DEV DEV hosts a hackathon!

DEV DEV Init the Hack

Initialize the hack. Initialize the hacker. 

Chattanooga WorkSpace

November 8-10

DEV DEV (developing developers) collaborators Engage 3D, AIGA, and the Chattanooga Public Library are hosting a hackathon. Having benefitted through collaborations of our own, we want to provide a space in which Chattanoogan developers and designers can meet each other, learn about what others in the community are working on, and collaborate.

We want a healthy mix of participants including designers, developers, innovators, writers and others of diverse experience levels so please don’t be intimidated. One important part of collaboration and developing a strong community is education, and hackathons are a great place to learn.

If you are interested in simply learning about what a hackathon is but don’t necessarily want to participate or just want to learn about the community, please come to the ceremonies.

If you are interested in either of the session topics and want to enhance your skills, come as a session attendant. The morning session will be an introduction to JavaScript and the afternoon, a session on how designers and developers can work together better.


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AIGA Chattanooga, The 4th Floor, and Engage 3D

invite you to join us for

DEV DEV < summer of code /> Demo Day

Parents and community members are warmly invited to come see the projects created by DEV DEV campers and to celebrate the accomplishments of our camp grads, Chattanooga’s newest developers and designers.

Friday, August 2
4:00PM – 6:00PM


Chattanooga Downtown Library
**2nd Floor**
1001 Broad Street
Chattanooga, TN 37402

(interested in what’s going on during camp? follow along on twitter: #devdev)

Engage 3D Demos App at US Ignite Summit


Corn snakes are indigenous to the Southeastern United States, but last Tuesday one was spotted in Chicago!  There’s no reason to suspect illicit animal trafficking or panic that global warming is changing the natural habitats of these fascinating reptiles though – this corn snake appeared live and in 3D at the US Ignite Summit in Chicago without ever leaving its home at the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga, an experience made possible by engage 3D’s in-browser 3D video conferencing application.  

Bill & Forrest at the 2013 US Ignite Summit

Bill & Forrest at the 2013 US Ignite Summit

The engage 3D team was thrilled to have the opportunity to demo this application at the Summit alongside fellow Mozilla Ignite Challenge winners.  The Mozilla Ignite competition drove the creation of engage 3D and has been critical to our early successes, and so it was with great gratitude and excitement that Bill Brock and Forrest Pruitt traveled to Chicago last week to present the product of many months of work on this application.  Thanks to support from our wonderful community partners at the Tennessee Aquarium and EPB and the hard work of engage 3D team members Paul Muren and James McNutt, we were able to stream educational content straight from the Aquarium to Chicago to demonstrate the powerful educational potential of this application.  


“Our in-browser application can bring the Aquarium’s educational offerings – live, interactive, and in 3D – into these classrooms at no additional cost to the school.  Unlike a simple video, our application allows students to interact with the content – moving, seeing, exploring.   The engage 3D application leverages the most current web technologies to provide an immersive, engaging opportunity for students to interact with video in a way that has not been seen before.  They don’t just sit back and watch the video stream – they can move the content and select their own viewpoints.”  Bill Brock, US Ignite Presentation


The response to our application demo has been fantastic, and coverage of the Summit event continues to bring attention to our 3D video conferencing tool.  CNET spoke with Bill Brock about the development of gigabit applications, InfoWorld profiled our “fast and furious” app, and the Chattanooga Times Free Press was at the Tennessee Aquarium during the demo to get a behind the scenes look at the event. Coolest of all?  The engage 3D team was featured on the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy’s blog!  We love helping bring this sort of positive attention to Chattanooga and to the amazing partner organizations that made the demo possible.  It’s been a wild and wonderful few weeks thanks to our fantastic supporters in Chattanooga, at US Ignite, and at Mozilla Ignite.  We’re incredibly grateful and can’t wait to see what the next few months bring for engage 3D.

Code Camp Application Window Now Open

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Who: Ages 12-18

When: Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from July 8 to August 2 (AM Session 9AM-12PM, PM Session 1PM-4PM)

Application Deadline: Friday, June 14

Cost: FREE!

Are you into technology? Video games? Robots? Making computers do awesome stuff?

If you’re between the ages of 12-18 and these are your things, join us for <dev dev/>: summer of code, Chattanooga’s first code camp for teens.

Over the course of four weeks, fifty teens will gather on The 4th Floor of the Chattanooga Downtown Library to learn all about HTML, CSS, Python, and robotics. (Don’t worry, by August 2nd you’ll understand what all of those words and letters mean.)

