Accessibility in STEM Educational Technologies; Regulation in Black Box Models: A Case Study of Autonomous Vehicles

Matsuda, Skylor, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Vrugtman, Rosanne, EN-Comp Science Dept, University of Virginia
JACQUES, RICHARD, EN-Engineering and Society, University of Virginia

For my technical report, I reminisce on my time spent developing STEM related curricula for Fairfax County Public Schools. We developed a database of numerous CS/Robotics related activities. I spent some of my time introducing educators to educational technologies- these educators typically have a limited STEM background and thus must be introduced to technology on a regular basis.
My technical report was a direct reflection of sociotechnical synthesis, interest groups such as non-profit organizations, individual students, and educational institutions all reap benefits from furthering their education regardless of social standing. Top down, this work affected the way teachers teach, the way students learn and engage. Institutions benefit from the statistical improvements of their cohorts. Some of these particular activities engage the student brain in a kinesthetic friendly manner.
For my STS research project, I dove into the controversy and construction of autonomous vehicles and their respective regulations. My paper argues for the adoption of AV technology, a nascent technology with an immense amount of potential socioeconomic benefits. Individuals can abstract and extrapolate that nascent technologies tend to have cold feet- individuals tend to stick to the comforts of familiarity. My research aims to address these cold feet by synthesizing a concrete moral justification for adopting autonomous vehicles alongside a mathematical/logical one to attempt to simultaneously satisfy all heterogeneous social groups and their requirements.
My STS research paper can be used as a conductor for one to understand the premise of autonomous vehicles, and in turn it simultaneously serves as an educational and commercial tool. When going through the list of various justifications for autonomous vehicles, I found that individuals preferences vary widely when it comes to their regulation. Morals of different groups of individuals lead to varying adoption rates and acceptance of the technology along with the varying degrees of regulatory backing. In my research, I found that the faster the adoption rate, the faster the system develops- but this rate of growth has to be hedged. After all, autonomous vehicles are technically an unproven and pseudo-random technology that has the potential to turn into a literal dumpster fire.
Both projects created a demonstrable artifact that can be utilized to have a ripple effect on technological education- the former project focuses on the producer side: our future engineers, while the latter project formalizes an argument for consumers to embrace underlying technologies. This dual sided approach helps to burn the metaphorical string from both ends- the end result being a symbiotic relationship between the two artifacts. The artifacts can be used in conjunction with each other or independently, but most importantly have different but complementary effects.
I did not have the opportunity to work on these projects simultaneously, but I believe that it would have been preferable to do so. My work on my technical project drew significant congruence to my STS research paper, both projects centralized their focus around the notion that humans need extentive technological awareness in order to understand this system.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
black box, autonomous vehicles, regulation, education

School of Engineering and Applied Science
Bachelor of Science in Computer Science
Technical: Vrugtman, Roxanne
Research: Jacques, Richard

Issued Date: