Movie to be filmed on ND’s campus

first_imgNotre Dame gave approval for the filming of a motion picture on campus beginning this year, according to a Tuesday press release. The film, which will be the third to be filmed on campus in Notre Dame’s history, is about Haley Scott DeMaria, a Notre Dame swimmer who was paralyzed for a week after a 1992 bus accident that killed two of her teammates, the press release stated. “Though we receive many requests, the University has allowed just two movies to be filmed on our campus, — ‘Knute Rockne, All American’ and ‘Rudy,’” University President Fr. John Jenkins said in the press release. “The perseverance, courage and faith that Haley demonstrated in overcoming the critical injuries and medical setbacks she suffered can inspire many and so should be told to the widest audience possible.” The movie’s tentative title is “Two Miles from Home,” and it is based on DeMaria’s book, “What Though the Odds: Haley Scott’s Journey of Faith and Triumph.” The bus accident on which the film is based occurred Jan. 24, 1992. DeMaria, a freshman at the time, and her Notre Dane teammates were on their way back to South Bend from a meet at Northwestern University, according to the press release. Due to heavy snow, the bus slid off the Indiana Toll Road two miles before the exit to return to campus. Meghan Beeler and Colleen Hipp, both freshman swimmers, died in the crash. After two operations at South Bend’s Memorial Hospital and several days without sensation in her legs, doctors told DeMaria that she would likely spend the rest of her life in a wheelchair, the press release stated. One week after the accident, DeMaria regained some feeling in her legs, was able to walk with a cane one month later and returned to classes on Notre Dame’s campus in the spring of 1992. That summer, the rods in DeMaria’s legs meant to keep her spine straight came lose and she was rushed to San Diego for three more surgeries. She almost died during one of the surgeries, according to the press release. DeMaria returned to classes in the fall of 1992 and slowly began to swim again. On Oct. 29, 1993 she swam a 50-meter race and won her heat. DeMaria and co-producers Chris Jones and Dan Waterhouse are raising money and hope to begin filming this year, according to the press release. They plan to release the film in 2012, the 20th anniversary of the accident. Robert C. Thompson, who produced the 1973 Academy Award-winning film, “The Paper Chase,” will serve as executive producer for “Two Miles From Home.” Waterhouse wrote the script and is also the director. Former Irish head football coach Lou Holtz said in the press release that DeMaria’s story has inspired him. “I don’t know of any story more heartwarming, encouraging or motivating than Haley’s story,” Holtz said. “She is a very special young lady and has had a positive influence on my life as well as many others.” DeMaria and her husband, Jamie, who also graduated from Notre Dame, live in Annapolis, Md., with their two children, according to the press release. She is also a board member of the Notre Dame Monogram Club.last_img read more

