Tag Archives: fulbright

Fulbrighters join forces for education

Here’s another story on how the Fulbright program builds lasting bridges between people across nations. This summer I was really pleased to work with fellow Fulbrighter, Károly Hercegfi to bring Hungarian graduate students to the Quantifying User-centered Experiences (QUE-2016) summer school at the University of Stuttgart. I met Károly when I was a Fulbright Scholar at the Budapest University of Technology and Economics (BME) in 2014.

Károly selected five exceptional graduate students from BME to attend the summer school (the leftmost five students in the picture above). They represented an interdisciplinary group, which was really exciting for both the instructors and the other students:

  • Dalma Geszten, PhD student in Psychology (MA, BA Psychology)
  • Anna Hidas, MSc student in Mechanical Engineering Modelling (BSc Industrian Design Engineering)
  • Maria Horvath, MSc student in Industrial Design Engineering (BSc Industrial Design Engineering)
  • Mark A. Pulay, PhD student in Psychology (MA Education & Psychology, BA Conductive Education)
  • Balint Szabo, PhD student in Management (MSc in Management, BSc Electrical Engineering)

I would like to thank Albrecht Schmidt, who provided generous financial support that allowed the Hungarian students to attend the summer school – thanks Albrecht!

The summer school was a lot of work for everyone, but it wasn’t all work – we also had a chance for fun activities, such as punting on the river in Tubingen. Here’s a picture of Dalma Geszten trying her hand (quite successfully) at guiding our boat:

Below you can read comments by the Hungarian students about the summer school – these comments originally appeared on the Visual Computing BLOG. I’m glad that the students enjoyed the experience. Albrecht, Károly and I are very encouraged by their response, and we are already making plans for including BME students in the 2017 summer school.

“What is your research question? – This was the essence of Margit Pohl’s presentation on qualitative and quantitative research. It is the most important thing a researcher has to have in mind, while doing research. The variables, the method, the data analysis and the whole research process should be based on the research question. If a problem occurs, the researchers should go back to the research question and solve the problem based on it. That is why it is so important to have a good research question, because it is the solid base of the scientific value of our work.”

Balint Szabo, PhD student in Management

“It was an amazing course. Its main topic was human-computer interaction, and it had a very special atmosphere. The students and the lecturers came from different countries with different backgrounds. The only thing connecting them was the passion for researching and the interest in human-computer interaction. During the summer school participants had the opportunity to listen to talks about different topics like Digital Signal Processing, Statistics, Experiment Design, Eye Tracking or Application Research. These talks provided a good basis for meaningful conversations on various aspects of the specific field. There was a chance to participate in brainstorming sessions which yielded in creative ideas on several special topics. Hands-on and poster sessions helped a lot deepening the gained knowledge and getting up to date on the ongoing research topics. Besides these the general conversations were also very useful, for me especially the carrier advices of experienced researchers turned out to be very helpful.”

Anna Hidas, MSc student in Mechanical Engineering Modelling

“The summer school was a great experience for me. In my opinion the cultural diversity and the different research backgrounds of the participants were the key elements of the summer school’s success. The scientific and intellectual atmosphere induced valuable discussions about human-computer interaction questions and helped us to deepen our knowledge. The whole summer school made a powerful impression on me. I got useful and practical advice on how to be a better researcher.”

Dalma Geszten, PhD student in Psychology

“I learned a lot about EEG and Eye tracker signal processing which are very common tools now a days in my research field. The hands-on sections provided us useful experiences about the filtering process as well. We had opportunity to visit the amazing and modern lab in SimTech we tried several different kind of eye tracker and Virtual reality devices. Most importantly we got new relationship with other students and senior researchers.”

Mark Pulay, PhD student in Psychology

Fulbright visit to Western Hungary

Győr: Széchenyi tér

At the beginning of April Fulbright Hungary organized a tow-day trip for grantees to Western Hungary. Here are some of my impressions from this trip:

Győr: Our first stop was the Győr campus of the University of West Hungary. University faculty introduced us to their activities in teacher training, language education, art, hospitality management, and leisure management. As it turns out, leisure management is a relatively new idea for Hungary, and the faculty at Győr are leaders in the field.

In the afternoon we went sightseeing. Győr is a fascinating town with beautiful baroque architecture. We had a chance to visit a pharmacy founded in the 1600, which still operates on Széchenyi tér. Fortunately they’ve updated their list of offerings and leaches are no longer available.

Szigetköz: Szigetköz is a beautiful area of islands created by the Danube and its branches. We toured Szigetköz by bus on both days. I really liked our stop on the banks of the Danube just across from Slovakia. I hope to go back to Szigetköz before we return to New Hampshire and spend some time hiking.

