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.”
WVU Tech’s faculty members are dedicated to the advancement of the fields they teach. Outside of the classroom, they’re researchers, writers, presenters, go-to experts and road warriors who share their passion for learning with the world.
Here’s what our faculty members were up to in February and March:
In late February, “A Parallel Implementation for the Negative Cost Girth Problem” by Dr. Matthew Williamson (Computer Science) was published online by the International Journal of Parallel Programming. Dr. Williamson’s work will appear in the journal’s April print edition.
Dr. Richard Squire (Chemistry) delivered his plenary talk, “Coherent Exciton-Polarition Model for Photosynthetic Energy Transfer,” to 400 scientists from 22 countries during the 55th annual Sanibel Symposium last month. The symposium was organized by the University of Florida and hosted in St. Simons Island, Georgia.
Dr. Cynthia Hall (Psychology) will travel with three students to Hilton Head, South Carolina this month to attend the 61st annual Southeastern Psychological Association conference. There, psychology students Jacqueline Carroll, Adam Westrick and Alexandra Dunn will present their psychometrics research project, “Development and Validation of the Approval Seeking Questionnaire.” Dr. Hall will present her own psychometrics research in “Development and Validation of the Magical Thinking/Ideation Scales.”
Dr. Farshid Zabihian, (Mechanical Engineering), Dr. Winnie Fu (Engineering Technology), Dr. Bernhard Bettig (Mechanical Engineering), and Dr. Yogendra Panta (Mechanical Engineering) served as advisors for research projects displayed in the state Capitol Complex in early March during Undergraduate Research Day. Read about the event and see photos here.
The WVU Tech College of Business, Humanities and Social Sciences will host a career fair on Tuesday, March 10 from 1-3 p.m. in the Tech Center Ballroom.
The event will bring in representatives from private employers and government agencies in fields ranging from insurance and health care administration to education and public broadcasting (see the full list below).
The career fair is an excellent opportunity for students to network with industry professionals and get a feel for the kinds of jobs area employers are looking to fill even if students are not currently seeking employment.
Students should dress as they would for a job interview, bring an updated resume and be prepared to talk about themselves, their interests and their career goals.
The fair will feature the following employers:
Bureau of the Fiscal Service
Gibbons & Kawash, A.C.
West Virginia Division of Corrections
West Virginia Public Broadcasting
West Virginia State Tax Department
Enervest Operating, LLC
Golden Living Center
Security Group Services LLC
University of Charleston
West Virginia Division of Personnel
West Virginia Regional Jail Authority
Campus safety has been a longstanding priority at WVU Tech, where students enjoy a vibrant campus life in a safe, welcoming community. In an effort to enhance the security of that community, WVU Tech has partnered with WVU and LiveSafe to launch the LiveSafe mobile app, a free personal safety application for students, campus employees, parents and the community.
The LiveSafe app essentially turns the smartphone into an “emergency blue light,” enabling two-way communication between students and campus law enforcement. Using text, photo or video, students can share information about anything from suspicious activity and mental health concerns to sexual assault and acts of violence. Students reporting tips can also do so anonymously.
Using office-based and mobile LiveSafe Command Dashboards, campus police can monitor tips in real-time, allowing them to quickly and more efficiently respond to potential emergencies or illegal activity.
In addition to reporting tips, LiveSafe allows users to live-chat with campus police, directly dial 911 to receive immediate assistance and view a social safety map of the Montgomery area, complete with directions to nearby safety locations.
The app also offers SafeWalk, a feature where users can invite friends and family to virtually accompany them on a walk. While using SafeWalk, invited guests can view a real-time map with a blue dot that represents the walker, chat with the walker during their trip or directly contact local law enforcement in the event of an emergency.
LiveSafe users should allow “push notifications,” enable location services and be sure to complete the user profile with name, e-mail address and telephone number. This helps campus police better respond to reports by allowing them to retrieve the caller’s information and exact location (users are not actively tracked until they actually make an emergency call).
Visit WVU Tech’s LiveSafe resources page for more information, including helpful how-to handouts and FAQs. For additional questions, contact the Division of Student Life at email@example.com or by phone at 304.442.3158.
