In an annual tradition of honoring distinguished alumni, WVU Tech has announced Dr. Aaron Morris and Sarah “Sally” Smith as 2014 Alumni of the Year, and will induct Doug Epling, Dameion Mills, Mike Morrison, Dr. Leonard C. Nelson and Ronnie Rice into the WVU Tech Athletic Hall of Fame.
WVU Tech has honored Alumni of the Year since 1949. Honorees are selected for their recognition and successful stature in their chosen profession, a strong dedication to their communities and a commitment to serving as role models for all WVU Tech alumni.
Aaron Morris, Ph.D., ‘01, is a roboticist, author of 17 publications, co-inventor of four patents and successful tech entrepreneur. Morris works in the Reality Solutions group at 3D design software company, Autodesk, which purchased Morris’ tech startup, Allpoint Systems, in 2012. He graduated from WVU Tech summa cum laude with a double major in computer science and electrical engineering. He holds a doctorate from the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University.
Sarah E. “Sally” Smith, J.D., is a partner in the Charleston office of Bowles Rice LLP. She is a member of the WVU Tech Board of Visitors and the Charleston Area Alliance Board of Directors. Smith has served on a variety of economic, educational and legal boards, and by gubernatorial appointment on the Kanawha County Correctional Officers Civil Service Commission. She has been recognized by Best Lawyers in America and as a Bar Foundation Fellow. Smith graduated summa cum laude from WVU Tech and earned her J.D. at the WVU College of Law.
The WVU Tech Athletic Hall of Fame has been honoring notable athletes, coaches, administrators and contributors since 1956, and will add five new names to the Kelley Hall of Fame Room wall:
Douglas Epling has contributed to WVU Tech athletics for two decades. Owner of Mountain Edge Mining, Legacy Resources and Hanover Resources, Epling has served as the West Virginia State Boxing Commissioner, Chairman of the Beckley Police Commission, board member of the West Virginia Parkways Authority and a Board of Visitors member at WVU Tech. WVU Tech’s baseball program currently uses the Douglas M. Epling Stadium in East Bank, West Virginia.
Damieon D. Mills, ‘02, was a WVU Tech wide receiver and quarterback from 2000-2002, where he was an all-conference player both years and currently stands third on the school’s all-time receiving list. In the early 2000s, Mills served as a receivers coach and special teams coordinator at WVU Tech. He is currently the head basketball coach at North Central High School in Opelousas, Louisiana.
Mike Morrison, ‘64, played tight end/ defensive end at WVU Tech from 1960-1964, where he served as team co-captain and earned SIGMA EP all-American tight end accolades. Morrison’s coaching career includes football, wrestling and track in Ohio and West Virginia. He eventually went on to serve as Fayette County’s athletic director.
Dr. Leonard C. Nelson served as the president of then West Virginia Institute of Technology for 25 years and is the namesake of the WVU Tech College of Engineering and Sciences. The University’s longest-standing president, Nelson was a member of several prestigious national honor societies. As president, Dr. Nelson supported the efforts of noted basketball coach, Neal D. Baisi, who led a nationally recognized team in the 50s and 60s, and from whom WVU Tech’s athletics center gets its name.
Ronald K. Rice, ‘59, played baseball at WVU Tech from 1955-1959 where he batted over .300 each year. He also kicked for the WVU Tech football team in his senior year. Rice’s football coaching career took him high schools in West Virginia, Ohio and Virginia until he accepted an assistant coaching position for the University of Maryland football team in 1970.
WVU Tech will host a reception and dinner to honor these alumni on Friday, November 14 at the WVU Tech campus in Montgomery. Tickets can be purchased by calling 304.442.1025 or e-mailing Tech-Homecoming@mail.wvu.edu.
The WVU Tech chapter of the National Society of Leadership and Success (NSLS) will host an orientation event for new and interested organization members next Tuesday, October 21 at 5 p.m. in the WVU Tech Center Student Activities Room.
The orientation will provide a basic introduction to the society, discuss membership benefits and opportunities such as scholarships, leadership conferences and networking and cover the requirements for official induction into the society.
