23 Aug

On Tuesday, August 23, representatives from WVU Tech, West Virginia University and L&S Toyota met on the grounds of the L&S dealership in Beckley, West Virginia.

The event brought together Shawn Ball, owner and general manager of L&S, WVU president Gordon Gee and WVU Tech campus president Carolyn Long. The trio exchanged a check to acknowledge and celebrate financial contributions from the Ball family totaling $110,000 in scholarship funds for resident students earning their degrees at WVU Tech on the Beckley campus.

In 2015, the Ball family donated $50,000 to establish two endowed scholarships for both WVU Tech engineering and nursing students in Beckley. This academic year, the Ball family has contributed an additional $50,000 to those endowments, plus $10,000 for general scholarship funds for West Virginia students.

“We want to be supportive of WVU Tech coming to Beckley. That’s the biggest thing,” said Ball.

“It’s a very, very important thing for this town. We need it. We’ve had a decline in coal jobs. We’ve had a decline in jobs period. It’s important right now that we have something that we can rely on. We’re going to be creating a workforce. Hopefully, we’re going to have businesses follow, and so West Virginia University coming in is huge.”

Tuesday’s check presentation recognized the sum of L&S’s investments in the students of WVU Tech in Beckley. Gee said the investment marked the beginning of an era of new and longstanding relationships between the WVU system and the businesses and industries of the region.

“I believe that our opportunity to come to Beckley and have a wonderful campus here will be one of the most transformative activities undertaken by the University in the state forever,” said President Gee.

“This helps us – it does more than help us – but the spirit of this family is what really helps us. He didn’t have to do this. He did this because he believes in his community,” he said.

For Long, the day’s activities were an extension of the warm welcome WVU Tech has experienced in Beckley. She said the contributions to the students in the region would have a far-reaching impact.

“I can’t begin to say how much we appreciate them for what they’re doing and the difference they will make in a student’s life. When we make a difference for a student in a positive manner, we make a difference in the town of Beckley, in the state of West Virginia and in our country,” she said.

During the event, Ball announced the winners of L&S Toyota’s recent Facebook student essay challenge, where the company asked college students from the region to write about their plans to better the communities where they live and work. Students Logan Crowe and Jonathan Duesing took third and second place, respectively, taking home monetary prizes for their work.

WVU nursing student Jessie Kuhn was selected as the winner of the challenge. The Beckley area native was awarded a 2016 Toyota Yaris subcompact, valued at $18,000. Kuhn said that the vehicle will help her travel to complete her nursing clinicals and visit home more often.

Ball also announced the presentation of $20,000 to the United Way of Southern West Virginia. The donation includes a $10,000 donation from L&S and an additional $10,000 through Toyota’s dealer match program.

For more information or to contribute to WVU Tech scholarships, contact Susan Shew, Development Director at WVU Tech, at tech-development@mail.wvu.edu or 304.442.1078.

Check out photos from the L&S event on Flickr. Read local coverage from WVVA, WVNS and The Register-Herald.

17 Aug

It’s been a busy week for new WVU Tech students. They braved 90-degree heat to move into residence halls on Saturday. That afternoon, they attended the university’s official convocation ceremony with more than 300 fellow newcomers, family and friends.

In the days since, they have participated in dozens of events, explored campus, met with staff members, purchased books, smiled for student ID photos and spent their free time getting their proverbial collegiate ducks in a row.

It would have been easy to call it a day on Tuesday, the last day of WVU Tech’s orientation program and the day before school started for all students in the WVU system. No one would blame a new student for wanting to kick off their shoes and spend the day relaxing, but that’s not what they did on their last day of the summer.

Instead, more than 80 new WVU Tech students from both campuses laced up their shoes, rolled up their sleeves and traveled a combined 230 miles to lend their time in service projects aimed at helping those impacted by recent flooding in Southern West Virginia.

They called the project Golden Bears Give Back.

“The WVU Tech community has a long history of volunteerism and service,” said Candice Stadler, director of Career Services at WVU Tech and service project organizer.

“The Golden Bears Give Back project communicates to students that as a member of the WVU Tech community, we expect you to be academically, socially and civically engaged.”

Taking care of the little things
28930477782_97408b85d3_o-2 WVU Tech students spent the day at a warehouse in Belle, West Virginia sorting, testing and assembling supplies for flood victims.

On Tuesday morning, 20 student volunteers gathered in the old Magic Mart in Belle, West Virginia. Inside they found a sprawling warehouse packed with toiletries, cleaning supplies, clothing, water, furniture and other provisions destined for flood relief agencies.

Within minutes, those 20 students were cleaning the loading dock for new deliveries, checking and assembling donated furniture and testing small appliances like lamps and irons.

“We thought it was important for the institution to give back after the flooding because so many of our students, their friends and families were impacted,” said Scott Robertson, Assistant Dean of Students for TRIO programs at WVU Tech.