Argentina considers homegrown Pope

first_imgArgentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected as the new pope on March 13 and Catholics around the world are rejoicing at the news of this pontiff – especially in his home country, Argentina. Rachel Tomas Morgan, assistant director of Notre Dame’s Center for Social Concerns, took in this historic moment from Buenos Aires, Argentina. “We were sitting in a café [in Buenos Aires] and all of a sudden a news flash came on saying there was white smoke,” Morgan said. “Argentina is predominately Catholic, but they are mostly ‘cultural Catholics’. Just knowing the pope would be announced was important news for Argentines as a whole, but when Cardinal Bergoglio was announced we all stood there in disbelief. We had to take time to process it.” Morgan said prior to the announcement there was no real sense from the community that this Argentine cardinal was a potential candidate for the papacy. “We talked to waiters, servers and taxi drivers and no one really anticipated this would happen,” Morgan said. “This then resulted in groups of people standing wide-eyed in front of the TV in utter shock and disbelief. “We all could not believe this was unfolding before our eyes. One woman even started crying next to me,” she said. Morgan said when she walked out of the café, church bells were ringing in the neighborhood and crowds rushed to the Plaza de Mayo and the cathedral. The plaza has historical and political significance for Argentines, according to Morgan. “It is a very prominent place and has historically been the center for rallies and political movements,” she said. “It continues to be a place where Argentines hold their demonstrations. After the announcement it was natural that people began to congregate there.” Morgan said Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner quickly aligned herself as a close ally of the newly-named pope, publicly commenting on it at a previously scheduled event. “Obviously with the announcement of the pope she took the opportunity to express joy for the new pope,” Morgan said. “At the same time she aligned herself with Pope Francis, saying she too cares about the poor in much the same ways the new pope does. This comment has been made with some critique.”   In the days following the papal announcement, Morgan said Argentines’ opinions about the new pontiff “varied across the spectrum”. “About 75 percent of Argentines are Catholic, but only about 10 percent actively practice Catholicism,” Morgan said. “This leads to a variety of different opinions. “Some Argentines had very strong opinions about Bergoglio and his new role in the church and there were others who simply did not care,” she said. Morgan said after the official announcement and celebration, the world, including Argentines, came away with a more comprehensive picture of the type of man Pope Francis is. “Information emerged giving us a fuller picture of who this man might be,” Morgan said. “We learned more about his role in the church and politics of Argentina.  We were beginning to see information that critiqued the pope.” Morgan said there were two images presented of the new pope as a leader during Argentina’s political upheaval. “An image of a humble man concerned with working with the poor in the slums emerged,” Morgan said. “This image talked about him cooking his own food, loving soccer and taking the bus to work. “At the same time we were hearing some really strong critiques of the pope from human rights leaders in Argentina,” she said. “These leaders were criticizing his leadership during the years of 1976-1983.” Morgan had the opportunity to meet with students, staff and faculty from local universities in Buenos Aires and said the students had mixed reactions to the pope’s leadership while the country was in turmoil during the ‘Dirty War.’ “Some university students we spoke with said he didn’t do enough during these dark times, but that he was not complicit or directly involved,” Morgan said. Morgan said the older faculty and staff members emphasized the importance of context in the pope’s critiques. She said one faculty member offered a good interpretation of Bergoglio’s decision to not openly confront the military during this time. “This faculty member talked about some of the criticisms around Bergoglio,” Morgan said. “He added [that] most Argentines did not openly confront the military either and at the time, Bergoglio was a young leader and new to the political scene. “This faculty member was not excusing Bergoglio’s actions, but rather working to put his actions in context with what was going on throughout Latin America at the time. In other parts of Latin America, church leaders were being killed for openly confronting the political situation. This paints a more complicated picture.” Regardless of the image Argentines associate with the new pontiff, Morgan said everyone she spoke with expressed joy and hope for this Argentine cardinal named pope. “I got the sense from some university students, faculty [and] staff we met with, and from other Argentines, that people are really curious and hopeful for what this all means,” Morgan said. “Argentines are not only curious for what this means for their country, but also the world and church as a whole. They shared with us hope this historic moment can help revitalize the Church.”last_img read more

Saint Mary’s improves orientation

first_imgSeniors Kat Sullivan and Maddy Martin, student body president and vice president, focused on facilitating personal interaction between the members of the Saint Mary’s Class of 2017 and the College’s student leaders during the first-year orientation.  Sullivan said her administration wanted to help to improve first-year orientation by collaborating with Belles Beginnings, to plan first-year orientation. “As [Student Government Association] SGA leaders, we are the biggest role models for the first years right now,” Sullivan said. “We want them to know of our presence on campus and we want them to feel comfortable enough to ask us questions.” Both Sullivan and Martin said the changes made in the inaugural alcohol awareness program titled “Know the Facts” represented one of the most meaningful additions of peer-to-peer advising during first-year orientation. “In the past, this program has typically been run by administrators,” Martin said. “We thought peer-to-peer contact would be more effective, so we had members of SGA trained to be able to run the program. This way, students talked to older Saint Mary’s women that have been through many of the experiences we discussed.” Freshmen attended “Know the Facts” on Thursday night at eight different locations on Saint Mary’s campus, Sullivan said. “We wanted this program to have an intimate feeling, so we split up the class and had 55 first years per location,” Sullivan said. Three stations each covered a different theme: Saint Mary’s Alcohol Policies, Sexual Assault and Depression and Anxiety, Martin said. “These were all areas we thought were important to touch on for first-year students,” Martin said. “We thought it was important that these students knew about policies related to alcohol on campus and we wanted them to know about the different resources that are available to them. We also invited a Notre Dame [Security Police] officer to come over and explain Notre Dame’s policies on alcohol because we know our students do spend a lot of time across the street.” Martin said this year’s orientation included the inaugural sessions of “Depression and Anxiety.” “Going to college is said to be one of the most stressful moments in one’s life and we want to make sure that our fellow Belles know the signs of depression and anxiety,” Martin said. First-year Belles also attended a special session on civility training on Friday night, Sullivan said. “This session was all about promoting awareness of our differences,” Sullivan said. “We went over how to talk about differences and the importance of respecting one another. Really, we touched on what is becoming of a Saint Mary’s woman.” Before DomerFest on Saturday, SGA hosted a pre-jam party in the Angela Athletic Facility, Martin said. The party kicked off with a presentation of Green Dot, a national initiative focusing on violence prevention. The Office of the Belles Against Violence introduced the program before the Belles enjoyed icebreaker activities, a bar with free candy and performances by the Undertones. “[The pre-jam party] is brand new this year and we really wanted to give Saint Mary’s students the opportunity to mix and mingle before going over to Notre Dame for DomerFest,” Martin said. “We also implemented the new escort process to Notre Dame, so students could leave straight from the mixer and not feel so isolated.” Sullivan said she hoped the changes to orientation week helped first-year students to feel more welcomed into the Saint Mary’s sisterhood. Contact Kaitlyn Rabach at krabac01@saintmarys.edulast_img read more

