I am a former university educator who left academia to teach kids about science and engineering on the internet. Tomorrow, I am streaming for 24+ hours to help fund an open-access biomedical engineering program for summer 2020. AMA!
Hello everyone! I am an engineer and educator with a background in electrical, optical, and biomedical engineering. Before I started teaching kids about science and engineering on the internet full-time, I was a full-time faculty member and director of the biomedical engineering undergraduate program at The University of Texas at Dallas.
I founded The Shoulders of Giants (TSoG) in 2013 with a vision to make science and engineering education accessible to all students of all ages. Over the next 5 years, the nonprofit grew to offer year-round mentorship opportunities for Dallas, TX area students ranging from middle to high school. I spent most of my free time mentoring kids and developing curriculum purely as a passion project and was never paid a dime by The Shoulders of Giants.
In mid 2018, I made the difficult decision to step away from my faculty role at the university so that I could focus my efforts on this full-time. With added focus, this has evolved into TSoG.tv, a new delivery system we launched this month centered around live Twitch streams and online open-source collaboration. This new format allows us to extend mentorship to students anywhere in the world through the magic of the internet – in fact, I have found that, through tools like Discord and GitHub, I am able to engage with students at least as, if not more, fully as I have been able to in-person in the past. I still haven’t been paid a dime (and, in fact, have put most of my life savings into making this dream a reality), but I have hopes that it will grow into a sustainable business that can allow me to continue doing this full time without my wife, daughter, and I ending up living in cardboard box. :)
One of my proudest achievements over the years was the development of the Summer Biomedical Engineering Experience (SBEE for short) in summer 2015. This is a 60-hour rigorous high school crash course in biomedical engineering that teaches kids about biomedical electronics, mechanical CAD and 3D printing, and microcontroller programming. By the end of the program, our students design and build their own electromyograph (EMG) controlled prosthetic hand. We have had over 400 students go through this program over the past 4 years, and I have had many of these remarkable young men and women contact me over the years to let me know that they are either a) off studying biomedical engineering at university now, or b) that they didn’t end up in biomedical engineering, but our program helped them find a niche within engineering that they did like.
Tomorrow, I will be hosting a 24 hour live stream on Twitch (www.twitch.tv/tsogtv) to fundraise for an initiative to expand this biomedical engineering curriculum into an open-access course that students around the world can experience for free in summer 2020. The broad appeal and multi-disciplinary nature of biomedical engineering makes it an incredible “gateway” engineering discipline, in my opinion, and I hope to provide this opportunity to anyone who wants to learn. To learn more about this initiative, please watch our trailer over at www.tsogiants.org/sbee2020
I will be teaching “Physiological Signals and Biomedical Electronics” during the 24 hour stream, a university-level lecture / lab combo course that I hope will evolve into one of the tracks of the #sbee2020 program. It begins at 10am CDT on Saturday, June 29th, and will likely run until at least noon CDT on Sunday. If you’re interested in the field, I hope you can tune in!
I am currently preparing for this live stream, but am happy to answer questions about just about anything for the next few hours until I head off to get some rest.
Edit: This has been a lot of fun, everyone! The Reddit community is great!
I need to get some rest to be ready for tomorrow, but I will check back in the morning and answer a few more questions before the stream starts. Also, please tune in and say hi during the stream tomorrow! www.twitch.tv/tsogtv
Edit 2: You guys are the absolute best - thank you for the gold and all the Twitch follows! I'm going to sleep now, but I'll be back in the morning to answer any questions that happen overnight. I'm allowing myself one 10 minute break every 3 hours during the 24-hour stream, so I may pop in to answer a few questions during the day as well. Just 12 hours to go!
Edit 3: I am back and answering questions for the next hour or so until the stream starts! After that, I'll check in and post updates / answer questions a bit on breaks.
Edit 4: Getting prepped to go live - Wish me luck! Come say hi in the Twitch chat!
Edit 5: The stream and fundraiser went great! We didn't quite hit our fundraising goal, but got a lot of one-time donations and a few new Patrons as well. I am planning on moving forward with the #sbee2020 initiative. The whole video is up as a VOD on Twitch now. If you want to good highlight from the end of the stream, check out this clip that Twitch user flowerofthenite created: https://www.twitch.tv/tsogtv/clip/AstuteRespectfulFlyPJSalt
Final Edit: Thank you all for the great questions! I think I have answered every top-level question with positive karma at this point - if I missed you, please feel free to send me a direct message. The exposure we gained from this AMA was incredible, and I'll be sure to be back in the future! We are still growing, and the biggest thing you could do to help at this point is to encourage your friends to follow our channel on Twitch! https://www.twitch.tv/tsogtv