News & Events to Inspire STEAM Education


Senator Bill Nelson at Climate Reality Leadership Corps Training in Florida

Posted by on Oct 5, 2015

Senator Bill Nelson of Florida was one of the key speakers at Climate Reality Leadership Corps Training in Miami to discuss the climate crisis and for all of us to be better...

Read More


Spokester Kickstarts Making Your Bike Sound Like a Motorcycle

Posted by on Aug 20, 2015

The Spokester bicycle noisemaker was invented by Kevin Nelson to improve on the decades ­old idea of attaching baseball cards to a bicycle to simulate a motorcycle sound....

Read More


PAC-Man Maze Race with Drones & FPV by Robotics

Posted by on Aug 16, 2015

Ctrl.Me Robotics located in Venice Beach, Ca is hyperfocused on the future of drones with custom software and hardware to further safety and innovation. As one of Los Angeles’ only...

Read More


Biosimilars –The Newest Addition to the Pharmaceutical Industry

Posted by on Sep 15, 2015

Biologics are among the fastest growing sector of the pharmaceutical industry. Most drugs are small molecules, and are synthesized chemically. Biologics are different in that not...

Read More

Recent Posts

Senator Bill Nelson at Climate Reality Leadership Corps Training in Florida

Senator Bill Nelson at Climate Reality Leadership Corps Training in Florida

Oct 5, 2015

Senator Bill Nelson of Florida was one of the key speakers at Climate Reality Leadership Corps Training in Miami to discuss the climate crisis and for all of us to be better stewards of our planet. Bill was inspired to become an environmentalist after spending six days orbiting the Earth aboard the space shuttle Columbia. He was struck at the fragility of the earth. He told us that he looked back from the perspective of the window of a spacecraft saying, “The earth is so beautiful, it’s so colorful, it’s so alive, it’s this magnificent creation suspended in the middle of nothing and space is nothing. It goes on and on for billions of light years..I didn’t see the divisions that bedevils us here on the face of the earth, I didn’t see the political divisions, partisan divisions, racial divisions, ethnic divisions but I saw is we are all in this together as citizens of planet earth. Now that is a responsibility of us collectively as citizens of planet earth to do something about it and save this extraordinary planet called earth.” I had the opportunity to attend and hear Senator Bill Nelson speak further on this and here are some more highlights from part of his talk that he gave at Climate Reality in Miami.

Senator Bill Nelson
Photo: Senator Bill Nelson

“In 1998 Vice President Gore challenged NASA to create a satellite that would allow anyone to view Earth and its changing face through a continuous real-time image via the Internet. By sending a spacecraft to a point, it’s called the Lagrange point, its where the earth’s gravity stops and the suns gravity starts, that’s a million miles from earth. This spacecraft called Triana it would serve as a deep space observatory and it would give all of us a comets eye view of our planet. In 2000 when Triana was complete and it was ready to be launched but then in 2001 VP Chaney he took office and the administration put the 150 million dollar satellite on a shelf. Thankfully to the credit of NASA they took the long view and they stored the satellite so well that after revising it’s mission and adding instruments to measure space weather the newly named DSCOVR satellite launched in February this year. If you go to NASA’s website you can see almost real time refreshed every hour and a half. You can see a detailed view of the daylight side of the earth as it revolves about it axes and it goes through the seasons, you can even see the dark side of the moon. DSCOVR also provides scientist even more detailed information about the composition of the atmosphere and how it impacts us. DSCOVR has an instrument that will precisely measure the heat that is staying trapped in the atmosphere of the earth.

More about DSCOVR:

Of course those who are willfully blind to what is happening, it’s going to be harder for them to deny.
There are those who ban terms like ‘climate change’ and ‘global warming’ and by the way that has been done here in the government in the state of Florida. In fact, some state and local government employees are told to say ‘nuisance’ flooding instead of sea level rise. Ladies and gentlemen climate change isn’t a nuisance it’s a threat.

We have a battle in the Senate. We have taken 11 different votes on climate change in this year alone. Votes are undermining the clean air act, denying the science, approving dirty fuels and each of these votes comes down to politics. So my friends elections matter and so does your voice, your passion, your action. Remember awhile ago I told you about King Coal and big oil deliberately mislead decision makers, well I got some good news, just this year some of the companies are beginning to sing a different tune. Six major oil companies including BP wrote a letter to the Secretary of the UN Convention on Climate Change urging a price on carbon at the Paris negotiations. Thirteen of the largest Fortune 500 companies Coca Cola, Walmart, Google..they signed the President’s climate pledge.