Speaker addresses necessity of Mass, Eucharist

first_imgDr. Timothy O’Malley, director of the Notre Dame Center for Liturgy, opened the 2014 Winter Series, “Theology on Tap,” on Wednesday night at Legends. O’Malley, the first of four professors in the speaker series, began the Campus Ministry event with the topic, “Do I really need to go to Mass to be Catholic?”“It’s pretty easy to go to Mass here,” O’Malley said of the Notre Dame campus. “You don’t get any ‘I worked really hard to go to Mass award.’ You went downstairs.”Soon graduates will enter the adult world, go to work and realize attending Mass is not going to be easy, O’Malley said.“And then you may ask yourself, legitimately, do I have to go to Mass to be Catholic?” he said. “Or do I have to go as often? Or can’t I go just a little less? I’m tired. I was out late last night. They don’t have a 10 p.m. Mass.”O’Malley compared the question of going to Mass to the question, “Do I have to talk to my wife to be married?” He said the answer to both questions is no, but both are minimal questions to ask. He added that this does not mean Catholics should not go to Mass, but rather Mass is not the sole marker of a Catholic identity.An additional danger for students on campus is the dorm Mass itself, O’Malley said.“I was a student here so I’m not just being intentionally provocative,” he said. “I actually don’t think the dorms do a very good job at Notre Dame forming you for the rest of your life as a Catholic.“That is, you belong to a perfect community of people who all look like you and they’re basically you. You sing anthem and you close a book at the end. You slam it shut and you give bro-hugs as the sign of peace. That’s not my mass experience, and that’s not the norm.”O’Malley said he knows a number of alums who attended Notre Dame and said their faith experiences peaked when they were in a chapel at the university.“That’s depressing to me,” he said. “Your faith experience peaked when you were 18 years old? 19? 20? 21? What about the rest of it? What is left?”The Eucharist is the sacrament that gradually teaches a Christian to give up one’s own desires, O’Malley said. He said receiving the gift of the Eucharist is important for three reasons, the first of which is that it teaches people to live selflessly.“All your life you’ve been told it’s about you,” he said. “It’s hard to learn that it’s not about you.”The Eucharist and a lifetime of going to mass gradually correct that idea, O’Malley said. He said you reach outside yourself in love because you encounter God.“Benedict XVI said this, that the Eucharist remains ultimately fragmented and incomplete unless it ends up in acts of love of charity to the neighbor,” he said. “Even when you take the sacraments in your hands … it’s not about you. It’s about the salvation of the world. Nothing you do in the Christian life is about you.”The second reason is the Eucharist transforms suffering, O’Malley said.“Not every one of your classmates will live. They won’t be at your 10-year reunion; they won’t be at your 20-year reunion,” he said. “Some of you won’t be able to have children. And that’s your biggest dream. That is just life.”O’Malley said the two responses to suffering are anger toward life and a Christian response of finding God’s presence in the darkness.“How do you transform that?” he said. “The only thing you can do, in some ways, is give it away, to allow it to become a Eucharistic offering, to allow your pain to open up a space in which love becomes more possible. The Eucharist provides a space for this.”O’Malley said the third reason addresses those who wonder what their calling is in life.“The Eucharist is a kind of practice for how to live out what you think your vocation is going to be,” he said. “Through the Eucharist, you practice giving yourself away.“And if you continue to give yourself away, to love according to the logic of a God who is love, then just hypothetically, you’ll end up where you are supposed to be.”Tags: Campus Ministry, Center for Liturgy, Eucharist, Mass, Theology on Taplast_img read more