Despite intense winter weather throughout late February, WVU Tech students and faculty celebrated National Engineers Week (February 22-28) by sharing engineering with K-12 students throughout the Kanawha Valley.
During the week, WVU Tech hosted a group of fifth graders from Chesapeake Elementary School in Chesapeake, West Virginia to spend the day learning about careers.
The group toured WVU Tech’s laboratories, watched mechanical and civil engineering demonstrations, participated in hands-on engineering activities and ate lunch with WVU Tech student ambassadors who answered questions about college.
On Thursday, February 26, WVU Tech sponsored and participated in BridgeValley Community and Technical College’s annual Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day, which brings more than 100 eighth grade girls from schools throughout southern West Virginia to the NiSource/Columbia Gas building in Charleston.
During the event, students met with educators and professionals from engineering fields to learn about engineering careers and build rollercoasters as they experimented with potential and kinetic energy.
WVU Tech students and faculty are continuing the celebration of all things engineering into March, where they will visit with area middle and high schools and participate in Discover Engineering Day at the Clay Center in Charleston on Saturday, March 7.
“WVU Tech has been very involved with this event for a number of years and it’s something we’re always excited to a part of,” said WVU Tech chemical engineering professor Dr. Kimberlyn Gray.
Part of the center’s Family Fun Days series, Discover Engineering Day will feature a variety of interactive stations. WVU Tech students will demonstrate a “human joystick” that allows visitors to pilot a robot using a Nintendo Wii balance board, civil engineering students will challenge visitors to build marshmallow bridges, the biology station will show attendees their heart rates with an electrocardiogram (EKG), and other groups will share the science behind making waterproof fabrics and how binary and hexadecimal code works in computers.
“It’s a chance for younger students and their families to see how engineering makes so many interesting and creative things possible. We try to balance the technical aspects that visitors can see with hands-on activities that allow them to do some engineering on their own so they can get a better grasp on certain concepts,” said Gray.
“And since the event is sponsored by engineering firms and businesses involved in engineering processes, they get to see what people in their own state are doing and how engineering is contributing to society around them,” she said.
Discover Engineering Day will be open to Girl Scout groups from 9-11 a.m. and to the general public from 11 a.m. 4 p.m. on Saturday, March 7. Visit the Clay Center website to find out more.
Be sure to check out WVU Tech on Flickr to see photos from Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day and Discover Engineering Day at the Clay Center.
On Wednesday, March 4, eight WVU Tech students joined lawmakers and more than 100 student exhibitors to display and discuss ongoing research projects at the Capitol during the 12th annual Undergraduate Research Day.
Among the exhibitors were WVU Tech mechanical engineering students Kaylah Bovard and Wyatt McClead, who shared their design work for a custom multi-speed transmission to be incorporated into this year’s Society of Automotive Engineers Baja-style racing buggy. Having relied on a single speed transmission in previous years, the group wanted to develop a more efficient, compact transmission that would give them more control over the vehicle.
“We started back in the fall and all of last semester was spent on the design. We had to consider everything from the type of gearing and number of gears to the shifting mechanism and size of the transmission,” said Bovard. “This semester, we performed a finite element analysis and the transmission is currently being manufactured.”
The team will put the new transmission to the test next month in the Baja SAE series hosted in Auburn, Alabama.
On the renewable energy front, mechanical engineering major Tavon Johnson shared a project that aims to determine the effectiveness of vertical axis wind turbines in southern West Virginia. The project starts close to home, where students are in the process of installing a vertical axis wind turbine and a weather station on the roof of the Leonard C. Nelson College of Engineering and Sciences building in Montgomery.
“Renewable energy is in the forefront of the news, so the best way to begin investigating how to go down that road is through research and interacting with those who vote on legislation that determines research funding. If they are able to actually see what students are producing and what the innovators of tomorrow are thinking of, I believe that’s the best way to move forward as a country, and I think that starts right here at the Capitol,” Johnson said.
Dr. Zeljko Torbica, Dean of the Leonard C. Nelson College of Engineering and Sciences, said the event is well-aligned with WVU Tech’s focus on research activities.
“One of our chief goals is to provide as many opportunities as possible for undergraduate students to engage in research projects. A number of our courses emphasize heavy involvement in research-oriented activities and we think that is one of the distinguishing characteristics of our programs,” Torbica said.
