Throughout the month of April, students and faculty travelled the country to represent WVU Tech at conferences where they shared their work, entered student competitions and discussed political and educational issues.
The WVU Tech Chapter of the ASCE visited Lexington, Virginia, for the 2015 Virginias Conference while chemical engineering student Amy Haddix traveled to Arlington for an ASEE Transforming Undergraduate Education in Engineering workshop.
On April 10-12, a group of eight students travelled to Columbus, Ohio, for the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ Region 2 Student Activities Conference at The Ohio State University.
At the conference, WVU Tech’s Ethics team, which included electrical engineering majors Jenn Lyons and Kayla Hoff, faced off against multi-school teams to take home the first place title.
“I always encourage my students to participate in conferences and competitions that can broaden their vision about life and the field they are studying by meeting with new people, visiting new campuses and cities, and being exposed to new ideas and challenges,” said Dr. Kenan Hatipoglu, assistant professor in the WVU Tech Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and advisor to the IEEE WVU Tech student chapter.
Also in April, Dr. Andrea Kent, assistant professor of political science in the Department of Social Sciences, travelled to Washington, D.C. for the West Virginia Faculty and Course Development in International Studies (FACDIS) Scholar-Diplomat Program.
Dr. Kent joined six other faculty members from across West Virginia to meet with 10 scholars and political officials from around the world to discuss the implications of the United States’ deepening economic, military and diplomatic ties to the Pacific Rim region of Asia.
The following week, Dr. Kent attended the Midwest Political Science Association’s annual meeting in Chicago on April 16-19, where she presented a research paper and served on a panel discussing political mobilization and support for democracy.
Three hundred miles southeast of Chicago, a group of eight WVU Tech students and faculty gathered at the University of Cincinnati on April 17-18 for the 2015 American Society for Engineering Education North Central Section Conference. There, the group presented a total of ten research papers authored by more than 15 students and faculty members.
“These events are the perfect opportunity to present student and faculty work. For some of these students, this is their third or fourth conference and I can see how they have developed as they continue to present. They’re much more self-confident. This reflects in their employability and it’s good practice for them as they learn to communicate effectively,” said Dr. Farshid Zabihian, assistant professor in the WVU Tech Department of Mechanical Engineering.
Students Joel Kouakou, Raul Torres, Sebastian Cousin, and Aaron Paynter attended the conference with faculty members Dr. Yogendra Panta, Dr. Kenan Hatipoglu, Dr. Farshid Zabihian and Dr. Tigra Yang.
WVU Tech’s Amy Haddix is no stranger to advancing the field of engineering.
The chemical engineering major from Elkins, West Virginia, has served as president of WVU Tech’s Student Government Association for the past two years. She also serves as secretary of both the WVU Tech chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) and the Association for Women Engineers, Scientists, Or Mathematicians Empowerment (AWESOME) promoting engineering education is just a part of who she is.
This month, her passion for the field and leadership experience allowed her to represent WVU Tech at the American Society for Engineering Education’s “Insights from Tomorrow’s Engineers” workshop in Arlington, Virginia.
Haddix was one of more than 40 engineering students from schools throughout the nation to attend the event.
“Only a small percentage of engineering schools in the country were present at this conference. Being able to say that WVU Tech was represented brings a chance for others to hear about the school and all it can do” said Haddix.
Funded by the National Science Foundation and ASEE, the event was the second phase of the “Transforming Undergraduate Education in Engineering” initiative, which is designed to determine the types of qualities engineering graduates should possess in the modern engineering environment.
The ultimate goal of TUEE is to create recommendations that colleges and universities can follow to instill these qualities in their engineering students.
The multi-year series of meetings completed its first phase in 2013, where students defined 36 Knowledge, Skill and Ability traits (dubbed KSAs) that would prepare future engineers to address modern engineering challenges.
“These were things such as good communication skills, self-drive and motivation, and the ability to identify, simulate, and solve engineering problems,” said Haddix.
During the phase 2 workshop, Haddix said students worked in teams to discuss the importance of these KSAs within the engineering profession and determine how each KSA was being promoted in the more than 70 colleges and universities represented.
For Haddix, the workshop was an opportunity to exchange ideas with students from colleges and universities of all sizes; ideas that she could bring back to WVU Tech.
“Every school operates differently. However, we can still experience some of the same problems and want the same solutions,” she said. “The big thing that I took away is a national need for practical application in hard science and math classes and projects in classes that apply classroom principles at an earlier level.”
