From April 9-11, 2015, 20 WVU Tech students and faculty members attended the American Society of Civil Engineers 2015 Virginias Conference at the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia, where they brought home a number of accolades.
At the conference, WVU Tech teams competed against 14 colleges and universities from West Virginia, Virginia and the Washington, D.C. area in concrete canoe, environmental, transportation, technical paper and mystery quiz competitions.
WVU Tech teams placed third overall in the concrete canoe competition, second in the transportation competition and first in the mystery quiz competition, which featured questions from the national Fundamentals of Engineering Examination.
“ASCE is an international organization, so competing in these events gets the WVU Tech name out there,” said Dr. Horng-Jyh “Tigra” Yang, assistant professor of civil engineering at WVU Tech and advisor to the WVU Tech ASCE chapter.
“We are a small school, but each year we’re among the top-ranked competitors. It encourages our students to put incredible effort into these projects and it reinforces the fact that our students receive a very good education in civil engineering,” he said.
For Zach Carnahan, who served as captain of the concrete canoe team, the conference was an opportunity to show how civil engineering can make the seemingly impossible an everyday reality.
After all, the team built a 19.5-foot, 300 pound canoe out of concrete that competed in five races. The team also placed second in the concrete canoe competition’s oral presentation event and third in the technical paper portion.
“It’s a great experience applying what you’ve learned and seeing how much you’ve actually learned. The conference is a great way to have fun doing what we love to do and to help each other as we learn from other schools that are doing the same things,” he said.
Civil engineering students Haseeb Ahmad and Yusef Alghawazi served on the WVU Tech transportation team, which placed second in a competition where students had to use surveying equipment to find the length of a hypothetical highway curve and determine the safest maximum travel speed cars could travel along that stretch of road.
They said the conference was a practical learning experience and an extension of the opportunities ASCE membership provides.
“ASCE is a very good organization,” said Ahmad. “We’re competitive, but yet it’s a fun and interesting experience. You just have to know how to put in the work and how to have a great time.”
On Saturday, April 11, the WVU Tech Department of Computer Science and Information Systems hosted the first of two on-campus programming competitions designed to put college and high school students’ programming and logic skills to the test.
Saturday’s competition was opened to WVU Tech students and challenged competitors to solve a series of ten programming problems in four hours.
“The competition is an opportunity for students to test their programming and problem-solving skills on a variety of problems that aren’t normally taught in the classroom,” said Dr. Matthew Williamson, the competition’s organizer and professor in the WVU Tech Department of Computer Science and Information Systems.
“The competition also tests how well they work as a team since they need to manage their time and resources. Because they are given a small number of hours and only one computer to work with, communication and delegation skills are critical,” he said.
WVU Tech student Jackson Fox, a dual Computer Science and Mathematics major, said that the event was an opportunity to exercise his classroom learning in an interesting way.
“It lets us prove to ourselves that we can have fun using these skills. It’s not all about work. It’s about learning these skills that we can have fun with and that we can take with us into the future. We learn the basics in class but this really helps bring it all together,” he said.
WVU Tech students Joshua Massey and Benjamin Culkin took third place ($125 each), Jackson Fox placed second ($250) and Jake Arthur and Joshua Keiffer finished in first place ($500 each).
Benjamin Culkin, Chedli Ben Hassine, Jackson Fox, Jake Arthur, Jared Miller, Jesús Ballesteros, Joshua Keiffer, Joshua Massey and Lucas Darnell participated in the competition, which Dr. Willamson hopes will become an annual event.
The second competition in the series is open to high school teams and will take place on Saturday, April 25 from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. in the engineering building. The April 25 event will see students competing for cash and scholarship prizes.
“The demand for programmers is at an all-time high, and that demand will continue to rise in the next five to ten years. If we can expose high school students to the field of computer science and get them interested, we can meet this demand, especially in West Virginia,” said Dr. Williamson. “Our state would substantially benefit from having more programmers.”
Five teams from three high schools including a school in North Carolina are already registered to compete, although Dr. Williamson said the competition is still accepting teams.