Pope Francis was trained as a scientist, he was trained as a chemist, he has a scientific understanding of how human activity is impacting our environment and he is galvanizing support for action on climate change. Pope Francis issued a note to all Catholics saying we have a moral imperative to ensure a healthy environment for future generations and he has made that appeal not just to Catholics but to all of us to take care of our sacred home.

We can’t let Miami be the new Atlantis. We certainly can’t do it without a fight. Then a confluence of events also on Friday, the Chinese President Xi made a landmark commitment to cap and price greenhouse gas emissions starting in 2017. Just the year before last, Chinese emissions topped 10 trillion tons of carbon dioxide. So for China to take this action is critical to our global efforts.

We should vigorously be pursuing low carbon renewable energy sources like solar as the boat solar campaign has reminded us, a huge solar energy spill is called a nice day.” – Senator Bill Nelson of Florida

Climate Reality Leadership Corps Training in Florida 2015

Climate Reality Leadership Corps Training in Florida 2015

Sep 20, 2015

Sept 28-30, the Climate Reality Leadership Corps training in Florida has a unique place in time: it comes just two months before the UN climate negotiations in Paris. Citizens from around the world have been selected to join the ranks of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps, a committed network of thousands of leaders representing six continents and over 125 countries. Climate Reality aim’s to mobilize and equip citizen activists to join efforts to move both the state and the US towards meaningful action on climate change leading up to the 21st Conference of the Parties meeting in Paris later this year and beyond. QGITS along with many other selected individuals will attend the 3 day training to address the impacts of climate change and the opportunity to network with global leaders, learn from influential experts in climate science and sustainability, and hear from groundbreaking grassroots organizers and social activists.

climate reality

Climate Reality Leadership Corps will bring together business leaders, innovators, community leaders, academics, and many others to lend their valuable expertise to help train new Climate Reality Leaders. This training will truly be a unique event, with an agenda full of inspirational speakers and engaging sessions. The following speakers will be joining the training program to help make it a life-changing event:

Former Vice President Al Gore is co-founder and chairman of Generation Investment
 Management. He is a senior partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and a member of Apple,
 Inc.’s board of directors. Gore spends the majority of his time as chairman of The Climate Reality
 Project, a nonprofit devoted to solving the climate crisis. Gore was elected to the U.S. House of
 Representatives in 1976, 1978, 1980, and 1982 and the U.S. Senate in 1984 and 1990. He
 was inaugurated as the forty-fifth Vice President of the United States on January 20, 1993, and
 served eight years. He is the author of the bestsellers Earth in the Balance, An Inconvenient Truth, The Assault on Reason, Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis, and most recently, The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change. He is the subject of an Oscar-winning documentary and is the co-recipient, with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for “informing the world of the dangers posed by climate change.”

Ken Berlin is the President and CEO of The Climate Reality Project. Ken has devoted his career to leadership on environment, energy and climate change issues. A trusted advisor to businesses, non-profits and federal and state governments, Ken has been recognized as one of the top climate change attorneys in the world and has extensive expertise on international environmental issues ranging from clean energy to biodiversity. Most recently, Ken chaired the Skadden Arps Environmental and Climate Change practices and served as the Executive Vice-President and General Counsel for the Coalition for Green Capital. He was also a leader in establishing the Climate Speakers Network. In 2012, Ken served as Chair of the Obama Energy and Environment Team.


Mario is responsible for the design, strategic goals, and engagement programs for The Climate Reality Leadership Corps in the U.S. and abroad. Mario joined the Climate Reality Project in April of 2013 and has spearheaded trainings for over 4,000 leaders in Australia, Brazil, Canada, India, South Africa, Turkey, and the U.S. His expertise in international climate policy and strategy combined with a strong background in metrics, analytics, and data drives the Leadership Corps with a data-driven engagement strategy across multiple sectors and demographics. Prior to joining The Climate Reality Project, Mario was responsible for creating a climate education program that reached more than 1.5 million students across the United States, and several sustainability and conservation programs in Australia, Ecuador, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, and Peru.

Albert J. Slap is a nationally recognized environmental attorney and law professor. He is president of Coastal Risk Consulting, LLC in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, which helps communities, businesses, and governments get climate-ready and storm-safe. Over the years, Mr. Slap has used America’s environmental laws to protect public health and the environment by stopping water and air pollution, and by forcing local governments to replace aging and polluting sewer infrastructure. His citizen suits against the City of Philadelphia, Cincinnati and Miami-Dade County brought billions of dollars of investment in wastewater treatment plants to those cities. Mr. Slap served as a board member of The Nature Conservancy’s Pennsylvania chapter, director of The Nature Conservancy’s Colorado River Program from 2004–2009, and currently serves on the organization’s Caribbean Advisory Board. Mr. Slap was the 2014 recipient of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas “Defender of the Everglades” award. Mr. Slap resides in Snowmass Village, Colorado and Aventura, FL.