“Those impacted people have had a hard time getting back on their feet and we want to make sure that they understand that the WVU Tech family appreciates and cares for them,” he said.

Volunteers also spent time putting together family kits – bundles of basic cleaning supplies and other household essentials – for displaced families living in temporary FEMA housing.

David Hoge, director of the Homeland Security State Administrative Agency in the department of Military Affairs and Public Safety, is currently overseeing the distribution center. He said he was pleased to see so many college students getting involved.

Optimized-IMG_4114 New students inspected and assembled donated furniture for families impacted by flooding.

“I think when you help someone else who has experienced a disaster, it helps you appreciate the generosity of our society and it helps you understand some things that you personally can do to be more prepared,” he said.

“This is also a great experience for new college students. Being able to find ways to meaningfully engage with the community is such a productive thing to do at that stage,” he said.

Among the young students finding that sense of community engagement in Belle was Austin Nettleton, a cross-country runner and Athletic Coaching Education major from Seattle, Washington. He said that moving from the big city meant he didn’t know anyone yet, but that the project was a great way to find a place in his new community.

The group also brought along upperclassmen like junior forensics major Tyeshea White. The New York native served as an orientation leader and plans to put the skills she’s learning to work in the United States Army.

The project garnered support from local students, too. Mary Morrison is a chemical engineering student from Huntington. As a West Virginian, she said getting involved was personal.

“We’re helping these people out because it’s the right thing to do. I got involved because I live here and this means a lot to me to see people here who are actually helping. They’re helping my people,” she said.

Cleaning up community spaces

In White Sulphur Springs, students spent their time in the sun, stooping to uproot weeds or dropping handfuls of collected river stones into plastic buckets. This group worked on a number of locations in the town, which had been severely impacted by the flooding in June.

28413526983_4c3f346be0_z Volunteers pulled weeds, removed old fences and spent the day restoring a community garden space in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.

The volunteers split up into groups to clean debris and restore community spaces. They removed thousands of stones from baseball fields that sat under six feet of floodwater. They cleaned out a community garden space that had been damaged in the floods, tearing out old fencing and planting beds, cutting away damaged bushes and spreading new mulch.

That focus on community spaces was intentional.

“It was an opportunity for us to bring back a little normalcy for people in the area,” said Stadler. “Even now, they’re trying to get back on their feet, so this helps to make things look a little more normal for folks. It’s a way to reach out and help them where we can.”

Nicolas Binfield came to WVU Tech from from Cleveland, Ohio. He’s studying environmental engineering technology and has a passion for environmental work. He said he was glad to see so many people his age spending time on the project.

“It makes the community look better and, hopefully, that will make some people in the community feel better. It lets the community know that people still care about them and that we’re thinking of them every day and that they’re not alone in this world after such a devastating tragedy,” he said.

A different kind of lesson plan

The service project is a new component of the orientation program at WVU Tech. Driven by stories of West Virginians rising up to meet the needs of those impacted by June’s flooding, the department of Student Life worked with the West Virginia University Center for Service and Learning and local contacts to find areas of need that students could address.

28925841742_4099521813_z New students tackled community spaces, like this community garden, in the hope of bringing some normalcy back to the hard-hit region.

“This is the beginning of our developing an enriched culture of service on our campus,” said WVU Tech dean of students, Richard Carpinelli.

“We wanted to get new students used to the concept. There will be many more opportunities now for new students – and for everyone in the WVU Tech community – for projects that can give people hope and that can help in times of need. This is important to us,” he said.

For Stadler, students experience the sense of community that comes with his kind of service, but they also learn skills and develop civic mindsets that can change their careers.

“Volunteerism engages students in our campus and community. The experiences associated with volunteerism build civic engagement skills as well as assist students in identifying career goals,” she said.

“We would like for students to begin engaging in experiences early on in their career at WVU Tech, so that they have an opportunity to build their resume, fulfill requirements for service and develop career and self-awareness.”

Hilary Tepdjip Padjip, a junior civil engineering major from Cameroon, watched the new students tackle the projects with enthusiasm. As an upperclassmen, she sees the value in getting to work at an early stage of the college experience.

“It’s one thing to be in a classroom or studying, but then it’s another thing to be in the field, so students getting involved have a way of seeing what’s it’s like to be coordinating and working on actual projects in the real world,” she said.

Stadler said the project would not have been possible without support from Student Life staff members and WVU Tech Dining Services. WVU Tech’s athletics department was also crucial in arranging travel for the volunteers.

In all, the group completed more than 250 hours of service, which will count toward WVU’s Million Hour Match service project. The service initiative tasks the WVU community with completing a million hours of community service by 2018 and challenges West Virginia residents to do the same.

View photos of the day’s service activities on Flickr, and be sure to check out local coverage from The Register-Herald.

15 Aug

On Saturday, August 13, more than 300 WVU Tech students, staff, faculty, friends and family gathered in Montgomery for the institution’s 2016 convocation ceremony.

