This is an archived website containing project information published by the TechBridgeWorld research group at Carnegie Mellon University (2004 - 2016). A summary of our projects and accomplishments and links to publications can be found athttps://techbridgeworld.wordpress.com/. Last updated on March 16, 2016.
Summer 2015 - India
Summer 2015 is the last year that the iSTEP internship program will be offered.
iSTEP (innovating Student Technology ExPerience) is a rigorous and competitive 10-week internship program that requires the involvement of students with high levels of dedication, team work, cross-cultural adaptability, initiative and academic achievement. Students who have participated in iSTEP in past years have exhibited tremendous personal and professional growth as a result of their experiences conducting field research in developing community settings.
As a research group based at CMU's Robotics Institute since 2004, TechBridgeWorld has developed several creative and innovative computing tools related to assistive technology and education. Student researchers have played a key role in the development of these innovative tools. These innovations include:
- Braille Writing Tutor - a unique educational tool for visually impaired children to practice braille writing with an electronic slate and stylus through a variety of educational exercises and games.
- NavPal - a smart phone-based application for indoor and outdoor navigation geared to the diverse needs of people with disabilities, with broader applicability to all.
- TechCaFE - a suite of simple tools for customizable and fun education which allows teachers to create content for student practice through exercises and games on mobile phones, OLPC XO laptops, or other computing devices.
Our primary community partner for iSTEP 2015 is the Mathru Educational Trust for the Blind in Bangalore, India. Ideally, all iSTEP team members will be based in India.
India is a South Asian country with a rich history that celebrates a large diversity of ethnicities, traditions, religions, and languages. Geographically, India is the seventh largest country in the world, but has the second largest population worldwide, with an estimated population of 1.2 billion as of July 2014 (Wikipedia - India). One of the largest growing economies in the world, India’s key industries includes agriculture, textiles, software, food processing, and mining. However, the service sector is the primary contributor to the country's GDP (CIA World Factbook - India). In spite of its economic and technological advancements, India is still considered a developing nation, with about 25% of its population estimated to be below the poverty line and an average literacy rate of about 74% (Wikipedia - India).
Bangalore is located in the southern part of India and is the capital of the Indian state of Karnataka (Wikipedia - Bangalore). Known for being a hub for the information technology sector in India, Bangalore is a thriving city that is home to many prominent Indian academic and research institutions. Given its high elevation, Bangalore enjoys a more moderate climate compared to many other tropical locations, with an annual average temperature between 60 to 97 degrees Fahrenheit (Wikipedia - Bangalore).
More Location Info:
The Mathru Educational Trust for the Blind (Mathru), located in Bangalore, India, is a privately run, non-profit institution, founded in 2001 by Ms. Gubbi R. Muktha with the support of individual donors. In 2001, Mathru opened the Mathru School for the Blind to educate and rehabilitate visually impaired children and adults. The school was founded by Ms. Muktha after an accident that affected her own mobility. She met many people affected by blindness and wanted them to have the ability to live independently, and so the Mathru School for the Blind was born. 10 years later in 2011, Mathru launched a new center that caters to the education of children who are deaf and/or have multiple disabilities. iSTEP 2015 will work on assistive technology projects for Mathru's students who are blind, deaf or hard-of-hearing, students with multiple disabilities, and their teachers. Projects will be sourced from the needs assessed by the iSTEP 2013 team at Mathru.
This year's iSTEP program will enroll a team of four students to work on two research projects to enhance the experience of teachers and students at the Mathru Center:
- The first project will explore techniques that can be used to develop a tool that allows teachers to create educational resources for students with multiple disabilities.
- The second project will investigate methodologies that can be used to develop an effective game or set of games that help students with multiple disabilities to learn difficult topics such as General Knowledge and Science.
In addition to the research projects, the team will assist with two other endeavors:
- The team will assist TechBridgeWorld to execute a Fetzer Foundation funded comparative user study of relevant versions of TechBridgeWorld's Braille Tutor devices with the Mathru School for the Blind.
- The team will also assist Mathru to enhance their process of training/professional development for Mathru teachers.
Finally, the iSTEP 2015 team will be responsible for creatively disseminating findings from these research efforts as well as their experiences in the field. Students will have the opportunity to participate in media efforts that demonstrate "compassionate engineering", challenge stereotypes and raise awareness of blind children in the developing world.
Given the specific iSTEP 2015 projects, we anticipate that the following skill sets will be valuable to the iSTEP team: software development, accessible interface design, industrial design, game creation for players who are deaf or hard-of-hearing and players who have multiple disabilities, user testing, field research, monitoring and evaluation, written and oral communication in English, technical writing, and social media content development.