Amy Burvall, VP of Academic Affairs of Edgemakers is a humanities teacher for over 20 years in several of Oahu Hawaii’s private schools, Amy is a leader in educational technology professional development programs. Amy is well known for her “History for Music Lovers” YouTube Channel, which she runs with Herb Mahelona. The channel, which has over 11 million views, features history-based parody music videos and has appeared in Wired magazine, The Washington Post, The New Yorker, and on CBC, NPR, and international blogs. Amy has presented and spoken at numerous events across the country, including TEDxHonolulu. She was named Webmaker Fellow by the Mozilla Foundation and was a featured artist in the “Art and Culture of the Web” track at Mozfest 2014 in London. Amy is a Google certified teacher and was chosen for the Google Teacher Academy in Atlanta in 2014. Amy is a firm believer in radical openness, remix, and maker culture. Her favorite themes to explore are creativity, media theory, transparency in education, and new literacies.

Many more inspiring speakers will be at Climate Reality Leadership Corps in Florida, click here for full list of speakers:

About Climate Reality Project: The Climate Reality Project is a diverse group of passionate individuals who have come together to help solve the greatest challenge of our time. We are cultural leaders, marketers, organizers, scientists, storytellers and more, and we are committed to building a better future together.

For more info, visit:

EPA’s clean power plan


climate reality project

Biosimilars –The Newest Addition to the Pharmaceutical Industry

Biosimilars –The Newest Addition to the Pharmaceutical Industry

Sep 15, 2015

Biologics are among the fastest growing sector of the pharmaceutical industry. Most drugs are small molecules, and are synthesized chemically. Biologics are different in that not only are they larger molecules such as proteins, but they require a finely tuned process to be produced from  a biological source, such as a cell line.

One popular category of biologics is monoclonal antibodies. They are like the antibodies produced by your immune system, but are made to target a specific pathway. For example, the top selling biologic adalimumab is used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and several other inflammatory conditions. It works by specifically targeting a protein called tumor necrosis factor-alpha so that it cannot initiate the inflammatory response it normally does. This results in a reduction of symptoms.


Because biologics require such specialized and precise protocols to produce, they are generally very expensive. Fortunately, many biologics are coming off patent within the next few years, and a new field of pharmaceuticals has emerged—biosimilars. Biosimilars are defined by the FDA as being highly similar to the reference product, rather than being an exact copy such as with small molecule drugs. The molecules must have similar dosages, strengths, routes of use such as injection. They also undergo rigorous testing to ensure purity and effectiveness.

Why do we care about biosimilars? Because they are poised to be much cheaper than the reference products they are similar to and this offers more options to patients and doctors fighting serious illnesses. As of now there is only one biosimilar approved for use in the US, Zarxio, which is now a competitor to Neupogen. The drug is used to increase white blood cell counts in cancer patients.  It will be interesting to see how the landscape of the pharmaceutical industry changes as companies compete with biosimilar products. The market is expected to take off with estimates for 2020 ranging from 6-11 billion dollars, with competition among companies resulting in lower prices for consumers. Only time will tell.




Casey Raasumaa Rollins – Proofreader at Amgen and Columnist at QGITS. A Masters in Life Science from the University of Edinburgh. Linkedin

Spokester Kickstarts Making Your Bike Sound Like a Motorcycle

Spokester Kickstarts Making Your Bike Sound Like a Motorcycle

Aug 20, 2015

The Spokester bicycle noisemaker was invented by Kevin Nelson to improve on the decades ­old idea of attaching baseball cards to a bicycle to simulate a motorcycle sound. It’s a fun innovative toy that is simple, inexpensive, durable and can also be used as a safety device. Spokester is a clever one­piece design which fits all bicycles for kids and it’s the perfect snap-on exhaust for your bike! QGITS had the chance to talk with Entrepreneur, Product Director & Graphic Designer Adam Nelson and also the son of Kevin Nelson about their new Kickstarter launch campaign for Spokester.

QGITS: Tell us about the ingenious story of how your Dad Kevin came up with the concept and idea for Spokester?

Adam Nelson: My Dad had a couple of other little business ventures that he started he always wanted to be an Inventor. So he had experience with that as far as like what it takes to kind of go from idea to product. He had some friends that were engineers, he knew some CAD/CAM people and there was a little production facility where he worked out a deal with to where we could test the product and work out some of the kinks without having to go full production. This was back before we could do a one off thing like using a 3D printer. He basically just worked it out, he did a lot of sketching, prototyping with plastics that were just milled out of hunks of plastic instead of properly injecting material into a mould like we ended up doing eventually. It was trial and error until we found something that worked. He experimented with numerous materials including credit cards, paper, and metal until he settled on an injection moulded, flexible plastic concept.

