Designing for Human Flourishing with Dr. Derrick Tate – Episode 003November 1, 2023 2023-11-10 16:40
Designing for Human Flourishing with Dr. Derrick Tate – Episode 003
Designing for Human Flourishing with Dr. Derrick Tate – Episode 003
Derrick Tate wanted to start his own car company, but he helped start several universities instead. He shares with President Johnson his experience teaching in Texas and China before joining Sattler College. They also discuss the role of design, engineering, and computer science in the church.
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Mentioned in this episode:
- FaithTech – Global tech community for Christ
- Logos – Bible study software
- PrayerMate – Prayer app
- YouVersion – Bible app
0:04 – Dr. Tate’s Academic and Career Journey
10:08 – Cross-Disciplinary Computer Science Capstone Projects
21:04 – Christian Computer Science and Human Flourishing
36:05 – Christians in Technology and Science
Our conversation takes a deep dive into the world of cross-disciplinary computer science capstone projects at Sattler College. We uncover the vibrant, collaborative atmosphere that enables students to create and innovate. We discuss the structure of these projects and the innovative applications that students are developing. From faith-based coding to the intersection of biblical languages and computer science, these projects exemplify the potent synergy of faith and tech.
In the final segment, we explore how Christian principles can influence and drive technology. We discuss the potential of Christian applications in the tech world, how traditional audiences can be engaged with computer science and existing products that have made a meaningful difference in people’s lives. If you ever wondered about the crossroads of faith and technology, this conversation promises intriguing insights into how Christian principles can shape technological development for human flourishing.
*Auto-generated and may contain errors.
Zack Johnson: 0:04
Good morning. It is October 20th in the morning and I’m here with Dr Tate. Thanks for joining me, dr Tate, right now. I’m going to kick off by reading your bio and then we’ll just have a good conversation. How does that sound? Sounds great, all right. So Professor Derek Tate is the Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at Sattler College. He received a BSME degree from Rice University and his SM and PHE degrees in mechanical engineering are from MIT and the areas of manufacturing and design. I’m going to pause. Can you tell us what BSME? What is that?
Dr. Derrick Tate: 0:40
That’s Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering. Good.
Zack Johnson: 0:42
And then SM, master of Science, and then I think PHG is familiar in IF. Prior to joining Sattler College he was Senior Associate Professor at okay, okay, one more time.
Dr. Derrick Tate: 0:56
Xi’an Jiao Tong Liverpool.
Zack Johnson: 0:59
University and founding head of the Department of Industrial Design. Dr Tate has also held positions as Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Texas Tech University and Associate Professor of Beijing. One more time.
Dr. Derrick Tate: 1:13
Beijing, jiao Tong.
Zack Johnson: 1:14
University. Yeah, thanks for helping with the pronunciation there. Professor Tate’s industrial experience includes working as a manager of applications engineering at Axiomatic Design Software Inc. A Boston-based startup company. And then I’m going to read this next part too. That’s fine. Do you want to add or subtract anything from that initial bio there?
Dr. Derrick Tate: 1:35
No, no, that’s fine.
Zack Johnson: 1:36
Dr. Derrick Tate: 1:37
We may come up again some of it.
Zack Johnson: 1:39
Yeah, hopefully we can hone in on it. Professor Tate has been involved with Christian groups in China and America. He aims to impact society by bringing design thinking to areas of strategic importance and to integrate and understanding of human flourishing into design of new products and services. His calling is to make space for Christians in academia, to bring Christian ideas into academic discourse and to mentor a new generation of Christian researchers and professionals. Thanks so much for being here with me.
Dr. Derrick Tate: 2:09
Yeah, thanks for having me.
Zack Johnson: 2:11
I thought we could just start by. I know that bio is very condensed in academic and nature. Would you mind just sharing a little bit more about your life story, about where you were born and how you got to where you are now, so we can understand your trajectory and chronology there a little bit?