Attending high school faculty will also be able to attend a C# programming workshop during the competition.
For more information, visit: http://engineering.wvutech.edu/prog-competition.
WVU Tech students interested in attending medical school will have an opportunity to find out more about medical school life and about the programs at the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine on Thursday, April 16 at 12:30 p.m. in Orndorff 3200.
The event will feature a presentation from WVSOM representatives and a Q&A session for interested students.
“Students don’t need to bring anything other than their curiosity about medical school,” said Dr. Lisa Ferrara, professor and chair of the WVU Tech Department of Biology.
“If they are considering or have already decided on a career in medicine, this is an opportunity to find out what medical school is like, what they need to do in order to apply to medical school, and what they need to be a competitive applicant at the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine,” she said.
WVU Tech alumna Dr. Ashley Toler, an osteopathic physician and clinical professor in pediatrics at WVSOM, will be among Thursday’s visitors. Dr. Toler will share her experience moving from a WVU Tech biology student to a medical student and into her medical career, providing insight into the curriculum at WVSOM and life as a medical student.
Dr. Ferrara said the visit will also provide students with more information about osteopathy and the D.O. degree.
Thursday’s visit is sponsored by the WVU Tech Biology Club and the Psychology Club.
Since 1958, the American Library Association has sponsored and organized National Library Week to honor the importance of libraries in connecting people with information, each other and the community.
For WVU Tech, this year’s National Library Week is a special one.
“National Library Week is a time to celebrate how libraries have always played a role in the education of its users, whether student or public,” said Jewel Connell, director of WVU Tech’s Vining Library. “This week, for us, is a time we celebrate our role, or resources, our facilities, our services and all of our users.”
The last year has been a busy for WVU Tech’s iconic library. The school recently gained access to WVU’s vast library resources, including more than 300 online databases, and the library has undergone physical changes over the last few months, including new carpet, flooring, paint and a fresh new look and layout.
As part of the week’s celebration, the Library will host an open house on Tuesday, April 14 at 1 p.m. The event will allow visitors to check out the library’s new look and find out more about the many services the library offers to students, staff, faculty and the community.
“We are moving in the direction of becoming a learning and information center. We want to be more than a building with books, but an outpost for the campus and the community to gather, learn, socialize, and collaborate,” said Connell.
In addition to the Open House, the Vining Library will host Robert Maroney, author of “55 Graves” and “The Killer’s Handbook,” on Wednesday, April 15 at 6 p.m. with student music to follow at 7:30 p.m. The library will also host an open poetry reading on Thursday, April 16 at 6:00 p.m.
Throughout the week, visitors will be able to check out a Graffiti Wall of Reading banner, photos of the library before and after its renovation and art produced by students and local residents.
Visit the Vining Library website to find out more.
April is Sexual Assault Awareness month, and WVU Tech students, staff and faculty have been participating in a variety of events around campus in an effort to promote open dialogue about sexual, domestic and gender-based violence under the It’s On Us campaign.
It’s On Us is a national initiative launched by the White House last September as a means to address sexual assault on college campuses. White House blogger Tanya Somanader said that the campaign “asks everyone men and women across America to make a personal commitment to step off the sidelines and be part of the solution to campus sexual assault.”
It does so by asking students to visit Itsonus.org to take the campaign’s pledge. Those who take the pledge make the commitment to recognize that non-consensual sex is sexual assault, to identify situations in which sexual assault may occur, to intervene in situations where consent has not or cannot be given, and to create an environment in which sexual assault is unacceptable and survivors are supported.
It’s a simple, powerful promise, and one that can change lives.
“It’s so important to engage college students on issues such as sexual and domestic violence because this is the time in a young person’s life that they’re being shaped to be an adult,” said WVU Tech student Lindsay McDowall. “The things we learn and do now carry with us through adulthood. If we can instill this awareness in students now, then we can affect change for future generations.”
At WVU Tech, students and staff are in the middle of a month-long effort to raise awareness for the campaign, its cause and the idea that a community that discusses and explores the issue of sexual and domestic assault is one that has the power to stop it.