Just 12 days to reach their goal! Help donate & support Spokester Kickstarter campaign. It promotes exercise and cultivates imagination by continuing the timeless tradition that many kids have shared: pretending bikes are motorcycles. Watch their Kickstarter video and help back this project.

QGITS:What are some of the safety benefits of Spokester?

Adam Nelson: Obviously the biggest use of Spokester is as a toy but we have people who use it for the safety aspect. A number of industrial and aerospace companies with large campuses use Spokesters as part of their safety programs. Their employees use bicycles to move between buildings or hangars, and the Spokesters alert others of their approach. There was also a retirement home that used it and clipped it on a special way that it was used on wheel chairs which was operated more as way to keep track of people.

QGITS:How does Spokester work?

Adam Nelson: We wanted to come up with something and make it as simple as possible, it’s all about the user experience so I think part of that was we want this product to be on the store shelf so you can grab it snap it on and not have to do any work.  You don’t want to have to use any screws or tape or a get a specific size or anything like that. We have where it’s very simple or basic while it still does what it is suppose to do. That’s what we came up with we found out a way that this particular shape bends enough that you can fit it onto a vast majority of the kids bikes out there. It snaps on and claps down so you know it’s on there and then your good to go. You just pop it off whenever you want or you can turn it out on your spokes so it doesn’t make noise and keep on your bike so you don’t lose it. Its pretty amazing that it actually worked out so well.


QGITS: How will Kickstarter help out Spokester?

Adam Nelson: We plan to do a mass production with it and the official way to do it is to make a big multi cavity of mould digs and stamp a whole bunch of them in each run which what we are going to do. We did an initial run when we first created it, but we had to create a mold which is really expensive like tens of thousands of dollars and that’s before you even actually produce product. We didn’t really know what we were getting into so we just did a single cavity one which make it a lot more expensive because it just takes longer to do each one and so a Kickstarter was all about really ramping up production and getting one that we can do four at a time and start to do volume production. Its time to take next steps and get it out there and to a retailer location and that’s what Kickstarter is all about

QGITS: Can anyone develop and start their own product idea?

Adam Nelson: It’s easier to do than you think. Especially now a days with 3D printers and 3D modeling software you can put a good idea into your modeling software then drop it in the printer and have something that evening to try out. It’s not going to be perfect like having production quality but atleast get your ideas out into the world and then you can later make some tweeks. Its something you can do it yourself, so if you got an idea certainly find yourself a little rapid protyping shop just go to talk to them and see what they can do for you.

Support American made products. Help back Spokesters reach their goal of $35,000 and donate here to help them kickstart the Spokester:




PAC-Man Maze Race with Drones & FPV by Robotics

PAC-Man Maze Race with Drones & FPV by Robotics

Aug 16, 2015

Ctrl.Me Robotics located in Venice Beach, Ca is hyperfocused on the future of drones with custom software and hardware to further safety and innovation. As one of Los Angeles’ only R & D labs, Ctrl.Me is developing software to make any drone as safe as possible and livestreaming aerial views to multiple devices. Last week had an interactive Pac-Man maze race open to the community where people paired up in teams, as one wore an FPV headset while the other guided you overhead by flying a drone to get you through the maze. QGITS talked more about the event with Adam Gibson of

QGITS: What’s happening here tonight?

Adam Gibson: Tonight this is basically an experiment of how LEDs will work with drones at night and beyond. What we are trying to determine is somewhere we can traverse VR with FPV which is first person view, in terms of drones. FPV goes beyond virtual reality it’s real life VR.

ctrlme 1IMG_1695

QGITS: I heard your going do this possibly in Vegas?

Adam Gibson: We might do this next month at InterDrone a big drone expo at the Rio. This is going to be a very interesting experience in terms of a massive meetup for lots of people which is what we are trying to accomplish in bringing a lot of people of the drone community together. We want to experiment with these machines beyond just taking pictures and make it more of an experience or an immersive environment that people aren’t regularly used to.

QGITS: Who can attend these events?