While no candidate is expected to have strong skills in all of these areas, ideal candidates will specialize in one or more of these areas and have some cross-cutting skill sets. As in a "start-up" setting, all members of the team, regardless of their responsibilities, will need to participate in a variety of tasks to ensure the overall success of the team. The specific team responsibilities will be determined after the iSTEP 2015 team is selected. The work location for each team member will also be decided after the iSTEP 2015 team is selected. However, we aim to provide all students with experience in the field if deemed appropriate for the research efforts and logistically feasible. Each iSTEP intern will be assigned to a supervisor from the TechBridgeWorld team to whom they will be accountable during the internship.
Key criteria for success include:
- Being open-minded and eager to learn new skills and concepts that may be very different from what you have done in the past
- Willingness to work hard and respectfully in a team setting with minimal supervision, and be totally dedicated to the success of the team
- Ability to adapt to unforeseen and challenging situations, and to persevere towards team success despite these challenges
- Willingness and ability to learn new things quickly given the limited time frame of the internship
Selected iSTEP 2015 interns will participate in 2 mandatory preparation sessions in the Spring 2015 semester (to be scheduled). Your performance in these sessions could impact your participation in the internship.
One preparation session will require selected iSTEP 2015 interns to complete a variety of paperwork in order to facilitate logistics associated with their participation in the program. During the spring semester we will work with CMU colleagues in a variety of departments to coordinate the completion of forms required from iSTEP interns related to logistics such as: payroll and applicable taxes, travel booking, emergency contact information, health insurance, intellectual property ownership, research compliance, etc. Another preparation session will serve as an introduction to your work tasks for the summer. Please feel free to contact us if you would like to know more specifics about these required forms before applying to the program.
TechBridgeWorld will be offering two mini-courses in the Spring 2015 semester that could significantly benefit iSTEP 2015 students in preparing for their summer research experience. Enrolling in these courses is optional, but strongly encouraged. These courses have no prerequisites, are open to undergraduate and graduate students from all departments (regardless of participation in iSTEP), and will be available at different meeting times (to be determined) at CMU’s Pittsburgh campus. The first mini will feature the 6-unit course “Innovating for Underserved Communities: Field Research Basics” (course number 15-302 for undergraduates or 15-602 for graduate students). The second mini will feature the 6-unit course “Seminar on Innovating for Underserved Communities” (course number 15-303 for undergraduates or 15-603 for graduate students; open to graduate students and undergraduate juniors and seniors, or freshmen and sophomores with instructor permission).
Orientation and Training Session
Selected iSTEP 2015 interns will participate in a mandatory 1-week orientation and training session that will take place during the first week of the 10-week internship. This session will serve as the team’s preparation for the internship’s work tasks. Your performance in this session could impact your participation in the internship. All interns are required to attend the session at CMU’s Pittsburgh campus. Interns are expected to be available for training and preparation full-time during the first week.
Please see “Overseas Travel Logistics” and “Accommodations and Local Transportation” below for more information on housing and transportation during the Orientation and Training Session.
Each of the interns selected for the team will be paid a salary of US$3,000 (subject to any applicable taxes) for their participation with the program. This will be paid biweekly or monthly over the course of the summer through university payroll.
Overseas Travel Logistics
Air travel to and from India will be arranged and sponsored by Carnegie Mellon University. TechBridgeWorld will also process and pay for any required visas. The value of these travel costs provided to CMU students may be subject to applicable taxes.
Interns who travel to India must have a valid passport (we cannot pay for interns’ passport processing). Interns must pay for any required immunizations, vaccinations, and medications prior to their travel. Interns must also ensure they have health insurance to cover them overseas for the duration of the summer internship.
The internship typically begins in late May/early June and ends in late July/early August. The exact schedule is determined with local partners then confirmed with the selected iSTEP team. Travel scheduling will also relate to the orientation and training session. Interns traveling to India will be in Pittsburgh for the 1st week of the internship, followed by travel to India for the remaining 9 weeks of the internship.
Accommodations and Local Transportation
For interns traveling to India, local accommodations and transportation for work purposes will be pre-arranged and paid for by TechBridgeWorld and its partners.
iSTEP interns working at CMU's Pittsburgh campus for the full internship must make their own housing and transportation arrangements and are eligible for an additional US$1,000 (subject to any applicable taxes) paid with their internship salary to help them cover living expenses, if needed.
During the week-long orientation and training session, all students will receive support up to an additional US$100 (subject to applicable taxes) paid with their internship salary to help cover their living expenses in Pittsburgh if needed. We must have proof of local housing arrangements (e.g. letter from university housing or a signed contract with a landlord) by May 1, 2015 in order to provide this additional funding.
Meals and Personal Expenses
Interns are expected to pay for their own meals and personal expenses. We suggest interns research in advance what they can expect in terms of local cost of living where they will be located for the summer so that they can budget accordingly (for example average cost for meals, personal expenses, entertainment, etc.).
If you have any questions on any of these details please feel free to contact us.