Dear IPaT Community,
Happy holidays! Perhaps more than ever before, we are eagerly anticipating new opportunities and possibilities in 2021. This year was challenging in so many ways. For those of you who have suffered personal losses due to COVID-19, my heartfelt condolences to you, your family and your loved ones. Each of us has grappled with challenges of separation and stress, and we feel the loss of not interacting with each other in person at our many time honored gatherings.
IPaT’s vision and purpose is to shape the future of human-centered systems to promote satisfying, healthy and productive lives. We have fulfilled that calling in many new and uplifting ways as this year has unfolded.
We started the year with the opening of an innovative research and therapy program for people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), often a precursor to Alzheimer’s disease. The Cognitive Empowerment Program is a joint effort between Emory University’s School of Medicine and the Georgia Institute of Technology. As the pandemic forced us out of our carefully designed space, we rapidly pivoted to providing programming via our custom iPad app, maintaining engagement during this difficult year in likely the first ever virtual comprehensive program for this population.
We rose to the challenges of COVID-19 testing by partnering with colleagues from Emory University, the Morehouse School of Medicine, and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta in multiple Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx) programs. RADx is a federal initiative designed to rapidly transform early, innovative technologies into widely accessible COVID-19 diagnostic testing. Our efforts target the creation of new COVID-19 tests and the accessibility and use of these tests for underserved populations.
We continued to foster sustainable innovation for our Georgia communities. We sponsored a successful "Hurricane Preparedness During a Pandemic" conference in partnership with the Chatham Emergency Management Agency. Our support of the Georgia Smart Communities Challenge continues with three new winners named as earlier pilot projects grow into larger comprehensive programs. Our latest efforts have Georgia Tech taking a lead role in the Partnership for Inclusive Innovation, a new public-private partnership created to foster technology access, growth, entrepreneurship, and evolution across the state of Georgia.
And, for the first time, we hosted our inaugural esports symposium and invitational, bringing together key partners including Georgia Tech’s Athletic Association and Skillshot Media, a rapidly growing esports production company based in Alpharetta, GA. Be on the lookout for more esports events in the future as part of our growing portfolio of work in sports innovation.
As we set our sights on 2021 and beyond, IPaT re-focused internal efforts to support Black Lives Matter to amplify contributions of our Black colleagues, encourage more Black students in STEM, and fight systemic racism that creates barriers to advancement and equality. We are pleased to support 2021 research grants that tackle challenges in co-designing for black communities, supporting Georgia’s K-12 students remote learning, and promoting child welfare across the state.
As we wait for 2021 to arrive, we'd like to thank you for supporting and partnering with the Institute for People and Technology. Your work with us is important and valued. Our “Year in Review” is just a glimpse into how your support and contributions are helping to shape the world to promote satisfying, healthy and productive lives.
Thank you, and have a safe and enjoyable holiday season!
Elizabeth D. Mynatt
Executive Director, Institute for People and Technology at Georgia Tech
Professor Ashok Goel received a Regents’ Award for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning from the University System of Georgia Board of Regents. The Regent’s Award for Goel recognized his groundbreaking contributions to the evolution of online learning. Goel is a professor of computer science in the School of Interactive Computing.
Professor Pinar Keskinocak assumed the presidency of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS) in January 2020. Keskinocak is the William W. George Chair and professor in the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISyE), a College of Engineering ADVANCE professor, and the director of the Center for Health and Humanitarian Systems (CHHS) at Georgia Tech.
The Southeast Region Public Interest Technology Fellows Program began pairing social scientists from Georgia State with technologists from Georgia Tech to address social challenges through computing. The program is part of Georgia Tech's new Center for Computing and Society. IPaT hosted and supported the kickoff event and is also involved in the program.
The Cognitive Empowerment Program opened its doors to the first members. The Cognitive Empowerment Program is a joint effort between Emory University’s Brain Health Center and the Georgia Institute of Technology to empower people living with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), a distinct decline in thinking.
Professor Nicoleta Serban, in the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering, was selected to serve on a new commission examining how the state of Georgia can improve behavioral health services. Georgia Governor Brian Kemp’s office announced the formation of the 24-member Georgia Behavioral Health Reform & Innovation Commission in September, 2019. Appointees are state legislators, judges, subject matter experts, and citizens. The commission will review Georgia's behavioral health system, including access to and delivery of critical mental health services, and provide recommendations for reform and innovation.