Adam Gibson: This is more or less for the drone community for people that are new to it or people that are just interested and maybe they are trying to get into it. Also seasoned veterans that are really into drones and they are looking to do something different. I think that we are all really pretty familiar with flying cameras for now, we have been doing that for about four years. It’s time to try take it to the next level in terms of not just what Oculus is doing but beyond that with first person view goggles and companies like Fat Shark and Zeis cinemizers, what DJI is selling and also the Skyzone or even the Headplay goggles. We want to encourage people to join our meetup group and we are advocates for STEM education. At we really want people to think about what’s happening for the future of drones because how we are using them today is not how we are going to use them in 5 years.

QGITS also spoke to one of the attendees at Pac-Man maze race, Harry a freshman student at Crossroads for Arts & Sciences who does FPV racing, all sorts of drone stuff and cinematography. I asked him about his unique goggle headset and how he heard about the event.

“This is the Quanum goggles from Hobby King they sell two versions. One comes in a neoprene support glove but it’s $20 more. The goggles I have..comes great as is, all you have to do is buy the goggles which is $30. The receiver for the video is about $30 and the battery $10. So you get a really great product for just $70. I found through my Dad and I discovered a whole world of drones and multirotors.” – Harry, student at Crossroads

Headset 1 headset 2

Learn more at


Virtual Reality Festival presented by 3opolis at the SoCal VR Expo

Virtual Reality Festival presented by 3opolis at the SoCal VR Expo

Aug 3, 2015

Virtual Reality Fest presented by 3opolis a community partner to the SoCalVR expo who was also a participating exhibitor with a booth at the tradeshow is a community organization that is designed to honor and put the spot light on the technologist, filmmakers and content creators out there who are pioneering the virtual future of the entertainment industry. VR Fest was also a presenting sponsor of the SoCal VR kickoff space-themed party prior to the main event this year. QGITS attended both the space-themed kickoff celebration as well as the conference at SoCal VR and met up with Christopher Crescitelli Founder of Virtual Reality Festival & Producer & Creative Director of 3opolis.


QGTIS:  When is the next VR Fest and who can attend?

Christopher Crescitelli: The 1st official VR Festival tent pole event, will be Jan 6-9 which is during CES in Las Vegas. One thing that’s unique about the VR Fest is that it’s not only our festival but your festival as well. Meaning, we invite the general public and community to join us! It’s free to attend. We launched our touring initiative, the VR Lounge, a year ago as a pre-cursor to the festival so that people in the community and public can learn more about the VR Festival, who we are and what we do.

QGTIS: What can people see and do at VR Fest coming up Jan 6-9 at CES, Las Vegas?

Christopher Crescitelli: We will have multiple events in multiple locations around Las Vegas focused around the CES schedule. For example, night parties in the newest and hottest clubs on the strip, workshops and film screenings as well as a VR exhibits area and special creative art installations using virtual reality. It’s consumer facing yet also B2B. We are designed to be the first consumer live event 100% focused on virtual reality and the first program of it’s kind in the world.

QGTIS: What are some other projects or collaborations VR Fest has worked on?

Christopher Crescitelli: January 8th 2015 at CES we worked in partnership with the Extreme Tech Challenge at the Bellagio where we hosted their entire team through a cooperative event with the VR Festival and the VR Lounge. We are working with that team again this year. So we are excited to announce that collaboration and will be announcing the schedule in the weeks to come.

VR fest Photo by: sbe Entertainment Group

QGTIS:What has inspired you into virtual reality technology?

Christopher Crescitelli: I am very fortunate as a filmmaker to have worked with pioneers in the field at a very young age, so I have been working in 3D, 4D and virtual reality for about 20+ years. Those specialties have been a blessing in my career that allowed me to be on the front lines. During the 2D revolution I was working with one of the first 24P HD electronic cinematography solutions created by Panavision and George Lucas. And we made one of the very first movies ever to be shot in 2D 24P HD digital video. We also shot the first slow motion 24P HD shot ever back in the day. We were around when 3D started up again so I was working with the very 1st 3D television and first 3D gaming system. Then with virtual reality we are on the same track we are helping to build community and support the industry at large. We are also pioneering our own creative and technological pathways for our own projects.

More info and a message from Sir Richard Branson about the Extreme Tech Challenge:

Extreme Tech Challenge from Extreme Tech Challenge on Vimeo.

The Extreme Tech Challenge brings together targeted resources and world class advisors to help high-energy, wicked-smart entrepreneurs that are executing on big ideas. We aim to “lower the friction to your success” by providing exposure and capital to accelerate product and free infrastructure and other start-up boosters from world class vendors to scale. Importantly, we aim to have extreme fun along the way – the final pitch and feedback session will be held at Necker Island – with Sir Richard Branson as our special guest judge. Are YOU ready to give it your best shot?

