Jonathan Muller, a first-year master's degree student in the School of Information Systems and Management at Carnegie Mellon University's Heinz College, has been selected as the Yahoo! iSTEP 2010 Fellow.
Yahoo! is a corporate sponsor for this summer's iSTEP — innovative Student Technology ExPerience — internship, which is a program organized by the TechBridgeWorld research group in Carnegie Mellon's Robotics Institute. By supporting Muller's summer internship, the company is enabling him to be the Pittsburgh-based technical floater on the iSTEP team —which is currently developing technologies in Chittagong, Bangladesh.
"Bangladesh is a country with many development challenges and I believe that education can help solve these problems," Muller said.
Muller's primary responsibilities are to create and evaluate culturally relevant educational technology and games for children's literacy. He's also focusing on enhancing and evaluating a low-cost braille writing tutor, developed at Carnegie Mellon, for visually-impaired students.
The technology will be used to enhance education for young women at the Asian University for Women's Access Academy and the visually-impaired community working with Young Power for Social Action, a non-governmental organization.
"It is my hope that English literacy tools and the braille writing tutor will empower these under-served populations, so that they can address development challenges in their own community," Muller said. "We have just completed needs assessment in two communities and we are brainstorming ideas."
Launched in the summer of 2009, iSTEP is a unique program designed to provide Carnegie Mellon students with opportunities to get first-hand experience in carrying out technology research relevant to developing communities.
"Carnegie Mellon is awash with opportunities for learning and leadership development," Muller said. "It is a diverse campus and I have made friends with and worked with students from countries from all over the world. I believe that this global perspective will be invaluable when I finish my studies."
The Yahoo! iSTEP fellowship seeks to motivate students to think creatively about how they can use their technical skills, business knowledge and global awareness to solve social issues around the world. Muller was selected for his excellent and broad range of technology and business experience, and education.
"We are excited to have Jonathan on the iSTEP team this year. His skills enhance an already adept multi-disciplinary team of Carnegie Mellon students. We are confident that the iSTEP 2010 team will positively impact communities in Bangladesh," said M. Bernardine Dias, founder and director of TechBridgeWorld and an assistant research professor of robotics.
"We are also extremely grateful to Yahoo! for their support," said Dias. "Corporate partners like Yahoo! are leading the way in enabling us to offer innovative learning experiences such as iSTEP to students who will be our future leaders."