She said she’s in the process of sharing what she learned, and that WVU Tech is producing graduates who can work effectively and confidently in the engineering industry.
An example of this herself, Haddix will graduate in May and has already committed to a production engineer position with the Dow Chemical Company in South Charleston, West Virginia.
On Tuesday, April 21, more than 150 students, staff, faculty and family members gathered in the WVU Tech Ballroom for the 18th annual STEM Awards Banquet.
At this year’s event, more than 40 students were recognized for their academic work as well as their involvement in student organizations.
“This is a group of students who are very bright and very committed to their academic pursuits, the research they undertake and the student organizations they devote their time to,” said Dr. Zeljko “Z” Torbica, dean of the Leonard C. Nelson College of Engineering and Sciences at WVU Tech.
“They have consistently exceeded expectations throughout the year and we honor them for both their work and for the way their efforts help to define the unique culture of the engineering and science programs at WVU Tech.”
The ceremony also recognized new inductees and current members of the WVU Tech chapter of the Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society.
Check out photos from the event on Flickr, and be sure to congratulate this year’s STEM Awards recipients:
John Swain Biology Research Award
Neal Allen Edwards Senior Academic Excellence Award
Ashley Watson Excellence in Service Award
Erin Light First Year Academic Excellence Award
Angel Thompson AIChE Leadership Award for outstanding service to the student chapter
James Ingles Outstanding Senior Award for having the best academic record in his graduating class
John Swain Outstanding Research Achievement Award
Andrew Lester Outstanding Research Achievement Award
Kalen Bentley Outstanding Research Achievement Award
James Ingles Outstanding Research Achievement Award
Kyle Diem Outstanding Civil Engineering Senior Award
James Ramsey Outstanding Civil Engineering Junior Award
Taofik Mudasiru Outstanding Civil Engineering Sophomore Award
Zachary Carnahan Bryan Bills Award
COMPUTER SCIENCE & INFORMATION SYSTEMS
Adam Cantrell Outstanding Information Systems Student Award
Chedli Ben Hassine Outstanding Information Systems Student Award
Benjamin Culkin Outstanding Computer Science Student Award
Caleb Dingus Outstanding Computer Science Student Award
Jeremy Ruth Outstanding Computer Science Student Award
Joshua Keiffer Outstanding Computer Science Student Award
Kiarash Tirandazi Outstanding Computer Science Student Award
ELECTRICAL AND COMPUTER ENGINEERING
Karen Pratt Outstanding Service Award
Matthew Cook Outstanding Electrical Engineering Student Award
Joseph Ferguson Outstanding Electrical Engineering Student Award
William Higginbotham Outstanding Electrical Engineering Student Award
Brandon Cole Outstanding Computer Engineering Student Award
Dustin Sauriol Outstanding Computer Engineering Student Award
Kiarash Tirandazi Outstanding Computer Engineering Student Award
Amber Wall For Contributions to the Engineering Technology Department
Michael Mullins For Dedication and Academic Accomplishments
Thurman Honaker For Dedication and Academic Accomplishments
Daniel Hull For Contributions to the Engineering Technology Department
Charles Westfall Outstanding Freshman Award in Mathematics
Branden Frazier Outstanding Senior Award in Mathematics
Dustin Sauriol Outstanding Senior Award in Mathematics
Kyle Diem Outstanding Senior Award in Mathematics
Gregory Anderson Outstanding Academic Achievement & Contribution to Baja Buggy Project
Zachary Dixon Outstanding Academic Achievement
Tavon Johnson Leadership in Organizing LCNCES Engineering Design Exposition and Technical Conference
Raul Torres – Outstanding Academic Achievement and Leadership in Organizing LCNCES Engineering Design Exposition and Technical Conference
On Thursday, April 23, more than 20 teams of WVU Tech engineering students will showcase a variety of design projects during the first WVU Tech College of Engineering Design Exposition . The event will be hosted in the WVU Tech Ballroom beginning at 1 p.m.
The expo will feature class and senior capstone projects some of them more than a year in the making from mechanical, chemical, electrical and civil engineering students. Attendees will be able to visit poster displays and discuss project plans, models or prototypes with exhibitors.
Dr. Farshid Zabihian, the expo’s organizer and assistant professor in the WVU Tech Department of Mechanical Engineering, said that the goal of the exposition is to recognize students for the time and work they put into these important projects that often serve as the culmination of an engineering student’s undergraduate career.