SMC panel discusses feminism

first_imgThe controversial online campaign, #womenagainstfeminism, was discussed at the Women Against Feminism panel held Wednesday at Saint Mary’s. Sponsored by the Gender and Women’s Studies department, professors Marne Austin, Helen Ho and Bettina Spencer and senior Payton Moore engaged with students and faculty to talk about the campaign and its underlying motivations.Austin, the first speaker, approached the dialogue from a communications perspective, Austin said.“We have many competing discourses,” Austin said. “The misunderstanding is that there is one type of feminism. It marks feminism as a singular entity.”Spencer said she was not surprised by the online campaign because the idea, however contentious, is not revolutionary.“When I first saw this, it wasn’t new, this idea of ‘I’m a woman, and I reject feminism for reason x,’” Spencer said. “As a psychologist though, … I really wanted to understand the psyches behind that.”Spencer said she examined how people are stereotyped in American society in order to understand why women reject feminism.“As you can imagine, women who are considered feminists are considered selfish, and a lot of women who are in this position tend to face penalties for being successful,” Spencer said. “Different people are going to reject this idea of feminism.”Moore, an English literature and history major, brought to the table the perspective of a young, college-age woman living and learning in a world immersed in social media, Moore said.“I am 21 and a feminist, yet I know many women my age who do not identify as a feminist,” Moore said. “I want to delve into the reasons as to why women my age tend to stay away from the ‘f-word.’ I also want to illustrate how much the media impacts young women in relation to feminism.”Moore said her initial reaction to the campaign was one of horror and frustration. She was especially dismayed by her peers’ presence on social media.“All the time, I look at these posts online, and I cannot help but be very frustrated,” Moore said. “I look at these posts and see such wrong, misguided information circulating around the web. It makes me wonder how and why it has come to this. Have we forgotten in 2014 what feminism has done and stands for?”For Moore, feminism is collective and highly personal.“The definition of feminism has evolved and will continue to evolve,” Moore said. “The one thing that stays constant is that feminism strives for equality. In today’s day and age, that equality means between all sexes, all genders, all races and all sexualities.”Moore said the Tumblr page likely was created in part by women who believe feminists are man-haters “who like to paint women as victims.”“I think that this page serves as an outlet for these women to discuss their – wrong but right in their eyes – facts about feminism,” Moore said. “Secondly, I believe that this page was formed and/or fueled by the men’s rights activists and their female supporters who relentlessly try to find new ways to tear down feminism. Of course, I’m only speculating.”Moore said feminism must continue as long as gender inequality persists.“All you have to do is look at history to see why,” Moore said. “Yet even more than that, in today’s age, we need feminism. Yes, things have gotten ‘better,’ but without the push of feminism, we will not achieve true equality.”Despite improvements, much remains to be done for women’s rights, as well as for related equality movements, Moore said. Feminism can help motivate those working for such causes.“Feminism empowers and it inspires,” Moore said. “Some like to say that feminism isn’t important anymore since we can go to work and vote and so on, but to them I counter with, ‘What about violence against women? What about the wage gap? What about LGBTQ issues?’ I could go on and on with what is still wrong in this society. Until my list of what needs fixing has not one single item on it, to me, feminism is important and needed.”Tags: Department of Gender and Women’s Studies, Feminismlast_img read more

