Assistant Professor Jon Froehlich receives NSF CAREER award

Assistant Professor Jon Froehlich, who also has an appointment in the university’s Institute for Advanced Computer Studies (UMIACS), is the recipient of a five-year National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award.   His work, A Tangible-Graphical Approach to Engage Young Children in Wearable Design, enables children as young as five to be able to interact  with technology through physical objects to learn concepts from programming to design to data science.  Children are able to manipulate and arrange objects to perform tasks (such as arranging tiles to create blinking lights in order to enhance a costume) to intuitively learn important fundamentals concepts in computer science.  These same objects can be used in older children to further develop their understanding as they create innovative projects of their own design including interactive pedometers, or lacrosse sticks that record approaching opponents.

The CAREER award supports early career-development activities teacher-scholars “who most effectively integrate research and education within the context of the mission of their organization. Such activities should build a firm foundation for a lifetime of integrated contributions to research and education.” Froehlich’s project is certainly in line with this mission, well as his larger research agenda to examine how wearables can be designed to provide children (and their families) with relevant, and meaningful STEM experiences.

“Jon’s energy and dedication to this work is inspiring,” said Samir Khuller, Elizabeth Stevinson Iribe Chair of Computer Science, “and his ability to encourage his graduate students and undergraduate students in this multidisciplinary work bodes well for the future of the department.”  

Froehlich joined the Department of Computer Science in 2012 after earning a PhD in Computer Science from the University of Washington in 2011.  He is also the founder of the Makeability Lab, which is a part of the Human Computer Interaction Lab.  The Makeability Lab designs and studies “novel interactive experiences that cross between bits and atoms—the virtual and the physical—and back again” to support , promote and improve environmental sustainability, health and wellness, education, and universal accessibility.

Froehlich has also recently been named a Sloan Foundation fellow for 2017.  Learn more about his work, and to listen to a podcast about his NSF CAREER work.

The Department welcomes comments, suggestions and corrections.  Send email to editor [at] cs [dot] umd [dot] edu.