“Many of our students are doing very good work that goes well beyond expectations for a student capstone project. Outside of the classroom, many of these projects are unnoticed,” he said.
“Another part of this is generational. Freshmen, sophomore and junior students have an opportunity to visit this expo to see what others are doing, hopefully get inspired, make more informed decisions and prepare themselves for the topics they find interesting,” he said.
Dr. Zabihian said that he hopes to continue the expo on an annual basis and incorporate more elements, such as high school visits and award categories, into future expositions.
The exposition is hosted by the WVU Tech Department of Mechanical Engineering and coordinated by students Raul Torres and Tavon Johnson.
From April 9-11, 2015, 20 WVU Tech students and faculty members attended the American Society of Civil Engineers 2015 Virginias Conference at the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia, where they brought home a number of accolades.
At the conference, WVU Tech teams competed against 14 colleges and universities from West Virginia, Virginia and the Washington, D.C. area in concrete canoe, environmental, transportation, technical paper and mystery quiz competitions.
WVU Tech teams placed third overall in the concrete canoe competition, second in the transportation competition and first in the mystery quiz competition, which featured questions from the national Fundamentals of Engineering Examination.
“ASCE is an international organization, so competing in these events gets the WVU Tech name out there,” said Dr. Horng-Jyh “Tigra” Yang, assistant professor of civil engineering at WVU Tech and advisor to the WVU Tech ASCE chapter.
“We are a small school, but each year we’re among the top-ranked competitors. It encourages our students to put incredible effort into these projects and it reinforces the fact that our students receive a very good education in civil engineering,” he said.
For Zach Carnahan, who served as captain of the concrete canoe team, the conference was an opportunity to show how civil engineering can make the seemingly impossible an everyday reality.
After all, the team built a 19.5-foot, 300 pound canoe out of concrete that competed in five races. The team also placed second in the concrete canoe competition’s oral presentation event and third in the technical paper portion.
“It’s a great experience applying what you’ve learned and seeing how much you’ve actually learned. The conference is a great way to have fun doing what we love to do and to help each other as we learn from other schools that are doing the same things,” he said.
Civil engineering students Haseeb Ahmad and Yusef Alghawazi served on the WVU Tech transportation team, which placed second in a competition where students had to use surveying equipment to find the length of a hypothetical highway curve and determine the safest maximum travel speed cars could travel along that stretch of road.
They said the conference was a practical learning experience and an extension of the opportunities ASCE membership provides.
“ASCE is a very good organization,” said Ahmad. “We’re competitive, but yet it’s a fun and interesting experience. You just have to know how to put in the work and how to have a great time.”
On Saturday, April 11, the WVU Tech Department of Computer Science and Information Systems hosted the first of two on-campus programming competitions designed to put college and high school students’ programming and logic skills to the test.
Saturday’s competition was opened to WVU Tech students and challenged competitors to solve a series of ten programming problems in four hours.
“The competition is an opportunity for students to test their programming and problem-solving skills on a variety of problems that aren’t normally taught in the classroom,” said Dr. Matthew Williamson, the competition’s organizer and professor in the WVU Tech Department of Computer Science and Information Systems.
“The competition also tests how well they work as a team since they need to manage their time and resources. Because they are given a small number of hours and only one computer to work with, communication and delegation skills are critical,” he said.
WVU Tech student Jackson Fox, a dual Computer Science and Mathematics major, said that the event was an opportunity to exercise his classroom learning in an interesting way.
“It lets us prove to ourselves that we can have fun using these skills. It’s not all about work. It’s about learning these skills that we can have fun with and that we can take with us into the future. We learn the basics in class but this really helps bring it all together,” he said.
WVU Tech students Joshua Massey and Benjamin Culkin took third place ($125 each), Jackson Fox placed second ($250) and Jake Arthur and Joshua Keiffer finished in first place ($500 each).
Benjamin Culkin, Chedli Ben Hassine, Jackson Fox, Jake Arthur, Jared Miller, Jesús Ballesteros, Joshua Keiffer, Joshua Massey and Lucas Darnell participated in the competition, which Dr. Willamson hopes will become an annual event.
The second competition in the series is open to high school teams and will take place on Saturday, April 25 from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. in the engineering building. The April 25 event will see students competing for cash and scholarship prizes.
