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Pardon Our Dust: Bringing Air Quality Sensors and Data to the People Through Fab Labs

Matthew Schroyer (
Location: Fleet Room

The bits-to-atoms revolution has turned makers into entrepreneurs, and untapped skills into successful businesses. Using the same tools to generate valuable data for communities, through citizen science projects and sensor-driven journalism, is the next step in the B2A revolution. This case study and demonstration looks at a project to cheaply quantify cancer-causing particulate matter, from inception, to design, rapid prototyping and testing, to end-user education and deployment.

The open-source DustDuino particulate sensor node will deploy via journalists all over the world through collaboration with Earth Journalism Network in Q1 2014; but it began with an emerging technology in search of a platform, and a global community of journalists in search of hard data. Developing the DustDuino required tapping into the open-source community, and forming partnerships between students, researchers, STEM educators, and journalists.

In this presentation, DustDuino developer Matthew Schroyer discusses how challenges were overcome through all project phases: from inception, to testing kitty litter in University laboratories; to training journalists for global deployment. The talk and live demonstration will highlight how the Internet of Things can bring together different communities together through a common thirst for knowledge.

Photo of Matthew Schroyer

Matthew Schroyer

I am the founder of the Professional Society of Drone Journalists, located online at, which is an organization of more than 90 journalists and drone developers, from 19 countries who, who are seeking to integrate unmanned aircraft systems to augment reporting and journalism investigations. In addition to drones, I develop environmental sensor nodes for journalists, and open-source the work at

Full-time, I am a communications specialist, social network analyst, and drone developer for the $5 million National Science Foundation grant EnLiST (Entrepreneurial Leadership in STEM Teaching and learning), at the University of Illinois. I track the learning networks of innovative teacher-leaders, and teach students how to design, fabricate, program and deploy drones to provide GIS and mapping services.