Virtusphere at SoCal Virtual Reality Expo 2015

Virtusphere at SoCal Virtual Reality Expo 2015

Jul 30, 2015

At the inaugural SoCal Virtual Reality Expo & Conference with so many things to do, see and demo; however, one thing that stood out and you couldn’t miss at the exhibitors hall entrance was a very cool interactive completely full body immersion attraction called the Virtusphere. Attendees were able to not only try on an oculus rift headset but they were also able to immerse themselves into a virtual experience by physically walking through a virtual environment. Michael Douglas from Innersphere VR brought in and demonstrated the Virtusphere at SoCal VR 2015. Michael said,”It’s been around for about 10 years, military and colleges has purchased them but for the public they are no where to be found, they are too big and too expensive. So I travel around showing it at different conventions trying to promote virtual reality and motion.”

Check out this video with Michael Douglas demonstrating and talking some more about the Virtusphere with some help by Rudy Delgado a volunteer from SoCal VR conference.

To learn more about Virtusphere:

NASA Vehicle Integrated Propulsion Research (VIPR) Project

NASA Vehicle Integrated Propulsion Research (VIPR) Project

Jul 29, 2015

NASA hosted a behind-the-scenes tour of the Vehicle Integrated Propulsion Research (VIPR) project at the agency’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in California on Edwards Air Force Base. Media was invited to take a tour and attend a briefing to hear about the current status and objectives of the VIPR project. On panel were Paul Krasa, VIPR Project Manager, John Lekki, VIPR Principal Investigator; Jack Hoying from the U.S. Air Force & Volcanic Ash Environment Principal Investigator and also Cheng Moua, Armstrong VIPR Project Manager. QGITS had a chance to talk with some of the panelist after their discussion before taking a tour of the NASA Engine Shop and VIPR testing setup.

c17 Photo by: U.S. Airforce

Here is what some of the panelist from the NASA VIPR team had to say about the project:

NASA Photo (left): John Lekki, Jack Hoying, and Cheng Moua.

QGITS: What were some of the highlights discussed today.

John Lekki: What we were talking about here was an upcoming test that we are having, we are going to be introducing volcanic ash into an aircraft engine. The reason that we are studying volcanic ash is because it’s not really well understood what low concentration volcanic ash will do to an aircraft engine. We definitely know if there is a high concentration that you do not want to fly in it at all, it’s an issue. At low concentrations, there’s been a lot of difficulty in determining where the threshold should be, its all because we don’t have some control tests to do this at low concentration volcanic ash. So what we are going to be doing is introducing volcanic ash into an aircraft engine, it’s a military engine but it’s very similar to the engines that are used in civilian aircraft. We are going to be studying that and we have a number of measurement diagnostic and prognostic technologies on the aircraft engine. While the engine is being degraded by the volcanic ash we will try very closely to monitor what’s go on with the engine. So really what we are talking about is that we have a very interesting task, we are getting ready to do that. We know that it will help folks in making decisions if there is a volcanic eruption. How to utilize air space, when to close it, when to have it open and generally where you want to fly and not fly.

QGITS: Tell us about your role with the VIPR Project and what inspired you to work at NASA?

Cheng Moua: I’m one of the VIPR Project Managers at NASA Armstrong, we are responsible for the planning and conduct of the task. So a lot of the researchers bring their equipment out here and we are responsible for integration, planning and working with the airforce side to use their C-17 airplane. Our role at Armstrong is to plan the task, work out the logistics and make sure that whatever testing the researchers want done will be done to their specifications. We conduct tests here and using sensors to incorporate all of that into the engine airplane. So we work through all the planning and safety related issues to ensure it’s a safe test and successful test. And what has inspired me is going back to the old days the moon just being part of an organization of that caliber is always inspiring.

IMG_1333Photo: Volcanic ash being tested on the C-17.

QGITS: How do you feel about the VIPR project and how it’s helping the industry?

Jack Hoying: This project is great, it sounds maybe not so much because we are dealing with ash but the entire project from start to finish has been so interesting, learning how different it is and how to feed the simplest machine to feed it into an engine became extremely complicated. Every single thing that we did was a mini project in it of itself. The fact that we are going to be able help the industry, to help the military understand things..up until now this knowledge has been lacking. The policy guidance that exists in Europe and in the United States is just not where it needs to be. So the fact that we can now in a very careful control way put small amounts of ash into an engine for a long period of time for hours and hours. That’s the missing piece of information that we have, so its kind of exciting on the backend too because now we can help policy. We are not writing the policy, we are the researchers that give the data and that help the policy writers be able to write the new standards..’Can you fly close to the ash?’..’How long can you fly in the ash?’ VIPR is a great project.

From there we took a tour of the NASA Engine shop and the test setup which involves ground testing of a C-17 cargo transport plane.