“The demand for programmers is at an all-time high, and that demand will continue to rise in the next five to ten years. If we can expose high school students to the field of computer science and get them interested, we can meet this demand, especially in West Virginia,” said Dr. Williamson. “Our state would substantially benefit from having more programmers.”
Five teams from three high schools including a school in North Carolina are already registered to compete, although Dr. Williamson said the competition is still accepting teams.
Attending high school faculty will also be able to attend a C# programming workshop during the competition.
For more information, visit: http://engineering.wvutech.edu/prog-competition.
WVU Tech students interested in attending medical school will have an opportunity to find out more about medical school life and about the programs at the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine on Thursday, April 16 at 12:30 p.m. in Orndorff 3200.
The event will feature a presentation from WVSOM representatives and a Q&A session for interested students.
“Students don’t need to bring anything other than their curiosity about medical school,” said Dr. Lisa Ferrara, professor and chair of the WVU Tech Department of Biology.
“If they are considering or have already decided on a career in medicine, this is an opportunity to find out what medical school is like, what they need to do in order to apply to medical school, and what they need to be a competitive applicant at the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine,” she said.
WVU Tech alumna Dr. Ashley Toler, an osteopathic physician and clinical professor in pediatrics at WVSOM, will be among Thursday’s visitors. Dr. Toler will share her experience moving from a WVU Tech biology student to a medical student and into her medical career, providing insight into the curriculum at WVSOM and life as a medical student.
Dr. Ferrara said the visit will also provide students with more information about osteopathy and the D.O. degree.
Thursday’s visit is sponsored by the WVU Tech Biology Club and the Psychology Club.
Since 1958, the American Library Association has sponsored and organized National Library Week to honor the importance of libraries in connecting people with information, each other and the community.
For WVU Tech, this year’s National Library Week is a special one.
“National Library Week is a time to celebrate how libraries have always played a role in the education of its users, whether student or public,” said Jewel Connell, director of WVU Tech’s Vining Library. “This week, for us, is a time we celebrate our role, or resources, our facilities, our services and all of our users.”
The last year has been a busy for WVU Tech’s iconic library. The school recently gained access to WVU’s vast library resources, including more than 300 online databases, and the library has undergone physical changes over the last few months, including new carpet, flooring, paint and a fresh new look and layout.
As part of the week’s celebration, the Library will host an open house on Tuesday, April 14 at 1 p.m. The event will allow visitors to check out the library’s new look and find out more about the many services the library offers to students, staff, faculty and the community.
“We are moving in the direction of becoming a learning and information center. We want to be more than a building with books, but an outpost for the campus and the community to gather, learn, socialize, and collaborate,” said Connell.
In addition to the Open House, the Vining Library will host Robert Maroney, author of “55 Graves” and “The Killer’s Handbook,” on Wednesday, April 15 at 6 p.m. with student music to follow at 7:30 p.m. The library will also host an open poetry reading on Thursday, April 16 at 6:00 p.m.
Throughout the week, visitors will be able to check out a Graffiti Wall of Reading banner, photos of the library before and after its renovation and art produced by students and local residents.
Visit the Vining Library website to find out more.
April is Sexual Assault Awareness month, and WVU Tech students, staff and faculty have been participating in a variety of events around campus in an effort to promote open dialogue about sexual, domestic and gender-based violence under the It’s On Us campaign.
It’s On Us is a national initiative launched by the White House last September as a means to address sexual assault on college campuses. White House blogger Tanya Somanader said that the campaign “asks everyone men and women across America to make a personal commitment to step off the sidelines and be part of the solution to campus sexual assault.”
It does so by asking students to visit Itsonus.org to take the campaign’s pledge. Those who take the pledge make the commitment to recognize that non-consensual sex is sexual assault, to identify situations in which sexual assault may occur, to intervene in situations where consent has not or cannot be given, and to create an environment in which sexual assault is unacceptable and survivors are supported.
It’s a simple, powerful promise, and one that can change lives.
“It’s so important to engage college students on issues such as sexual and domestic violence because this is the time in a young person’s life that they’re being shaped to be an adult,” said WVU Tech student Lindsay McDowall. “The things we learn and do now carry with us through adulthood. If we can instill this awareness in students now, then we can affect change for future generations.”
At WVU Tech, students and staff are in the middle of a month-long effort to raise awareness for the campaign, its cause and the idea that a community that discusses and explores the issue of sexual and domestic assault is one that has the power to stop it.
