WVU Tech’s student organizations have a busy year ahead, and new groups are adding even more diversity to the WVU Tech student experience.
In 2014-2015, a number of new organizations were founded that have already become popular with students. The Association for Women Engineers, Scientists, Or Mathematicians Empowerment (AWESOME) is dedicated to supporting women studying and working in STEM fields. The new Golden Bear E-Sports Club has hosted on-campus gaming sessions and participated in a national collegiate Heroes of the Storm tournament last spring.
Golden Bear Outdoor Expeditions (GBOE), another club that launched last year, organizes events covering everything from hiking and zip-lining to caving, ice-skating and fishing. The Tech Media Crew allows students to cover on-campus events on social media and YouTube while the new Tech Grapplers group gathers each week to learn and practice various martial arts disciplines.
“The Student Government Association and the WVU Tech Division of Student Life work together to maintain a community where students have the support and guidance they need to create the student organizations they want to see on campus,” said Emily Sands, Associate Dean of Students. “These groups are conceived, founded and run entirely by students, so they’re designed from the start to meet the needs and interests of the student body.”
This year, students are looking to keep up the momentum set last year. In the first week of the semester, two new clubs have already been formed, including the Black Student Union and the Brazilian Community Organization (BCO).
The Black Student Union is open to all WVU Tech students and will focus on identifying and taking action on issues relevant to black students. The organization will participate in social and cultural programming that relates to the past, present, and future aspirations of black people, and the group intends to participate in Project Linus, community service events and cultural health awareness initiatives.
The Brazilian Community Organization is open to any student interested in learning about Brazilian culture and history. The group will host a number of events throughout the year, including community service activities and social gatherings designed to expose members to Brazilian cuisine, culture and language.
Student groups have a wealth of on and off-campus activities planned for 2015-2016, and on Wednesday, August 26, student organizations were on hand for the 2015 Student Involvement Fair to share information about their organizations. These organizations are still accepting members throughout the academic year. Interested students are encouraged to visit the Student Life website to find out more.
by Pamela Pritt
Dr. Nigel Clark, West Virginia University’s Provost at WVU Tech and the new WVU Beckley, spoke to the Beckley Rotary Club Tuesday, offering his “30,000 foot view” of education today.
Clark said education’s costs, which are “rising substantially and rapidly,” are higher than the national inflation rate. But, he said, those costs are based on expectations of higher graduation and retention rates, which mean more personal attention for students, hiring the best faculty to be nationally competitive, the need for safety and the need for facilities.
The high cost of education makes the Promise Scholarship and other aid very valuable to students, although the cost is beginning to push the Promise ceiling.
“Any kind of federal aid, any kind of philanthropy that leads to scholarships is truly valuable for those in need of aid,” he said.
Clark said the idea that a college education is all that is needed for success is outdated; a degree no longer equals employment.
“It is very nearly a necessity to have a college degree, so it’s necessary, but not sufficient,” he said. “And students really need to arm themselves to have a degree that is relevant, not merely a degree.”
Students need a skill set that will stand them in good stead over the course of a career that is likely to change many times.
“Very few people will end their careers, if they are students today, doing what they were precisely trained to do,” Clark said.
Higher education should be about training students to be able to train themselves for the future, he said.
While the traditional degree of 40 years ago was focused, today’s degrees must encompass more than the discipline and should teach students to think of all possibilities from repercussions to legal issues, Clark said.
Above all, each student should develop communications skills, he said.
“I think communication is a key part of any degree in any discipline,” he said.
On top of communication, the ability to analyze and problem solve are also in-demand skills, he continued.
Clark said most U.S. universities have a general education program and there is something new emerging in LEAP skills.
“Liberal Education and America’s Promise speaks exactly about introducing skills in conjunction with a liberal education,” he said. LEAP “is intended to build a new understanding of the aims of a contemporary liberal education and new capacity within the academy to help all students achieve these aims,” according to the Association of American Colleges and Universities.
But, he said, students must first have access to higher education, and WVU’s Beckley campus will grant that access to students from southern West Virginia.
Clark said he believes the campus here will also be attractive to out-of-state and international students.
“I believe it is essential that we have a campus where students from different walks of life meet one another,” Clark said. “I think that’s part of the innovation.”
Clark is the George Berry Chair of Engineering at WVU and conducts research within the WVU Center for Alternative Fuels, Engines and Emission. He has a Ph.D. in chemical engineering and is tenured in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. As associate vice president in the Provost’s Office, Clark leads WVU’s strategic planning effort for 2020, according to his biographical information.