The ceremony served as the official welcome for new students from both the Montgomery and Beckley campuses. It also marked the start of WVU Tech three-day orientation program.

In the Baisi gymnasium, campus president Carolyn Long addressed the crowd, offering words of encouragement and advising them to use their time at WVU Tech to find what makes them happiest.

“This is a campus of diverse young men and women and you’re going to learn alongside one another in the years ahead,” she said.

“Many of you will go down paths you never envisioned. My advice to you is that, whatever path you choose, it’s got to be something you have a passion for.”

Dean of students Richard Carpinelli told new students – many of whom had just spent the afternoon moving into their residence hall rooms on both campuses – that they were part of a new collegiate family.

“For many of you, your journey at Tech may be your first time away from home. And while this may be your first time away from home, know that you are not alone. You are now a member of an academic community that cares about you,” he said.

Miriam Cortez, a first-year biology student from Houston, Texas, said had already experienced that family atmosphere for attending convocation.

Cortez spent the previous week on the Beckley campus training for pre-season with the women’s soccer team. She’s been pleased with her experience working with the university and meeting fellow students.

“It’s like they’re introducing us to the school. The coaches are helpful and they bond with us really well. Everybody here has been really nice. They’re good people and they want to make sure we’re all set for the year,” she said.

Optimized-IMG_3981 Students pose for photos during a picnic on the WVU Tech mall after convocation.

Michael McKay, a member of the Maryland House of Delegates and a business owner from Cumberland, Maryland, visited campus with his son, Mason. The younger McKay starts his career in civil engineering at WVU Tech this semester.

Michael said his son was attracted to the low student-to-faculty ratio and the national rankings of the university’s engineering programs.

“He was looking for a smaller school. He came from a smaller school setting. He really missed the one-on-one attention and so he was excited about coming here,” he said.

McKay said that traveling into Southern West Virginia, an area known for its coal industry and for the hardworking nature of its people, was symbolic of the experience he expects for Mason.

“Coming from Western Maryland, we have an emphasis on being hardworking,” he said. “I think WVU Tech is going to work very, very hard to put out a quality student.”

During orientation, new students will participate in a number of activities and events designed to get them accustomed to college life and familiar with campus. They attend sessions on academic policies and procedures, managing college stress, campus safety, career readiness and even finance management. They mingle with other newcomers at social events, order books, meet with academic advisors and register for classes.

The program is a welcome to WVU Tech and a welcome home for Will Van Hoose, an incoming freshman with an eye on a mechanical engineering degree and a spot on the WVU Tech wrestling team.

Van Hoose grew up in Ravenswood, West Virginia and moved to South Carolina a few years before graduating high school. Now he’s back in the Mountain State where he’s preparing to launch a career in the racing industry.

“The engineering program at WVU Tech was a big draw for me and I also get the opportunity to wrestle, so it’s perfect. I want to become a mechanical engineer and then I want to go into NASCAR and work as a team engineer. They work on the body and engine to fine-tune the car for each individual track it will race on” he said.

He said he’s excited for the coming days as he becomes acquainted with the campus and meets other students in the program.

“As I’m going through orientation, I’m learning how the flow of campus works and it’ll make getting through the transition from high school to college a little easier,” he said.

Orientation runs until Tuesday, August 16. On the last day of the program, new students will travel in groups to White Sulphur Springs and Belle, West Virginia to assist in flood relief service projects. In Belle, students will assemble furniture donated to flood victims while students in White Sulphur Springs will help with a cleanup and rehabilitation project.

Check out coverage of orientation activities from The Register-Herald and WVNS. Find out more about the program at studentlife.wvutech.edu/orientation and be sure to check out photos on Flickr.

8 Aug

On Saturday, August 6 at around 2:30 p.m., more than 100 new WVU Tech students gathered at center court in the Van Meter Gymnasium on the University’s Beckley campus. The students were still two weeks away from officially starting their academic careers, but that afternoon, they were already working as a team.

When Associate Dean of Students Emily Sands yelled “ships,” the students walked in one direction. At the cry of “islands,” the laughing crowd shifted, awkwardly bumping into one another and helping others to reverse course as quickly as possible. When Sands called out phrases like “man overboard” or “walk the plank,” the crowd scattered to act out each command in groups. Those students who didn’t find a group fast enough were out.

Sands called the game “Ships and Islands,” and it served as an effective ice-breaker for the students who attended the University’s first orientation program on the Beckley campus.

The six-hour program is designed to connect students to university resources and familiarize them with campus in preparation for the start of classes on Wednesday, August 17.

New students met with orientation leaders who walked them through common college situations, academic policies and campus resources. Orientation leaders also led students on individualized tours to familiarize them with where they would need to be for the first day of classes.

For Scarlett Farley, an incoming criminal justice major from Beckley, the program was a chance to get a leg up on that first week of classes.

“It’s comforting to know that when I start classes here, I’ll be a little bit more comfortable than I would not coming to orientation. I know where I’m going and where to find what I need,” she said.