Earlier this week, students participated in Green Dot Bingo, where they learned how to be active bystanders in violent or potentially violent situations. Students also decorated t-shirts for the clothesline project, which allowed them to share the stories and emotions brought about by acts of domestic violence.
Other events scheduled throughout the month include “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” on Monday, April 13, a self-defense course in the Baisi gym on Monday, April 20, and an expressive arts therapy night in the WVU Tech Ballroom on Thursday, April 30.
Each activity is designed to open up communication and empower attendees to think critically about how they can change the statistics that make up campus sexual assault statistics like 1 in 5 (the number of women sexually assaulted in college) or 1 in 16 (the number of men sexually assaulted in college).
“The takeaway, I think, can be summed up in the saying, ‘Be the change you wish to see in the world.’ It’s on us to be the change. It’s on us to put an end to this violence,” said McDowall.
“This campaign benefits the campus community by starting conversations about these topics that tend to be difficult to talk about,” said WVU Tech Resident Director Emily Sands.
“But it does more than start the conversations. It raises awareness and encourages students to help in a situation. It provides insight into just how many people can be affected by sexual assault and domestic violence,” she said.
Sands said that the WVU Tech community has a number of local resources for help with sexual, domestic or gender-based violence situations, including WVU Tech Counseling Services, the Women’s Resource Center and the YWCA Charleston. Students may also go to fris.org for more information and resources.
When WVU Tech students Patrick McBrayer, Lucas Darnell and Randy Quiggle enlisted support from their friends and classmates and set out to create a new e-sports club for students interested in gaming, they thought they’d face an uphill climb.
When a student organization is launched, it can take a semester or two of pitching the club and building a member base before a group can really take off but that wasn’t the case for the new competitive gaming-focused WVUIT E-Sports Club, which grew to nearly 25 members in just the first few weeks after its founding this semester.
Darnell, WVUIT E-Sports Club’s Vice President and co-founder, said that the group debated starting the club for some time, but felt confident in moving forward because of the support they received from faculty, staff and students at WVU Tech.
“After confirming our adviser, we simply devised a constitution that met university requirements and sent in an application form to the SGA to be approved. It was that simple.”
Since then, the club has been busy participating in official competitive gaming tournaments and planning upcoming campus events. The group even teamed up with the WVU Tech ACM to run game tournaments during the popular Spring TechLAN event in mid-March, which raised more than $1,200 for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
The organization’s mission is simple: create a welcome, cooperative environment where like-minded students can work together in their common love for gaming. There’s also a major learning component, where members will develop and run tournaments, build their communications skills and keep their grades up to stay active in the group.
“What the E-Sports club offers is a way to get students together who love playing games, but the club wants to emphasize that academics come first. There are also some great opportunities to get involved in competitive gaming, just like what you see professional gamers do online,” said Dr. Matthew Williamson, the club’s advisor and WVU Tech professor of Computer Science and Information Systems.
The club currently maintains teams for two competition-level games: League of Legends and Heroes of the Storm. The Heroes of the Storm team recently competed in the qualifying rounds of the Heroes of the Dorm tournament, which pits college gaming teams from across the nation against one another in a team-based game that has yet to be officially released to the public.
At the end of April, the remaining teams in that tournament will battle it out in a nationally televised competition where the championship team will take home enough to cover their tuition for the rest of their college careers.
“We’re seeing companies hosting tournaments and leagues that are very similar in structure to what you see in professional sports, such as football and basketball. These competitions heavily emphasize the importance of teamwork, leadership, and cooperation as students organize themselves and develop strategies to defeat teams from other colleges,” said Williamson.
Darnell said that the ultimate dream of the club is to make a name for themselves in collegiate-level gaming, but that the group is about much more than competition.
“Gamers compete for the same reason any athlete does. They want to win and show all of the hard work that they have put into something that they love,” he said. “Students interested in the club should also know that anyone can be a part, no matter their skill level. You don’t have to be the absolute best at a game to compete, and competing is definitely not a requirement for membership.”
Want to see the WVUIT E-Sports Club in action? Visit their Game Day event on Friday, April 10 at 7 p.m. in the WVU Tech Student Activities Room. Attendees will be able to learn more about the club, enjoy free concessions, win prizes and compete in Super Smash Brothers and Halo 4 tournaments.