Classes should begin on the WVU Beckley campus in Fall 2016. The state’s flagship university purchased the former Mountain State University campus this year. MSU lost its accreditation several years ago.
WVU Tech students have powerful resources to build the kind of student organizations they want to see on campus, and they’re doing just that. Working with the Student Government Association, WVU Tech’s student groups have a busy year ahead.
Some student organizations will be on hand to discuss their activities and membership requirements during the annual Student Involvement Fair on Wednesday, August 26 from noon until 3 p.m. on the Tech Mall.
Students are encouraged to stop by the fair to find out more about student organizations and what they will be doing throughout the year. Student organizations interested in participating in the fair should submit an RSVP form.
In the event of rain, the fair will move to the Tech Center Ballroom.
NOTE TO STUDENT ORGANIZATIONS: Clubs and organizations that have not re-registered their organization are strongly encouraged to do so as soon as possible by submitting the 2015-2016 Student Organization Registration form. Student organizations must register to receive SGA funding.
August 13-16 marked New Student Orientation weekend, which gave students a chance to move into residence halls and participate in educational sessions designed to to acclimate them to college life and receive tips for successfully and healthily navigating their first year.
During Orientation, students attended lectures, enjoyed a family picnic on the Tech Mall, caught an outdoor movie, toured campus, participated in games and activities with orientation leaders and learned tips for successfully navigating their first year
WVU Tech officially welcomed new students and their families at the University’s annual convocation ceremony, where first-year students heard from Campus President Carolyn Long, Provost Dr. Nigel Clark, Dean of Students Richard Carpinelli, SGA President Rob Leibel and alumni guest speaker Andrea Ard, ‘08.
“Orientation weekend at WVU Tech is much more than a simple introduction to campus. Our faculty and staff put enormous effort into ensuring that first-year students have everything they need on day one to set them up for success. It sets the pace for the rest of their collegiate experience, and convocation is the official welcome where we let these students know that they’re part of something bigger, part of an inclusive and future-focused community where they’re going to thrive,” said Carpinelli.
Thursday’s ceremony also announced Kendra Monnin as the recipient of WVU Tech’s prestigious First-Year Student Excellence Award, which is awarded to one second-year student who demonstrated academic excellence and a commitment to the WVU Tech community in their first year.
For photos and more, visit studentlife.wvutech.edu/orientation.
School starts soon, and that start will bring with it a flurry of activity. But that doesn’t mean campus was a quiet place over the summer break. From summer camps to high schools visits, WVU Tech’s campus was alive with activity while students were away.
WVU Tech’s Upward Bound program is a major driver of that activity, and has been bringing high school students to campus for five decades running.
The summer program brings anywhere from 30-70 high school students to Montgomery for an academic and cultural boost meant to keep them mentally focused throughout the school year. Students participate in classes, read assigned books, perform a theatre production, put on a talent show and work on class projects. They also attend career development workshops and hear from speakers on everything from resume and interviewing skills to making first impressions and social media etiquette.
“We want them fully engaged,” said Jennifer Bunner, Director of Upward Bound at WVU Tech. “We want them reading and learning and keeping their brains busy so when they go back to school, they’re sharp and ready to go. If they do their best in high school and prepare for college, they’re much more likely to do well. Their grades will be better, their test scores will be better, and that translates to scholarships and financial aid that will help these students focus on their education instead of how to finance it.”
The six-week program is broken up into five weeks on campus and one week on an out-of-state excursion. WVU Tech students serve as tutor-mentors for the program. They live on campus with the students and work with them on their activities.
“One great draw of the program is that it gives these students a chance to explore what college life is like. Since they’re away from home, even on the weekends, they also get a chance to see what it means to be on their own and how they can explore and become involved in a community in their own way,” said Bunner.
During this year’s summer session, Upward Bound participants spent their out-of-state week in Washington, D.C., where they toured the city’s museums, monuments and iconic buildings. During their stay, students toured Capitol Hill and met with U.S. Senators Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito.
Bunner said that these trips are a fun way to engage students off campus, but that they also serve to get students out into the world beyond the one they know.
“We want to take them places and expose them to things. New people, new things, new food,” she said. “Even public transportation is a new concept for many students. These trips can help to ease some of the culture shock that sometimes accompanies going off to college for the first time.”
