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Wan named ‘Top in Tech’ by Mississippi Business Journal

Tue, 08/17/2021 - 13:33pm | By: Margaret Ann Macloud

Dr. Anna WanDr. Anna Wan, assistant professor of mathematics and director and founder of the Eagle Maker Hub at The University of Southern Mississippi (USM), was named a “Top in Tech” leader by the Mississippi Business Journal for her contributions to the field of technology in the state.

“This recognition should not go to me alone, but this team I belong to here at USM,” Wan said.

The Eagle Maker Hub was established in 2016 as the first public makerspace available at a Mississippi university, providing access to tools for digital fabrication, rapid prototyping, and coding. It was born out of Wan’s research to integrate digital fabrication to teaching and learning of mathematics and has since branched into other content areas like science and engineering.

Wan sizes a respirator mask on a colleague in 2020

 

Wan sizes a respirator mask on a colleague in 2020

A respirator mask developed at the Eagle Maker Hub at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A respirator mask developed at the Eagle Maker Hub at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Dr. Wan has a keen eye for technologies of the future, and she implemented them at The University of Southern Mississippi upon arrival. Eagle Maker Hub was built on a much smaller budget than comparable facilities, and its impact has been outstanding,” said Dr. Bernd Schroeder, Interim Director of the School of Mathematics and Natural Sciences. “When the need was greatest early in the pandemic, Dr. Wan's ingenuity helped create medical equipment from what was available at the time. To name a few items, the highly effective Hub Mask was held in place by cloth straps produced in the homes of local needleworkers. Moreover, a head isolation unit that provides airflow to patients that does not mix with emergency workers' air was fashioned from transparent gym bags. It stands to reason that such collaborations between the university and the community should move the state of Mississippi forward in these times and in the better ones to come."

Eagle Maker Hub, which is run by a small group of volunteers who are USM students, is open to the public. In addition to being a training ground for students and teachers, it is also home to multiple summer camps, serves as a “maker space” for creatives who need to utilize its equipment, and provides services to the community where there is a gap, such as the sudden demand for personal protective equipment (PPE) at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Eagle Maker Hub partnered with local medical organizations to provide face shields, respirator masks, ventilator prototypes, and more in 2020.

“Dr. Wan is an authentic leader who fosters innovative thinking among her students and colleagues,” said Dr. Sarah Lee, Director of USM’s School of Computing Sciences and Computer Engineering. “Her technical contributions to the state of Mississippi were highlighted during the pandemic with her design and creation of a 3D-printed medical mask.”

The “Top in Tech” award honored 22 leaders in technology this year. Honorees are individuals and companies that innovate, create jobs, and contribute to Mississippi’s economy, coming from any industry, government, education, health care, security, or others sector where they are tech leaders and innovators.

While the future of the Eagle Maker Hub is limitless, there is no doubt that its quick and innovative response to the pandemic better prepared it for future challenges.

“I hope to resume the focus of integration of technology in teaching content areas and serving the community as we did before the pandemic,” Wan said. “What the team accomplished during COVID showed that we are willing and able for whatever may come next.”

To learn more about the Eagle Maker Hub, visit www.eaglemakerhub.org