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WTAMU Students Take Wins at Pathways Student Research Symposium

Dec. 10, 2013

COPY BY: Rana McDonald, 806-651-2129, rmcdonald@wtamu.edu

WTAMU Students Take Wins at Pathways Student Research Symposium

CANYON, Texas—Research projects using motion sensitive cameras and the advanced mathematical concepts of Pascal’s Triangle earned top awards for two West Texas A&M University students at the annual Pathways Student Research Symposium at Texas A&M University—Kingsville.

The annual event offers undergraduate, masters and doctoral students at schools within The Texas A&M University System an opportunity to share findings on cutting-edge research. In the undergraduate poster presentation phase of the symposium, 145 students competed for three awards—first, second and third. WTAMU’s Sean Logan Fabela, a senior mathematics education major from Silverton, won first place for his poster presentation on “Pascal’s Arithmetic Triangle” project, and Randi Ferdian, a senior computer information systems major from Canyon, took third place with his research on “Physical Therapy Using Motion Sensitive Camera.”

“The recognition received by our students illustrates the quality of the faculty and educational experience at WTAMU and how the opportunity to conduct research enhances the academic experience at both the undergraduate and graduate levels,” Dr. Angela Spaulding, vice president for research and compliance and dean of Graduate School, said.

First-place winner Fabela’s research on Pascal’s Triangle also served as his undergraduate departmental capstone project. He is seeking 8-12 grade teaching certification, and his goal was to put his research findings on various applications of Pascal’s Triangle into an easily understood format for high school teachers and students. Fabela also approached his faculty adviser, Dr Kristina Gill, assistant professor of mathematics education, about posting his findings in a blog.

“Considering how many practicing teachers and high school students this could read, I agreed,” Gill said. “Logan did an excellent job of taking some of the intricacies and advanced mathematical concepts contained in Pascal’s Triangle and writing them into a format that is understandable for high school students. He also did an excellent job presenting these ideas in a way this is interesting to read and view along with being informational and able to be used in a classroom.”

Third-place winner Ferdian’s research was made possible by a 2013 President’s Undergraduate Summer Research Grant. The computer information systems major was interested in using motion sensitive cameras to explore a software system to measure human movement for physical therapy and exercise. He worked with faculty adviser, Dr. Jeffry  Babb, assistant professor of computer information systems and Terry Professor of Business, on the technology perspective, and Patrick Pitre, an Amarillo physical therapist, helped with the medical side of the research. 

“Randi worked with a physical therapy professional to design a series of activities using software Randi built,” Babb said. “He used the structures of games and game-like activities to make the process enjoyable, and patients are able to get visual and auditory feedback in order to determine their progress.”

Ferdian wrote computer programming language to control the cameras to recognize the human shapes, movements, gestures and human voices.

“I produced four products of game consoles and five products of medical exercises to help patients and therapists do exercises in interactive and enjoyable ways. I also re-invented a music instrument played by converting human gestures in front of a camera into do-re-mi-fa-sol-la-ti-do musical tones,” he said.

Funding for student research is available through a combination of sources, Spaulding said. The President’s Undergraduate Research Grant Program, funded through President’s Circle funds, helps along with the Graduate School Graduate Student Grant Program, Honor’s program and various internal and external grants.


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