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Archive for the 'Collaboratory' Category

Student film illuminates challenges experienced by people with disabilities in Ghana

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

People with disabilities are often overlooked or left behind in discussions about global humanitarian relief aid and advocacy. But the number of vulnerable disabled people living in poverty and suffering in poor health is staggering in many communities. Eighty-two percent of people with disabilities live in poverty and more than 90% of children with disabilities do not receive education.

A new, short documentary film, Beyond the Margins, tells the stories of several unlikely heroes in Ghana—people with disabilities. Behind the cameras was Messiah College senior Derick Esch ‘14 who undertook the film as part of a graduation project. (more…)

Water and sanitation access: increasing hope for persons with disabilities

Monday, November 18th, 2013

While completing field interviews in rural Mali, I met a young man with disabilities who was living in his parents’ home. As a child he contracted a disease which left him unable to walk. As my colleagues and I began to interact with him, he excitedly showed us a complex system of wires and old batteries that he had assembled. When he touched two of the wires together, several small lights illuminated across an old wooden board. A wide smile flashed across his face as he showed us this amazingly complex system he had designed from the simplest of materials.

As the conversation continued, we were informed that this young man had almost never left his parents’ home. When we asked the reasons for this, his mother immediately discussed the stigmatization and dangers he would face in the community. She explained that some may attribute his impairment to demonic forces and as a result their family would be the targets of extreme discrimination. (more…)

Bringing pure water and the living water to Nicaragua

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

Student Rachel Morris reflects on her summer 2012 trip to Nicaragua with Messiah’s Collaboratory for Strategic Partnerships and Applied Research

Anticipation rose as we turned off the bumpy dirt highway into off-road country surrounded by roaming farm animals, tiny huts and clotheslines. A swarm of kids chased after the big yellow bus that carried our diverse team of Messiah College students, Living Water educators and newly trained village leaders, welcoming us to the community. After spending time in Puerto Cabezas preparing, we finally arrived with the mission of bringing pure water and The Living Water to the small community of Awas Tigni, Nicaragua. The next two days spent in the beautiful land of Awas flew by like a blur. Community members were eager to learn all we had to share. Classrooms were filled, and people completed a variety of activities and lessons on everything from hand-washing, to making a tippy tap to using one of our filters! (more…)

Raising up a generation

Monday, March 14th, 2011

From March 3-4 Messiah College was pleased to host Joni Eareckson Tada for a two-day visit that included a chapel message, personal interaction with students, and a public lecture.

Tada, a disabilities advocate, Christian radio host, artist, and author, encouraged Messiah students to enroll in the College’s new general education course, “Disability and Society,” applauded the Collaboratory’s efforts to provide mobility solutions to disabled individuals in Mali, and challenged students and members of the community alike to find ways to serve in the midst of their suffering.

Watch to a three-question video interview with Tada.

March 3 chapel
In her chapel message, Tada called herself a “cheerleader for people like you to get energized to help the world’s most needy—people with disability.”  She then shared how Jesus changed her own heart as he called her to life of serving people suffering with disabilities. It’s a passion for God, she said, that results in a passion for people.

Listen to Tada’s entire chapel message.

March 3 meeting with Collaboratory students and students with disability
When planning her visit to Messiah, Tada specifically requested the opportunity to hear more about the work of the College’s Collaboratory for Strategic Partnerships and Applied Research. During an evening meeting, students involved in the Collaboratory’s development of assistive technologies to increase the mobility of persons with disability shared their work with Tada.

Watch video of the Collaboratory’s mobility work.

March 4 public lecture
Tada concluded her visit with a public lecture to a crowd of more than 600 people at the Grantham Church. Her message, “Serving in the Midst of Suffering: Partnering to Make a Difference,” included personal accounts of how the Lord has answered pleas for peace and closeness during times of physical suffering. 

Watch a portion of Tada’s public lecture.

Read Tada’s blog about her experiences at Messiah.

Top photo by Walter Calahan. Bottom photo by Scott Markley `12.

Artificial intelligence expertise earns professor a patent

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

Randy Fish

It is estimated that 300 million people use Google every day in their quest to find information on the web. Imagine having the ability to not only search online text files for specific words but also to search audio files for specific sounds. Thanks in part to Messiah College Engineering Professor Randy Fish, that technology is now patented.
Fish and a team of five others have spent the past seven years perfecting and patenting “audio hot spotting,” a search engine technology that allows users to search audio files for a specific word or phrase, a particular speaker, a speaker’s tone, or characteristics like laughter and applause.
This type of “audio hot spotting” might, for example, be helpful to a user who only wants to hear the portions of a speech that caused an audience to react with applause or laughter.
The challenge, according to Fish, was developing the artificial intelligence algorithms able to discern emotion in a voice, regardless of whether the voice is male or female, and to recognize applause and laughter generically.
Other systems attempt this type of audio searching, Fish says, but only this patented system gives users access to emotions and non-speaking sounds in addition to searching on what was said or who said it.


Unwritten last chapter

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

Ray Norman

Believing that “people are remarkable stories” with the last chapter unwritten, Ray Norman, dean of the School of Science, Engineering, and Health, embraces opportunities to learn about people and hear their personal stories.

That skill has come in handy as he has managed a water and mobility project in West Africa for the past several years.

West Africa is an area where oral storytelling is valued. Norman knows the region and the art of storytelling well as he grew up there.

When Norman, a water engineer by trade, came to Messiah in 2002, the College’s Collaboratory for Strategic Partnerships and Applied Research had already been working in Africa, specifically Burkina Faso, for a number of years. In 2005, World Vision approached Norman and asked for the Collaboratory’s assistance to design latrines and wells accessible to handicapped people in Mali.


The Collaboratory Helps Fuel Pennsylvania’s Future

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

The 93rd Pennsylvania Farm Show hosts a harvest of renewable energy, including Messiah’s biodiesel project.

Biodiesel DisplayThe Alternative Energy Harvest area of the Pennsylvania Farm Show is a relatively recent addition to the country’s largest indoor agricultural display event. Here, at one end of the large Exposition Hall, students and staff from Messiah College’s Collaboratory for Strategic Partnerships and Applied Research (the Collaboratory) set up a display of its small-scale biodiesel production process. While this is the first time that the Collaboratory has brought its biodiesel production trailer to the Farm Show, the team has been working over the last five years to perfect a process for converting waste vegetable oil from Messiah’s dining facilities into biodiesel fuel for use in campus vehicles and as a substitute for petroleum heating oils. (more…)