The semester is winding down and many departments at WVU Tech are already gearing up for August. Student Support Services (SSS) at WVU Tech is one such program, and the team at SSS has big plans for a busy fall.
The program served more than 200 students in the 2016-2017 academic year. It offers a wide range of services to students who qualify as low-income, first-generation or disabled. Program participants also have access to unique off-campus cultural and professional development events.
This year, for instance, the program took 20 students to see STOMP at the Clay Center on April 24. Another group of students saw the Blue Man Group in March. In April, a group of six SSS students attended the 15th Annual TRIO Student Leadership Conference in Flatwoods, West Virginia. The conference drew in 170 attendees from West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania.
SSS director Scott Robertson said that attendees participated in hands-on, intensive leadership development sessions. They also participated in a community service project to help out the YWCA in Charleston. Robertson saw his own group became stronger as they built tangible leadership skills throughout the course of the program.
“They worked with peers from other schools in their age range to develop leadership skills that they can bring back to campus and implement in the classroom and in their student organizations. Some of them are applying to be resident advisors, so they’ll be able to use those skills in that setting as well,” he said.
Last summer, the program received a five-year, $1.7 million grant to continue operating at WVU Tech. Under the grant, SSS was able to hire a new student success advisor. Jeanette Vara started in December 2015 to help the program expand its reach and better serve its student population.
“She’s been a major asset and in her time here has already contributed immensely to the growth of the program,” said Robertson.
The new grant was also designed to get students involved in the program at a much faster rate. SSS saw many of its current students working though the program as soon as school started.
Because of the success of this year’s program, SSS hopes to gain access to increased funding in the 2016-2017 academic year. That increase in funding would establish a drop-in STEM tutoring service that would bring even more peer tutors to the program.
The increased in advisors and enhanced programming are just a few benefits program students can expect to see next year. New students will go through their own orientation program and will team up with a peer mentor from within the program. These mentors will attend workshops, on-campus programs, sporting events and cultural activities to help build a sense of community within the program.
SSS is already planning cultural events for next year, too. With the University’s new campus opening in Beckley, Robertson said that the team is looking into events in that region as well.
Robertson is enthusiastic about the enhanced team and new programming, but there’s more in store for TRIO at Tech in the upcoming academic year.
Starting October 1, 2016, Robertson, who currently serves as president of West Virginia TRIO. will have even more opportunities to advocate for TRIO. He was recently voted president-elect of the Mid-Eastern Association of Educational Opportunity Program Personnel (MEAEOPP).
The office runs on a three-year term cycle. Robertson will serve one year as president-elect, one year as president and a third year as immediate past-president.
In this position, he will work with lawmakers and TRIO representatives to promote and advocate for TRIO programming. He will also serve on the national TRIO Council for Opportunity and Education board, where he’ll represent the entire mid-eastern region of TRIO programs in West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Washington, D.C.
As a TRIO program alumnus himself, Robertson is eager to get to work in the new role. He sees it as an opportunity to be a voice for both rural students and TRIO alumni.
“I know that the opportunities I have would not exist if it weren’t for those who came before me, if it weren’t for those advocating and fighting for our programs,” he said.
“This will allow me to share my own experience in the program. It will allow me to uncover information on issues that impact the first-generation, low-income and disabled students that make up a significant percentage of our population here. This can help us continue our growth and get the word out that WVU Tech is a place that operates as a family and is here to make sure that these students are taken care of.”
We recently asked the WVU Tech community to vote on a theme for next fall’s Homecoming celebration. With 63% of the vote, the winning 2016 Homecoming theme is “Celebrating a Legacy Through the Decades.”
The theme celebrates the history of WVU Tech, West Virginia and its people. We’ll be developing decades-themed events and activities over the summer months, so keep an eye on WVU Tech’s Facebook and Twitter accounts for more information.
This year’s Homecoming will be hosted in Montgomery November 11-12.
On Tuesday, April 26, students, faculty and staff gathered in the WVU Tech Center to celebrate the campus’ first Lavender Graduation ceremony an event that recognizes graduating LGBTQ and ally students and their accomplishments.