For Dr. Farshid Zabihian, WVU Tech professor of mechanical engineering and co-advisor on the projects shown at Wednesday’s event, Undergraduate Research Day is also a chance to develop professionally.
“Giving students a chance to show their hard work gives students some motivation to be recognized. Being in the state capital and presenting their work to legislators and other student researchers gives them some self-confidence and confirms for them that what they’re doing is worthwhile. It is practice that will help them better communicate in interviews and throughout their careers,” Zabihian said.
WVU Tech is proud of the students selected to share their work in Charleston and would like to congratulate Alex Perry, Brett Floyd, Corey Hall, Kaylah Bovard, Raul Torres, Sebastian Cousin, Tavon Johnson and Wyatt McClead.
Check out photos from Undergraduate Research Day on Flickr.
In a March 1 article discussing the cost of private colleges versus their level of prestige, The Wall Street Journal interviewed three people a high school senior interested in engineering, a recruiting manager and a college dean to determine if the high cost of attendance among these schools was a fair trade for adding a prestigious university name to one’s resume.
During the discussion, the three interviewees weighed in on whether or not a big name was worth the price, but also provided some context into how recruiters look at schools and how students should approach selecting a college.
Patty Pogemiller, Director of Talent Acquisition at Deloitte, a financial consultant company, shared that the recruiter’s “interest lies with the individual students and their achievements in schooltheir skills, GPA, character and personal attributes.”
She mentioned that recruiters seek out candidates who are confident and “client-ready,” and that recruiters look for students from programs ranked by organizations such as BusinessWeek and U.S. News & World Report.
Dr. Scott Thomas, Professor of Education and Dean of the School of Educational Studies at Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, California, shared advice on selecting a school, where students should consider the “softer factors such as institution location, mission, faculty and student diversity, or the breadth of curricular options” outside of one’s chosen area of study.
Following the discussion, the article shared a number of college return on investment rankings derived from Payscale’s 2014 College Return on Investment Report, placing WVU Tech at #12 on the list of Best Public Universities for Returns on Investment in the nation based on 20-year projected earnings. And since that ROI calculation is for out-of-state students who receive no financial aid, in-state students and financial aid recipients are likely to realize an even higher ROI on their educational investment at WVU Tech.
In addition to the best ROI in the state, WVU Tech offers strong accredited programs, is ranked in the Top 100 U.S. News & World Report Undergraduate Engineering Programs, and is committed to the kind of educational and professional development that creates Pogemiller’s breed of “client-ready” graduates.
All told, the Wall Street Journal piece is an insightful look at some of the factors that go into choosing the best college or university and prove what many in West Virginia already know: that a degree from WVU Tech is a very smart investment.
Read the full article here.
Representatives from The West Virginia Power minor league baseball program will visit Montgomery to discuss upcoming employment and internship opportunities in an information session open to all interested students. The session will be hosted on Tuesday, March 3 at 1 p.m. in Orndorff Room 1200.
Tim Mueller, General Manager at West Virginia Power, will address attending students during the session, where he will share information on his career in professional sports, internship and summer employment opportunities for WVU Tech students and the types of job opportunities available to graduates with internship experience with a professional team.
“This is a unique opportunity to partner with one of our local businesses and enhance educational opportunities for our students,” said Dr. Sandra Elmore, Professor and Chair of the Department of Sports Studies.
Dr. Elmore said that The West Virginia Power offers internships to a wide range of students not just those studying sports-related fields and that the information session is a great opportunity for students of any major to find out more.
“The possible summer employment and assignment of internship experiences will benefit Sport Management and Athletic Coaching Education majors, as well as students in Business Management and related fields,” she said.
The Student Support Services (SSS) program, a federal TRIO program funded by the United States Department of Education, has been enhancing the student experience at WVU Tech since 1971, making it one of the oldest programs of its kind in the nation.
Known for their tutoring services, professional and academic development programs, printing services and computer lab, the program is dedicated to helping students navigate college life in and out of the classroom.
Student Support Services Director Scott Robertson says the program is working, and the statistics back him up.