Upward Bound follows a theme each year, and this summer’s program focused on super heroes. Student activities revolved around the theme, and Batman even made an appearance to talk to students about overcoming life’s obstacles.
“He encouraged students to find the hero within themselves and a lot of students were moved by what he had to share,” said Bunner.
The program is designed for students who are low-income or first-generation, meaning their parents did not attend college. WVU Tech’s Upward Bound program serves high school students in Fayette County and from Clay County High School and Kanawha County’s Riverside High School.
Students are recruited when they’re in ninth grade and the goal is to keep them until they graduate high school, offering programming that meets their needs based on where they are in school. Freshmen students get acclimated to the program while sophomores focus on researching career goals and areas of study. For third-year high school students, it’s all about scholarships and fine-tuning goals. Seniors learn how to complete their FAFSA and apply to college.
Bunner, who has been with the program at WVU Tech for seven years, said that Upward Bound is a great opportunity for area students, and that she can’t wait to see what the next 50 years hold in store.
“These students are sticking with the program and investing in themselves. You can see them grow and change and really get a lot out of it,” she said.
West Virginia University Institute of Technology has announced the appointment of Dr. Nigel Clark to the position of Provost at WVU Tech and WVU Beckley.
Clark, the George B. Berry Chair of Engineering and professor at the Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Sciences at WVU, is a respected scholar in the fields of energy, alternative fuels, engines and emissions research with more than 500 technical papers in his publication catalog. He served on the WVU Board of Governors from 2009-2011 and for five years as the director of the WVU Center for Alternative Fuels, Engines and Emissions. Clark chaired the University’s Strategic Planning Council in 2010.
“Nigel brings along with him decades of valuable experience as a scholar, researcher, faculty member, administrator and strategic planner. He has been a leader on every side of academia,” said Carolyn Long, campus president of WVU Tech and WVU Beckley.
“His experiences in the world and at WVU have proven in him a passion for lifelong learning. He’s also established a reputation for making sure students in his care are studying programs that are academically top-notch. Nigel is a perfect fit for this role, and we’re beyond proud to welcome him to the team,” she said.
At WVU Tech and WVU Beckley, Clark will oversee the maintenance and development of residential and online academic programs. He will also work with faculty on teaching methodologies, faculty development and institutional accreditation. Clark will collaborate with the main WVU campus in Morgantown on system-wide academic initiatives as well.
“WVU Tech has a long and storied history of helping students from around the world become polished and capable professionals. I’m honored to be a part of that story, and I look forward to working with faculty both to uphold that tradition of academic excellence and to enrich our programming,” said Clark.
“There is wonderful potential to advance educational success and economic development during this period of expansion and renewal in Southern West Virginia,” he said. “I’m excited to work within the close institutional culture WVU Tech has created here, and to continue working with professionally and educationally diverse faculty who take such a passionate interest in students.”
Letter from the Registrar:
May 2015 graduates –
We are so proud of you and your accomplishments, including your recent graduation. We know that you’re excited to showcase your diploma as a symbol of your accomplishment and hard work.
Unfortunately, we are experiencing a delay in getting your diploma to you due to an issue with the third-party vendor that prints and distributes the diplomas.
We apologize that you have not received your diploma and will continue to work diligently to resolve this issue so that we can get your diploma to you as soon as possible. We know how important this accomplishment is to you and to us.
If you have questions or concerns, please let us know.
Mark Miller, Ph.D.
West Virginia University Institute of Technology
West Virginia University Institute of Technology is pleased to announce that the federal Student Support Services (SSS) TRiO program housed within the University one of the oldest such programs in the nation received a grant award totaling $1.7 million from the U.S. Department of Education.
The SSS program has been operating on WVU Tech’s campus since 1971 and offers first-generation, low-income and disabled students services designed to help them on their path to completing a degree. The program accomplishes this with a suite of tutoring services, access to computer labs, printing services, financial literacy seminars, academic advisement, scholarships and outside cultural experiences.
The funding, which will be awarded in annual increments of $343,138, will allow the program to serve its 215 annual students for the next five years.
Scott Robertson, Director of the SSS program at WVU Tech, said that the award is a chance for the program to grow in scope.
“We’re going to continue offering the tutoring and other programming that our students find so valuable,” he said. “Through this grant, we’ll also be able to try new strategies and new ideas to increase retention and completion rates. We’ll be able to enhance the experience that is already working so well for so many of our students.”
