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.
WVU Tech is excited to announce an upcoming performance of the award-winning “Fire in the Hole: A Coal History” by the West Virginia Dance Company (WVDC) at the Tech Center Ballroom on Thursday, October 2 at 7:30 p.m.
The performance, supported by the National Coal Heritage Area Authority, tells the story of early settlers who came to West Virginia to work in the coalfields in the southern part of the state.
“It’s a moving, educational and extremely accurate portrayal of the life of workers, families and the sense of community in early coal camps,” said Managing Artistic Director of the WVDC, Toneta Akers-Toler.
Toler, who choreographed the piece, grew up in southern West Virginia and wanted to share the story of the area’s coal-rich history.
“People knew very little about our ancestors who worked in the mines, but I believed there was a rich story to tell. So, I went about researching where these people came from, how they lived and how they overcame daily struggles. This is such an uplifting story and makes me very proud to be a West Virginian.”
The WVDC will present additional concert works at WVU Tech on October 2, including “Five Chapters from a Broken Novel” by internationally acclaimed choreographer, Doug Varone, as well as new works from Donald Laney and other choreographers.
The performance is free, open to the public and appropriate for all ages.
For more on the WVDC, visit WVDanceCo.com or contact Nora Morris at development@wvdancecom. For questions about the WVU Tech event, contact the Office of Student Life at (304) 442-3158.
About the West Virginia Dance Company
Since 1977, the WVDC has toured throughout West Virginia, as well as 14 other states, with their blend of entertaining and thought-provoking modern works. They are the state’s only professional touring dance company and provide award-winning performances and educational programs throughout the state and region.
Dr. Connie Rice, state history scholar, WVU lecturer and Assistant Editor at West Virginia History: A Journal of Regional Studies, will discuss slavery and emancipation in Civil War-era West Virginia at the sixth annual Otis K. Rice lecture at WVU Tech. The free lecture is open to the public, and will be held on Thursday, September 25 at 6 p.m. in the WVU Tech engineering auditorium.
Dr. Rice, who serves on the Governor’s West Virginia Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Commission, has conducted extensive research and penned numerous publications on the history of women and blacks in the Appalachian region. Her lecture is particularly timely, as history marks 150 years since the American Civil War.
Her lecture, “Nothing but Freedom: Bondage and Emancipation in West Virginia,” will examine slavery, the Underground Railroad and political attitudes towards black citizenship during the statehood movement. Dr. Rice will also discuss post-war freedoms, registration laws targeting free blacks and petitions made by African Americans to the Virginia legislature during the period.
The memorial lecture series was started in 2009 to honor the legacy of noted West Virginia historian, Dr. Otis K. Rice, who served at WVU Tech for 30 years between 1957 and 1987, authored numerous books on state history and became the state’s first Historian Laureate in 2003.
Contact Dr. Melissa Sartore for more information.
Photo: “The Emancipation of the Negroes, January, 1863 – The Past and the Future” was drawn by American political cartoonist, Thomas Nast, for Harper’s Weekly after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued on New Year’s Day of that year. Like Nast’s drawing, Dr. Rice’s lecture will focus on the transition from slavery to freedom and the rights of free blacks after emancipation.
Young football fans will have an opportunity to exhibit their football skills as WVU Tech sports studies students and faculty host a local NFL Punt, Pass & Kick competition on Saturday, September 20, 2014 from 8 a.m. until noon at WVU Tech’s Martin Field. The competition is free and open to boys and girls ages 6-15.
The popular event allows youngsters to showcase their talents with a single punt, pass and kick, and competitors are scored on distance and accuracy.
The top finishers from each age group at the local competition will advance to a sectional competition. Winners at the sectional competition will have their scores compared with other sectional champions. The top four scorers from the pool of sectional champions will advance to participate at an NFL game.
Entry forms are available at NFLPPK.com or at registration on the day of the event. Participants should wear comfortable athletic attire and gym shoes (no football shoes, turf shoes or cleats). To find out more about competition rules and age classifications, visit http://www.nflppk.com/competition_rules.
The event will be hosted rain or shine. Contact Mark Jones at 304-444-1926 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Update – September 22, 2014
The NFL PP&K event brought in nearly 40 area players to showcase their football skills on WVU Tech’s Martin Field.
Four of those participants will move on to the sectional NFL Punt, Pass & Kick competition on Saturday, October 18 at the University of Charleston’s Laidley Field.
A dozen WVU Tech sports studies students hosted Saturday’s event, which met with outstanding weather.
“It was a great day to work with these young athletes and an excellent opportunity for WVU Tech students to connect with the community,” said WVU Tech physical education professor Mark Jones, who organized the event.
There is a village just outside of Jérémie, Haiti the locals call Premiere Source. It’s a small jungle town 1,400 miles and two flights from Montgomery, West Virginia, and it’s where WVU Tech civil engineering student Nathan McNeil called home for two months this summer.
Nathan traveled to the Caribbean nation as part of a missionary program run by the Gateway Christian Church in Saint Albans, West Virginia. The program sends volunteers to Haiti every few months where they maintain a church and a school that services 150 children sponsored by U.S. families. Some volunteers also provide medical services in clinics around Jérémie.
“I arrived with a group in May, and we started construction on a building to add classrooms to our school. The group left after a week, but I stayed there with a friend for the next two months to work on the building every day and help take care of the people in our village,” said Nathan.
According to World Bank, a United Nations lending institution, Haiti is the poorest country in the Americas. Nearly 80 percent of the nation’s 10 million inhabitants live on less than $2 a day, and Haitians face threats of widespread famine and infectious disease.
“These people fight every day to survive. There is no work in the city, so people are trying to survive by learning agriculture,” he said. “How strong these people are to live like they do every day amazes me.”
During his visit, Nathan spent time connecting with the young residents of Premiere Source. A member of the WVU Tech men’s basketball team, he brought his love for the game with him to Haiti, where he built a basketball hoop and mounted it to a tree in the village. In a country where soccer is the sport of choice, Nathan said he was surprised to find so many people interested in the game.
“Three days a week, I invited anyone around to come learn about the game,” he said. “More and more people came to play every week, and I taught them the basics like dribbling, shooting and how to play a game against one another. By the end of my time there, I had so many people asking me to play that I left five basketballs at the school.”
Nathan said he learned more than a few valuable lessons during his time in Haiti. While walking through the village to say his goodbyes, he said he couldn’t help but see the stark contrast between the world he was leaving and the one he was returning to 1,400 miles away.
“I realized how much these people needed us and how much I needed them. There are people who would risk their lives just to have the little things that are given to us,” he said. “This was one of the toughest things I’ve done, but I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. It’s important for us to help others fighting to survive.”
Since his return, Nathan has been in contact with village leaders through Facebook. He said the new building is progressing, and the school children are still practicing the basketball skills he left behind, with older students playing regular three-on-three games.