Unity Games aim to connect multicultural community

first_imgThis week marks Notre Dame’s Multicultural Community Week, sponsored by the Multicultural Student Programs and Services (MSPS), and this year’s theme is “The Unity Games.” Participants will be split into teams that will compete against each other in challenges throughout the course of this week, ultimately competing for the grand prize of 100 Domer Dollars for each team member, according to the games’ website.Katherine Hernandez, a freshman pre-medical student who signed up to participate in the games, said she saw the event as an opportunity to connect with other students on campus.“I joined because it seemed like a good way to meet some new people and, of course, the possibility of winning 100 Domer Dollars.”Events will include Family Feud, social media contests, trivia, games, an open skate and a sports day. All of these events are intended to expose the participants to different cultures and religions. Teams will receive points based on both their participation and their performance.The Unity Games kicked off Sunday with the opening ceremonies.“The opening ceremony, despite the fact that not many people showed up, turned out to be really fun,” Hernandez said. “It was a great way to meet your team members and start working as a team playing the games. I’d say about 20 people showed up.”The eight teams, or districts, will be awarded points based on their level of participation in each event. Each team has six or seven people, Hernandez said. The rankings will be updated daily and can be found on their website.The district with the most points at the end of the week will win the grand prize of 100 Domer Dollars per person, which will be awarded Sunday during the closing ceremonies. Other individual prizes that will be raffled off during the ceremony as well, according to the website.There will be a separate prize for the winning team of the Family Feud event: an invitation to a free dinner from the Ruth Chris Steakhouse.The idea for the Unity Games comes from the popular young adult franchise ‘The Hunger Games,’ in which districts send children to fight to the death. The Unity Games is inverting this to encourage teamwork and unity, not discord, amongst the participants and the Notre Dame community as a whole.“‘The Unity Games’ is a week of fun and exciting events to encourage teamwork and unity among the multicultural community at Notre Dame,” according to the Unity Games’ website.Students are invited to serve as spectators for the events. A schedule with times and locations can be found on their website, theunitygames.squarespace.comTags: Diversity, MSPS, Multicultural Student Programs and Services, The Hunger Games, The Unity Gameslast_img read more

Campus dining directors weigh in on changes

first_imgAlthough the renovations to North Dining Hall (NDH) were the most obvious innovations made to the student dining experience this semester, changes to the structures of Grab ’n Go and flex points have also affected how students eat on campus. Grab ’n Go has been replaced at NDH with the Marketplace — which requires flex points — and flex points have been increased to 500 per a semester.Senior director of campus dining, Chris Abayasinghe, said the changes were made based on student feedback, and expects this year will be a year of “adjustment,” especially after the eateries in Campus Crossroads open. “This is a continuing conversation for us,” he said. “ … We know last year when we increased flex points, we know that our students used all of their flex points. What was interesting was what they were buying with it, which is very similar to what we have in the Marketplace: certain snack-related foods, but also salads and make-your-own items.” Eddie Griesedieck | The Observer The Marketplace has replaced Grab ’n Go at North Dining Hall. The new dining venue features a la carte snack and meal options, but does not take meal swipes.Many of the changes made were to increase the “value proposition,” director of student dining Scott Kachmarik said. Abayasinghe said moving from the “meal equivalency” of Grab ’n Go to using flex points at places like the Marketplace helps with this. “It’s never really equivalent to a meal in a dining hall,” he said. “What we attempted to do with the flex points is allow you to say, ‘Hey, today I’m coming in for lunch, and I’m going to buy these three items.’”Rather than using Grab ’n Go for their third meal, Kachmarik said students were taking advantage of using multiple swipes at once — another change this semester — to stock up on snack food. “Anecdotally, we know meal counts are up in the dining halls, and meal counts are up in Grab ’n Go,” he said. “What we’re finding in Grab ’n Go, and we’re looking into that, is that it’s the snack food that’s going out, not the meals. “ … They’re not getting that third meal, so that tells us those increased flex points are what people are using for that third meal. The usage of Grab ’n Go is also changing, and we’ll figure it out through fall break and in the weeks after fall break.”Reggie Kalili, assistant director of marketing for campus dining, said the difference between using meal swipes at Grab ’n Go and flex points at other venues “seems like semantics.” “It’s all part of the meal plan, and we did allocate flex points because we knew the marketplace was going to be a little different than Grab ’n Go,” he said. “I know people have been in the Marketplace and have really loved what’s there, so I don’t think there’s a negative to that or what they’re purchasing — an acai bowl, for example. They’re totally different concepts.” While Abayasinghe said the plan is not necessarily to phase out Grab ’n Go — that will depend on feedback and usage, he said — the choice to not include something similar to the Marketplace in South Dining Hall (SDH) was based on how the facility is designed. “This really comes down to a design in infrastructure,” he said. “We were very, very intentional in how we designed the Marketplace, and also all of North Dining Hall. “ … The traditional Grab ’n Go that we have in South Dining Hall — we’re kind of limited in what we can do there, infrastructure-wise. You know how tiny that space is, and once you get the refrigeration in there, the ability to create the Marketplace [in SDH] doesn’t really exist.” Kalili said that while the Marketplace doesn’t exist in SDH yet, the plan was to include one in the future. “Had we had the logistics and the space [in SDH], we would have put it here as well, he said. “So when [SDH] gets renovated again, we’re definitely going to be adding a Marketplace here.”Tags: Campus DIning, flex points, marketplacelast_img read more

