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May 13, 1971 - Image 2

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1971-05-13

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Pag Tw


Thursday, May 13, 1971

Page Two THE MICHIGAN DAILY Thursday, May 13, 1971

Computers change
course instruction

_____ -=_drama-
Originality key to classy
'The Brass and Grass'


Inbred student fear of computers, re-
sulting from such commonplaces as mis-
arranged schedules and incorrect grade
reports, has not hindered the growth of
computerized instruction at the Univer-
sity. Indeed, such computer use appears
to be increasing rapidly.
Judging from the classroom applica-
tions currently in use at the University,
the computer offers three broad advan-
tages and benefits:
-It allows visual presentation of com-
plete textbook concepts, which are diffi-
cult or impossible to adequately demon-
strate any other way.
-It allows students, working directly
w i t h a computer, to repeat a problem
several times or to experiment with their
own ideas far beyond the point where a
professor's presence might inhibit them
for fear of appearing "stupid."
-By grading tests, and in some cases,
even papers, the computer can free the
professor to spend more time actually
talking to his students, thus, ironically

perhaps, humanizing the teaching pro-
Three types of terminals are used to
get data out of and into the University's
IBM 360/67 computer. The most com-
mon is the electric teletypewriter. There
are a variety of pen-an-ink plotters and
drafting devices, which work on some
variation of the concept used in the fa-
miliar Etchasketch toy and use a type-
writer keyboard for programming. Final-
ly, there are a number of cathode-ray
tube (CRT) devices.
It is the CRT which figures most prom-
inently in the presentation of various
textbook concepts. One of the foremost
developers of "computer graphics" for
classroom use at the University is aero-
space engineering Prof. Richard Phillips.
Not only has he been instrumental in de-
veloping some intriguing programs for
use of the SRT in the classroom, but he
has helped develop a relatively simple,
low-cost method of making computer-
animated movies for a wide variety of
In the a r e a of computer simulation,
Phillips has developed a program using
the CRT which allows the student to fire
retrorockets on an imaginary Apollo cap-
sule, the object being to bring the astro-
nauts safely from an earth orbit. The
student, after calling for the proper pro-
gram, first selects an orbit height. The
earth and its atmosphere are then dis-
played on the screen, and the orbit is au-
tomatically plotted, with force vectors,
representing the capsule's direction and
speed, plotted along the orbit.
Then, the computer flashes, "Fire
rockets now," and the student picks a
speed reduction and angle for firing of
the rockets. From there on the computer
takes over. The change in orbit is plotted,
and the student can "watch" the capsule
come down. Meanwhile, a graph in one
corner of the screen monitors the "G's,"
or gravity forces which the astronauts
are experiencing. If the G-force goes over

The Brass and Grass Forever, an
original musical which opened last
night, has the framework for a first-
class show. Jerry Bilik's book and
music have some real problems, but it's
the basic material that counts, and the
show is worth seeing. It's not otfen
you'll see such a high quality non-
professional show.
What The Brass needs is elimination
of repetition and better choreography.
More really funny lines would help,
too. But you can't ask everything of
a group like the Ann Arbor Civic
Theatre, and you really get much more
than you expect.
The Brass and Grass Forever is a
complicated story about a plot by the
Joint Chiefs of Staff to take over
more power and thwart the threat of
the liberal establishment to cut the
defense budget. The plan is to have an
undercover agent lead a band of hip-
pies in an attack on major government
centers (NOT the Pentagon) and stop
"business as usual."
If there's one thing you can say.
it's that the plot is timely.)
The first act belongs to the Joint
Chiefs, as engaging a bunch of maniacs
as ever roamed a stage, especially

Jerome Patterson as Admiral Beebe,
the doddering chief of the navy who
launches into poetry about the ocean
blue at the least provocation.
Unfortunately, the charming quar-
tet's hit of the first act, "The Art of
War," was repeated in the second act's
long number, "Defenders of the
Right." Since the commanders are not
changing or deep characters, there is
no need for so much repetition.
The tactical opponents of the joint
chiefs were of course the hippie fam-
ily. And here is where Bilik went very
wrong, because Ann Arbor audiences
know very well that freaks do not say,
"Like crazy, man" or talk like the
beatniks of the fifties.
The final twist settles everything well
enough, as you expect. In between,
there is a lot of fun for cast and aud-
ience. The music is generally excellent;
the tunes are clear and bright, and
most of the singing quite good, ex-
cept for Ginger Myers' pseudo-operatic
attempts which did not fit in with
the play at all.
Neither did the song of the sentry,
"How Many Must Die?" It was a nice
number but slowed the show and had
nothing to do with the plot.
See BRASS, Page 10

10, the astronauts are "killed," and the
student must start again.
Once a "landing" has been completed,
the student can call up a variety of graphs
showing de-acceleration against time, G-
force against time and others. On cer-
tain models a "hard copy" of the CRT
display can be obtained on a photocopy
machine linked to the CRT.
Another use Phillips is making of the
computer is in the field of "computer-
aided data reduction." By using the com-
puter in conjunction with actual lab ex-

periments, he hopes to overcome t h e
problem of enormous data-taking experi-
ments which can lead the student to lose
any idea of what he is actually doing.
One such use would be to allow the stu-
dent to feed raw experimental data to the
computer, which would then plot it
graphically, thus eliminating many time-
consuming operations on the student's
part and allow him to have a much clear-
er view of how the experiment is pro-


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