Dr. Derrick Tate: 2:33
I mean, my career trajectory has been, I guess, a little bit unusual in the sense that, as you can tell from the bio, I’ve been cut up all over the place geographically. I guess growing up is a little bit like that as well. So, yeah, grew up in the South, went to college in Houston and came to Boston for grad school and then left Boston in 2001, went to Colorado, beijing, lubbock, then back to China and Suzhou and then here, so I came back to Boston in 2019. That’s right, I’ve been gone for about 18 years and then I’ve kind of moved around in terms of discipline, in terms of what I’ve been teaching, because I shifted from mechanical engineering to industrial design and then now I’m doing computer science. But there are, I guess, some themes and connections in there that kind of explain how that happened. In terms of the program I was doing at Texas Tech, for example, was a master’s and PhD of transdisciplinary design process and systems. So I had a lot of students that had backgrounds in software engineering and as well as other engineering disciplines, and so then I ended up with a bunch of publications that were related to artificial intelligence and data mining and natural language processing and things like that, as well as my experience of working for the software company previously. So when you look at my CV or bio, it’s cut all over the place. But the themes that tie it together one, I guess, is this emphasis on being cross-disciplinary. The other would be doing things related to entrepreneurship, whether it’s the startup institutions I’ve been working for or trying to connect entrepreneurs with the university and design. And then the other would be this focus on kind of design thinking and applying that to general problems in society.
Zack Johnson: 4:31
Right, yeah, thanks for explaining that. Let’s hone in on that startup word because, as I understand, you’ve worked at multiple startup universities.
Dr. Derrick Tate: 4:43
Zack Johnson: 4:43
I’d love to hear you talk about your experience and your thinking around startup universities.
Dr. Derrick Tate: 4:49
Right. So I guess the reason I went into engineering in the first place when I was in high school my goal was to create a car company, right, right. So I wanted to be somebody like John DeLorean or Preston Tucker, because I had an interest in cars and restoring old cars and things like that. And so then I studied mechanical engineering at Rice as an undergrad and then when I graduated I realized well, I don’t really know anymore about starting a car company that when I started. And so I continued on to grad school and did stuff in design and manufacturing. But after graduating I worked for a startup company that did software related to the design theory that I studied for my PhD. So I was with my advisor and some other people and so that was Axiomag Design Software. And then after that I went to work for some folks who were trying to start a university in Beijing and we had a Chinese partner school, capital University of Economics and Business, and we had a US partner school which was Indiana Wesley, and so we were going to operate, I guess, as a branch campus of Indiana Wesley, and the name of the institution was Jingmei University Jing from Beijing and then May from Mayville, which is America, and so we got a license to organize the institution. And we got a license to operate the institution and I was working as special academic assistant to the president, you know, working on accreditation, curriculum and things like that. Unfortunately, the gentleman that had the vision for that, guy named Dan Harrison, got brain cancer and passed away, so that did not end up working out, and so I ended up going to Beijing and teaching at a regular Chinese university, which you mentioned, the bios Beijing Jiao Tong University. So I was there for two years and so that’s you know, I guess, a startup company startup university. And then the second one was second startup university was the Xiang Jiao Tong University. So that started in 2006 in Suzhou. I joined the institution in 2013. And so I was the founding head of the Department for Industrial Design and we grew from 26 students to more than 300 students in the department, encompassing, I guess, bachelors, masters and PhD students, mostly undergrad, some grad students, right, and the institution grew from, I think, an initial number and I never saw like officially as either 147 or 153 students the first year and by the time I left, in 2019, we had a quota from the Chinese government for like 15,000 students, and so that counted both the students who were on campus in Suzhou. And the students had the option to go to Liverpool for their last two years of undergrad studies, which about low 40% of students would go that’s in German In Liverpool, in the UK, in the UK, yeah. And so anyway, it counted both those students. So we had like a large number of students, which is quite successful. So it’s kind of a good institution for the Chinese students because a lot of their parents wanted the students to get international experience, you know, until it’s like, okay, you can go to this, you know university, you have an opportunity to study in an international environment and be a global citizen. But you could do the first two years in China so you didn’t have to go too far away from home. Right, make sure you understood the language and then you could go to Liverpool if you wanted. And in my department, I guess, with the first group of industrial design students, 75% went to Liverpool. But by the time I left the students liked our program better than what they were going to do in Liverpool. So it was probably perverse where, you know, only the quarter of the students would go to Liverpool for the last two years, got it, and then all the masters and PhD students were just on campus with us. But the students got two degrees. So they got a degree from XATLU, which was accredited by the Chinese Ministry of Education in Jiangsu Province, and then they got a Liverpool degree through Liverpool’s accreditation.
Zack Johnson: 9:12
So I guess my next question is how does that translate over here to Boston and why another sort of another startup university versus a more established university? What are some of the?