Psychology student Brandon Raywarwick said he was impressed with the campus accommodations, particularly the single rooms students will enjoy in the residence halls. Raywarwick said he wants to go into psychology to help children and that he’s excited to learn in the Beckley campus environment.

“It’s just a really good university. The people here are really energetic and positive. Everyone’s been helpful. I guess they’re really preparing me for being away from home for the first time and to be ready for the classes,” he said.

Halee Harrah drove in for orientation from Meadow Bridge, West Virginia. The incoming biology student said she wants to go into pediatric medicine and that she’s excited to start her higher education career close to home.

GM8A2956 New students break the ice at orientation on the Beckley campus.

“I don’t really want to go far away from home because I get homesick. I still want to be part of West Virginia University, but I don’t want to go all the way to Morgantown,” she said. “The Beckley location is a lot more accessible for me. It’s also smaller, so I like that about it.”

Harrah said she was nervous about splitting off from her high school friends, but that she feels comfortable tackling the college experience at WVU Tech’s new campus.

“It’s a lot easier getting everything lined up than I thought it would be. I feel like my schedule is going to work out really well. All of the buildings are close and all of my classes are in the same two buildings,” she said.

Wyoming County native Matthew Perry starts at WVU Tech in August. The civil engineering student spent the afternoon pantomiming “man overboard” with his fellow newcomers and learning about campus resources.

“I’ll be spending time on both campuses, really. I have a drafting class one day a week in Montgomery, but the rest of the time I’ll be here,” he said.

Matthew’s mother, Mona, said the family has been along for every step of Matthew’s college prep. They’ve toured both campuses and attended a variety of registrations and other events. Perry said she’s been pleased with her interactions with the University during the process.

“They were helpful in working out his schedule so he could start here. We feel very comfortable sending him here. Now it’s on him because he’s the one who is going to have to do all the hard work to accomplish his goals,” she said.

Matthew’s father, Keith, earned his electrical engineering degree at WVU Tech. He didn’t hesitate at the thought of sending his own son into an engineering program at the University.

GM8A2983 Students attended information sessions to learn about University resources, academic policies and campus safety.

“When you get out into the industry and people find out you’re from Tech, you’re good to go,” he said.

Parents and family members like the Perrys attended a session to learn about what to expect in the academic year ahead. They spent the afternoon meeting with University representatives and exploring campus resources.

Rebecca Keaton and her family brought her son Luke to orientation. Luke will start his degree in history and government on the Beckley campus. For mom, it’s the best of both worlds.

“It’s nice to have him at home, but he can still take part in things such as the Tech Adventures program. He plans to do that and to join various groups on campus so he can live at home yet still be active on campus as well and have that exposure to campus life,” she said.

Keaton said her family is excited about the new campus. Her husband, a WVU Tech alumnus, is part-owner of a local engineering firm and is looking to build a relationship with the University. She also said that there is exciting economic potential for the region and the campus alike.

“I just think this is going to be a positive for this campus. There are a lot of good things that this town has to offer. It’s going to help the community drastically, too. The businesses in this area and the people that own little mom-and-pop shops around will see an increase in business,” she said.

In the evening, students enjoyed dinner in the Bears Den and wrote thank you notes to first responders who contributed to flood relief efforts throughout Southern West Virginia.

Beckley students will join the rest of the student body on the Montgomery campus on Saturday, August 13 for the University’s official convocation ceremony. The ceremony is part of a three-day orientation program on the Montgomery campus.

Find out more at studentlife.wvutech.edu/orientation. Check out photos from Saturday’s event on Flickr.

2 Aug
Optimized-Academy group

In late July, a group of high school girls gathered in Montgomery for WVU Tech’s second STEM Summer Academy for Girls. The goal? Explore STEM fields and meet some of the women shaping these fields in the Mountain State.

The program offers students a weeklong immersion in STEM experimentation, career exploration and interactions with STEM professionals. It also provides students with a true college experience. They live on campus, attend college-level courses and maintain the schedule of a typical college student.

The Academy marked a nearly 50% growth attendance over last’s year launch of the program, bringing in more than 30 girls from as far as the Eastern Panhandle. The majority of the students were freshman and sophomores, and thanks to funding from Toyota Motor Manufacturing West Virginia, each student was able to attend this year’s Academy at no cost.

“A lot of these girls are low-income or first-generation college students. ASEE data shows that many of the girls going into STEM fields have a parent or mentor from a STEM background. Most of these girls do not have that influence, so it’s important for women like us to meet with them and help them explore their options,” said Dr. Afrin Naz, assistant professor of computer science and information systems at WVU Tech and coordinator of the Academy.

Toyota sent a group of students from families employed by the company. Naz also worked with Toyota and an organization in Charleston to increase diversity among the group in a partnership that recruited African American students from the Charleston area to participate in the Academy.