The ceremony was organized by the Tech Alliance, WVU Tech’s LGBTQ and ally student organization.
Ashley Burns, the first president and founding member of Tech Alliance, was one of the graduates honored during the ceremony. She shared the history of Lavender Graduation and its importance as a milestone for students in the LGBTQ community.
“Lavender Graduation is a cultural celebration that recognizes LGBT students of all races and ethnicities and acknowledges their achievements and contributions to the university,” she said. “It is an event to which LGBTQ students look forward, where they not only share their hopes and dreams with one another, but where they are officially recognized by the institution for their leadership and their successes.”
The organization also recently received a congratulatory note from the Human Rights Campaign recognizing the newly founded group. WVU Tech will now join WVU on the list of college campuses who provide a Lavender Graduation. WVU and WVU Tech are the only campuses in West Virginia who are currently recognized by the HRC for hosting these ceremonies.
The Tech Alliance was founded in the spring semester of 2016. It seeks to promote awareness of, educate others about, set a positive example for and provide support to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and ally community.
Richard Carpinelli, WVU Tech Dean of Students, shared that he’s looking forward to seeing the new organization flourish at WVU Tech.
“This newly established group shows that we are about people, fairness and about moving forward as a family. I’m proud of this organization’s commitment to social justice, gender equality and human rights. You have set a tone for the students who follow you. They will feel the impact of your work in starting this organization,” he said.
Campus President Carolyn Long addressed attendees during the ceremony, encouraging the new group to continue their work.
“It’s never easy to be first, but you have been the first. We appreciate all of you for being active on campus and for making a difference,” said Long.
New Tech Alliance officers for the 2016-2017 academic year were also sworn in during the ceremony:
President Madison Stone
Vice President Cody Carter
Treasurer Robert Simon
Secretary Lesli Taylor
Check out photos below or on Flickr.
WVU Tech students and staff shared their support of the event on social media.
I’m so honored to be a graduate of the first WVU Tech Lavender Graduation. I am truly blessed to have so many wonderful people in my life! I would like to thank everyone for their encouragement and support!
– Janet Cunningham, Biology student
Back in January, I spoke to some campus faculty and asked how it was that our campus could introduce a group specialized for the LGBTQA students on campus. To not only spread equality and love but to also help students whom don’t fit societies standard mold. As student founder and the first president, I learned so much not only about the LGBTQA community but met some amazing people and supporters along the way. Today, was the first annual Lavender Graduation for WVU Tech and I am so proud to be a part of it. I was honored with reading the history and meaning of this special event and sadly but proudly watched the new president take her oath. I am so amazed with this organization and what it has become in just one semester.
– Ashley Burns, Criminal Justice student
I am so honored to have been a part of history in the making for WVU Tech! We have a great group of people who are on the forefront progress and I am extremely happy that I am a part of it!
– Cody Carter, Mathematics student
So honored to be a part of history at WVU Tech with the inaugural Lavender Graduation.
– Emily Sands, Associate Dean of Students
The first of something special. Extremely proud to be a part of WVU Tech’s first Lavender Graduation for our newly organized LGBTQ student organization, Tech Alliance! Super excited to continue to grow this organization as we move forward! Congrats to our two graduating seniors.
– Christina Dalton, Tech Alliance Co-Advisor and WVU Tech Chief Financial Officer
On Saturday, April 23, 2016, WVU Tech recognized the newest members of the distinguished group of Alumni of the Year recipients at a banquet at the Charleston Marriott.
The 2016 awardees were David F. Meadows, ‘74, from the Leonard C. Nelson College of Engineering and Sciences and Deborah Hill, ‘86 and ‘87, from the College of Business, Humanities and Social Sciences.
Meadows, of Culloden, West Virginia, received a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Tech in 1974. He holds master’s degrees in engineering from West Virginia College of Graduate Studies and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.
Meadows is the Chief Technical Officer and Southwest Regional Manager for Triad Engineering, Inc. In this capacity, he is responsible for the technical expertise, quality and risk management of Triad’s services as well as day-to-day operations of the region. He is a member of the WVU Tech Civil Engineering Advisory Board.