Robertson said that one such expansion will be the addition of peer mentors: student workers who will be assigned to first-generation students enrolled in the SSS program.
“These new student mentors will participate in programming initiatives and workshops with program students. They’ll encourage them in their coursework, attend cultural events with them and serve as role models,” said Robertson.
The program will also use the funding to add a student success advisor position, boosting the SSS staff at WVU Tech to five full-time employees.
Securing funding for SSS programs is intensely competitive, and the grant writing process for Robertson’s team started back in September 2014. Robertson attributes the success of the program’s grant request to his students’ desire to overcome setbacks and see their college experience through.
“The hard work of our staff, the hours our tutors put into helping their peers reach their goals and the sheer drive of our students to complete their degrees shows that what is being done here at WVU Tech is working,” he said.
Statistics tell the same story. In this year’s report to the U.S. Department of Education, WVU Tech’s SSS program marked a persistence rate of 90% with 92% of students in good academic standing. The program was funded with 65% in mind for both those figures.
“WVU Tech’s support of this kind of programming shows a real desire among the University’s faculty, staff and administration to see students succeed in and outside of the classroom,” said Robertson.
“This program plays an important role in the University’s retention efforts and it’s a part of the campus culture of student success that our dedicated faculty and staff have created to help our students navigate their unique educational paths,” said Richard Carpinelli, WVU Tech Dean of Students.
Read more about the SSS program at WVU Tech at http://wvute.ch/1MUHem9.
In late June, more than 20 girls from throughout West Virginia and surrounding states visited WVU Tech’s Montgomery campus for the first-ever STEM Summer Academy for Girls.
The program immersed attendees in a week of STEM programming, including courses in biology, robotics, engineering, chemistry, computer science and pharmacology. Students participated in a variety of competitions and heard from guest speakers, including WVU Tech President Carolyn Long and Robin Anglin-Sizemore, science coordinator at the West Virginia Department of Education’s Office of Secondary Learning.
Fourteen-year-old Piper Martin is going into the ninth grade at Charleston’s George Washington High School, but she already has her eye on college. She attended the Academy to explore new fields and get a feel for what life in college is like.
“Usually in school you get sort of a brief introduction to careers, but I like learning more in depth about all the careers, especially in biology, because that’s where I want to go,” she said. “Knowing that it’s really sterile in a lab and that you have to be careful when you’re doing experiments is helpful. It gives me a picture of what I’ll be doing.”
Designed from the start as a means of demonstrating the application of STEM fields to everyday life, the Academy took a unique approach to helping students process the program’s educational offerings.
For instance, attendees participated in a competition where they worked with a budget to purchase materials like cardstock, glue and tape to build a pair of shoes. Students had to consider engineering design elements to account for pressures and weight distribution in the shoes, and had to test their designs on a 20-foot runway.
Students also participated in a weeklong project where they were asked to give a PowerPoint presentation on what they learned during the Academy. Dr. Afrin Naz, WVU Tech professor of computer science and Academy organizer, said the competition served to boost teamwork skills and bring the concepts and lessons students learned together in a cohesive way.
“The group competition has been beneficial for many of these girls because it’s been helping them with leadership, presentation and communication skills, and we’re already seeing a change in some of them as they become more confident and vocal as they work within their teams,” said Naz.
“By including the competition element, the students are paying more attention in each class. They’re making connections between these fields and how one field can have an impact on another. They are also better able to articulate what they like and dislike in each field because they have to think about what they are learning in an analytical way,” she said.
Dr. Naz said that the Academy also had a strong parental involvement component, where parents participated in the final competition and provided survey data before and after the program.
As a counselor, WVU Tech biology student Taylor Miltenberger said the Academy was an opportunity to connect with young students headed down the path she’s taking. Miltenberger, a first-generation college student, was able to share her experiences with students who will be in her shoes in just a few short years.
“I didn’t have this kind of opportunity when I went to school it was always just pick what you like and you don’t always know until you’re in it whether you really enjoy a field. Students can picture themselves in these careers here because of the activities we’ve been going over with them. They get to see what a biologist or an engineer really does and they can connect with that,” she said.
Many of the Academy’s attendees shared that the all-girls format of the Academy was a draw for them, as it allowed students to start the program on common ground with girls who hold similar interests.
Stephanie Fletcher graduated high school a year early from Independence High School in Coal City, West Virginia, and will be studying chemical engineering at WVU Tech in the fall. She said she had originally applied to attend WVU Tech’s co-ed Camp STEM, but changed her mind when she heard about the all-girls Academy.