Throughout the course of the semester, NSLS members host on-campus events, participate in community outreach and attend a variety of live-broadcast video seminars featuring guest speakers who stand out as leaders in their respective fields.
“Membership in NSLS allows students to develop and expand their communication and community involvement skills, maximizing the ability of members to effectively lead in a variety of business, scientific, academic and public settings,” said Dr. Andrea Kent, WVU Tech political science professor and NSLS faculty advisor.
Members also work in teams to establish and meet personal educational or career-oriented goals where they rely on one another for accountability and support.
“The Society’s goal is ultimately for students to find their ability to communicate and utilize those skills to achieve goals they set through group work and feedback they receive from peers,” said Dr. Kent. “Helping students find the tools to feel like they can realize their dreams in an efficient and effective way is a fantastic mission to have.”
The NSLS has a busy fall schedule, including a Homecoming Spirit Board Mixer on Saturday, November 8 (location TBA) and live-broadcast videos on the following Thursdays at 5:30 p.m. in the WVU Tech Student Success Center: October 23, November 4 and November 11.
More than 150 middle and high school students from throughout the state visited WVU Tech for the second annual West Virginia Science and Art Fair on Friday, October 17.
WVU President Gordon Gee kicked off the event, addressing the young artists and scientists.
“Science is important. Arts are important. There’s nothing more important than being involved at this age,” he said. “This is a time for fun, a time for tremendous learning opportunities and a time to get together for friendly competition where you can learn from one another.”
In the arts division, students exhibited sculptures, hand-drawn sketches and paintings.
In science categories, students entered investigatory science projects, sharing their experimental research in topics ranging from earth and space sciences to chemistry and biology. Students also entered display projects, submitted papers, participated in a project symposium and competed in Olympiad events.
Derek Midkiff, an eighth-grade science teacher at Andrew Jackson Middle School, brought 19 students who had previously competed in the school’s own science fair. He said the science fair’s atmosphere stimulates learning by offering students a chance to explore topics they find interesting.
“I think the most important part of this is that students own their work, they take it home with them. Some of them get their parents, their families involved. It gets the students doing something outside the regular curriculum, and it gets them in a competitive situation academically,” he said.
Midkiff said his students are enthusiastic about showing their work, which includes research on how crickets react to music and a “stinky shoes” project where students determine which materials can prevent shoes from smelling after use.
“This is our first year at the fair and our students are excited about it. They’re excited about competing with other students from other schools. I think this is a great thing that WVU Tech is doing, and I hope it grows. We’ll certainly be back next year,” he said.
The fair was hosted by WVU Tech, the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission and the West Virginia Division of Culture and History.
Students and alumni interested in STEM careers, internships and co-op opportunities will have a chance to meet with prospective employers during the Engineering, Technology & Science Career Fair on Wednesday, October 22 and Thursday, October 23. The fair will run from 11:00 a.m. 2:30 p.m. both days in the first floor hallway of WVU Tech’s E-Lab building.
The two-day event gives students a chance to network with employers, even if they’re not actively seeking employment.
“This fair is an excellent opportunity for students to get their tools ready for the job hunt, whether that’s going on right now or in four years,” said Cantrell Miller, WVU Tech Director of Career Services. “It’s also a great way to explore area opportunities, validate career choices and expand horizons into thinking about the world outside of college.”
Students can prepare for the fair by visiting their Experience account to see potential employers and the majors those employers are looking for. WVU Tech’s Career Services site also offers online career resources and helpful job interview tips. Students interested in applying to available positions should bring an updated resume, dress appropriately and be prepared to answer questions about themselves.
Four participating employers American Electric Power, TRC Engineering, R.J. Reynolds and Toyota of WV will be accepting resumes for potential on-campus interviews. Find out more here .
Each day of the event will feature different employers, so students may want to consider visiting the fair both days to maximize their exposure to area opportunities.
Additional fairs will be held throughout the year, including a nursing career fair (November 11, 2014); a College of Business, Humanities and Social Sciences career fair (February, 2015); and a Spring Campus JobFest (April, 2015).