Dr. Derrick Tate: 9:26
lines of thinking there. I mean my whole sort of interest is in, I guess, kind of a startup environment and kind of creating new things. So it kind of fits with my interest there and I guess when I heard about Sattler and Sattler’s mission it seemed like a good fit for things I was interested in doing. I guess my wife and I and our family were looking to come back to the States and so Boston was one of the two areas that we were considering in terms of like, if we could rank wherever we could go in the US, boston or probably Houston would be kind of the first choice is. Of course I was looking all over.
Zack Johnson: 10:08
And you mentioned a few times this idea of cross-disciplinary approach.
Graham Weber: 10:14
Zack Johnson: 10:15
I’d love to hear you think about that in your current role with. You’re the head of the computer science major here and we sort of do have a cross-disciplinary mind of thinking about things. But in particular computer science and Christianity those two terms sometimes that people associate them and sometimes people don’t associate them. So I’m curious how you think about that.
Dr. Derrick Tate: 10:40
Yeah, I mean I guess it’s one benefit of being at a startup institution that it’s pretty small and you kind of know everybody and it’s kind of a tight-knit community. So you have, I guess, a lot more informal interaction and it’s a lot easier to build some of those cross-disciplinary connections. But I think if you look at the CS students in the students in computer science at Sattler and kind of the things they’re doing for their capstone projects, they are all pretty much interested in cross-disciplinary topics. And I mean you can kind of look at the variety chatbot for apologetics, a app for building community in the city, how to facilitate interaction during the day and interacting with communities and stuff in an urban context, and then doing a literacy app for, or build it like an app for building sort of competent literacy in Hebrew, and then last year.
Zack Johnson: 11:52
Like All of these are capstones that have happened here at Sattler.
Dr. Derrick Tate: 11:57
That was like the first group of students. And then last year we had a girl that did a interface for a microfinance app for missions organization and then a using word embeddings for semantic search of ancient Greek texts. So, as I said, they’re all kind of cross-disciplinary and kind of integrating the students’ interest in the church community, their faith, biblical languages with something to do with the CS. I mean, I had opportunities to collaborate or communicate with faculty and business. In principle you can do collaboration with biology. We haven’t had students that did that yet, but that’s certainly an area that would work as well. So pretty much all of the other programs here would be something that you could work into a computer science capstone in one way or another. Stan.
Zack Johnson: 12:53
Mallow. And then just for people that don’t know what is a capstone and why is it, I know that word means different things to different people. My capstone was a very small part of my college experience and I think it’s a little bit different, marshall.
Dr. Derrick Tate: 13:12
T J C. How small Stan Mallow.
Zack Johnson: 13:13
Three credits Marshall T, j, c. Okay, stan Mallow. So it’s three credits and just basically a class. That and then. And so it’s sort of a different experience here and maybe you can talk about how we leverage that. Marshall T.
Dr. Derrick Tate: 13:26
J, c, right. So yeah, I mean I’ve, I guess, got a lot of experience with capstones kind of across the different institutions that I’ve been at Stan, mallow, right, marshall, t, J, c. So typically in engineering, like where I was at Texas Tech, engineering students have a capstone. That’s usually two semesters and like three credits per semester Can’t say like 100% all institutions, but that would be kind of the typical iteration of it. And so my role when I was at Texas Tech was to usually do the first semester of that sequence, because we had like a thousand students in mechanical engineering so we were always looking for kind of new projects and we had like multiple sections of that going on every semester. So I would do like typically I don’t know like one grad course and one capstone course, like in the fall, and then in the spring I’d have like two capstone sections, for example, and so you’d have like 30 students in there. I had as many as like 40, which is really too many, but we were always like looking for topics. But the first semester is like the students are defining a project that they’re going to work on, and in engineering typically it’s a group project, and so the normal number would be about four students. You could have projects with more, like five or six, but then you end up with kind of the free rider problem right if you have that many. And so where we were in Lubbock there were not like a lot of major industries in Lubbock. Lubbock is a city of about 200,000 people and you’ve got some number of hospitals, healthcare, you’ve got the university, there’s a lot of ranching and farming around, so, like cattle ranching, cotton farming, there’s some energy not really oil production right in Lubbock, but once you got outside of town and then a lot of like wind farms and things like that. So we didn’t have like a lot of companies that you could talk to. It’s okay, well, you know Ford or GM or somebody like that. Okay, give us some projects for students to work on. And so a lot of our products would either come from like other faculty which is where the cross-disciplinary thing comes in or the students would come up with topics themselves. Or we had some like entrepreneurs in kind of West Texas generally that had topics that they were interested in. And so for me it was good for the students to have a project to be, say, entrepreneurial, where it’s like okay, here’s somebody, they’ve got an idea for a project and they want to develop that and make something, test it see, is that a reasonable