LIFE ON CAMPUS
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Students are encouraged to work together in teams to complete complex works that may be used to enhance their portfolios, and learn the arts of teamwork, organization, self-discipline and project management. Click through the projects below to see how UAT students are using their imaginations to learn, experience and innovate across a broad range of technologies and disciplines.
Artificial Life Programming
This Agent-based model illustrates simple movement rules that result in behavior that resembles the flocking of birds, swarms of insects, or herding of sheep. The members of the flock try to head towards their target, keep near to each other, keep a certain amount of space away from each other, and face the direction their flockmates are heading and the direction of their target.
Click here for more information about this project.
Agent-based models have a wider range of implementation than the other programs discussed in the A-life class because each program can represent a different agent or life form. The idea is to create the agent with some basic properties in order to replicate the real thing. So this type of program could model the flocking of birds, the predator/prey relationship of creatures, or ant colony optimization, as my project demonstrates.
Download the Program
The Lindenmayer system, or L-system, is a set of simple rules or symbols that is usually used to model the growth of plants. This program could be considered a simple string manipulation program, but it demonstrates the concept of emergent behavior, which is an important concept throughout A-life. Given a starting point and applying some simple rules, you can obtain complex results such as the Fibonacci number sequence.
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A cellular automaton is a grid of cells, each cell having multiple states of being, with the cells being in a certain state at a certain point in time. The cell state is determined by its neighboring cells, and once the entire grid has checked for change, a new generation is created. This allows for a more complex and visual demonstration of emergent behavior.
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Genetic algorithms are search techniques inspired by evolutionary biology to find approximate solutions to a problem or to find the best solution. As an example, let's say we have a population of penguins, some good at swimming and others good at walking. We want to create the ultimate penguin, one that can swim and walk better than any other. So, in each generation of penguins, the most talented penguins and a few not-so-talented penguins get to breed. When they breed, some mutation occurs, thus evolving the next generation of penguins. This mutation gradually moves us closer to the ultimate penguin, though with this mutation we could be getting disfigured penguins instead.
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Spring 2005 -- What do Super Monkey Ball and an IP-device have in common? Both are the inspiration for DC480's latest project. DC480, made up of local net security enthusiasts, are working on the Icarus to the IP-enabled device contest at DefCon.
More on Icarus
Summer 2006 - The state of Arizona had a problem: receiving a grant to build an 802.11b wireless network on Interstate 19 in southern Arizona, the Arizona Telecommunications & Information Council (ATIC) was to have a report to the Department of Homeland Security by March 31 to renew the grant. But there was one problem: the network didn't work. And the council didn't have the manpower or resources to find out why. So who did they turn to? Raymond Blackwood, IT manager of development, and the DC480 network security group.
TCP-IP Enabled Device Contest
UAT's DC480 group has a goal for this year: Instill Shock and Awe via a Paintball Gun.
The DC480 (also known as the Net Security Club) has not come up with a new Weapon of Mass Destruction. Rather, they have plans and a proposal for a TCP/IP-enabled device that they will show off to other hackers-and exercise their engineering/programming skills.
The group has already started work on a paintball gun that can "remotely, detect motion, pan and track the motion, allow the user to see the perpetrator through a web interface and choose the option to fire, ignore, take picture, and unleash the fury," according to the document plans.
The goal: "instill fear, shock and awe, and unleash total disaster to the person
that comes in range of the device."
"It just started out with us coming up with an idea of 'How can we make something IP-enabled?' It just came up to be a paintball gun that would be fired over the Internet through a web page and it would have motion detection and tracking and stuff like that," said Jason Eubank, DC480 member.
When complete, the device will be entered in the 2005 DefCon conference for hackers. The DC480 group gets its name from DefCon (DC) and the local 480 telephone area code.
This year at DefCon, DC480 sponsored a device contest with awards for Best TCP/IP-Embedded Device, Best TCP/IP-Enabled Peripheral, and the Hax0r's Choice Award, where peers voted to choose the most ber-elite device in the entire contest.
There are two categories of devices in this contest. The first category is TCP/IP-embedded devices. These are stand-alone devices that simply need to be plugged into a hub or switch. The device must host a TCP/IP-aware service that someone can control and/or query a status from over a LAN or the Internet and have it report back to the remote client that is controlling/querying it.
The second category is TCP/IP-enabled peripherals. These are devices that must be connected to a host system such as a laptop or desktop computer that hosts the TCP/IP-enabled service for the device. The host system must be able to communicate with the attached device in order to control it and/or query its status over a LAN or the Internet and report back to the remote client that is controlling/querying it.
Jason is stoked about the project: "I learned that it's really hard to IP-enable a device and that it takes a lot of people to get it done," he said. "We definitely want to have it done at next year's DefCon and blow everyone away at the conference and show how intensely the gun can work."
Going to Defcon
Every year, a contingent of UAT students and staff go to DefCon, a conference for hackers in Las Vegas. There, they learn about the latest black hat and white hat techniques, hacking, cracking, worms, viruses and cybercrime.
In the past, DefCon has seen the the arrest of Russian programmer Dmitry Sklyarov, the release of hacking tools by the Cult of the Dead Cow and lots of controversy.
Check out some pictures.
Wardriving for Fun and Class Credit
-- UAT student gain college credits, some valuable training in wireless security and experience in a research project while wardriving around Phoenix.
More about wardriving fun.
Spring 2005 -- Students in a special projects class have a vision to create an
innovative solution for companies that have 802.11 wireless networks
and traditional PSTN PBX for telephone communications. They will design
an off-the-shelf solution that will enable companies to add more
telephone-service options for employees.
A Telecom and Networking Project
Undergrad and graduate students interested in phone phreaking, wireless and networking fun are needed for a Special Topics Class during the spring 2005 semester.
Raymond Todd Blackwood, IT Manager of Development and Co-Chair for the Center for Technology Studies, has a vision to create an innovative solution for companies that have 802.11 wireless networks and traditional PSTN PBX for telephone communications. They will design an off-the-shelf solution that will enable companies to add more telephone-service options for employees.
During the 15-week course, students will design, build and test a proof of concept for a wireless Voip soft phone using Bluetooth, 802.11 and Windows CE .NET over SIP and convert the signal to make calls on a traditional phone system.
"I noticed one day that one of the IT staff members had to "borrow" a wireless phone from the PSTN network to communicate with vendors. The problem was that the person who was supposed to use the phone also needed it. Since we do not have offices or quiet work areas with phones, my first instinct was to provide a cellular phone for our IT guy to communicate with vendors or to purchase an additional wireless PSTN phone and base station. But not even a second later I counter-thought that it was a lame solution. I thought what would be cool was if the IT Guy, or anyone at work for that matter, could use a phone from anywhere on campus using the existing 802.11 network and a Bluetooth headset. This project is the pursuit of that thought," Todd said.
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