Engineering, Technology & Science Career Fair – participating employers:
Day 1 Wednesday, October 22
American Electric Power (AEP)
Kanawha Scales & Systems
K&K Technical Group
March Westin Company
Mine Safety & Health Administration
Orders Construction Company
Potesta & Associates
Rexnord Industries, LLC
The Thrasher Group
US Navy Officer Program
WV Division of Personnel
Day 2 Thursday, October 23
Constellium Rolled Products
CDI IT Solutions
J.H. Fletcher & Company
US Navy Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR)
Pickering & Associates
Service Wire Company
Toyota of WV
US Marine Corps Officer Program
Women may make up a small percentage of students and professionals in STEM fields, but a new student organization is trying to change that starting right here at WVU Tech.
The Association for Women Engineers, Scientists, or Mathematicians Empowerment (AWESOME), is a new student group dedicated to supporting female students in STEM programs at WVU Tech and sharing STEM science with K-12 schools to get young students interested in pursuing these important fields.
“Joining AWESOME will allow students to assist in community outreach efforts to increase awareness of STEM fields within local area schools. We’re hoping that having future AWESOME outreach activities will assist in both the recruitment and retention of future generations of females into all STEM fields,” said Dr. Stephany Coffman-Wolph, assistant professor in the WVU Tech department of Computer Science and Information Systems and AWESOME faculty advisor.
Besides opportunities to participate in outreach programs, AWESOME student members will have a chance to work with WVU Tech faculty and industry professionals in mentorships, network with other STEM students, attend conferences focused on women in STEM and hear from guest speakers.
“Most importantly, we hope students will join AWESOME to have fun and meet others with similar interests,” said Dr. Coffman-Wolph.
The group’s first guest speaker, Millie Marshall, will address AWESOME at the group’s Mix & Mingle kick-off event on Thursday, October 23 from 12:30 2:00 p.m. in the engineering auditorium.
Marshall, President of Toyota Motor Manufacturing West Virginia, has worked for Toyota since 1991, and oversees the company’s manufacturing plant in Buffalo, West Virginia, which produces automobile engines and transmissions.
“WVU Tech has a long-running relationship with Toyota here in West Virginia. They hire many of our students and are strong advocates for women in STEM fields,” said Dr. Winnie Fu, AWESOME advisor and assistant professor in WVU Tech’s Engineering Technology department. “Ms. Marshall is a shining example, right here in our backyard, of what women in STEM fields can accomplish.”
The Mix & Mingle is the group’s first big event, but students interested in joining the organization won’t have to wait until October 23. Find out how you can be AWESOME at the group’s first meeting this Friday, October 17 at 2 p.m. in Engineering, Room 201. If you can’t make the first meeting, or if you have questions about AWESOME, contact Dr. Coffman-Wolph.
The West Virginia Science and Art Fair returns to WVU Tech on Friday, October 17. The fair, which is open to all West Virginia high school and middle school students, provides an opportunity for students to showcase their knowledge of biology and physical sciences in display projects, a symposium and Olympiad events, and their creativity in art projects.
The fair is being hosted by WVU Tech, the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission and the West Virginia Division of Culture and History. Registration is free and open to public, private and home-school students.
“The science and art fair was so well-received last year and we are honored to partner with the Higher Education Policy Commission and the West Virginia Division of Culture and History on this program again this year,” said Carolyn Long, WVU Tech Campus President. “WVU Tech is pleased to offer five $1,000 scholarships to the winners in the science competitions.”
Dr. Paul L. Hill, Chancellor of the Higher Education Policy Commission, said, “For students in high school and middle school, the opportunity to exhibit their scientific work and art talents brings with it a great sense of pride and a deepened love of learning in these essential fields. The Science and Art Fair is an exciting opportunity designed to do just that, and the Commission is thrilled to work with the Division of Culture and History and WVU Tech to make it a reality.”
“Programs like this encourage young West Virginians to think creatively about what they are learning and to develop confidence in presenting their ideas, which can spark a love of lifelong learning,” said Randall Reid-Smith, West Virginia Division of Culture and History Commissioner.