idea or not? So it’s kind of low risk but possibly high reward, right? So it’s like, okay, the students aren’t getting any money for it, they’re getting credit for their capstone, they’re getting periods developing it. But they could start then with interacting with users and trying to understand what the needs were. So the way I would teach the class, they would do a lot of interact with users, doing like interviews or talking to people, defining the needs, and then there’s different tools that you can learn in design, which maybe we can then to design kind of dealing with brainstorming or resolving contradictions in your requirements and things like that, and they can basically take the whole process and start at the very beginning and then develop into something that they can physically realize at the end, that you can touch. You’ve got something tangible. So examples of projects that students did were things like from some of the entrepreneurs, like Papercreate. There was a guy that had a company for Redumix-Semit but he wanted to do something that was more sustainable. So could you take recycled paper and make that into a block that you could use in buildings, houses, whatever, and so that was an interdisciplinary project where you had mechanical engineering students working, but then some students in civil engineering or architecture or other disciplines could look at that and say, okay, let’s look at this, not just on the mechanical property of this block and the recipe although you do that part but also like, how would this fit in kind of the larger context? Another example was Compressor of Block. So there’s a guy that had a extruder for making Compressor of Block. He had a little prototype that made a block that was I don’t know six inches by nine inches and you could make a block. And we ended up building equipment for that to make a block that was like a foot by foot and a half and you could make it whatever link you wanted to, like 10 feet long, and so you could use like a back or a crane or something. But his goal was to take that sustainable material and make it competitive with timber frame construction so that you could have like a crew of six people and you could build the walls for a house in a day. Basically so that it wouldn’t be something that you’d only use for rich people making, like in New Mexico or someplace where they’ve got a history of adobe construction or in dirt world countries where the labor costs are much cheaper, but you could actually make it, you know, competitive with timber frame construction in the US and if you make the blocks without a stabilizer then it’s just soil and water and then at the end of life you can just tear it off and put it back in the ground, you know. So that would be some you know entrepreneurial type projects. But sometimes the students would come up with you know projects themselves, like one student was interested in a sludge for a fixed-gear bicycle. So there’s just something he was interested in, you know. Or another student wanted to do a camera jib that you could use for video production. But he wanted something that you could set up and take down with one person and he could throw in the back of a pickup truck and take it to some site and use it for videoing things. So anyway, you kind of have an idea and then you want to make something with it and test and see is this something reasonable that you want to do? So the students in Texas Tech did that over two semesters. In China the capstone projects were individual projects because that was the requirement from the government in terms of how they run the final year projects. But the students had a lot of other opportunities prior to their senior year to work in groups so they weren’t like missing the group interaction on their other projects, whereas at Texas Tech, you know, the capstone project was probably the first time that they did anything in design really, and so it was kind of a different experience that a lot of the other engineering courses were at SELP Lecture and solving problems and things like that. And so here at Sattler the capstone sequence in computer science is 12 credits, same as the other programs, and it’s divided up so that in the junior year the students work on developing, kind of learning, some tools related to the capstone and defining the problem and coming up with a proposal, and then they have three credits in the fall of their senior year and six credits in the spring, which is more focused on like implementation, and so they’re able to kind of like percolate and kind of define their topic and maybe even shift around some. I mean, some of our students kind of went off in quite different directions than they originally intended, and so it gives them more time to develop it and produce something that they can after their portfolio.
Zack Johnson: 20:56
Yeah, anyways, kind of a long answer, but just out of curiosity, graham, what are you doing for your? We’re joined by a through science student. What are you doing for your capstone?
Graham Weber: 21:04
I’m working with an organization called Faith Tech that brings Christian technologists together in community and they volunteer to build things, work with technology to help the church and the poor.
Zack Johnson: 21:23
That’s awesome. And how does so? There’s a lot of cross discipline there, because I’m assuming a lot of that project isn’t I’m going to use the word in the weeds and computer science. Is that Trigger Falls or like in the? Tell me about it.
Graham Weber: 21:43
Yeah, there’s. It’s very cross disciplinary, at least at this stage. There’s a lot of organizational work and also the organization has a focus on theology around how should the church think about technology and what is a distinctly Christian way to create and use technology?
Zack Johnson: 22:06
Do you have any comments on that capstone, and particularly or Faith Tech, I think? I think Faith we that group that they’re meeting here. They launched the Boston initiative and they’re on campus here. Anything else about?