Earlier this week, students participated in Green Dot Bingo, where they learned how to be active bystanders in violent or potentially violent situations. Students also decorated t-shirts for the clothesline project, which allowed them to share the stories and emotions brought about by acts of domestic violence.
Other events scheduled throughout the month include “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” on Monday, April 13, a self-defense course in the Baisi gym on Monday, April 20, and an expressive arts therapy night in the WVU Tech Ballroom on Thursday, April 30.
Each activity is designed to open up communication and empower attendees to think critically about how they can change the statistics that make up campus sexual assault statistics like 1 in 5 (the number of women sexually assaulted in college) or 1 in 16 (the number of men sexually assaulted in college).
“The takeaway, I think, can be summed up in the saying, ‘Be the change you wish to see in the world.’ It’s on us to be the change. It’s on us to put an end to this violence,” said McDowall.
“This campaign benefits the campus community by starting conversations about these topics that tend to be difficult to talk about,” said WVU Tech Resident Director Emily Sands.
“But it does more than start the conversations. It raises awareness and encourages students to help in a situation. It provides insight into just how many people can be affected by sexual assault and domestic violence,” she said.
Sands said that the WVU Tech community has a number of local resources for help with sexual, domestic or gender-based violence situations, including WVU Tech Counseling Services, the Women’s Resource Center and the YWCA Charleston. Students may also go to fris.org for more information and resources.
When WVU Tech students Patrick McBrayer, Lucas Darnell and Randy Quiggle enlisted support from their friends and classmates and set out to create a new e-sports club for students interested in gaming, they thought they’d face an uphill climb.
When a student organization is launched, it can take a semester or two of pitching the club and building a member base before a group can really take off but that wasn’t the case for the new competitive gaming-focused WVUIT E-Sports Club, which grew to nearly 25 members in just the first few weeks after its founding this semester.
Darnell, WVUIT E-Sports Club’s Vice President and co-founder, said that the group debated starting the club for some time, but felt confident in moving forward because of the support they received from faculty, staff and students at WVU Tech.
“After confirming our adviser, we simply devised a constitution that met university requirements and sent in an application form to the SGA to be approved. It was that simple.”
Since then, the club has been busy participating in official competitive gaming tournaments and planning upcoming campus events. The group even teamed up with the WVU Tech ACM to run game tournaments during the popular Spring TechLAN event in mid-March, which raised more than $1,200 for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
The organization’s mission is simple: create a welcome, cooperative environment where like-minded students can work together in their common love for gaming. There’s also a major learning component, where members will develop and run tournaments, build their communications skills and keep their grades up to stay active in the group.
“What the E-Sports club offers is a way to get students together who love playing games, but the club wants to emphasize that academics come first. There are also some great opportunities to get involved in competitive gaming, just like what you see professional gamers do online,” said Dr. Matthew Williamson, the club’s advisor and WVU Tech professor of Computer Science and Information Systems.
The club currently maintains teams for two competition-level games: League of Legends and Heroes of the Storm. The Heroes of the Storm team recently competed in the qualifying rounds of the Heroes of the Dorm tournament, which pits college gaming teams from across the nation against one another in a team-based game that has yet to be officially released to the public.
At the end of April, the remaining teams in that tournament will battle it out in a nationally televised competition where the championship team will take home enough to cover their tuition for the rest of their college careers.
“We’re seeing companies hosting tournaments and leagues that are very similar in structure to what you see in professional sports, such as football and basketball. These competitions heavily emphasize the importance of teamwork, leadership, and cooperation as students organize themselves and develop strategies to defeat teams from other colleges,” said Williamson.
Darnell said that the ultimate dream of the club is to make a name for themselves in collegiate-level gaming, but that the group is about much more than competition.
“Gamers compete for the same reason any athlete does. They want to win and show all of the hard work that they have put into something that they love,” he said. “Students interested in the club should also know that anyone can be a part, no matter their skill level. You don’t have to be the absolute best at a game to compete, and competing is definitely not a requirement for membership.”
