Wake Forest Meet . . .
Yue-Ling Wong and Ching-Wan Yip

[ Note from Physics: This article first appeared in the October, 2000, Windows on Wake Forest. The full issue is available in the University Editor Publications Archive.]

Editor’s note: this is another in a regular series of profiles to acquaint members of the Wake Forest community with their colleagues. If you have suggestions of subjects for future profiles, please call 758-5760.

Yue-Ling Wong and Ching-Wan Yip are technology wizards. As academic computing specialists for the chemistry and physics departments respectively, they work magic.

”Our role as academic computing specialists means we help faculty incorporate technology in the classroom. We also keep a lookout for new technology and see what might be suitable for classroom instruction,” says Wong.

According to Yip, in technology, one size does not fit all. There are as many possible applications for computer technology in the classroom as there are instructors and methods for teaching. Wong and Yip’s combined proficiency in chemistry, physics, computer programming and graphic design enables them to use the latest technology to meet an instructor’s specific needs.

Daniel Kim-Shapiro, assistant professor of physics, asked Wong and Yip to write a program to help students understand how distance affects the patterns on x-ray film. “In the textbook the illustration is a flat 2-D graphic and it’s hard to really understand what’s going on,” says Yip. Using three- dimensional modeling software, Wong and Yip designed an interactive program to illustrate the x-ray concept, and then they converted it into a format students could access using their ThinkPads. “If you move the x-ray film in and out you can see the radiation cutting the pattern on the film,” Wong explains. “As the orientation changes, the pattern will change. Students can get on the Web site and understand how it works.”

The husband-and-wife team soon recognized a need for their skills in other departments. With the support of Dean of the College Paul Escott, Wong and Yip pioneered the Advanced Technology Group (www.atg.wfu.edu), a campus wide program that addresses the need for assistance with the application of computer technology in the classroom. The Advanced Technology Group keeps up with new developments that may have applications in any or all fields of study.

The latest technological wonder Wong and Yip are considering is a three-dimensional printer. A printer that doesn’t actually print, it picks out pieces of a foam-like substance to create a model students can hold and observe from all angles. A new software program under review converts two-dimensional pictures into three-dimensional models on the computer screen. Wong, who is pursuing an M.F.A. at Wake Forest, is particularly interested in applications for this technol- ogy. “Converting a painting into a three-dimensional model means you can look at an artist’s painting and try to extrapolate what he really saw and what his perspective was the moment he was painting,” she says.

To further assist professors, Wong and Yip create interactive multimedia presentations for IMEJ, the electronic journal for computer enhanced learning (www.imej.wfu.edu). Their presentations complement the author’s paper so the reader can try out the technology online. “Many faculty want to try out a new approach where students answer ques- tions online prior to the class,” Wong says. “The instructor looks at the results, can see where there are problems and can customize the next class based on the results.” “But now they are going further,” adds Yip.” “That’s not challenging enough. Now we can ask a student if he or she is really sure about an answer. This is suitable for questions that don’t have a right or wrong answer, and the professor wants to provoke student thinking.”

Wong and Yip met while attending college in their native Hong Kong. Wong attended the University of Texas and earned her Ph.D. in chemistry while Yip was in the chemistry program at Virginia Tech. The two were married the same week as Wong’s graduation in 1992.

Yip came to Wake Forest in 1995 at the onset of what was then for the Class of 2000. Wong was working independently to fulfill her dream to publish an interactive, multimedia CD-ROM for chemistry. completing the CD-ROM, Wong joined Wake Forest when the University hired two additional academic computing specialists.

“They are enormously talented in multimedia development and technical computer administration and development,” says Jennifer Burg, asssociate professor of Computer Science and editor of IMEJ, who refers to Yip and Yue-ling as the "dynamic duo." "They are tremendous assets to the university."
—K i m Mc G r a t h