During his remarks, Meadows shared that while some things have changed over the years, the commitment of the faculty at WVU Tech hasn’t. He said that the passion the faculty had for mentoring and teaching enabled and encouraged him to mentor and help others.
“The professors’ doors were always open. They had a passion for engineering then, and they still do,” he said. “I’ve carried that passion through my career.”
Hill, of Mt. Nebo, West Virginia, is a Tech alumna with an associate degree in nursing (1986) and a bachelor’s degree in health services administration (1987). She holds a master’s in health care management from West Virginia College of Graduate Studies.
An experienced health care professional, Hill has 28 years of management experience. She is currently the Director of Long Term Care for Montgomery General Hospital. She serves on several state and community boards, including the WVU Tech Health Service Program Advisory Board.
Hill shared that she was proud of her experience at WVU Tech and has helped others in her family pursue higher education. Earlier in the day, Hill said she took a fourth family member to get registered to attend WVU Tech.
“I am proud for any of my children to go to Tech,” she said.
Hill also shared that she was pleased to have toured the Beckley campus.
“Change is around us and we need to embrace it,” she said. “The future is bright for us and for our students.”
Since 1949, WVU Tech has honored graduates by selecting outstanding alumni for the Alumni of the Year Award. To be selected for this honor, alumni must have achieved recognition in their profession, have a strong commitment to service and have given their time and talents to Tech by serving as a role model for all alumni.
View photos from the event on Flickr.
Registration for WVU Tech’s 2016 summer session is open. Classes begin on Monday, May 16, and the session will include a wide range of in-class and online courses.
Students not yet admitted to the university should apply online as soon as possible if they wish to start during the summer session. To find out more, contact WVU Tech Admissions at email@example.com or at 304.442.3146.
On Thursday, April 21, nearly 150 students, staff, faculty, alumni and members of industry packed the WVU Tech Center Ballroom for the 2016 WVU Tech Design Expo.
Now in its second year, the expo allows students from various disciplines to share their senior design projects. Attendees discussed 31 student projects ranging from automated golf carts and concrete canoes to smart house technology and portable solar power.
Tavon Johnson, a senior mechanical engineering student and expo co-founder, said this year’s expo drew in twice as many attendees as last spring’s inaugural event.
“When we first opened up, people were excited and ready to see what our students have been working on all year. We had a line,” he said.
Johnson said this year’s expo was about more than showing senior projects. For him, it’s about an exchange of ideas.
“This allows students to see projects from other disciplines and to see how their work might fit those projects. For example, I’m working with wind turbines and my project is oriented towards mechanical engineering. There are a lot of electrical components though, and so someone with an electrical engineering background can put their knowledge to work when they’re exploring my project,” he said.
This year’s expo also invited member of industry to review research and serve as project judges.
“It’s a good way to build connections and show what we’re doing here on campus,” said Johnson. “Hopefully, we’re also finding research that matches the interests of companies in the region. Together, maybe we can make something great out of these projects.”
Alan Comer, ‘03, was one of these attending industry professionals. A graduate of WVU Tech’s mechanical engineering program, Comer works for a Denmark-based oilfield manufacturing company out of Cranberry, Pennsylvania. He also serves on the mechanical engineering department’s advisory board at Tech. He said he was impressed with the work of the students featured in the expo.
“They’ve been great. What I’ve learned as an engineer is that communication skills can be as important as your engineering skills when it comes to these projects. This is enabling the students to go out and present their work in an intelligent way. It’s valuable practice,” he said.
Hannah Atkins, a junior chemical engineering major from Sissonville, West Virginia, presented her group’s research on methods for separating natural gas byproducts. She agreed with Comer on the value of practicing the project pitch.
“It’s important because if I can’t sell my project or myself as an engineer to a company, I’m going to miss out on opportunities. Part of my career has to be explaining and justifying my work and how the projects I want to work on will have a positive impact on the people around me,” she said.