The right kind of learning environment

“Research shows that offering girls a chance to learn in this type of all-female environment is very effective. The format allows us to target issues specific to girls and to address concerns that girls have in an environment where everyone feels comfortable,” said Naz.

Optimized-Academy 1 Students freeze balloons to learn about the properties of gases.

Ninth-grader Mikayla Toppins, 14, learned about the program from a counselor at Lincoln County High School. She said she found the idea of an all-girls camp appealing. She wants to be a physical therapist, but now she also has an interest in closing the gender gap in STEM fields.

“I thought being in a camp with all girls would be better because they focus on more on what matters to us. There aren’t as many girls in STEM. Girls also get paid less than guys do. By getting girls more into the workforce, maybe we can change this,” she said.

WVU Tech psychology student Jasmine Flanigan served as a counselor for the Academy. With counselor experience in both all-girls and co-ed camps, she said she sees the value in the Academy’s female-only format.

“It really does provide a different learning environment with less pressure. These girls are all here for the same reason. They want to be here and learn everything that every professor is offering to them,” she said.

Seeing the real thing

A major component of the Academy’s mission involves putting students face-to-face with women who are working in STEM fields. The Academy held a number of industry sessions, where representatives from companies and organizations shared their stories with students.

One of those professionals was Penny Potocki, an Engineering Specialist at Toyota. She studied electrical engineering and uses her education and training to keep operation lines and processes at the facility running safely and efficiently.

Potocki has been an engineer for 18 years and joined the company just over a year ago. Even so, she said Toyota is the first place she’s worked where she’s not the only female engineer.

“Nowadays, there is more and more encouragement for these young girls to go into STEM fields, so I find myself wanting to get involved in that to show them that we do exist out in the field, that we’re out here and that there are already people out there doing what these girls are interested in,” she said.

Optimized-Academy 2 Academy students explore chemical reactions during a visit from Dow Chemical.

The Dow Chemical Company in South Charleston sent a group of employees and interns to work with students on experiments in thermodynamics, fluid flow, chemical reactions, viscosity and physics. During another industry session, two female representatives from the West Virginia Manufacturers Association showcased some of the materials and products manufactured in West Virginia.

The group also used software to show the students the types of STEM careers they could pursue that would meets the needs of their proposed lifestyles.

“They asked them where they wanted to live, whether they wanted a house or apartment and what kind of car they want to drive,” said Naz. “Then they showed them the types of careers that would allow them to do that. They emphasized education throughout and showed the girls that they could find this type of jobs with the proper education.”

In Charleston, Academy students toured the Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences and met with Robin Sizemore, Science Coordinator at the West Virginia Department of Education.

“She spent two hours interacting with the girls. She shared her life story starting at their age, and explained the struggles she had to go through balancing her education and career with family. She showed the girls that they can do anything they want,” said Naz.

For some students, the experience of connecting with professionals served as an affirmation for the career choices they already had in mind.

Anniah Jackson, of Charleston, wants to be a nurse. The 17 year old was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease and undergoes regular treatments. She said these treatments have sparked an attraction to the medical field.

“I have to travel to Ohio every six weeks for treatment, but that’s better than scarfing down twelve pills every morning,” she said.

“I get to learn stuff there. I’m fascinated with the process and I always have millions of questions, but they’re always happy to answer them for me. That has inspired me to want to help others. I like being around people. I like helping people. I think that’s something I could do.”

During the week, Jackson was able to examine cheek cells under a microscope and meet with nursing professionals to ask questions about the field. She said these experiences helped solidify her desire to go into medicine.

Bringing it home

Naz said that learning about STEM fields and uncovering future career possibilities is more effective when students can articulate why they want to follow a certain path. To that end, she said the program is designed to incorporate the whole family. Students don’t simply absorb the lessons of the Academy – they have to share what they’ve learned throughout the week.

Students were asked to put together a presentation about what they were learning. Naz added new requirements and challenges to the presentation each day to keep students engaged and actively thinking about what they had experienced. At the end of the program, students shared their findings with their parents.

“Parents always have some input into the career decision,” said Naz. “Educating the parent, especially if the student is first-generation, is important because they play this important role in the paths their children take. Most people have no idea about some of the wonderful STEM jobs in West Virginia, so showing them that their children can follow their interests and make a good living helps in that decision making process.”

All told, Naz said she’s pleased with the outcome of this year’s Academy, and left the students with some parting advice:

“If you need help, there are females in these fields that are willing to help. You’re not alone. You need information about your future. Know and plan and be ready for the world. That’s the message we are looking for here,” she said.

Check out coverage of the Academy from the Register-Herald. Find out more about the program at wvutech.edu/girlsinstem and view photos from the Academy on Flickr.

8 Jul
UB Group Shot V2

WVU Tech’s Upward Bound program has been in operation for more than five decades. The federally funded TRIO program keeps high school students engaged throughout the school year and culminates in a six-week, on-campus summer program.

This year’s summer class includes more than 40 students from Clay County High School, Riverside High School in Kanawha County and all five high schools in Fayette County.