Students, faculty offer support for survivors, victims of assault

first_imgJordan Cockrum | The Observer Saint Mary’s community members gather at the Believe Survivors—Rally of Support event on Friday. The event protested the confirmation proceedings for Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh.Junior Genesis Vasquez was one of the student organizers of the rally. She said she wished the event would have had an even greater attendance as “sexual assault and harassment impacts everyone.”“It was a very emotional roller coaster for me to help organize this and speak out, but I felt like I needed to,” she said. “It really helped me become comfortable with how passionate I am to end this issue and bring more awareness.”However, Vasquez said she understands if some were not ready to come forward with their stories of harassment or assault. “It should also be taken into consideration that there may be survivors who are not ready to tell their stories,” she said. “I talked about my stories and it made me cry and I was scared to own up to what happened to me, but I was really happy that I was able to see all the support I have. It was amazing to see how the circle of people who came to the rally would grow and grow.”The rally occurred one day before Kavanaugh was confirmed as a Supreme Court Justice. Senior Teresa Brickey said the Kavanaugh confirmation process was one of her reasons for attending the rally on Friday. She referenced the testimony of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, the professor who accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her while the two were in high school.“I attended the rally because Dr. Ford’s testimony and the subsequent undermining of her truth has left me heartbroken,” she said. “I know survivors of sexual assault and the deep trauma they consistently have to deal with and work against. Coming forward with your experiences is one of the most vulnerable and brave things you can do.”Brickey said she was moved by the trial and “deeply disturbed” by the treatment of Dr. Ford. “Dr. Ford was not treated with the dignity and respect she deserves,” she said. “Unfortunately, most sexual assault cases are treated with similar demeanor.”The statement Wagman read also mentioned Lizzy Seeberg, a Saint Mary’s student who committed suicide in 2010 after allegedly being sexually assaulted by a Notre Dame football player. “Lizzy’s suicide is a tragic expression of the anguish that sexually assaulted girls typically experience,” Haigwood’s statement said. Brickey said remembering the loss of Lizzy Seeberg had a huge emotional impact on her. “I kept picturing Lizzy Seeberg and how we let her down as a community and how we will continue to let down other girls like her if we don’t support survivors,” she said. “Sexual assault is a problem on all our campuses, and while we keep trying to make strides towards justice, we seem to not get past the notions of victim blaming or shaming. Green Dot training is great, but what’s it do if we’re all still silent?”Brickey said the rally encouraged students to keep an open dialogue about sexual assault and harassment. “If anything, I hope this keeps the issue talked about because silence only further constructs a culture of negligence,” she said. “To survivors on our campuses right now, know that we hear you, we see you and we support you.”Vasquez said she was grateful for the love and support at the rally. “It was literally such a beautiful thing to see and that there were people from various ages, races, genders and other backgrounds who came together to show that they believe survivors,” she said.Tags: anita hill, Brett Kavanaugh, christine blasey ford, Harassment, Lizzy Seeberg, sexual assault, survivors On Oct. 5, the Saint Mary’s community participated in Believe Survivors—Rally of Support, an event held to show support for survivors of sexual assault and harassment in the wake of the Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation process. The event concluded a week of events that included a screening of the movie “Anita” and an information session on issues related to Supreme Court nominations. Jamie Wagman, professor of Gender and Women’s Studies, read a statement written by English literature professor Laura Haigwood, who could not attend the rally. The statement urged the tri-campus community to promote cultural change and encourage “boys and girls to bond equally and respectfully with one another.”last_img read more