Students may enter several competition categories:
Investigatory Projects: Students are invited to perform experiments and create displays explaining their experiments
Display Projects: Students may present displays on topics in the Biological and Physical Sciences
Symposium: Oral competition open to students in the Investigatory and Display Projects
Olympiad Events: Open to students regardless of whether they have submitted exhibits in other categories, these events will test students’ knowledge of Physical and Biological Sciences in a series of exercises
Art Exhibits: Students may enter two- and three-dimensional art projects that have scientific themes
For information and applications, visit sciencefair.wvutech.edu.
Join WVU Tech’s Division of Student Life and WVU Tech Student Support Services on Tuesday, October 21 as they host a night of fine dining and a preview performance of the Charleston Light Opera Guild’s production of “Fiddler on the Roof”.
“Fiddler” tells the tale of Tevye, a Jewish milkman living in early twentieth-century Russia, and his five strong-willed daughters. Throughout the musical, Tevye and his family struggle with notions of poverty, tradition, revolution and anti-Semitism. The show first opened on Broadway in 1964, and has since become one of the longest-running musicals in history.
During the preview performance at WVU Tech, attendees will enjoy a specially prepared meal as performers deliver selected musical numbers from the Guild’s upcoming production, which is co-produced with the Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences of West Virginia and opens October 31 at the Maier Foundation Performance Hall in Charleston.
The dinner theatre event will be hosted in the Tech Center Ballroom. Doors open at 6 p.m., dinner will be served at 6:30, and the show starts at 7 p.m. with a question-and-answer session to follow.
To attend, register in person with Karen Skaggs in Old Main 325 no later than Friday, October 17 at 4 p.m. Students will need to provide their nine-digit WVUID number. There are only 80 spots, so register today!
In lieu of ticket sales, donations will be collected for the Guild in support of its mission to bring classic and modern shows to stages throughout the Kanawha Valley. For more information, or to see a schedule of upcoming guild performances, visit charlestonlightoperaguild.org.
About the Charleston Light Opera Guild
Founded in 1949, the Charleston Light Opera Guild has produced more than 200 shows, holds an annual summer theatre program for young actors and has featured performers who have gained international notoriety, including singer-songwriter Kathy Mattea, actress and performance artist Ann Magnuson and actress and film producer Jennifer Garner.
A group of South Charleston High School students visited Montgomery last week to check in on the health of the nearby Morris Creek. Working with WVU Tech and the Morris Creek Watershed Association, the students collected data for projects in their International Baccalaureate (IB) courses in biology, chemistry and physics.
The Morris Creek watershed, which covers more than seven square miles, is on the mend after suffering contamination from coal mining and landfill activities stemming back to the 1970s. Since 2002, the Morris Creek Watershed Association has engaged in a variety of projects aimed at restoring the watershed and raising awareness about its condition.
Last week’s student visit was the fifth in an annual collaboration between the Association and South Charleston High, which allows students to don their best mud-boots and get to work determining how the watershed, and its aquatic residents, are responding to the cleanup.
Marilyn Tillquist, IB Biology and Human Anatomy teacher at South Charleston High School, said that the data her students collected will show an overall picture of the creek’s health.
“The biology group is testing for dissolved oxygen in the water and the pH level of the stream. They also takes samples at various points along the stream to see which aquatic species are present,” she said.
Tillquist said that certain macroinvertebrate species, such as stoneflies and hellgrammites, are more sensitive to pollution than others, so their presence in a stream is a sign of better quality water. Amphibians like frogs and salamanders are another sign of a healthy aquatic environment.
“Students take the data they find here and use what’s called a biotic index to assign a value to the stream that serves as an indication of the stream’s overall biological health,” she said.
The biology group was one of three examining the health of Morris Creek. The chemistry group measured acid mine drainage output and tested the water for metals, potassium, phosphate, nitrates and ammonia. The physics group measured the creek’s volume and flow rate, which is an indicator of how acid mine drainage is diluted and how flow contributes to erosion.