During the program, students take a series of core classes – science, math, reading and language arts, literature, history and foreign language – and are able to choose electives in fields ranging from healthy eating and personal finance to geocaching and theater.

“Classes are all about enrichment. They’re not remedial. This is designed to engage these students and keep them focused academically,” said Jennifer Bunner, director of the Upward Bound program at WVU Tech.

Students vote on a theme for each summer program. Last year’s theme was super heroes. This year, students swapped their capes for cloaks in favor of a Harry Potter theme for the session.

Elements of J.K. Rowling’s popular series were woven into the entire session experience. Invitations were delivered by owl (in the form of a puppet), students were divided into “houses,” classwork incorporated themes from the story and students even competed in a Quidditch tournament on Martin Field.

Students also participated in a number of outings. They explored Charleston and Beckley. They rode an Amtrak train into White Sulphur Springs, visited Lost World caverns and attended a showing of Theatre West Virginia’s “Hatfields and McCoys” at the Grandview Cliffside Amphitheatre.

Jacob Rogers, 16, will start his senior year at Riverside High School in the fall. This is his second year in the program, and he said he came back for the atmosphere and activities.

27854251990_3156d4a347_o Students play the human knot game while waiting for the train to White Sulphur Springs.

“It feels like a family here. Everyone here is really accepting and loving. We’ve been doing a lot of activities and taking a lot of great trips. It’s been really fun this year,” he said.

The group also toured West Liberty University, the West Virginia School of Osteopathic medicine in Lewisburg and WVU Tech’s Beckley campus. Students also traveled to West Virginia University’s campus in Morgantown to participate in the Upward Bound Olympics.

“I want to attend college,” said Rogers. “I think that’s why Upward Bound is so great. It gives me options that I can explore and decide how I want to go about doing it. I want to help people, whatever I do, so seeing different schools and programs where I can do that was nice.”

Megan Yeager, of Belle, West Virginia, said she appreciates the program’s non-competitive learning environment.

“Part of the reason I love it so much is because there’s no push to be the best. It’s stress-free and you can focus on what you want to,” she said.

The 16-year-old said Upward Bound has also been a confidence booster.

“The most important thing I’ve learned so far is that to really be comfortable in a place, you have to talk to people. I feel like this year I’m more comfortable with who I am and I think that experience will let me help other people in the program,” she said.

IMG_9085 Upward Bound students enjoy a meal during the program’s formal banquet and ball.

For Bunner, that atmosphere is crucial to the summer program’s goals.

“It prepares them to leave home and to be comfortable in that situation. They’re staying in the residence halls, they have a roommate, they have to keep their own schedules and make it to classes on time. They have to be independent, living on their own like the real college experience,” she said.

Another important aspect of the summer session involves community engagement. Bunner said that includes everything from exploring the community’s businesses and entertainment to volunteering for community service projects.

“I want them to think about becoming engaged in those communities. There are organizations and causes in those communities that they can be a part of, and if they can learn how to find those opportunities, they’ll be comfortable seeking them out when they’re out in the real world” said Bunner.

Students took that engagement mentality to heart in late June. When Southern West Virginia was devastated by historically severe flooding, students turned their attention to helping in any way they could.

They spent one Friday night packing toothbrushes and toothpaste, shampoo, diapers and nonperishable food items into grocery bags.

IMG_20160625_141231249 Students pack ready-to-eat meals after flooding devastated parts of Southern West Virginia.

The next day, students delivered items to two shelters in Ansted, West Virginia, where hundreds of displaced families were staying. Students entertained children at the shelters with face painting, sidewalk chalk and Frisbee games. They helped distribute meals, clean up at the shelters and take care of pets.

“They were touched and they really stepped up to do what they could for these people,” said Bunner.

“They visited with people and spent time with them. Listened to their stories. One student was so moved that she donated some of her own clothes that she brought to campus. The whole group pulled together, and it was wonderful to see,” she said.

The group wrapped up their campus stay with an awards ceremony on Friday, July 8. Family members joined Upward Bound students to hear about their experiences during the first five weeks of the program.

Smithers resident Scott Wills said Upward Bound has had a positive impact on David, his youngest son. David, 17, is heading into his senior year of high school and has been in the program since he was a freshman.

“He loves the program. He talks about it all the time. It encourages him to better himself, to do better. It’s helped him a lot along the way. I’ve seen how it’s helped some of his friends, too,” said Wills. “That is something I know he’ll never forget.”

The summer program includes a travel week. Next week, the group is heading to New England.

Students will tour Fairfield University in Connecticut; visit an art museum in Providence, Rhode Island; walk the Freedom Trail in Boston; visit the Salem Witch Museum in Salem, Massachusetts; tour lighthouses along the coast of Maine; and visit a water park in Lincoln, New Hampshire. On their trip north, the group will also visit the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library in Staunton, Virginia.