Blair MacIntyre, a professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Interactive Computing and IEEE VR conference co-chair, proposed transitioning the IEEE Conference on Virtual Reality and 3D User Interfaces to an all-virtual event to support social distancing recommendations related to the COVID-19 pandemic. For the first time in its 26-year history, the event took place entirely online.
Georgia Tech implemented remote working, social distancing, and new safety procedures across campus in response to the emerging Covid-19 pandemic.
On Wednesday, April 22, more than 850 faculty, researchers, and staff from Georgia Tech and the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) tuned in to a virtual town hall to discuss Tech’s research enterprise activities. Chaouki Abdallah, executive vice president for research, led the town hall and highlighted the research activities of teams working to support Georgia’s state covid testing initiative, as well as teams at Georgia Tech making face shields and designing low-cost ventilators and new cleaning solutions. Researchers at Tech were also creating apps to assist in contact tracing.
Turgay Ayer partnered with a research team from Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital and a team from Boston Medical Center, led by Associate Professor Benjamin Linas to create a COVID-19 Simulator. The simulator, an interactive tool designed to inform COVID-19 intervention policy decisions in the U.S., was also made available to the general public.
Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, the Emory University School of Medicine Department of Pediatrics and the Georgia Institute of Technology received a $31 million supplement from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the largest supplement awarded to any participant in the Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx) program. RADx is a federal initiative designed to rapidly transform early, innovative technologies into widely accessible COVID-19 diagnostic testing.
IPaT presented covid-19 ramp-up and recovery planning details to faculty, staff and students. IPaT provided safety guidance on the expected re-openings occurring in IPaT’s research labs and spaces.
IPaT re-focused efforts to support Black Lives Matter by seeking to amplify contributions of our Black colleagues, encourage more Black students in STEM, and fight systemic racism that creates barriers to advancement and equality. This also included incorporating social justice throughout our work, providing pivotal research and educational experiences for our students, and ensuring opportunities are equally available to all members of our community with vigilant monitoring looking for gaps in communication.
IPaT hosted a virtual conference presented by The Georgia Institute of Technology and the Chatham Emergency Management Agency (CEMA). The focus of the conference was "Hurricane Preparedness During a Pandemic." The online conference provided a unique mix of expertise from across local, state, and federal agencies combined with leading university researchers.
Georgia Tech’s Georgia Smart Communities Challenge (Georgia Smart) empowers local governments to think outside of the box and use innovation to improve their communities. The 2020 winning communities were Clayton County, and the cities of Sandy Springs, Savannah, and Valdosta. Each community gets funding and technical expertise to help develop a working prototype of their idea.
Georgia Tech was named to take a lead role in the Partnership for Inclusive Innovation, a public-private partnership created to foster technology access, growth, entrepreneurship, and evolution across the state of Georgia.
Georgia Tech received a grant from Google’s Covid-19 AI for Social Good program to investigate patterns and impact of pandemic information-seeking amongst vulnerable populations, such as older adults, low-income households, and Black and Hispanic adults. These populations have experienced disproportionately high rates of Covid-19-related death, severe sickness, and life disruptions like job loss.
Georgia Tech and Georgia State University teamed up on a project called LGBTQ+ RISE UP. The goal of the project is to use multimedia technology through a longitudinal, diary-based study to empower the LGBTQIA+ community to understand and document how LGBTQIA+ adults demonstrate resilience and coping strategies during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Women in Technology (WIT) named Elizabeth Mynatt, a Distinguished Professor in the College of Computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology, as a finalist for WIT’s 2020 Women of the Year in STEAM Award.
Georgia Tech researchers, in collaboration with Emory University and the Morehouse School of Medicine, received a $5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to increase COVID-19 testing for people affected by diabetes in Georgia. The grant was specifically awarded to The Georgia Center for Diabetes Translation Research (GCDTR), which is a joint collaboration among the three institutions.
Two student teams won this year’s Georgia Tech’s fall semester 2020 Convergence Innovation Competition (CIC) with one winning team also winning a golden ticket to enter Georgia Tech’s Create-X Startup Launch program summer 2021. The winning teams created a music-tech company dedicated to helping undiscovered music creatives connect and collaborate, and a novel education platform mimicking physical interactions in the virtual world in the context of a learning experience.
The Institute for People and Technology, along with Georgia Tech Athletics, held its inaugural Esports Symposium and Invitational. This live-streamed event, produced by SkillShot, featured industry leaders for a look at the topic of esports innovation. In addition, a Rocket League tournament involving four Georgia Tech student teams was played during the symposium.