WVU Tech programs coordinator Dr. Kimberlyn Gray said that, in the past, student data has been combined with watershed association monthly monitoring data to work with the Environmental Protection Agency on funding for pond remediation and other watershed projects.
“It’s exciting for students in that, not only are they doing this project for themselves and gaining this hands-on field experience, the data they collect is being used in actual studies that make a positive impact on the health of Morris Creek,” she said.
For more information on the Morris Creek watershed, visit the association website at www.morriscreekwatershed.org.
A group of 21 senior WVU Tech nursing students participated in a Closed Point of Dispensing (POD) drill at the Capitol Complex in Charleston last week, gaining firsthand emergency preparedness experience.
The project, run by the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department and the Department of Health and Human Resources’ Center for Threat Preparedness, ran a live exercise simulating an Anthrax exposure event at the Capitol. The drill tested the campus’ Closed POD system, which dispenses medication in an effort to treat state employees and their families to keep the government running during a bioterrorism incident.
WVU Tech students played a variety of roles during the drill, where they served as both emergency workers and “victims” exposed to the biological agent.
“The drill was an excellent practical extension of what our students are currently learning in their community nursing course,” said Melanie Whelan, WVU Tech senior nursing lecturer. “Students were engaged in scenarios that highlighted emergency preparedness concepts and allowed them to connect with the community in a real-world emergency environment.”
Check out coverage from the Charleston Gazette to read more about the Closed POD project.
The West Virginia Space Public Outreach Team (SPOT) offers college students an opportunity to share their passion for space exploration with K-12 students throughout the state. Sponsored by NASA and the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), the program puts SPOT ambassadors in the classroom to deliver interactive presentations and get young students excited about space, technology and engineering.
“Our goal is to share how NASA’s scientists and astronomers are working to educate the community about space and beyond to help define our place in this vast universe,” said Thy Dinh, SPOT Ambassador and President of WVU Tech’s Student Partnership for the Advancement of Cosmic Exploration (S.P.A.C.E.) organization.
This month, Thy and six other WVU Tech students made the three-hour trip to Green Bank, West Virginia, home of the famed NRAO Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope (GBT). There, they joined students from Shepherd University, WVU, Marshall University and West Virginia Wesleyan College for a two-day SPOT training session.
In Green Bank, participants toured the GBT and used a 40-foot telescope to capture data from hydrogen clouds in the Milky Way. During training sessions, students learned to give presentations on topics such as the International Space Station, space-based telescopes and the aspects of the universe like radio and gravitational waves inaccessible to the naked eye but vitally important to the study of the cosmos.
Once a student successfully completes SPOT training, provides a sample presentation to SPOT trainers and becomes a certified ambassador, they can begin presenting what they’ve learned in the classroom. K-12 schools book presentations online and SPOT ambassadors in the region will work directly with the school to set up a presentation.
WVU Tech mechanical engineering professor, Dr. Farshid Zabihian, serves as an advisor for the students in the program, but said that SPOT is a wholly student-run effort.
“The great thing about this program is that it’s student-oriented. SPOT ambassadors must learn the presentation content, which is quite advanced. On top of that, they’re learning skills like self-discipline, clear communication, punctuality, self-confidence and networking all the things you would need to successfully operate in a real-world workplace environment,” he said.
Dr. Zabihian said the program’s impact stems from the fact that college students, not professors, are giving these presentations.
“Above all, the program gives our students a chance to give back to the community,” he said. “Some of these students are going back to their old high schools to share their own experiences. The lessons are more powerful when they are coming from a student who was sitting at those same desks just a few years ago.”
While all of WVU Tech’s SPOT participants are currently members of S.P.A.C.E., any student interested in space sciences can participate in the program. To find out how you can get involved with SPOT or S.P.A.C.E., contact Dr. Farshid Zabihian.
Interested in booking a SPOT ambassador for your K-12 class? Request a presentation here.
Photo: SPOT ambassadors spent two days training at the NRAO site in Green Bank, West Virginia. The Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope can be seen in the background.