Yeager said she’s looking forward to the trip, and that she would recommend the Upward Bound experience to other students.

“That’s what I would tell people about Upward Bound. It’s really worth it. If you’re considering it, do it,” she said.

For more information on Upward Bound, visit techupwardbound.wvutech.edu. View photos from Upward Bound on Flickr.

7 Jul

WVU Tech is pleased to announce the addition of Susan Shew, Director of Development, to the University’s executive team.

Shew joined WVU Tech in late June. In her new role, she will oversee fundraising efforts and foster new and existing relationships with alumni and supporters of the University to enhance the student and faculty experience at WVU Tech.

She brings with her a decade of development experience. Shew served as the development manager for College Summit in Charleston for seven years. She began working with the American Red Cross in 2012 as a major gifts officer. She then moved into the role of regional volunteer officer, where she provided human resources support for Red Cross volunteers across West Virginia.

At WVU Tech, Shew will work with alumni and donors to raise financial support for faculty initiatives and programs that that offer students new opportunities on both the Montgomery and Beckley campuses.

“Susan’s background in development and in higher education make her a great fit for WVU Tech,” said Campus President Carolyn Long.

“She’s passionate about her work, she understands the needs of West Virginia’s college students and she knows the value of building strong partnerships. We’re so glad to have her on board,” said Long.

Shew said she is eager to begin and that she plans to establish partnerships that impact students at all stages.

“I’m excited to begin working on relationships that create scholarships for WVU Tech students – scholarships that can boost student recruitment and retention. I’m also interested in generating funding and others forms of support for student-focused programming that extends beyond the university, like Camp STEM and our K-12 outreach initiatives,” she said.

“There is an opportunity to build partnerships here that will benefit the WVU Tech community for years to come. I’m fortunate to be in a position where I can encourage that kind of growth,” she said.

Shew is a member of the Volunteer West Virginia, Inc. board of directors, an alumna of Leadership West Virginia and an American Red Cross volunteer. She holds a bachelor’s in business administration and a master’s in industrial relations and human resources management, both from West Virginia University.

24 Jun

Nearly 40 high school students from throughout the state visited WVU Tech’s Montgomery campus for the popular Camp STEM program, June 19-24.

The week-long camp is designed as an immersion experience that introduces students to STEM concepts and encourages career exploration in STEM fields.

At Camp STEM, students took courses in robotics, biology, mathematics, forensic science, computer science and various engineering disciplines. They heard from guest speakers in the energy, chemical and robotics industries. They conducted experiments, designed and tested canoes made of cardboard, investigated mock crime scenes, conducted engineering surveys and learned about medical careers.

For Dalton Hill, 15, Camp STEM was an eye-opener.

“I decided to come here to get more exposure as to what career options I would like to take in the future,” Hill said.

The Wyoming County 10th-grader is leaning towards math or science as he considers college. He said the experience has introduced him to fields he never considered.

GM8A0479 Camp STEM students explored DNA in the program’s biology course.

“We learned about computer programming. The 3D designing really caught my interest. It was something that I had never done before and I didn’t really think of it as a potential interest, but I liked it a lot,” he said.

As a major component of career exploration, Camp STEM attendees also have to opportunity to experience college life during the program. They live in residence halls on campus, attend college-style courses and eat their meals in the University’s dining hall. They also spend the week interacting with counselors, who are all current WVU Tech STEM students.

Counselor Gregory Hughes is starting his sophomore year as a computer science major at WVU Tech in August. He said he is excited to be a part of the program because he’s interested in how the University can reach out to young students who might not realize their potential in STEM fields.

“Working with the students is a good way to help them learn about what they’ll be doing in college. Because we have counselors from a bunch of different majors, we can also answer questions a bit differently that a professor might be able to. We have a different point of view and we come from a lot of different backgrounds,” he said.

During the camp, students also participated in a daylong field trip. Groups zip-lined, went whitewater rafting and visited the Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine.

GM8A0812 Campers discovered how electrical energy moves from one system to another in power generation.

Katie Payne came to Camp STEM from Clay County. The 11th-grader said she was surprised by how instructors tied STEM learning into every activity.

“On our rafting trip, they talked about how the water currents move, which was really interesting because now I can see the science of how the current makes the river work like it does. I expected to just go rafting and not really learn anything. It was really, really cool,” she said.

The camp wrapped up on Friday afternoon with a family picnic, where parents attended a presentation about the week’s activities and what their students had learned during the camp.

Camp STEM is made possible by the generous support of the AEP Foundation and AT&T.

Find out more at campstem.wvutech.edu and read local coverage of Camp STEM from The Register-Herald and the Charleston Gazette-Mail.

View this year’s camp photos and photos from previous years at campstem.wvutech.edu/camp-photos.

19 Jun

On Saturday, June 18, more than 50 incoming students and their families gathered at WVU Tech in Beckley for new student registration.

