ThinkFest Video: Frank Lee

Remember that game of Pong on the Cira Centre? Frank Lee helped create that Guinness Record winning, world’s largest video game. As Associate Professor of Drexel University’s Media Arts and Design program, he is hoping to take the isolation out of technology, and recreate the social and physical interaction we used to have as kids through his unique game designs.

Watch this talk to understand just how he plans to transform the world of gaming and see some clips from his biggest successes yet—the largest video game in the world and a very poorly played game of Tetris.

Midday Headlines: Cira Centre Pong Makes Guinness Book of World Records

cira centre pong game

Left photo by B. Krist for GPTMC.

• Pong on the Cira Centre has earned a a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records, as Philly reports.

The Inquirer’s Al Heavens writes about continued growth in an already flourishing Francisville.

• A December town meeting at Northeast High School will cover draft plans for improving Roosevelt Blvd., area shopping districts, and parks, according to PlanPhilly.

The Philadelphia Daily News says that the new Frankford Avenue murals celebrate that neighborhood’s diversity and history.

• Former Flyer Max Talbot is selling his Bella Vista 3BR that includes a plasma TV and projector, according to Curbed Philly.

• Is Germantown going green? The Inquirer’s Alison Burdo writes about the solar paneled home and eco-friendly development firm that moved in within three years of each other.

ThinkFest Snapshot: Video Game Designer Frank Lee

We’re rounding up the reasons Philly Mag readers should not miss ThinkFest, our week-long event connecting the brightest minds and most innovative ideas in Philadelphia. 

Drexel's Dr. Frank LeeDrexel University has a keeper in associate professor Frank Lee. Not only does Lee teach in the digital media program at Drexel’s Westphal College of Media Arts and Design, he is also the co-founder and co-director of the Drexel Game Design Program, which has been named among the top 10 game design programs by The Princeton Review.

Lee created the program because he wanted to make the best game design program in the world, and although he says we are not quite there yet, his efforts to become the best continue: This year, Lee was named Hacker of the Year and awarded Geek Story of the Year at the 3rd annual Philadelphia Geek Awards for his project “Pong on the Cira Centre,” or as Lee calls it, “World’s Biggest Pong” (video below). He also founded the Entrepreneurial Game Studio, which helps Drexel students create their own gaming companies, in hopes of expanding the video game industry in Philadelphia.

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Drexel to Remain Squash Capital of World


The (Delaware Investments) U.S. Open Squash Championships–the veritable U.S. Open of squash!–are being held at Drexel this week for the third year running. (“Low Eliminates El Weleily! Willstrop and Matthew Set Up All-English semi!“) And now news comes that it will be plopped in University City through 2023, after the school signed a ten-year deal this week.

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Ruth Patrick, Philly-Based Science Pioneer, Dead at 105

New York Times:

Ruth Patrick, a pioneer in studying the health of freshwater streams and rivers who laid the scientific groundwork for modern pollution control efforts, died on Monday in Lafayette Hill, Pa. She was 105.

Her death, at the Hill at Whitemarsh retirement community, was announcedby the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University in Philadelphia. She had been associated with the academy for more than 70 years.

Dr. Patrick, an adviser to presidents and the recipient of distinguished science awards, was one of the country’s leading experts in the study of freshwater ecosystems, or limnology. She achieved that renown after entering science in the 1930s, when few women were able to do so, and working for the academy for eight years without pay.

“She was worried about and addressing water pollution before the rest of us even thought of focusing on it,” James Gustave Speth, a former dean of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, said in an e-mail message.

Washington Post:

From 1933 to 2003, Dr. Patrick published more than 200 papers and contributed to books. She taught botany and limnology at the University of Pennsylvania for more than 35 years. After studying the water quality near DuPont chemical plants, she became an adviser to the company on environmental issues and, in 1975, was named the first woman on its board of directors.

At a White House ceremony in 1996, President Bill Clinton awarded her the National Medal of Science.

Until she turned 97, Dr. Patrick worked five days a week at the Academy of Natural Sciences, whose limnology center is named in her honor. At 100, she still came in to her office to work on her multi-volume text “Rivers of the United States,” whose installments ran up to 900 pages.

“Many of the things that we take for granted now, in terms water quality and water purity, would not be where they are without her,” Peck said. “Ruth Patrick always tried to apply what she was studying to broader social concerns and helped to make the work relevant. She thought that, ultimately, the reason for studying all this was to help to improve human life and the life of the natural world.”