“In engineering and science fields you’re always going to be outnumbered by guys, so I liked how it focused more on the impact that women can have and the job opportunities women have,” she said.
“I did a lot of research and thought I would go into the medical field. The more I looked, the more I realized that I liked engineering. I want to work in manufacturing and work on creating things with an economical and environmental emphasis. It’s been great to learn about careers from professors and speakers who know what’s going on for women in these fields,” she said.
Academy students took their experience on the road during the camp as well, visiting Toyota Motor Manufacturing West Virginia’s plant in Buffalo, West Virginia, where they toured the company’s manufacturing facility and met with the plant’s president, Millie Marshall. The group also visited the Clay Center in Charleston.
The STEM Summer Academy for Girls was sponsored by Toyota and AT&T, who gave generously of their time and talents to ensure that girls from throughout the state and beyond could experience the program. WVU Tech thanks these companies for their support.
Check out local coverage of the Academy from West Virginia Public Broadcasting, West Virginia Executive, The Charleston Daily Mail, The Charleston Gazette and WOWK TV 13. For photos of the week’s activities, visit WVU Tech on Flickr.
Last week marked the eleventh year of WVU Tech’s popular Camp STEM summer program, which brought 45 high school students from throughout the state to the University’s Montgomery campus for a weeklong immersion in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Campers engaged in interactive STEM-focused courses and activities where they learned about mathematics, biology, chemistry, engineering, computer science, forensic investigation, renewable energy and automobile technology. Students also worked in groups to build and operate LEGO robots and visited the ACE Adventure resort, where they explored ecology and hydrology while zip-lining and whitewater rafting.
Dr. Kimberlyn Gray, WVU Tech chemical engineering professor and director of Camp STEM, said the camp is so popular because students get to see firsthand how their aptitudes in STEM fields can be applied to a real career and many Camp STEM students are uncovering areas of study they are instantly passionate about.
“Camp STEM is built to guide students to different fields in an introductory way, though we’ve seen that students are going beyond those introductions and truly immersing themselves in the courses they enjoy. We’re seeing students find something they’re interested in like robotics, for instance and really dig into it here,” she said.
“They won’t take no for an answer and when they try something in that field and fail, they’re coming back on their own time to try again. They take full advantage of the time they have at the camp to explore what they find fascinating. When they return home and start thinking about the courses they’ll take in school next year, they have that experience driving them to keep exploring,” she said.
Jacob Bedekovich, 14, is a tenth grader from Williamstown High School in Wood County, West Virginia.
He said he wants to go to college after high school, but that he isn’t sure what he wants to study. The Biology course at Camp STEM put the subject on the map for him.
“We learned how to grow bacteria and how to make them resistant to antibiotics you can actually grow bacteria that can help people if they’re sick,” he said.
Macie Higginbotham, a 14-year-old ninth grader from Roane County High School, attended the camp’s courses in biology, chemical engineering, robotics and computer science. She said she was most excited to explore some of the science driving advances in the medical field where she ultimately wants to end up.
“I want to be in the health field. This camp isn’t for that specifically, but I know that everything I learn here is going to help me in the future. I wanted to get into radiology, but after this week, I’m really interested in biology and chemistry, too.”
Visiting students wrapped up the camp with a family picnic and the final robotics competition on Friday, June 26.
“It’s a great camp and what they teach us is really useful,” said Higginbotham. “I definitely want to come back next year.”
WVU Tech is grateful to the AEP Foundation, the ECA Foundation, Dow, Toyota and AT&T, who provided financial support and lent the camp their time and talents. Camp STEM’s sponsors ensure that students have access to the best activities possible and that students who can benefit most from the camp are able to attend.
ECA Manager of Corporate Affairs Jennifer Vieweg visited the camp on Tuesday, June 23, to see the camp’s courses in action.
“The ECA Foundation is committed to promoting youth and education. We especially like to support programs designed to improve high school graduation rates, encourage college and career readiness, and provide West Virginia with a well-educated and skilled workforce,” she shared.
“Camp STEM contributes to all of these critical areas; it is a proven program with a great track record that continues to grow year after year. Interesting, interactive and engaging activities, like Camp STEM, help keep kids interested in these important fields so they will be better prepared to fill jobs in the 21st century,” she said.
Visit WVU Tech on Flickr to see photos from Camp STEM 2015.