Dr. Derrick Tate: 22:20
I mean, so far I guess we’ve had two in-person meetups here at Sattler. One goes in January and one does end of September. Next one will be this coming January. Okay, so we have a Boston, I guess, lead team for organizing the Faith Tech activities and trying to build a community. We had I don’t know 35 people, I think, at both meetings and so Graham and I are working on these labs portion of the Faith Tech activities. So the way their groups work, they’ve got meetups which are kind of networking dinner speaker, and then you’ve got labs where people develop projects similar to the capstone, you know, people working in technology potentially, and then they, as Graham indicated, have maybe some other activities looking at I don’t know bigger picture issues, ethics related to technology and how that relates to theology and things like that. We’ve got some different ideas on how we can, I guess, grow the group here and Graham’s contributing to that.
Zack Johnson: 23:30
Great. And then I wanted to sort of focus in on a word that comes out in your bio and in the way that you talk, and I’m guessing most humans probably don’t think about the word design the same way that you do. So tell me about what design mean. What are design tools and how does it relate to all of the, to everything you’re talking about?
Dr. Derrick Tate: 23:56
Yeah, so design, I would say, is a sort of fundamental human activity, right, and people, like you said, don’t necessarily think of it that way. They think of, okay, well, design, you know, maybe sketching a car or something, right, it’s kind of an artistic activity, but not necessarily something that everybody’s doing and that can be part of design, certainly, but like an example that in general I go from Worcester Polytechnic Institute uses is like designing your vacation, right, right. So design, or like a honeymoon or something like that yeah exactly so. design is anytime you’re mapping from what you want to do to how you’re going to do it.
Zack Johnson: 24:42
Sorry, I’m just like I’m the gram. Look, gave me a funny look over there. Sorry, it’s like. Okay, got it.
Dr. Derrick Tate: 24:48
Yeah. So you’re going from what to how. Okay, and anything you could represent as mapping from what you want to do to how you’re going to do it is a design problem. So, like I said, it could be your vacation, it could be honeymoon, but you know it could be a car, it could be a computer, it could be whatever you can define it, I guess more formally as like developing and we’re selecting means to satisfy objectives subject to constraints. So you’ve got three things that right the objective, what you’re trying to do. You’ve got your means, which you know could be like the car, the sketch of the car and so on. And then you’ve got constraints, which would be limits on what would be an acceptable solution. So the constraints would basically say, okay, certain things are, you know, outer bounds, it could be too expensive, it could take too long, has to fit with, like an existing system. Okay, you got to use, you know this port and you got to plug into the existing you know USB port or something. So that would limit your choices. But anything you can represent with those different pieces would be a design problem. So very, very cross disciplinary approach to it.
Zack Johnson: 26:00
And then the other word I want to focus on and then I’ll try to connect them here is the word human, the term human flourishing. Graham actually mentioned it a little bit here too, in Faith Tech, that there’s this idea that there’s poverty exists in the world and there are things that we can be doing towards moving away from poverty, towards human flourishing across the board here. So tell me a little bit about human flourishing and then I’ll try to connect design and human flourishing together and maybe looping computer science as a way to think about doing that.
Dr. Derrick Tate: 26:34
Right. So for design, I guess I would say, in terms of I guess my approach to design, some things to think about one. It’s like a specific discipline. So, as you mentioned, there are different tools that you can use in the design process. So they would be like a sort of process that you would follow. There’s tools in XMAC design, which was the name of the software company and kind of what I did for my PhD. Actually, the XMAC seems to help you identify or recognize good design. There’s other tools, like the theory of a better problem solving, which comes from the former Soviet Union. That’s like TRIZ. It looks at how do you resolve conflict or contradiction and the goal is to be more creative. There’s other tools as well. So, anyway, design is kind of like its own discipline that you can apply to many different areas. The second would be that you focus on users, which is where the human flourishing comes in. And I guess there’s not. I mean, I guess human would maybe be the kind of broadest term that you could think about there. When you think of, like users, of design, a piece of software or something, it’s like the person that’s actually typing in things and actually making use of it and in, say, business, you could maybe distinguish that from the customer. So somebody making the decisions about which product or which software to buy may not be the person that’s the end user. And you could do other categorizations of users, like lead users, which would be people that want to adopt a new technology first because they stand to get some significant benefit from adopting that technology. But if you come up with a design or product without really thinking about the users or really understanding their context, then it’s going to be hard to have something that’s really successful. So you really need to take into account what the product needs to do, which would be the functionality which would come from the users in kind of this broadest sense, including other stakeholders and the company manufacturing it or whoever is involved with it, as well as kind of economics of it. Is it something that is going to be able to be sustainable based on the economic aspect of it and then also sort of environment and sustainability kind of point of view. So you really have to look at any design from kind of multiple perspectives and if you don’t consider all those, then you could come up with something but nobody wants to use it, or you come up with it but it’s not economically feasible. And you see that a lot with technology today, where companies are losing money on, for example, like AI tools that we’re using online. I mean, they see it as an investment. Okay, people are using this and we’re getting data and we’re seeing what applications and stuff of it are, but it’s not something that can necessarily be maintained at the level that it currently is indefinitely, because each time somebody is using it, potentially a company is losing money. So you got to think about kind of all these different aspects. But, as I said, the goal is not just thinking, well, can we do something? But is it something that we really should be doing or want to do and how does it contribute to, like you said, human flourishing at the sort of individual level or in terms of like interaction with other people and kind of group level, or even at like a societal level?
