearable project because it gives the model some action to show an analog affect on the LEDs; blinking rates or changing color amongst the RGBs.

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The first ever Wearable Tech Fashion Show in Central America was beyond a success.  The University provided a beautiful stage and catwalk - better than any other show I’ve ever done.  Everyone working on the FIT event was helpful, resourceful, focused, and calm to help models put together outfits, add accessories, and have power for everything!  Other than sharing LiPo batteries and power banks, everything went smoothly.  Models were gorgeous/handsome and had a great time interacting with the audience, which was also super supportive and full of energy.  My favorite part about the collaboration is that I bring all these pieces that I’ve made and the students combine them in new ways that are so fashionable.  Our hair and make-up team are also students at Galileo in Fashion and Design.  These ladies brought our wearable tech to life with extreme and beautiful hair designs, make-up colors, jewels, and more.  All my years in theatre & film, I’ve never had such spectacular make-up and hair.  This special moment in history was truly OUR fashion show, thank you to everyone for their hard work and making F.I.T. 2016 so special!


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