Want to see the WVUIT E-Sports Club in action? Visit their Game Day event on Friday, April 10 at 7 p.m. in the WVU Tech Student Activities Room. Attendees will be able to learn more about the club, enjoy free concessions, win prizes and compete in Super Smash Brothers and Halo 4 tournaments.
On Thursday, April 9, nearly 30 employers from West Virginia and the surrounding states will visit campus for the annual Spring JobFest career fair. The event will run from 11:00 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. in the Tech Center Ballroom.
The event’s attending employers represent a wide variety of industries, including banking, healthcare, law enforcement and corrections, engineering, business, manufacturing and state government. Employers will be attempting to fill full-time positions and some will be seeking candidates for seasonal (summer) positions, internships and co-ops.
“It’s always good to network with area employers, even if a student is not currently looking for a job. You never can tell who you’re going to meet or what’s going to spark your interest until you look at what’s out there and meet with the folks who are working in the fields you enjoy,” said Cantrell Miller, WVU Tech’s Director of Career Services.
Miller suggested that students prepare for Thursday’s event by brushing up their resumes and looking at the websites of the companies they find interesting. On the day of the event, he said students should dress appropriately, have questions prepared if possible and be ready to talk about their career goals.
For students on the job hunt, he suggested visiting the WVU Tech Careers Service website, where students can sign up for the Experience job hunting tool and find helpful information on writing cover letters, interviewing effectively and finding the right job. Outside of the WVU tech site, Miller suggested job-seeking students explore websites like Indeed.com, Glassdoor.com and LinkedIn.
Two employers the U.S. Navy Officer Programs and MeadWestvaco will conduct on-the-spot interviews during JobFest. Toyota will select candidates from those who visit their booth for interviews to be held on Friday, April 10.
Click here to view or print a full list of employers and information on the potential candidates they’re seeking.
For the second year running, a group of WVU Tech students spent their spring break working with Habitat for Humanity of Kanawha and Putnam counties on homes that will provide shelter to families in need.
This year’s group of seven split their time between the Habitat ReStore and two home renovation sites in the Charleston area. At the ReStore, volunteers helped to sort, inventory and store a large donation of bathroom and plumbing materials provided by a local wholesale company. At the build sites, students spent three days cleaning up work sites, hanging siding, building porch railing and installing flooring.
Tiny Hanshaw, Construction Supervisor at the Habitat for Humanity of Kanawha and Putnam counties, said that the volunteers were a welcome addition to his crew, which typically consists of retired volunteers who pitch in when they can.
“This is good for young folks because it gets them involved in the community. They’re out here putting in the work and it lets them see a real outcome to that effort,” he said. “I think it’s great when we can get college students involved in projects like this.”
WVU Tech Resident Director Michael Sheldon, who organized and led the group, said that students received extra motivation to help during a day at one of the home renovation sites.
“The group got to meet the owner of one of the houses, and they were able to speak with her and find out more about her situation. It made them realize how lucky there are to have a roof over their heads and to have everyday things available to them. It was a chance for them to see the people they’re helping face to face,” he said.
For forensic investigation major Erika Stoffel, the week-long volunteer experience was an extension of the spirit of community so prevalent among WVU Tech students. She said she was proud of the work she and her co-volunteers had accomplished, and that she would recommend the experience to any student.
“Volunteering for this kind of thing shows character. It kind of tells where your heart is when you give up your time to help build something for others.”
“I’m beyond happy that these students are giving up their spring break to do this,” said Sheldon. “They’ve had some long and tiring days and may have missed out on some sleep this week, but they’ve helped a lot of people.”
The WVU Tech Student Government Association supported the project by paying for participating students’ meals. Student participants included Gaetan Gilbrice Tchewa, Ayo Oni, Patrick Gnagbo, Zachary Carnahan and Erika Stoffel.
WVU Tech will host a Grad Fair for graduating seniors on Wednesday, April 1 in the Bookstore Lounge from 10 a.m. until 2p.m.
Designed as an opportunity for students to make final preparations for May’s commencement ceremony, the fair allows students to order caps and gowns, check in with the Registrar’s Office on graduation status, chat with career services and complete a graduation placement survey.
