What is the Internet of Things (IoT)?
The Internet of Things is all about connecting network-enabled devices which are able to sense conditions in their environment and relay that information back to us (or to our computer applications). Think of the simple example of when you walk into a room and the lights come on – or conversely, if there is no motion in the room (ie, everybody left and the room is empty) rather than tell somebody the room is unoccupied, the lights are just turned off to conserve energy. It’s a simple example, but think of that on steroids with all aspects of a building or location instrumented to optimize someone’s experience.
How did you become interested in the IoT?
I’ve always had an interest in electronics and wiring up circuits. Now with the advent of these inexpensive prototyping boards, like an Arduino or Raspberry Pi, the ability to interface software with external devices is at the fingertips of anyone.
How long have you been teaching at PACE University?
I’ve been teaching astronomy at Pace University for about 25 years. I have lots of passions - astronomy runs a (very) close second to computer science. As I talk about this, I realize that even when I was working in the observatories, I was always interfacing telescopes and computers to our astronomical instruments – so I guess I’ve been doing this a long time. Funny, when you talk about the Internet of Things, we did one of the first telescopes on the internet about 10-15 years ago. The idea was to put that instrument on the International Space Station and control it from here on the ground via a website (kind of the ultimate Internet of Things). A bunch of my undergraduate students wrote the code to accept and schedule reservations.
What advice do you have for incoming students?
Keep learning and master the basics, to quote Albert Einstein: “If you can’t explain it to a six-year-old, you don’t understand it yourself”
Fun Fact – I am officially a Girl Scout
Before you can teach a Girl Scout troop, you have to pay dues and register with the organization, making one an honoree Girl Scout. (And no, I don’t wear the uniform)