So what can you do with all this? By the end of camp, you’ll be able to make your own website, teach a robot to dance, create your own computer game, and much more. You’re living in Chattanooga, home to crazy fast internet and some of the most exciting tech companies in the world – trust us, you’ll want these skills. Think about how awesome it will be to talk about your mad HTML skills and your ability to make a robot do your bidding when trying to land an internship or impress a college admissions rep. Come to <dev dev/> and get a head start on the future.

<dev dev/>: summer of code is a collaboration of engage 3D, The 4th Floor, and AIGA Chattanooga.  It is made possible through generous support from the Benwood Foundation.  Apply online today at!  The application window closes Friday, June 14.

Engage Your City: National Day of Civic Hacking

Thanks to Tim Moreland of Open Chattanooga for sending us this guest post about the upcoming National Day of Civic Hacking.  Our very own James McNutt has been very involved in the planning of Chattanooga’s civic hacking event, which will take place June 1-2 on The 4th Floor.  The Engage 3D team will be there – will you?  Register here!


Calling all techies, your city needs you!  It needs you to hack for change. This form of hacking, called civic hacking, is all about collaborating with others to create, build, and invent open source solutions using publicly-released data, code and technology to solve challenges relevant to their neighborhoods, their cities, their states and their country. Civic hackers are engineers, technologists, civil servants, scientists, designers, artists, educators, students, entrepreneurs, and community members — anybody, really.

Open Chattanooga, a local group of civic hackers, is organizing a hack-a-thon as part of the broader National Day of Civic Hacking. The National Day of Civic Hacking (NDoCH) is the largest ever national convening of civic hackers coming together tackle issues that are most pertinent to their community. The first annual National Day of Civic Hacking will take place in communities across America (including the White House) on 1-2 of June 2013. Here in Chattanooga the event will be held on the 4th floor of the public library. You can read more about the event and register to attend at You don’t have to be an expert in technology, but you do have to care about your neighborhood and your community to participate.

This event will showcase how civic hackers are essential to a vibrant community just like any neighborhood cleanup or watch group. The local event has some great sponsors and prizes in the works and this information will be released as we get closer to the NDoCH weekend. This weekend of civic hacking will unite our community around innovation and civic engagement but we can’t do it without you. Engage your city. Join us and help us hack for change for Chattanooga.

Community Py and Self-Organized Learning

Last week, engage 3D Education Director James McNutt shared his thoughts on our new Python course, computational thinking, and learning in community on the 4th Floor’s blog.  We’re grateful  to Mary and the whole 4th Floor team for letting us post his comments here as well.  Like what you’re reading and want to join the Python fun?  E-mail James at james[at]engage3d[dot]org.

Python CourseRegardless of motivation or interest, learning new skills on your own is difficult, to say the least. Assuming you find a few good resources, have an idea of the ways you learn best, and have the discipline to stick to a self-prescribed regimen, there’s a good chance that you’ll lose interest, deviate from your schedule, and eventually give up. Why is that? While the answer to that question is quite complicated and depends on which field of motivational psychology you adopt, we could answer it in short by simply saying “feedback.”

As learners, we want to see ourselves progressing, and we often discount our achievements without the context of others and the reinforcement of feedback on our progress. People put some unreasonable expectations on themselves. One of the most difficult aspects of learning something alone is developing a vocabulary around it. In general we develop our lexicon by a means of association. We hear a word and make a rough idea of what it means and then refine it through context as we hear it used. During that process we have to be alright with incorrectly using those words and using feedback to further inform our understanding of the word.

When learning in a community we have other learners around who are doing that same thing so the stake for mistakes are lowered, and we feel more open to take risks. And often fellow learners can explain difficult concepts in a more meaningful way as a result of having similarly developed vocabularies. Having a community to work alongside provides that context and feedback.

One other aspect that I felt rather strongly about when planning this course was using what is referred to as a “flipped classroom” structure. A flipped classroom is a design in which most of the formal content is covered outside the classroom so that during class students can learn by experience and meaningful practice with the skill that is being learned. In the context of the Community Py class, this will take the form of students watching lectures provided by MIT’s Open Courseware during the week before classes so that during classes they can concentrate on actual programming, but we certainly will spend at least a portion of class debriefing.

What are the benefits of such a design?

Especially in a class like this where all the students are coming from different backgrounds and knowledge bases and even in traditional primary and secondary education, it is simply unreasonable to assume that students are learning at the same rate. A good number of students will be ahead of the curve and held back by the teacher’s pace in a traditional classroom and on the other end of the spectrum there are always a number of students lacking fundamental/key knowledge for accessing the lecture. What results? Teaching to the relative few students who are on the same pace.

Instead, with recorded lessons outside of class followed by in class discussion, students can move at their own pace. Students build the metacognition to realize that they need to re-watch content or to notice that they are getting bored and losing interest and might be best served by skipping ahead and judging whether their knowledge base is strong enough to account for the lack of continuity. So, when it’s time for everyone to come together again everyone is on the same page.

