Due to COVID-19, this year’s K-12 science and engineering fair will be virtual and high-tech in its presentation.

Students from the Purdue Fort Wayne Department of Computer Science are building a 2D virtual space via the online platform Gather where the young scientists and engineers will showcase their projects and also interact with judges using avatars.

The 66th annual Northeast Indiana Regional Science and Engineering Fair will be held March 20. Sponsored by Purdue Fort Wayne’s Office of University Research and Innovation and the School of Education, students will compete for awards and the opportunity to represent northeast Indiana at the state-level Hoosier Science and Engineering Fair.

“Like a character in a video game, participants navigate through the space to their designated booth. Each booth houses a digital version of their poster, a prerecorded video presentation, and other documents related to the research project,” said Matthew Perkins Coppola, Ph.D., assistant professor of science education, in a news release. “Judges will move from project to project and communicate directly with students through video chat, with the same kind of questioning and feedback that happens during an in-person fair.”

After the projects are judged, participants will be invited to a community room hosted by the NISTEM Education Resource Center for a virtual scavenger hunt and science demonstrations by Purdue Fort Wayne students and representatives of other local organizations. NISTEM stands for Northeast Indiana Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.

The competition and educational opportunities are open to participants from Allen, Adams, Huntington, Kosciusko, Miami, Wabash, Wells, and Whitley counties. Students advance to the regional fair by first competing in their school fair. If a school does not host its own fair, it may choose to advance a limited number of projects directly to the regional event. Registrations for the regional event are due by March 5.

For more information, contact Coppola at 260-481-6516 or perkinsm@pfw.edu, or visit the event’s website.

Indiana Tech’s cybersecurity team wins 7th straight competition

The Cyber Warriors, Indiana Tech’s cybersecurity team, won its seventh straight and 14th overall Indiana Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition title Feb. 6.

During this year’s competition, Indiana Tech beat out tough competition from skilled collegiate teams across Indiana. The Cyber Warriors held off Vincennes University, Purdue University, Indiana University and Purdue Global to earn their record seventh straight state title. Each year, competing cybersecurity teams work to combat attempted network security breaches and related challenges that test their problem-solving, technical abilities and teamwork.

Members of this year’s Cyber Warriors team include: Sam Boger, Zach Hopkins, Cameron Fyfe, Zach King, Marek Grzelak, Savanna Yoder, Nick Lanham, Osman Yusof, and John Rudolf. The team is coached by Matt Hansen, an Indiana Tech alum who was a championship-winning Cyber Warrior himself during his time as a Tech student.

Indiana Tech’s Cyber Warriors now move on to the Midwest Regional CCDC on March 19 and 20, facing fellow state champions from Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Minnesota, Missouri, Wisconsin and the winner of the wildcard round in an attempt to qualify for the national competition.

For more information about Indiana Tech, visit indianatech.edu.

Advanced technology helps patients stand, relearn walking A robotic exoskeleton, offered exclusively in this region at the Rehabilitation Hospital of Fort Wayne, is helping severely injured patients to stand and relearn how to walk. This wearable medical device also helps patients gain confidence and freedom. This advanced technology is being used for patients with stroke and spinal cord injuries and is the only exoskeleton indicated for acquired brain injury.

“It’s such an exciting time to be at the Rehabilitation Hospital Fort Wayne. This robot is innovative, one of a kind, and an excellent piece of technology to advance our patients’ recovery,” Shelene Ruggio, MD, medical director, said in a news release.

Ryan Cassedy, chief administrative officer, added, “This remarkable technology enables many of our patients to experience walking after suffering a spinal cord injury, a brain injury or a stroke.”

Therapists are using the device to help patients walk earlier in their rehabilitation process, which can help improve walking speed and distance. To walk in the device, the patient is strapped into the suit while motors drive the hip and knee joints.

Each year, nearly 60 million people suffer from acquired brain injury, 15 million suffer a stroke, and as many as 500,000 individuals experience a spinal cord injury (SCI). Clinical evidence suggests that including the exoskeleton gait (walking) training during inpatient rehabilitation for stroke improves independence in functional mobility. Most patients take an average of 400 steps their first time training in the device. It is the most clinically used exoskeleton, with patients around the world having taken more than 125 million steps and counting.

Greg Parrett, director of therapy, said in the news release, “We are excited to provide our patients with access to this advanced treatment option and we are proud to be at the forefront of a new standard of care for stroke survivors.”

The exoskeleton’s software enables clinicians to increase a patient’s strength by customizing support for each leg independently, engaging the patient throughout their course of treatment.

The exoskeleton medical device available at the Rehabilitation Hospital is approved by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) for use with stroke and spinal cord injuries from L5 to C7 and is the only exoskeleton with FDA approval for use with acquired brain injury patients. The technology and accompanying software is the only exoskeleton available for rehabilitation institutions that can provide dynamically adapting amounts of power to either side of a patient’s body, challenging the patient as they progress.

Cindy Larson is a longtime Fort Wayne journalist and is a Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly reporter. To submit items, send email to clarson@kpcmedia.com or call 260-426-2640, ext. 3369.

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