Each year, the program provides an annual performance report to the US Department of Education detailing program success factors such as graduation rates and academic standing. When the current operating grant was approved in 2009, the program was required to maintain a persistence rate (year-to-year program retention) of 65%, a 40% graduation rate for students who entered college in the 2008-2009 academic year, and a 65% rate of students in good academic standing.
In this year’s report, the program shared information on more than 500 program students from the last six years, coming in well above those thresholds and boasting a 46% graduation rate, a 90% program persistence rate and an impressive 92% of program students in good academic standing.
“Those are pretty phenomenal numbers for our program and they show that Student Support Services is doing exactly what it is supposed to be doing. It’s helping students,” said Robertson.
Robertson, a program alumnus himself, attributes much of this success to SSS’s robust tutoring and advising efforts. Students in the program meet with staff counselors once a month to make sure that things are going well, and students have access to a wide range of subjects in which to receive tutoring.
“If it weren’t for the program, I wouldn’t have the college degrees I have now. So, for me personally, it’s very important that we offer these services. We’ve seen students who have so much potential and we’re here to help pull that potential out in order to see that they are successful not just within our program, but also at WVU Tech.”
Athletic Coaching Education major Alex Moore has been in the program for two semesters. He said the program gives members an invaluable boost.
“The program gives first-generation students and those who statistically may not be destined for college a leg up. It helps students strive for excellence in academics. It helps them financially and, in some cases, it just gives them someone to talk to about whatever they need,” he said.
Beyond academics, the program offers a number of cultural enrichment and professional development opportunities.
On February 4, the program took 26 students to Charleston for a night of exposure to Asian culture and cuisine. The group dined at a Japanese Hibachi-style restaurant and attended Shen Yu a live performance portraying traditional Chinese culture through music and dance at the Clay Center for the arts.
“Our cultural enrichment programs are an important part of our holistic approach to student success,” said Robertson. “Seeing Shen Yu was an experience these students will not soon forget. These events allow students to realize that a degree affords them the opportunity to continue doing those things down the road.”
In addition to cultural activities, the program will host a number of professional/personal development seminars this spring, including workshops on time management and maintaining healthy relationships, as well as a financial aid “boot camp” where students who answer questions incorrectly will have to perform physical exercises.
Robertson said these activities and the SSS’s open-door policy creates a space where program students can support one another as they work toward common goals.
“We’ve seen a lot of friendships being built, even with students who are commuters,” he said. “We’re creating a community within the program and within our office. We have people from all over the world and all walks of life. It’s great to see these students interacting and helping one another.”
Students interested in the program may join at any point. Applicants will need to complete an application, answer questions about why they want to be in the program and interview with program staff. Two-thirds of program participants must be first-generation, meaning neither parent has a four-year college degree, and must demonstrate financial need. The other one-third can be first-generation only, low-income only, or have a disability.
The program also provides scholarships for qualifying students, and awarded 19 scholarships totaling more than $26,000 for the spring 2015 semester alone.
Find out more on the Student Support Services website. To apply to the program or to become a tutor (tutors are not required to be in the program), visit Old Main Room 309. Students may also download the program application here.
In last week’s Charleston Gazette, sports editor/columnist Mitch Vingle shared some good news about WVU Tech student-athletes and how they stepped up to help out during the recent train derailment.
The following is an excerpt from the Thursday, February 19, 2015 column.
”...Allow me to give you a ‘good’ news item. I’ll even count them as three good news items.
They are Arik McGinnis, Craig Johnson and Jordon Mounts.
You’ve no doubt read about Monday’s trail derailment in Fayette County that resulted in fire and an explosion. Well, McGinnis, Johnson and Mounts were among the first responders as volunteers for the Montgomery Fire Department. They also happen to play baseball for WVU Tech.
‘I’m proud of all three guys for stepping forward and their commitment to helping with the crisis,’ said Tech baseball coach Lawrence Nesselrodt.
McGinnis is a sophomore pitcher from Valley, while Johnson is a senior pitcher from Chapmanville and Mounts is a sophomore pitcher from Tug Valley.
‘I’m certainly proud of them for stepping up,’ Nesselrodt said.
As well he should.”
Read the full story on the Charleston Gazette.