Public Release: 

Conservation Biology Clearinghouse, Engineering Design Tutor

Rice University

An online educational site based at Rice called the Center for Conservation Biology Network (CCBN) offers information ranging from Native Americans' water rights to new species of orchids to university degree programs. The center is an international resource for conservation biology, and the official online location of the international Society for Conservation Biology. CCBN, located at http://conbio.rice.edu, directs visitors to resources on nine websites, which link to hundreds of others. The CCBN's purpose is to protect, maintain and restore the environment, by using powerful technology to provide the highest professional standards of education, and by encouraging the involvement of the public and academia in a public forum. Begun in 1995 by Alan Thornhill, faculty in ecology and evolutionary biology, while he was a graduate student at the University of California, Irvine, the site quickly established itself as a premier clearinghouse.

Design with Feedback: Rice researchers are creating an Engineering Design Tutor, a World Wide Web-based automated learning system that will not only generate problems for students to hone their skills and check the answers, but will adapt constantly to the user's abilities and provide feedback for both students and teachers. Furthermore, the system, which first will be developed for use in a structural engineering course as well as a circuit design course at Rice, aims to result in time and cost savings. The purpose of the three-year project is to find a way that technology can support education, enhance productivity, and at the same time reduce cost without reducing quality. The hope is that the Engineering Design Tutor will enhance faculty-student relationships by using a computer system to drill basic skills, providing more time for faculty to teach creative design.

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