Lastly, I want to foster a community around computational thinking and computer science. I think Python is a terrific language for learning to program, but the language isn’t the important part; the important part is that people are gaining the skill of thinking like computer scientists. I’m not trying to deify computer science, but I am being pragmatic in the assumption that it is an important skill for the future. A recent article on quoted Rich Milgram, CEO of career network Beyond stating “The most sought-after skill-sets for recruiters are becoming less and less about proficiency in specific processes and coding languages, and more about how you think systems through and work within the context of the team…Having the mindset to apply it, having the mindset and logic to process it, being thorough and detail-oriented while doing so, these are the critical skills.” Similarly, Dr. Guttag of MIT said that computational thinking is one of the most essential skills for entry into the job market not only for future generations but for current ones as well.

We need a more visible community around this way of thinking that acknowledges its importance in education and is dedicated to fostering a community.

The Tennessee Aquarium in 3D

Bill behind the scenes at the Aquarium

Bill behind the scenes at the Aquarium

Before Python classes and Maker Day, there was 3D video conferencing.  Way back in 2012, our team first joined forces  to develop an in-browser 3D video conferencing application as part of the Mozilla Ignite competition.  We’ve had an absolute blast testing this flagship application at the Tennessee Aquarium over the last two weeks. Turtles and divers in 3D?! Oh my!

Oscar, the Rescued Sea Turtle

Oscar, the Rescued Sea Turtle

If you’ve been to the Aquarium, you know how fascinating it is, but there is something really awesome about being given access to staff areas above the tanks and inside the walls.  We won’t be so cruel as to tell you about all the fun we’ve been having without sharing it with you, so you can check out some footage of our behind the scenes adventures in the video below!

Both the Aquarium and the Creative Discovery Museum have given us wonderful opportunities to test our app and to learn about  how this tool can best be used to support their existing distance learning programming.  We’re extraordinarily grateful to these generous organizations for their support and to EPB for helping us with connectivity issues.  We’ve been overwhelmed by our community’s support and enthusiasm – thank you!

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A Week in the Gigabit City

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Engage 3D team members Bill Brock and Forrest Pruitt recently traveled to Kansas City to participate in the “Hacking the Gigabit City” Mozilla Ignite Challenge. They took with them their Kinect cameras and a bunch of excitement. Check out their demo over KC’s very own SightDeck in the video above!

While in Kansas City, they attended the Kauffman Labs for Enterprise Creation’s 1 Million Cups, enjoyed some killer barbecue with an incredible group of engineers and developers, and helped to create a much-discussed website. Overall, it was an extraordinarily successful trip, and Bill and Forrest returned to Chattanooga with dozens of new friends in other emergent gigabit communities!

Community Py on the 4th Floor

We’re thrilled to announce a free, eight week Introduction to Python course offered in collaboration with our awesome partners on the 4th Floor.  Python is a computer programming language heralded for both its accessibility to novices and its power and flexibility. If you have ever wondered how computer programs are written or have some projects that you think computer automation could help with, come join in and learn with us!

Community Py — Introduction to the Python Programming Language
Where: 4th Floor of the Chattanooga Public Library
When: Mondays from 6pm-7pm April 15 through June 3

Open to adults and teens. Space is limited, so please register soon to reserve your spot! You are welcome to bring your own laptop, but there will also be workstations available.

Questions? Contact James at james[at]engage3d[dot]org.

1200+ Attend Maker Day

 Engage 3D announced itself to the community in a big way on Saturday!  More than 1200 Chattanoogans stopped by Maker Day: Thinking in 3D to play and create with us at the downtown branch of the Chattanooga Public Library.  We feel tremendously lucky to have been a part of this amazing event created by The Company Lab and The 4th Floor.

Engage 3D provided the educational Paul Dissecting Computersprogramming for the event, showcasing some of our favorite new technologies.  There was a Tinkercad lab, a 3D scanning station, a computer dissection table, and a booth featuring our flagship 3D video conferencing project.  Strangely though, the sleeper hit of our programming wasn’t something new and high-tech – it was the origami table!  Kids and adults alike swarmed this station, folding frogs, cranes, flowers, and the ever-popular cootie catcher.

We were overwhelmed by the positive feedback we received on this Maker Day programming.  Chattanoogans of all ages approached our team to learn about future engage 3D programs and to express just how much they had enjoyed the activities we sponsored.  This energy and enthusiasm validated our work to date and helped to clarify the path forward for our fledgling organization. To all who attended, thank you for your support.  Stay tuned – there are big things ahead.