Brock helps innovative video game get from concept to Dragons Den

Rohan Mahimker and Alex Peters run the start-up gaming company SMARTeacher, a company assisted by Brock University and the federal government’s Applied Research and Commercialization program. In less than a year, Brock University helped the founders of a start-up gaming company get from designing a concept to selling the product. And now their path has led to the gates of TV’s Dragon’s Den.In summer 2011, Alex Peters and Rohan Mahimker received a grant from the federal government’s Applied Research and Commercialization (ARC) program, which helps small and medium enterprises get from research and development to commercialization. Brock University is one of ARC’s administering bodies for south-central Ontario.Peters and Mahimker conceived the idea for an interactive game called Prodigy, with a huge advantage over the competition. It would not only help kids learn math, but adjust its level of difficulty based on the emotions of the child playing it.The $50,000 ARC grant helped the idea come to life. The Brock team involved with this project included Beatrice Ombuki-Berman, an associate professor of computer science, who signed on to the project as the Brock principal investigator. She also oversaw the hiring of four Brock computer science students as research assistants to refine the prototype. The Brock team worked on the project from July 1, 2011 to March 31, 2012.Thanks to their involvement, Peters and Mahimker’s company SMARTeacher is now open for business and selling product, but they agree the ARC grant was a make-or-break moment that let them develop the game’s crucial technology.Billed as “the most fun and effective way to learn math,” Prodigy looks and feels like a video game but is a powerful tool to help children improve their grades, retention and enjoyment of math.“Being able to respond to the child’s emotions is everything,” Peters said. “By sensing when a child is frustrated, this allows Prodigy to automatically offer helpful content and easier questions. Or conversely, to switch to more difficult skills and questions when a child is growing bored.”The past few months have been a whirlwind for Peters and Mahimker:• The ARC funding took them through to March 2012.• By April the pair had been selected to tape their pitch for Dragon’s Den (which could air in the 2012-13 season).• Today their website lets people sample and order the game.• And every month they’re developing new features to keep the game fresh for new and existing customers.“The game creates an individual learning profile for each child, so that it learns what the most effective strategy is for each student over time,” Peters said.SMARTeacher is one of more than a dozen companies that Brock has partnered with through the ARC program since March 2011.“Many of these collaborations will lead to product launches over the next year,” said John Wilson, Brock’s director of Business Development and Commercialization. “This will be to the benefit of Brock, the companies involved and to the economy of southern Ontario.” read more

Guyana Govt working on strong relief response to hurricane hit territories

As the region grapples with the devastation brought on by Hurricane Irma and impending threats of Hurricane Jose, the Government of Guyana has pledged an initial sum of US $50,000 to aid urgent relief effortsthrough the Caribbean Community’s (CARICOM) regional mechanism, which is coordinated by the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) in partnership with the Association of Caribbean States (ACS). Further assistance will be determined subsequent to the completion of a Needs Assessment. This was announced today, following a high-level meeting convened by President David Granger at State House. The Head of State has tasked the team with ensuring that Guyana’s response also comprehensively addresses the needs of Guyanese citizens, who are residing in the affected territories, according to the Ministry of the Presidency.President David Granger convened a high-level Ministerial Meeting to discuss Guyana’s response to hurricane-hit territories of the Caribbean region. The high-level team included: Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo, Minister of State, Mr. Joseph Harmon, Minister of Finance, Mr. Winston Jordan, Minister of Citizenship, Mr. Winston Felix, Minister of Public Infrastructure, Mr. David Patterson, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Carl Greenidge, Minister of Public Affairs, Ms. Dawn Hastings-Williams and Minister with Responsibility for the Public Service, Dr. Rupert Roopnarine. (MotP photo)Minister of State, Mr. Joseph Harmon, who has responsibility for disaster relief, announced the initial sum committed by Government noting that Needs Assessments are being conducted at the regional level and added that regular Situation Reports are being monitored as Guyana continues to work with the Region to ensure a coordinated response.  Additionally, Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo will Head a Ministerial Task Force that will be responsible for oversight of the efforts of the Civil Defence Commission’s (CDC) National Risk Reduction Platform, which has since been activated.According to the MotP, Harmon also informed that over the next few days, strenuous efforts will be made to keep an open line of communication to ensure that relatives of those residing in hurricane-hit zones are provided with the necessary information regarding their loved ones. “We will work to render assistance to Guyanese nationals in Caribbean countries and generally to the affected states themselves. We want to be able to have an inventory of students, who are on scholarships in Cuba and in other parts of the Caribbean and to see to it that such information is provided to their families,” the Prime Minister said.Meanwhile, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Carl Greenidge said that Cuba has better infrastructure than many of the other Caribbean countries and noted that from current reports, the Ministry has no reason to believe that scholarship students are in any danger or have suffered in any alarming way. Nevertheless, the Ministry will be setting up a portal on its website to facilitate communication between those affected and their families as well as the authorities in Guyana, the MotP reported.Lack of communication is one of the major difficulties that the regional response effort faces. Minister Greenidge explained that while there is a basic framework of communication such as Honorary Consuls, Ambassadors and other diplomatic representatives, the storm has ravaged communications infrastructure, especially in places like St. Maarten, St. Barts and Barbuda. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)RelatedHurricane Maria: Guyana stands in solidarity with Dominica, ready to offer support- PresidentSeptember 19, 2017In “latest news”CDC, Foreign Ministry open hotline for relatives of persons affected by Hurricane IrmaSeptember 14, 2017In “latest news”Int’l Donors Conference to be called for hurricane-devastated islandsSeptember 15, 2017In “latest news” read more