Zack Johnson: 30:16
And then help me think about a little bit. There’s a pool of like hypothetical or a real situation. There’s a pool of young people, let’s just say going into a college and they’re considering what to invest themselves in. Let’s just even say the satirical environment, pure science, history, business, biology and usually there’s a problem that somebody cares about a little bit more than another problem, right, why is studying computer science a compelling way to think about addressing a particular issue? Let’s even use like classic issues we’re dealing with, let’s just say global poverty, or maybe even now here we see, even like clashes, political clashes, polarization there’s a lot of different arenas happening and rolling out ahead of us. Why is computer science a compelling field for Christians to use to address problems? It’s kind of a big question, right.
Dr. Derrick Tate: 31:22
Yeah, I mean, I guess from my perspective it would be sort of the ideal place to situate yourself in being able to address these problems. I mean, at Sattler in particular, there’s like a large core curriculum that everybody’s taking and so Sattler has the cohort model where the students come in together, focus in on these core courses, get kind of a body of knowledge related to biblical languages, humanities, western heritage and classics and so on. But then what you have, that foundation, you can think, well, how do I use that to do something and the sort of things our students have been doing, both for their capstones and then maybe after they leave Sattler, address some of these areas that connect with technology and their other interests, like their faith. So, for example, like the microfinance app that student did last year, right, so that would be a way to actually physically do something on the ground related to dealing with poverty and refugees and things like that, where you’re promoting some, I guess, educational materials related to finances, saving money. And then there was an app that was helping this soryization implement their teaching and plans and stuff and they were in, I forget it was like 15 countries or something that they have operations in. So here you’re doing something very tangible. I guess the other thing to think about it you know it’s like you’re graduating, you need to get a job. Technology obviously is something that everybody it pervades everybody’s life these days, and so by understanding technology, it’s going to help with some of these issues that you mentioned, whether it’s polarization or political conflict and so on, because technology has a role to play in those, and if you’re going to really address them, it’s like you have to think okay, well, how are people interacting with social media, for example, and what effect do sort of patterns that people have of these interactions relate into increasing or decreasing polarization? Likewise with other types of conflict, there’s a role for technology, and if people don’t, I guess, consider the technology aspect of it. It’s going to be hard to really come up with solutions to these bigger questions. So it’s not just a technology is going to be the only solution, but it needs to be kind of a part of the broader conversation. So I remember there was like a report from the National Association of Engineering, national Academy of Engineering. They were talking about recruiting more people into engineering and I worked with a TSTEM center at Texas Tech that did outreach to different high schools and kind of promoted engineering and they pointed out that the way that you recruit people to be medical doctors is just okay. You want to help people, you want to help them get well, you got to treat them, cure their illnesses, develop cures for diseases and so on. But the way people typically think about engineering, like high school teachers, they’re like oh okay, well, you’re good at math, you’re good at science, maybe you should think about engineering. And it’s like, well, if you’re good at math or you’re good at science, maybe you should be a mathematician or a scientist. The goal for engineering is to actually create things that are going to meet people’s needs. Until you’re going to somehow improve people’s lives by the things that you’re creating, whether it’s a person individually or part of a larger effort in most cases, but the goal is to help people’s lives be better and I think Sattler provides a good context for wrestling with some of these issues in terms of thinking about the impacts. Okay, if I make this, what are the social impacts and how can we kind of learn from past technologies and the way that they’ve impacted people and society and how can we make better decisions moving forward with technology?