Graduating students will also receive important information about financial aid, including loan repayment information, and be able to register with the alumni office to get important updates about upcoming graduate events.
Participating students will also have a chance to win WVU Tech alumni gear and prizes from the bookstore. The winner of the bookstore’s diploma frame drawing will be announced during the event.
For more commencement information, visit commencement.wvutech.edu.
by Ryan Quinn
The West Virginia University Institute of Technology is dividing its decade-old Camp STEM to create a version for girls only.
Kimberlyn Gray, a Tech assistant professor of chemical engineering and academic director for the new STEM Summer Academy for Girls, said the camp is a way to attract more women into the STEM career fields of science, technology, engineering and math, where most jobs are still dominated by men.
A 2013 report analyzing data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2011 American Community Survey found that while women’s representation in all STEM fields has increased since the 1970s, they remain “significantly underrepresented” in the two areas that comprise eight out of 10 STEM jobs: engineering and computer occupations.
The report also noted that most of the growth in female STEM employment for women under 40 occurred from 1970 to 1990, and that rate has slowed since then. Since the 1990s, the percentage of women actually declined in computer occupations, which themselves make up about half of all STEM jobs. As of 2011, only about one in four people in STEM careers were women.
West Virginia officials incessantly say the state needs more total college graduates from the STEM majors to boost the state’s economy.
The STEM Summer Academy for Girls, sponsored by Toyota, will run June 28 through July 3 at the Montgomery campus. Tech faculty will teach incoming or current high school girls about chemical engineering, electrical engineering, computer programming, biology, forensics, robotics and other subjects.
Female Tech students majoring in STEM fields will be camp counselors, helping participants with projects and talking with them about their college and career goals.
“They’re living in our residence halls, they’re eating in our cafeteria, they’re also getting a little bit of a chance to see what a college experience is like,” Gray said.
Campers will get to tour the Toyota engine and transmission factory in Buffalo, create things like radio transmitters with circuitry, design robots that they’ll race through obstacle courses and hear from successful women in STEM fields. Gray said research has shown that students are more likely to join fields where they have mentors.
“They’ll have a chance to meet engineers in the state who have already done the things they’re thinking about doing,” she said.
The campers will choose two courses for in-depth study but will take classes in various other areas, giving them a broad experience of the STEM fields while, hopefully, helping them discover what specific career they want to pursue.
“We had a girl a couple years ago at Camp STEM who thought she wanted to go into civil engineering, and then fell in love with the classes in electrical engineering,” Gray said.
Camp STEM which will continue June 21-26 this summer is co-ed, but Gray said she believes some female students will be more comfortable in a girls-only program. She also said the STEM Academy for Girls will base projects on what female Camp STEM participants in the past have enjoyed most, like a biomedical engineering class on shoe design dealing with how different footwear fits different needs, such as basketball player’s shoes protecting his or her knees from injury.
She said Camp STEM had about 70 participants last year, and this year it will contain about 40 while the girls’ program will accept 30 students. The full cost including meals and lodging on Tech’s campus is $350 a person, but need-based scholarship money is available to allow at least half of the participants in both camps to attend either for free or for only $125.
Gray didn’t have information last week on how many girls have applied. The deadline is April 15. Students can apply online at www.wvutech.edu/girlsinstem, and they need to submit a copy of their transcripts, a list of their extracurricular activities and a recommendation from a teacher, counselor or principal.
Students can apply to Camp STEM at campstem.wvutech.edu.
Gray said the new girls-only camp is connected to increasing outreach from Tech’s female faculty and students to younger women and girls to urge them to join scientific fields. Tech spokeswoman Jen Wood Cunningham said seven of the school’s Leonard C. Nelson College of Engineering and Science 38 faculty are women.
In the fall, those female faculty formed the Association for Women Engineers, Scientists Or Mathematicians Empowerment, or AWESOME, a student organization that has done outreach in K-12 schools in partnership with the Girl Scouts of America and on its own.
“Just going out and being examples,” Gray said ”... Of engineers that are actually out there and doing things.”