IMG_1342 Photo: NASA F18 test engine for research

At the engine shop we were able to get up close with the engines used in the F18 and F15 to get a better understanding and visual of how the ash effects the airplane engines. I spoke with some of the technicians who work at the engine shop and Kevin Rohrer, Spokesperson for NASA Armstrong.

QGITS: What are some key take a ways from today’s tour?

Kevin Rohrer: There is two really key things we are doing with VIPR and the research that we are doing. The first is engine health monitoring of a jet aircraft knowing real time what an engine is doing. Also developing the multiple sensors that are put on jet engines moving in very harsh environments in extreme temperatures of hot and cold coming together. So the question is can you develop sensors to give you feedback and data real time? Second part is what happens when you actually ingest volcanic ash into a jet engine? We know from history there’s been several aircrafts that have experienced going through plumes of volcanic ash at various levels. What we don’t really know with any degree of confidence is how much ash causes what type of damage? We don’t know the why? We know that it could clog up engines, initially as the ash is going through an engine. It’s corrosive and could scrape even thought it’s a fine powder, it can degrade first parts of the fans on the engines. Once you go into the combustion chamber of the jet engine you have extreme heat of 1200 degrees and that heat would take the dust like volcanic ash and basically melt it and turns into a glass type of substance. So when it goes over some of the fans on the back part of the engine it could actually stick to it and that becomes a problem when you have to much accumulation you lose efficiency and you could possibly lose an engine.

IMG_1351IMG_1355 Photo (right): Rich, Technician at NASA Engine Shop and engine compressor in the shop to check out.

Kevin Rohrer: So what you will see on the animation video is the fan blades they are in front of the combustion chamber that’s where you will have the corrosion affect with the volcanic ash flowing over that we would expect it to etch and degrade those fan blades.

Check out the animation video Kevin mentioned and also VIPR time laspe video that was shown from the VIPR behind-the-scenes tour and briefing at NASA Armstrong:

More info provided by NASA Armstrong: NASA has partnered with the Air Force Research Laboratory, Federal Aviation Administration, Boeing Research & Technology, Pratt and Whitney, General Electric Aviation and Rolls-Royce Liberty Works on the VIPR project. Researchers from four NASA centers are involved in various aspects of research and testing – Armstrong, Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, and Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California.

To learn more about the VIPR project:

NASA’s aeronautics research:

Space Meets Virtual Reality for the SoCal VR Con (July 11 – 12)

Space Meets Virtual Reality for the SoCal VR Con (July 11 – 12)

Jul 6, 2015

During the weekend of July 11th and 12th, Southern California’s very own VR conference and expo (SoCal VR) is shooting for the stars – literally.

Developers, content creators, artists, engineers, and VR enthusiasts of all types will take part in a celebration of all things virtual. At the forefront of the event is an outer worldly theme, which looks to combines space exploration and virtual reality.

It all starts the evening of July 11, 2015 in Long Beach, California with a space-themed kickoff party.


Doors open at 7pm. Shortly after people start arriving and have their drinks in hand, a special fireside chat panel discussion begin around 7:30pm. Speakers include a couple local space experts. Of those who will be there is Jacki Morie (Founder, Chief Scientist at All These Worlds).

As her Wikipedia page states, “Jacquelyn Ford Morie is an artist, scientist and educator working in the areas of immersive worlds, games and social networks. Until 2013 she was a Senior Research Scientist at the Institute for Creative Technologies. In 2013 she started a spin-off company called All These Worlds, LLC to take her work in virtual worlds and avatars to a broader audience.

jacki morie

Jacki Morie

According to a recent Motherboard interview, “All These Worlds, is currently working on virtual reality experiences for NASA that aim to ease the social and psychological difficulties of long term space travel. At the moment, NASA’s installing an early version of All These Worlds’ simulation at the Human Exploration Research Analog (HERA), located at NASA’s Johnson Space Center.”

Since there’s a 40-minute delay in communication between Mars and Earth, subjects won’t be able to interact with people outside the experiment in real time, but the simulation will sync up with Earth once a day. This will allow family members to leave recordings of their avatars which the astronauts can then interact with, and leave their own recordings in response.

At the end of the summer, “a group of scientists and engineers” will participate in a year-long Mars simulation at the HI-SEAS Habitat in Hawaii. The test subjects in that experiment will use Oculus Rift Development Kit 2 to visit virtual worlds where they can visit art galleries, swim in coral reefs, and ski on a mountaintops.

Another speaker for the event is Liam Kennedy, Inventor of the ISS-Above. His device lights up and increases the flashing frequency when the ISS is nearby, allowing users to run outside and see the space station fly over in the sky above.