The expo wrapped up with a social event and an awards ceremony. Civil engineering students Joseph Caudill, James Ramsey and Michael Powell received the “Most Visually Appealing” award for their concrete canoe presentation. Mechanical engineering majors Joel Kouakou, Jon Ball, Brendon Rankou and Jerod Taylor’s “Design and Fabrication of Microalgae CO2 Capture System” won “Most Outstanding Content.” Electrical engineering students Daniel Noel and Dwight Wilson received the “Most Innovative” award for their automotive waste energy systems project. The “Best Presentation” went to engineering technology students Ronald Harper, Lionel Waters and John Canteberry for “Sludge Removal Efficiency.”
Mechanical engineering professor Dr. Farshid Zabihian served as a faculty advisor for the expo. He said that the event’s success stemmed from the fact that it’s student-driven.
“This is all student work and it’s led by students. They do everything. It is a young event, but even in the second year, we’re so very happy with the way it has been done,” he said. “We’re definitely on the right track.”
Johnson organized the expo alongside WVU Tech students Alex Perry and Yazid Amrani. Johnson graduates this spring, but said he’s excited to see how the expo will grow in the coming years.
“We’re hoping to make this a permanent thing and even to draw in non-engineers and the community. We’d like to see this grow into something amazing,” he said.
Check out photos from the expo on Flickr.
The 19th Annual STEM Awards Banquet was held on Monday, April 18 in the Tech Center Ballroom. More than 140 students, staff, faculty and family members gathered to celebrate the achievements of 41 WVU Tech students.
Students were recognized for their academic work as well as their service to the college and community outside of the classroom.
“We’re pleased to acknowledge these promising students and we’re proud to say that we’ll one day send out into the STEM industries because they’re driven, well-trained and passionate about their fields,” said Dr. Zeljko “Z” Torbica, dean of the Leonard C. Nelson College of Engineering and Sciences at WVU Tech.
“They are doing great things here, and we know they’ll continue that trend and carry these accomplishments with them into their academic and professional careers,” he said.
New inductees and current members of the WVU Tech Chapter of the Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society were also recognized at the event
Check out photos on Flickr and be sure to congratulate this year’s STEM Awards recipients:
Janet Morst Cunningham Biology Service Award
Destiny Morgan Deyton Senior Academic Excellence Award
Seirra Marie Seay First-Year Student Academic Excellence Award
Christina Frances Stover First-Year Student Academic Excellence Award
Kendra J. Monnin Outstanding Sophomore Award
Wesley A. Cunningham Outstanding Junior Award
Logan M. Efaw AIChE Leadership Award
Matthew Resendez Outstanding Senior Award
Salem M. AlEidan Outstanding Civil Engineering Sophomore Award
Adam J. Oldaker Outstanding Civil Engineering Junior Award
James R. Ramsey Outstanding Civil Engineering Senior Award
Dakota R. Smith Outstanding Civil Engineering Freshman Award
COMPUTER SCIENCE AND INFORMATION SYSTEMS
Adam Cantrell – Outstanding Information Systems Student
Jackie Keiffer – Outstanding Computer Science Student
Joshua Keiffer Outstanding Computer Science Student
Gregory Hughes – Outstanding Computer Science Student
Joshua Massy – Outstanding Information Systems Student
Jeremy Ruth – Outstanding Computer Science Student
Mardigon Toler – Outstanding Computer Science Student
Cody Zackoski – Outstanding Information Systems and Computer Science Student
ELECTRICAL AND COMPUTER ENGINEERING
Shella “Gabi” Kelley Outstanding Computer Engineering Senior Award
Brooklynn Meadows Outstanding Electrical Engineering Senior Award
Daniel Noel Outstanding Electrical Engineering Senior Award
Benjamin Petry Outstanding Service Award
Felipe Sozinho Outstanding Electrical Engineering Senior Award
Cameron M. McKimmie Outstanding Academic Performance (Engineering Technology Mechanical Emphasis)
Lionel L. Waters Outstanding Academic Performance (Engineering Technology Civil Emphasis)
Dustin Shumaker Outstanding Academic Performance (Electronic Engineering Technology)
Takoda Grove Outstanding Sophomore Award
Adam Teator Outstanding Junior Award
Charles Westfall Outstanding Junior Award
Juliet Zimmerman Outstanding Sophomore Award