Zack Johnson: 35:53
All right, Graham, is anything peaked to your interest that you think we should talk about? If not, I got some more things to talk about. Anything, Go for it, Go for it. Yeah, thanks. So the next sort of topic I want to explore. It’s very related. When I look at technology and science, there’s a perception that it’s, I’ll just say, secularizing at a very rapid pace. And even if you look at the largest companies in the world just say Google, Amazon, Apple, even through an Elon Musk company, Tesla they appear to be very secular and serving sort of a secular purpose. What is the role of the Christian? Is the role of the Christian to create a new company that stands for something different? Is it to try to innovate within the existing sphere, or is it maybe that’s not the right way to think about it? How do we think about the secularizing environment and sort of holding the values while leveraging technology?
Dr. Derrick Tate: 37:02
Right. I mean I don’t think there’s like one answer right. I mean it’s going to depend on the individual student. So I think, for example, the capstone project and internships gives the students a chance to kind of explore their options. We have connections with a number of companies and organizations where students have done internships some in the US, some internationally as they’re doing their bachelor’s degrees, and then students have worked with different outside organizations for their capstones. I mean, I guess once they graduate and they start working, probably in most cases they’ll go to work for an existing company with it, small or large, but maybe eventually they’ll have some ideas where they could create their own company. So I mean I think there’s room for any and all of that when students are thinking about how they want to apply their lives and what they want to do with their degrees. But I think something like FATEC that Graham is involved with I think that’s one of the goals of FATEC is to kind of bring like-minded people together and just think, okay, maybe in my job I’m doing something pretty secular, but if I work together with some other Christians that I meet through some networking event meetup, we can develop something that has maybe a more Christian application. That would be something that would be good for the church and do not like one answer obviously.
Zack Johnson: 38:42
And then just a sort of lay this to rest, if somebody is particularly interested in the church, let’s even say biblical missions or different ministries. Okay, computer science is a viable way to fulfill those callings Right, and I don’t think the path is very well-worn or well-walked of people using those two together. So is there sort of anything that you’d like to see happening to have more people walking down this road? We think about it a lot, as how do we drum up interest? in computer science with a traditional audience that might not have imagined that path forward in their life.
Dr. Derrick Tate: 39:29
Well, I mean again, we’ve got students who are working with different Christian organizations for their internships and projects and after they graduate, I know some of us are interested in maybe living overseas and continuing to do things for the church in other countries.
Zack Johnson: 39:51
So that’s one thing. I’ve heard that computer science is like a door into other countries that you wouldn’t traditionally have with a non-technical experience. Is that accurate?
Dr. Derrick Tate: 40:04
Yeah, that would probably help in getting visas and things like that. I mean, there are like Christian organizations that do things that are very related to computer science, like Wycliffe Bible Translators or somebody like that. They have a lot of software. They develop, I guess, different fonts for just playing Greek text and other things, as well as like tools for doing interviews of native speakers and transcribing that using international phonetic, alphabet and other things. They’re very, very technical, but even just the skills that being able to talk to users and talk to people and kind of understand the problems and things like that could be used in a context that’s quite different than developing the pieces of software. It would be kind of a general life skill. Some of these things related to design. And I do think there could be a role for making connections with existing churches to kind of bring in some knowledge of technology to these churches, where maybe congregations have questions like, well, how do we deal with technology? Or we have folks in the congregation have this or that or the other question about technology and its impact on the church or people’s lives and stuff, and I do think doing activities to sort of promote awareness and knowledge about technology along existing congregations would be something that would be beneficial.
Zack Johnson: 41:44
Right. Is there a product that you currently use, or maybe a software or an app that is an example of the power of leveraging this? I have a couple in the back of my mind, but that sort of have made a meaningful difference in people’s lives. Is there anything come to immediately to your mind?
Dr. Derrick Tate: 42:03
I mean, why do you share yours?
Zack Johnson: 42:05
So the Bible app is a really interesting one that the you version put it on. I think it’s based out of the church. I forget the big church down there. And then we have all our students use logos or logos, Bible software which leverages. It’s a pretty incredible technology that leverages computer science software. But then the user experience, I think, is one of the most important things about that. So it’s really interesting how you have to design it well so that it actually serves the purpose Right. What other one Do you have? Any that come to mind, Graham?
Graham Weber: 42:44
I use PrayerMate, which is an app to remind you to pray and help you to organize prayer lists, and things like that.