Touring Szigetköz – view from our bus

Lipót: Our hotel was in the village of Lipót. Here we also visited a bakery called the Lipóti Pékség. I’m a big fan of bread in general, and of Lipóti Pékség in particular. They have a number of stores in Budapest.

Mosonmagyaróvár: On day two of our trip we visited the Mosonmagyaróvár campus of the University of West Hungary. This visit included an engaging introduction to a food safety lab. One fun fact about Mosonmagyaróvár: it has the highest number of dentists per capita in the world. Many Austrians and other Europeans come here to receive high quality dental treatment at an affordable price.

Having fun at Futura

Futura Science Museum: Our final stop was the Futura Science Museum, which was a lot of fun for kids and adults alike. My favorite exhibit was a long, suspended spring, which can be manually excited to form mechanical waves. The waves propagate along the spring, reflect at the end of the spring, and the reflections travel back to the source. The engineer in me was thrilled. At another neat exhibit visitors pedal stationary bikes and thus generate the electricity to operate race cars zipping around a track in front of them.

As you might imagine our two days flew by very quickly. The person in charge of organizing every detail of this incredibly full and exciting trip was Fulbright Hungary’s Annamária Sas. Thanks Annamária!

You can see more photos from the trip on Flickr.

2014 Visit to National University of Public Service

Last week I visited the Hungarian National University of Public Service. I was there at the invitation of Zoltán Székely. Zoltán is a major in the Hungarian Police, a lawyer, and an instructor at the University. I met Zoltán through Bálint Kiss, who is my host at BME during my Fulbright scholarship in Hungary.

Zoltán Székely introduces the proposed “Application of Robotics for Enhanced Security” effort

Zoltán is leading an effort to make robots part of law enforcement work in Hungary, and beyond. He invited me to the kick-off meeting for this effort, where I gave a talk sharing some of our experiences at Project54. The Project54 effort at UNH addressed ubicomp in the law enforcement setting.

Zoltán has brought together a diverse and talented group of researchers and practitioners for this effort. I am looking forward to seeing the results of their efforts.

You can see pictures from my visit on Flickr. My favorite is this one of the beautiful University building where the meeting was held:

National University of Public Service, Budapest, Hungary

2014 Fulbright visit to Szeged

On Wednesday I joined Fulbright Hungary‘s Executive Director Károly Jókay, Director Emeritus Huba Brückner, and fellow Fulbrighters, on a visit to the University of Szeged. Fulbright Hungary is recruiting applicants for Fulbright scholarships from all corners of Hungary, and Wednesday they targeted Szeged.  Our visit was very enjoyable; it included ample time to talk to our hosts, as well as to see the beautiful town of Szeged. You can see photos from the visit on Flickr.

First lecture in BME autonomous robots and vehicles lab

Today was my first lecture in BME‘s Autonomous Robots and Vehicles Lab (Autonóm robotok és járművek laboratórium). This lab is lead by Bálint Kiss, who is my host during my Fulbright scholarship at in Hungary.

Today’s lecture covered the use of eye trackers in designing human-computer interaction. I talked about our work on in-vehicle human-computer interaction, and drew parallels to human-robot interaction. Tomorrow I’ll introduce the class to our Seeing Machines eye tracker, and in the coming weeks I’ll run a number of lab sections in which the students will conduct short experiments in eye tracking and pupil diameter measurement.

If you speak Hungarian, here’s the overview of today’s lecture (I’m thrilled to be teaching in Hungarian):

Szemkövetők használata az ember-gép interakció értékelésében

A University of New Hampshire kutatói több mint egy évtizede foglalkoznak a járműveken belüli ember-gép interfészekkel. Ez az előadás először egy rövid áttekintést nyújt a rendőr járművekre tervezett Project54 rendszer fejlesztéséről és telepítéséről. A rendszer különböző modalitású felhasználói felületeket biztosít, beleértve a beszéd modalitást. A továbbiakban az előadás beszámol közelmúltban végzett autóvezetés-szimulációs kísérletekről, amelyekben a szimulátor és egy szemkövető adatai alapján becsültük a vezető kognitív terhelését, vezetési teljesítményét, és vizuális figyelmét a külső világra.

Az előadás által a hallgatók betekintést nyernek a szemkövetők használatába az ember-gép interakció értékelésében és tervezésében. Az ember-gép interakció pedig egy központi probléma az autonóm robotok sikeres telepítésében, hiszen az autonóm robotokat nem csak szakértők fogják használni. Ellenkezőleg, ezek a robotok a társadalom minden részében felhasználókra találnak majd. A robotok ilyen széleskörű telepítése csak akkor lehet sikeres, ha az ember-gép interakció elfogadható a felhasználók számára.