Yazid Amrani Outstanding Contributions to the WVU Tech Chapter of American Society of Mechanical Engineers
Brett A. Floyd Outstanding Contributions to the WVU Tech Phi Tau Sigma Honorary Society
Corey M. Hall Outstanding Contributions to the WVU Tech SAE Baja Team
Andrew V. Lytton Outstanding Academic Achievement Award
Courtney R. Shumate Outstanding Contributions to the WVU Tech Student Partnership for the Advancement of Cosmic Exploration
Lyang Suan Wang Outstanding Contributions to the WVU Tech SAE Aero Design Team
Kaylah Bovard 2015-2016 Student Outreach and Service Award
Richard Aaron Murdock 2015-2016 Student Outreach and Service Award
Senior athletic coaching education major LaKisha Adkins was named a SHAPE America Major of the Year. The recognition is awarded to outstanding junior and senior students in health, physical education, recreation and dance fields who have excelled academically and have provided a service to the school or community.
Adkins is active in the University’s Sports Studies Club and was a starter in women’s basketball at WVU Tech, where she played all four years. In her time at Tech, Adkins was awarded the Champion of Character Award in basketball as a freshman and was named to the Second Team All-Conference during her senior year. She was also a Dean’s List student during her junior and senior years.
The Huntington, West Virginia, native graduates in May and plans to pursue a master’s degree in early childhood education. She also hopes to serve as an Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) basketball assistant coach.
Adkins said she’s humbled by the award from an organization she deeply respects.
“The importance of SHAPE America is to get everyone involved in physical activity for a healthier lifestyle. Physical activity provides numerous benefits as well as creating lifelong skills,” she said. “Receiving this award was very special to me. Only one student from every school with a physical education program is selected, so I am honored to have won this award and to represent WVU Tech as the major of the year.”
Adkins traveled to Minneapolis, Minnesota, to receive the award on Thursday, April 7 at the SHAPE America National Convention.
On a chilly April Wednesday, members of the WVU Tech Society of Automotive Engineers Baja Buggy team packed up the racing buggy they’ve spent months building from scratch and set off for Cookeville, Tennessee for the first of three spring semester competitions.
Starting on Thursday, April 14, the group will spend four days putting that buggy to the test in everything from braking, suspension and maneuverability events to hill climbs and a four-hour endurance race. They’ll also have to justify their design choices in a business-style presentation.
After months of fundraising, design and construction, the team will be showing off their most ambitious build yet. For Dr. Winnie Fu, engineering technology professor and advisor to the group, this year’s built is the most advanced she’s seen in her years overseeing the project at WVU Tech.
“This vehicle has the most engineering it’s ever seen, and so the team hopes to bring home their best finish ever. Because of that, they have been working around the clock on weekends and many evenings. It is even difficult for me, as the advisor, to comprehend the amount of work and dedication that has gone into this year’s build,” she said.
For this year’s buggy, weight was a primary challenge. Since each buggy is required to run on the same 10-horsepower Briggs & Stratton engine, weight becomes a primary barrier to higher performance. A decrease in weight means the engine has less to move. As senior mechanical engineering major Corey Hall puts it, “the less weight we have in the buggy, the more power we can put to the ground.”
Hall said that the top competitors often weight in between 300 and 350 pounds. Last year, the Tech buggy sat at 400 pounds. The year before, it weighed a full 550 pounds. This year, however, the team has worked diligently to simplify the buggy and bring that number down.
Team member Vicente Porcar said he thinks they may have built the lightest buggy in school history.
“I can tell you it can be lifted from the ground by just two people. We made big efforts in fundraising that allowed us to buy better and lighter parts. In the design stage, we kept the buggy as small and light as possible. Even the tabs used for the mounting of body panels have been analyzed and reduced in size and weight to meet our goal,” he said.