Zack Johnson: 42:52
Prayermate, remember, is an app that helps people memorize scripture. We even tried one. We actually tried one time to design an app for our discipleship program for habit tracking Right. Someday it might get launched. It’s sitting on a shelf, the computer shelf, so to speak, but I think it’s good to kind of think about hey, these are examples of ways that this has happened before. Does anything come to your mind?
Dr. Derrick Tate: 43:19
I mean yeah, I guess I have something. You’ve already mentioned some of them, yeah, I guess, for doing prayer at different times during the day and things like that. I guess the sort of things that I tend to use online tend to maybe be a little more niche or whatever. But maybe somebody from a computer science background working with databases there’s a website with a guy that’s like doing his own translation of the Old. Testament, learning Hebrew and then kind of looking, I guess, very rigorously at okay, well, what’s sort of this word in this context? And also, I think, trying to reproduce the original music that would go along with the text from these different notes, notations that are in the manuscripts and stuff. I’m not musicals, I’m not sure.
Zack Johnson: 44:08
You don’t want to sing one of those, I’m just kidding. And then I did want to ask a little bit about sort of your international experience. Where did you meet your wife again, I mean, I met her online. Online and she’s from China and you two have managed to sort of live in China and in the US and do you have any advice for people doing sort of cross-cultural relationships in church or beyond, for living in cities and stuff like that?
Dr. Derrick Tate: 44:43
Not really. I mean, I guess, given our experience. We lived in Beijing, we were in Texas Suzhou. My wife’s background is a language teacher, so the language, I guess, would be kind of a key part of it. Unfortunately I can understand some Chinese and people are talking Chinese, but I can understand more than I can say. But our kids are fluent in Chinese and so that helped. When we went back to China they went to the local Chinese schools for a while and then sort of being in China and kind of experiencing the culture there is different than just kind of hearing about it here. So kind of having opportunities to kind of experience both cultures and knowing the language and things like that it was good for the family.
Zack Johnson: 45:39
Got it, yeah. And then our audience. The people listening are just generally people subscribed to sort of our settler marketing lines of communication and I think we have. There’s a lot of people on that and we’re not knowing who exactly it is. Is there anything else that you’d like to mention to anybody in the audience that we haven’t talked about yet?
Dr. Derrick Tate: 46:01
Not too much. Yeah, I mean we’ve been working on that project to look at Siler’s mission statement, so kind of a focus on training graduates to kind of strengthen communities, whether they’re parts of the community or building new communities, looking at biblical languages, looking at sources of Christianity throughout history and an emphasis on holistic discipleship and kind of relationship building. So I think Siler has a very unique sort of niche that they’re fulfilling and I think it’s something that a lot of people would be interested in. I guess, unfortunately, people aren’t as aware of it as there should be you meet people like oh, I didn’t know there was a college downtown Boston and so on. So hopefully we can get the word out and welcome people to come and visit, sit in on some computer science classes or other classes as well.
Zack Johnson: 47:15
And then is there anywhere that we can follow your worker, anywhere that you point people to, to sort of read about the things that you’re passionate about? I don’t know if yeah, not really yeah. And then are any of those capstones listed online anywhere? Yet?
Dr. Derrick Tate: 47:33
I think some of the materials online, yeah.
Zack Johnson: 47:36
Right, I think I’d love to point people to those in the three of show notes or something like that Show notes Particularly there’s a few that the natural language processing one I think is a really interesting one. They’re all interesting, but I know I’ve heard some a lot of excitement about looking that.
Dr. Derrick Tate: 47:57
Right? Well, he went to book area over the summer and presented a paper on what he’d done.
Zack Johnson: 48:01
So maybe we can link those. And for everybody listening, I’m going to close out, unless there’s anything else to say. Well, it’s like there, Graham. Anything else? Alright? Yeah, thanks for listening and thanks for being here. I know that it’s a massive field and there’s a lot to cover, so if you’re interested in learning more, send us a note at infoatsattleredu. We’ll put you in contact with Dr Tate and then also the next, some next events coming up. If you happen to be in Pennsylvania on November 3rd, I’ll be there giving a sort of a investing in service talk about how Sattler’s really trying to shake up the tuition model, and it’s really good news, I think, for some future students and then also educators. I think all of this means a lot in terms of deciding institutions that work for people. So we’re trying hard to really make this an exportable and excellent experience, not only affordable, but trying hard to look at how colleges use tuition. So join me there and then, beyond that, keep your eyes peeled for some open houses in the spring and things like that. Thanks for joining us.
Dr. Derrick Tate: 49:16