Notre Dame engineers research exoskeleton technology

first_imgCourtesy of Taylor Gambon Partnered with Ekso Bionics, Notre Dame engineers conduct research on exoskeletons meant to support the human body. Notre Dame engineers Patrick Wensing, an assistant professor of engineering, and second-year Ph.D. student Taylor Gambon are working in collaboration with a company to improve exoskeletons — wearable mobile machines meant to support the body.“It is a three-year project funded by the National Science Foundation in collaboration with a company called Ekso Bionics that builds assistive exoskeletons based in California,” Wensing said. “The overall goal of the project is to make the exoskeleton more intuitive to operate.” The exoskeleton currently operates with a control pad, Wensing said, so the goal of the research is to eventually eliminate the need for this control pad and transition to an exoskeleton that is fully understanding of the user’s intentions.“The exoskeletons that we have are very powerful machines,” he said. “They are strong enough to help you move through your home, to walk up the stairs, to support you while you might be washing dishes, but right now the exoskeletons don’t know when you want to transition between these tasks.”One way patients utilize exoskeletons is during rehabilitation to help with the patient following a specific gait. Wensing said the primary targets of this research are those with incomplete spinal cord injuries.“The amazing thing that happens is if you practice your movements through an assistive device or a therapist helping you to walk, your brain will figure out how to rewire what’s left of the spinal cord and then you’ll be back in control of your own motion,” he said. “By making the exoskeleton more intuitive, rather than the exoskeleton controlling you during rehab, you’ll be more in control of your rehabilitation and hopefully more empowered as a result.”This past summer, Gambon went to California and worked with Ekso Bionics to research the effects of intent changes on exoskeletons, such as intentionally changing walking speed. The exoskeletons were not aware of the intent changes in walking speed, so the results of this research can help the team understand how these changes affect the exoskeleton.Gambon said she gathered data in a motion capture arena, tracking the changes on both fully functioning individuals and those with spinal cord injuries and watching how both the human and the robot interact with each other. She said she is currently in the process of analyzing this data.“If we can understand the difference between a normal walking and a speed-up walking or a normal walking and slow-down walking or normal and stop, then hopefully we can help the exoskeleton learn to differentiate the two or several,” Gambon said.The implications of this intent-change research are more wide-reaching than just in rehabilitation. The results Wensing and Gambon are researching can be used in working with NASA, in prosthesis or in assisting the elderly in the home, Gambon said.“I think there’s a lot of breadth to this kind of research,” she said. “I don’t think it’s just gonna be pigeonholed to rehabilitation. There are a lot of different areas where this type of intent detection is applicable.”Tags: academic research, College of Engineering, exoskeleton, science, technologylast_img read more

Saint Mary’s commissions mural in honor of 175th anniversary

first_imgSaint Mary’s will be adding a new mural to its walls as part of a year-long celebration of the College’s 175th anniversary.Sophomore Jackie Rojas, a member of the mural committee, said she went to two interfaith conferences in Chicago last summer. She visited the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago, which is known for greeting card murals.“The murals made me feel really at home because I’m from Texas,” Rojas said. “I got back to Saint Mary’s, and I realized there was a lack of artwork depicting people of all cultures and all religions. I remembered how the murals made me feel, and I thought it would be a great idea to have one here on campus so that any student or any person that comes here will feel comfortable by finding an image that represents them.”Rojas said the mural is also a celebration of the College’s founding and history. “It is showing special moments in history and different traditions of the school as well,” she said.However, there are still details to be considered and decided upon — Saint Mary’s is still determining the subject of the mural as well as an artist to paint it, Rojas said. She said she hopes the mural will be completed by her senior year.“We’re hoping the mural will go in the main atrium in Spes Unica Hall,” she said. “It is one of the most visible places on campus.”Rojas said it took the mural committee some time to decide where the painting should go.“Originally, we were thinking we would put it outside of Madeleva Hall, but then we realized it would be exposed to the elements and it would deteriorate over time,” she said.To get the mural started, Rojas said she spoke to vice president for mission Judy Fean. Fean then presented the idea to College President Nancy Nekvasil, who brought the proposal to her cabinet members. After Nekvasil and her cabinet approved the idea, a committee was created. Rojas and other students and staff are currently working on the committee, but it is open to any Saint Mary’s students that have ideas, she said. The committee will also be polling the community for input.“There will be a survey sent out to faculty, staff and students,” Rojas said. “The survey will have different questions about the mural, so we can start gathering information to give to the artist. I encourage people to respond to the survey.”Interested students can contact her directly via email, Rojas said.Rojas said joining the committee has helped her feel a part of the Saint Mary’s community.“Before I only knew the students and a few professors,” she said. “Now I have been able to meet new staff members. I enjoy seeing them on campus and extending my family here.”She has many hopes for the finished mural, including more united campus, she added.“One of the main objectives of the mural is to create a community,” she said. “We all have our own mini bubbles of community and I really hope that this mural helps us build a bridge between those communities.”Tags: 175 years of SMC, 175th anniversary, history, Muralslast_img read more