The team also focused on increasing maneuverability and stability. They narrowed the frame, shortened the wheelbase and extended suspension components for an overall wider, more stable build.
Team members also built many of the buggy’s components from scratch, including student-designed and built custom front and rear suspensions, custom shocks and a custom one-speed transmission. Team even members learned how to cast aluminum to build their own lightweight parts, dressed the buggy with advanced composite bodywork and outfitted the vehicle with two-way communications and a data acquisition system.
“This year we’ve made more parts than ever before,” said Hall. “We’re making revisions and optimizations to our design from last year. There’s been a big push to build things that in previous years we would have just bought.”
The group is confident in the buggy they’ve put together. At this stage, they’ve put the vehicle through rigorous testing (check out a video of the buggy in action) and they’re anxious to see what it can do in Tennessee.
“The team is extremely excited to be running three competitions this year. They feel that this vehicle will be a contender in all events this year. The team has spent countless our on this vehicle, and is ready to show what they are capable of,” said the organization’s president and team leader, Jason Browning.
Browning said that the team’s advances were enabled in large part by the project’s sponsors. One of the buggy project’s major hurdles is cost, and the team spends time working with sponsors to use professional equipment, secure construction materials, employ machining services and secure funding for parts and travel.
“All of our sponsors are extremely important to us and we couldn’t do what we do without each one of them,” said Browning. “The biggest benefit to sponsors is the opportunity to directly invest in future Southern West Virginia engineers. Their sponsorship permits students to gain engineering knowledge and learn the hands-on skills that Tech is so famous for. Over time, they will see these benefits pay dividends when they hire Tech students to work for them. It is an investment in Tech students and West Virginia.”
After Tennessee, the group will compete in California in mid-May and New York in June.
“We are excited and anxious about Tennessee since it is the first competition and the first time we get to test our buggy against others buggies,” said Porcar. “After Tennessee, we come back, retune for California and shoot for the top places again, but this time with a better idea of what needs to improve. After California, we should have our best version of the buggy to run in Rochester.”
For the group’s seniors, this year’s competition series marks the culmination of years of working on the project. It was also a valuable chance for students like Browning to pass on their knowledge and experience to those who will take the reins in the coming years.
“It has been very exciting watching the team grow and become stronger over these last four years,” said Browning. “It’s unbelievable what we have been able to accomplish. My first year there were four of us with a shoestring budget. Now we are 17 strong with the potential to be a top contender. This goes to show that with lots of hard work and dedication to something that anything is possible.”
This year’s buggy sponsors are Toyota, March Westin, the Leonard C. Nelson College of Engineering and Sciences at WVU Tech, the WVU Tech Student Government Association, Constellium, Brickstreet Insurance, NGK Spark Plaugs, American Electric Power, the Crossroads Mall, James Giuliani, Global Procurement, Aircon Engineering, West Virginia Manufacturing Solutions, the Robert C. Byrd Institute for Advanced Flexible Manufacturing, Snap-on, Jarvis Hardware, P3, QA1 and Tilton Engineering.
Kelly Hudgins, director of WVU Tech’s Student Success Center, was among four WVU advisors honored with the Nicholas Evans Excellence in Advising Award.
Hudgins has been with WVU Tech for three years. At the SSC, she oversees academic advising for all incoming first-year and transfer students, new student registration events, new student orientation, peer tutoring and academic intervention. Her work has been instrumental in the success of the center, which sees more than 10,000 visits each year.
For Hudgins, that success stems from her department’s focus on ensuring students have access to the resources and opportunities best suited to them on a personal level.
“Good advising meets students exactly where they are when they step on campus and takes the time to examine their academic backgrounds and career goals. Most importantly, good advising seeks out the person behind the student and supports his or her needs in and out of the classroom,” she said.
In addition to recognizing Hudgins’ service to the students of WVU Tech, the award comes with $1,250 in funds for professional development projects.
Hudgins and her fellow awardees were recognized at a dinner event in Morgantown on Wednesday, April 6. Read more about Hudgins and the award in this story from WVU Today.