Rowan and Drexel Rank Very High on “Ugliest Colleges” List

Drexel, twice-named the ugliest college in America by various campus-judgers, has improved its standing this year, at least according one “metric.” Complex Magazine has come out with its list of worst campuses, and the dragon’s den has come in sixth this year. (Above: Beautifying Drexel.)

The campus is still being criticized for its “prison-like” dorms and factory-inspired aesthetic. The school’s concrete and brick Disque Hall looms over an open courtyard, and even from outside, the lack of windows is oppressive.

Rowan made the list too. The picture below depicts the school’s Oak Hall, a lovely looking residential dorm on the school’s Glassboro, NJ campus. Not so bad, right? Well, Complex isn’t impressed, and has ranked it the 10th ugliest in America.

This campus is in need of a lot of love. The buildings are falling apart and are covered with water stains from years of rainfall. If the crumbling architecture wasn’t unwelcoming enough, the campus has an unfortunate amount of ill-placed technical equipment and dumpsters.

I don’t know what Rowan’s doing to improve its look–as Complex notes, there used to be a blog devoted to the shoddy state of the campus. But Drexel is in the process of repainting its signature orange bricks, to make itself more like a certain next-door neighbor.

Photos:; Wikimedia Commons

Police Say This Former Drexel Student Sold Pot, Robbed Customers

A lesson to all college students: if you’re gonna sell drugs, don’t rob your customers. That’s called Dealing 101, but former Drexel student Daniel Painitsky, 20, must have missed that bit of street education.

Police say Painitsky, who stopped attending the University in 2011, sold 20 pounds of pot a week out of his Powelton Village home, serving as a high-level distributor to drug dealers at other area schools. So, basically, he’s the millennial version of Heisenberg, except for one thing: he took a liking to robbing his clients post-deal.

Painitsky evidently enlisted the help of neighborhood robber Melvin Lewis, 42, who would rob the dealer’s customers after pickup so the two could split the loot. But that type of greed, as Lieutenant John Walker told NBC, is often the downfall of wily criminals everywhere:

“People get greedy and that’s how you get caught. This kid clearly got greedy.”

So, all you would-be drug dealers out there, take this bit of advice: only commit one felony at a time. Take it slow. You’ll get away that way for sure. [NBC]

Today in Weirdness: Drexel Urges You Not to Wash Your Chicken

Yesterday, Drexel University rolled out a public service campaign to eradicate chicken-washing, using “video mini-dramas” and “photonovellas” to make the case. Here are the four vignettes, done up in high ABC Family style.

1. Clueless husband and eye-rolling, street-smart wife.

2. Token Latina family (Mmm..Chicken “Mole-lay”)

3. Wise mother hen and well-meaning but naive daughter.

4. Tech-savvy, iPad wielding Millenial and hopeless grandma.

(For what it’s worth, these scenes were all acted by professional actors from New Mexico; Drexel food safety researcher Jennifer Quinlan worked with New Mexico State University to produce the campaign.)

Set it and Forget It” goofiness aside, thank you Drexel. I made the mistake of washing a chicken two months ago and am now desperate for Germ-Vision. The scene in my kitchen probably looked much like this one, except I didn’t put American cheese on my roast chicken.

Penn, Drexel Among Nation’s Best Robot Builders

NewsWorks reports that Penn and Drexel are among six semifinalists in DARPA Robotics Challenge. The two will compete in December on an obstacle course in which their robots are expected to “climb ladders, walk through rubble and even drive cars.”

Drexel’s entry, “Hubo,” is about the size of a 10-year-old boy. It’s a humanoid—with arms and legs like people.

Paul Oh, who runs Drexel’s autonomous systems lab, has been working on Hubo for years. But for this Robotics Challenge, a team of students from Drexel and nine other schools, including Swarthmore and the University of Delaware, are making Hubo bigger and stronger so it can tough it out in a nuclear disaster zone.

As for Penn:

Penn has partnered with Virginia Tech, and their robot is humanoid as well. It’s named after the Nordic god of thunder, Thor.

According to Lee, all the technology required to build a robo-rescuer exists. Researchers have gotten robots to walk, climb and lift. But bringing all of that research and knowledge together will be a big achievement.

“The level of difficulty they’re asking for in all the tasks is incredible,” Lee said. “Each one of these tasks could be a cutting-edge Ph.D. thesis.”

Just remember: When the inevitable robot revolution comes, you can probably blame the eggheads west of the Schuylkill River.

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