Attendees met in WVU Tech’s Carter Hall for a general information session where they heard from Campus President Carolyn Long; Richard Carpinelli, Dean of Students; and Kelly Hudgins, director of WVU Tech’s Student Success Center.

Carpinelli kicked off the day by asking the crowd where they were from. Most reported visiting from Raleigh and Fayette counties.

“It’s an interesting dynamic for students at WVU Tech,” Carpinelli said. “We may be a small campus, but we represent more than 25 countries and 30 states. Not only will you be interacting with people from Beckley and the surrounding counties, you’ll be interacting with people from around the country and all over the world.”

The visitors explored WVU Tech’s plan for the campus, including academic programming, student support programs, dining and housing, on-campus healthcare services and campus safety.

“We’re going to parallel the high quality services we provide in Montgomery right here in Beckley,” said Carpinelli.

Long addressed the group as well, welcoming students to the University’s new campus and to the WVU Tech family.

“WVU Tech is about people and about how those people are a part of a family. Now, you’re going to become part of us,” she said. “We’re here to make sure you’re as successful as possible. It doesn’t matter what you’re studying. Our goal is for you to go out into the world and make it a better place. We will work with you as tirelessly as possible to make sure you meet that goal.”

Students split from the group after the general information session. Current WVU Tech student leaders led groups on a campus tour and introduced them to academic advisors who helped each student plan out their first year and register for courses.

Incoming first-year student Jimmie Richmond traveled to campus from Meadow Bridge, West Virginia. The son of a psychologist, Richmond is following in his father’s career path and plans to begin his psychology studies on the Beckley campus in the fall.

“I want to specialize in working with kids. I really enjoy that and I think I can make a difference in that field. Eventually, I’d like to move into child psychiatry,” he said.

Richmond said he was drawn to WVU Tech in Beckley because of the location and small school atmosphere.

“I was looking at WVU in Morgantown, but this was so much more convenient for where I live. I’m excited about being able to drive from home and have an easier transition into college,” he said.

Becky Conley, of Daniels, West Virginia, will start the pre-pharmacy program in Beckley in the upcoming semester. She said she has worked at Walgreens for the last five years and became enamored with the pharmacy profession.

“The job of the pharmacist is so important because you’re helping people. There’s a lot responsibility, but when you see these patients interacting with the pharmacists, you see that they’re treating them like family. I want to be a part of that,” she said.

While students toured campus, friends and family stayed behind for their own information session. They learned about campus programming and how they can play an active role in their students’ career at the University.

Beckley resident Tom Almond attended the event with his son, Josiah Chitwood, who starts at WVU Tech in Beckley this August. Almond said he left the family information session with a solid understanding of what the University had planned for the fall.

“I think it’s a great thing for our economy, for our community and, obviously, for the students. The dean and the faculty here have been great. They gave so much great information up front that we didn’t have a lot of questions,” he said.

Christie Adams brought her daughter Kimberly to campus from Fayetteville, West Virginia. She said she’s pleased with her Kimberly’s choice to attend WVU Tech.

“Out of all the schools she was getting letters from, this is the one she had her heart set on. I’m glad. It keeps her home with me and everything sounds like it’s going to be great here. The dean gave us his personal cell phone number and that’s very comforting,” she said. “I’m very excited for her.”

Students and families also visited information booths from a variety of WVU Tech departments and learned about the University’s new Tech Adventures program.

Local media coverage of Saturday’s registration is available from The Register-Herald, WOAY and WVNS.

View photos from the event on Flickr.

14 Jun

In the continuation of a longstanding relationship between Toyota Motor Manufacturing West Virginia and WVU Tech, Toyota has provided funding for programs designed to keep both college and high school students working on STEM projects throughout the summer months.

The organization donated over $12,000 to the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Baja buggy team for their 2016 competitive season. Each year, the team builds a Baja-style racing buggy from the ground up. Students handle every detail of the buggy from conceptualization and design to constructing the vehicle competing in maneuverability, acceleration, braking and endurance events. The team recently met in New York to compete in Baja SAE Rochester June 9-12.

Toyota has also pledged $30,000 for WVU Tech’s STEM Summer Academy for Girls. Launched in 2015, the popular program brings high school girls to campus for a five-day immersion in STEM fields. Participating students work on hands-on projects and experiments, hear from female STEM professionals, explore career options and present what they have learned to their parents. The 2016 Academy will be hosted in Montgomery July 24-29.

In addition to financial donations, Toyota employees work with K-12 students at various WVU Tech outreach events throughout the year and with the Baja team on machining various vehicle components.

Dr. Zeljko Torbica, dean of the Leonard C. Nelson College of Engineering and Sciences at WVU Tech, said Toyota’s support for SAE and the Academy is invaluable to the success of the programs.

“These programs show students what engineers and scientists do in real life. They provide quality experiences that make these students better engineers and scientists when they do decide to follow those paths. Toyota understands the importance of this type of outreach, and we’re very grateful for their financial support and the time and talent they share with our University on a regular basis,” he said.

Recent Articles