Liam Kennedy

Liam Kennedy

As the website for the ISS-Above describes, “the brains of the ISS-Above is a very small Single Board Computer called a Raspberry Pi. It’s like a regular computer that you have in your house – just a LOT smaller…The ISS-Above works with numerous add-ons display devices that light up / change color and/or displays information in some way.”

The project was funded by a successful Kickstarter campaign, raising over $17,000 – well above the orginial $5,000 goal. Now, the devices turns up a bars, parties, and events. There is even an installation in local cafe near that’s been there since November 27th 2013. Liam Kennedy has also created a new wearable option as well.

Liam Kennedy is now looking into putting 360 degree cameras in orbit and will discuss his thoughts on the powerful nature of allowing people to teleport themselves into space to look around.

Mike Murdock, Co-Founder and Creative Director at Otherworld Interactive, will also speak on the panel.  He has worked everywhere from a small, award-winning video production house to Microsoft Research (and consulting / freelancing in between) MFA from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts in Interactive Media.

Mike Murdock

Mike Murdock

Murdock even helped develop the UX / UI and virtual reality designer for the Oculus Home app for Samsung GearVR while he was at Oculus. His recent project heavily revolve around space-related environments.

Now, Murdock is working on a wide variety of content at Otherworld Interactive’s. One of their early projects was Spacewalk; a exploratory virtual reality experience set in space. The viewer is an astronaut drifting around the International Space Station. Another experience named ‘GWC: Drop the Bass‘ is a lightly interactive virtual reality animation with funny spacemen who dance to intergalactic music.

Otherworld developed a classic twin stick shooter for Google Cardboard as well. Gamers become a member of the Galactic Wrecking Company (GWC) who has been called in to exterminate an immense horde of deadly, malfunctioning robots in outerspace. User get to blow them to bits while avoiding being crushed by their sheer numbers.

Starport, a two-player social experience for mobile VR, is another space-related game by Otherworld. Players get paired with a random player and join in a series of collaborative and competitive mini games – “destroy asteroids, build castles, make friends!” Mike Murdock will provide his thoughts on space and VR from a creative design perspective.

RSVP to the Kickoff Party here


Inside a Space Shuttle: The EndeaVR Project (July 12)

In continuation from the space-themed kickoff party, a VIP keynote will take place at the main SoCal VR event on Sunday, July 12. QGITS readers get an exclusive promo code to get them into this VIP talk.

Promo Code: vrspace

Register here:

The EndeaVR Project utilizes leading-edge imaging technology to film, photograph and LIDAR-scan the entire Space Shuttle Endeavour, resulting in the most comprehensive captures of a Space Shuttle interior ever assembled – the goal is to render ultra-res VR experiences by which individuals will be able to don eyewear such as the Oculus Rift, and walk or ‘fly’ through the Shuttle, able to ‘look’ anywhere, even touch surfaces and turn switches, via eventual haptic feedback gloves etc.

The EndeaVR Project

The all-volunteer project involves the most advanced capture systems available, and is being done by Academy Award-winning visual effects gurus from films such as Star Trek Into Darkness, Hugo and others with participation by executives and developers with Oculus, Samsung, RED and NASA itself.

Executive Producer David Knight will show footage derived from the VR systems capturing the first comprehensive scoping of a Space Shuttle interior ever done, and talk about the plans for the new Air & Space Center being constructed in Southern California where all of it will be utilized. He will also discuss planning for a VR camera unit to go up on the International Space Station, a first and potentially revolutionary experience for everyone on the ground.


Matt Terndrup – I’m a virtual reality, wearables, and technology art journalist who focuses on emerging trends in the maker, hacker, and inventor cultures. I like to travel around from place to place researching what is being made. Twitter; Linkedin

Taking You Inside a Space Shuttle: The EndeaVR Project | SoCal VR 2015

Taking You Inside a Space Shuttle: The EndeaVR Project | SoCal VR 2015

Jul 5, 2015

Come down to the Institute for Innovation, University of California Irvine Sunday, July 12th for the debut of SoCal Virtual Reality Conference & Expo in Orange County. The event will bring together speakers, companies and individuals to discuss the VR space along with a day filled of fun immersive demos, giveways and more. To kickoff the event Sunday at 11am, entrepreneur, filmmaker & supporter of STEM education, David Knight CEO of Terbine will ‘Take You Inside a Space Shuttle’ with the EndeaVR Project. He will show footage derived from the VR systems capturing the first comprehensive scoping of a Space Shuttle interior ever done. Take a look at a sneak peak of some video footage from the project: