June 23, 2013
June 23, 2013
June 26, 2013
NSF Grantees Poster Session
23.729.1 - 23.729.9
Incorporating Biometrics Technology into a Sophomore Level General Education CourseAbstract Over the last decade, Union College has been attempting to integrate engineering andtechnology into the study of the liberal arts and has hosted a Symposium on Engineering andLiberal Education, which is now entering its sixth year. As part of this effort and with fundingfrom NSF, we have designed a course titled “Identity and Security in a Technological World” tofit into Union College’s general education curriculum as a Sophomore Research Seminar. Thecourse is team-taught by faculty members from the Electrical Engineering and Englishdepartments and addresses the implementation and socio-cultural impact of new identificationand security systems. The course is taken by engineering and non-engineering students andblends the study of literature (both fiction and non-fiction) with technology. Biometric technology overlaps with language processing, psychology, neuroscience,biology, philosophy, and is an ideal subject area for inter-disciplinary teaching and discussion.Students in the course have many different majors and have various levels of preparation inmathematics and science. The course has no prerequisites, so it must be taught at a level to allowall students to appreciate the technical aspects of the identification systems. The students arerequired to come up with a research topic -- related to biometrics, identity, or security -- whichthey develop into a full research paper by the end of the term. Since September 11, 2001, there has been an increased emphasis on identification andsurveillance systems to enhance security. There has also been an increase in the use of biometricdata in passports, border control, and secure private company access. In tandem with this, overthe last decade one’s identity (and the need to verify it) has become increasingly digital.Verifying one’s identity with a password can now give one access to health and financialinformation, as well as be used to verify financial transactions (through PayPal or other similarservices). Indeed companies such as Facebook and Google, which provide most services free ofcharge, are largely gathering personal information that can be used for targeted advertising.Biometrics is one way in which one’s digital identity can be more securely verified and isbecoming more commonly used (e.g., voiceprint in banking telephone access systems). The technical course content focuses on the acquisition and storage of biometric data(handprint, face, fingerprint, and voice data) which are extensively used in personalidentification and forensic investigations of crimes. Students learn how current biometric andforensic systems work, and explore their uses, merits, and limitations. Through a collaborationwith IBM and its Smarter Planet initiative, a business development executive from IBMdemonstrates how current voice identification technology is being used in an industrial setting. Alongside exploring the technical implementation of these systems, students are alsoasked to ponder a future world where all biometric and personal data, including genetic andhealthcare records, as well as shopping patterns, etc. will be easily accessible in real time. Thetechnologies that allow the tracking of individuals anywhere in the world bring forwardquestions of security, privacy, and identity. Reading Science Fiction stories, along with news andscience articles, students explore the ethics, the dangers, and the advantages of a Big Brotherworld.
Cotter, S., & Pease, A. (2013, June), Incorporating Biometrics Technology into a Sophomore Level General Education Course Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19743
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