Fulbright 2014: Exploring art nouveau in Budapest

On Friday Jennifer and I participated in a tour exploring art nouveau in Budapest. The tour was organized by Fulbright Hungary.

We saw a number of beautiful buildings, including the Geological and Geophysical Institute of Hungary, pictured above. In fact, we had a chance to go inside the Institute building and admire its architecture. Later we also visited the Four Seasons hotel, which is located in the art nouveau Gresham Palace.

Thanks to Annamária Sas of Fulbright Hungary for organizing the tour. You can see more pictures from the tour on Flickr.

Is study abroad for you? A conversation with BME freshmen.

Today I discussed the benefits of studying abroad with freshmen at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Informatics (VIK) of the Budapest University of Technology and Economics (BME). VIK is my home during my Fulbright scholarship in Hungary.

My host was Gergely Suba, VIK PhD student. Gergely runs a course that helps freshmen acclimate to university life. In the roughly 90 minutes at our disposal, I made two main points to the 13 students in attendance. First, studying abroad allows students to gain the “human experience” that Steve Jobs mentioned in his interview with Wired:

“A lot of people in our industry haven’t had very diverse experiences. They don’t have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions, without a broad perspective on the problem. The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better designs we will have.”
~Steve Jobs in Wired, February, 1996

My second point was that we all need to carefully plan how we use our time. Time is a perishable, non-renewable resource. If Gergely’s students wish to study abroad, it’s best to start planning early.

You can see Gergely’s photos from the event on Flickr.

2014 Visit to Prezi

Prezi is a new presentation tool developed in Hungary. One of the distinguishing features of the tool is the use of zooming animation to engage the viewer. Yesterday, I visited the company to discuss a  collaboration exploring how people consume Prezis. My hosts were Prezi’s Lead UX Researcher László Laufer and his colleague Eszter Józsa.

László gave me a tour of the Prezi facility, which is truly impressive. I really liked the bright, open area in the picture above, where much of the development work is done. See more of my pictures of Prezi on Flickr.

My collaboration with Prezi is made possible by my Fulbright scholarship in Hungary. I will post updates on our progress in the coming months.

2014 Visit to University of Szeged

The home of the Research Group on Artificial Intelligence

Yesterday I visited the University of Szeged. I was there at the invitation of fellow Fulbrighter Mark Jelasity. Mark is a member of the Research Group on Artificial Intelligence. He and I met at a recent event organized by Fulbright Hungary, where Hungarian Fulbright scholars reported on their experiences in the USA.

The primary purpose of my visit was to give a talk at the Institute of Informatics; thanks to Peter Szabó for including my talk in the Institute’s seminar series. I was really excited, as this was the first time in my career that I gave a talk in Hungarian. For fun, here are the Hungarian title and abstract:

Szemkövetők használata autóvezetéses szimulációs kisérletekben

Absztrakt: A University of New Hampshire kutatói több mint egy évtizede foglalkoznak a járműveken belüli ember-gép interfészekkel. Ez az előadás először egy rövid áttekintést nyújt a rendőr járművekre tervezett Project54 rendszer fejlesztéséről és telepítéséről. A rendszer különböző modalitású felhasználói felületeket biztosít, beleértve a beszéd modalitást. A továbbiakban az előadás beszámol közelmúltban végzett autóvezetés-szimulációs kísérletekről, amelyekben a szimulátor és egy szemkövető adatai alapján becsültük a vezető kognitív terhelését, vezetési teljesítményét, és vizuális figyelmét a külső világra.

As part of the visit I had a chance to talk to Mark about his research (see Mark’s Google Scholar profile). Mark’s interest is in distributed learning, which might have fascinating applications in the automotive domain.

Szeged fish soup

My visit was also exciting on a personal level, as I was born in Szeged, and my family often travelled there during my childhood. I walked around the town a bit to reminisce, and Mark treated me to an excellent lunch of fish soup.

See pictures from my trip on Flickr.

Eitan Globerson discusses piano and brain at BME

Yesterday I attended a talk by Eitan Globerson at BME. Professor Globerson is a conductor, pianist, and a brain scientist. His talk explored the brain mechanisms involved in playing the piano. A key mechanism is automaticity, which allows pianists to produce the complex musical sequences at very high tempo. I really enjoyed this talk, with its mix of performing music and discussing brain imaging.

Professon Globerson was hosted by BME professor Bertalan Forstner. Thanks Luca Szegletes for inviting me. See more pictures from the talk on Flickr.