6 Jul

In late June, more than 20 girls from throughout West Virginia and surrounding states visited WVU Tech’s Montgomery campus for the first-ever STEM Summer Academy for Girls.

The program immersed attendees in a week of STEM programming, including courses in biology, robotics, engineering, chemistry, computer science and pharmacology. Students participated in a variety of competitions and heard from guest speakers, including WVU Tech President Carolyn Long and Robin Anglin-Sizemore, science coordinator at the West Virginia Department of Education’s Office of Secondary Learning.

Fourteen-year-old Piper Martin is going into the ninth grade at Charleston’s George Washington High School, but she already has her eye on college. She attended the Academy to explore new fields and get a feel for what life in college is like.

“Usually in school you get sort of a brief introduction to careers, but I like learning more in depth about all the careers, especially in biology, because that’s where I want to go,” she said. “Knowing that it’s really sterile in a lab and that you have to be careful when you’re doing experiments is helpful. It gives me a picture of what I’ll be doing.”

Designed from the start as a means of demonstrating the application of STEM fields to everyday life, the Academy took a unique approach to helping students process the program’s educational offerings.

For instance, attendees participated in a competition where they worked with a budget to purchase materials like cardstock, glue and tape to build a pair of shoes. Students had to consider engineering design elements to account for pressures and weight distribution in the shoes, and had to test their designs on a 20-foot runway.

IMG_6870 Students show off their shoe designs on a 20-foot runway during the STEM Summer Academy for Girls.

Students also participated in a weeklong project where they were asked to give a PowerPoint presentation on what they learned during the Academy. Dr. Afrin Naz, WVU Tech professor of computer science and Academy organizer, said the competition served to boost teamwork skills and bring the concepts and lessons students learned together in a cohesive way.

“The group competition has been beneficial for many of these girls because it’s been helping them with leadership, presentation and communication skills, and we’re already seeing a change in some of them as they become more confident and vocal as they work within their teams,” said Naz.

“By including the competition element, the students are paying more attention in each class. They’re making connections between these fields and how one field can have an impact on another. They are also better able to articulate what they like and dislike in each field because they have to think about what they are learning in an analytical way,” she said.

Dr. Naz said that the Academy also had a strong parental involvement component, where parents participated in the final competition and provided survey data before and after the program.

As a counselor, WVU Tech biology student Taylor Miltenberger said the Academy was an opportunity to connect with young students headed down the path she’s taking. Miltenberger, a first-generation college student, was able to share her experiences with students who will be in her shoes in just a few short years.

IMG_6234 Students program robots to follow a set path during the Academy’s robotics course.

“I didn’t have this kind of opportunity when I went to school – it was always just pick what you like and you don’t always know until you’re in it whether you really enjoy a field. Students can picture themselves in these careers here because of the activities we’ve been going over with them. They get to see what a biologist or an engineer really does and they can connect with that,” she said.

Many of the Academy’s attendees shared that the all-girls format of the Academy was a draw for them, as it allowed students to start the program on common ground with girls who hold similar interests.

Stephanie Fletcher graduated high school a year early from Independence High School in Coal City, West Virginia, and will be studying chemical engineering at WVU Tech in the fall. She said she had originally applied to attend WVU Tech’s co-ed Camp STEM, but changed her mind when she heard about the all-girls Academy.

“In engineering and science fields you’re always going to be outnumbered by guys, so I liked how it focused more on the impact that women can have and the job opportunities women have,” she said.

“I did a lot of research and thought I would go into the medical field. The more I looked, the more I realized that I liked engineering. I want to work in manufacturing and work on creating things with an economical and environmental emphasis. It’s been great to learn about careers from professors and speakers who know what’s going on for women in these fields,” she said.

IMG_6234 Academy students test for mock HIV virus in the biology lab.

Academy students took their experience on the road during the camp as well, visiting Toyota Motor Manufacturing West Virginia’s plant in Buffalo, West Virginia, where they toured the company’s manufacturing facility and met with the plant’s president, Millie Marshall. The group also visited the Clay Center in Charleston.

The STEM Summer Academy for Girls was sponsored by Toyota and AT&T, who gave generously of their time and talents to ensure that girls from throughout the state and beyond could experience the program. WVU Tech thanks these companies for their support.

Check out local coverage of the Academy from West Virginia Public Broadcasting, West Virginia Executive, The Charleston Daily Mail, The Charleston Gazette and WOWK TV 13. For photos of the week’s activities, visit WVU Tech on Flickr.

29 Jun
IMG_6072 Camp STEM students collect evidence at a mock crime scene.

Last week marked the eleventh year of WVU Tech’s popular Camp STEM summer program, which brought 45 high school students from throughout the state to the University’s Montgomery campus for a weeklong immersion in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Campers engaged in interactive STEM-focused courses and activities where they learned about mathematics, biology, chemistry, engineering, computer science, forensic investigation, renewable energy and automobile technology. Students also worked in groups to build and operate LEGO robots and visited the ACE Adventure resort, where they explored ecology and hydrology while zip-lining and whitewater rafting.

Dr. Kimberlyn Gray, WVU Tech chemical engineering professor and director of Camp STEM, said the camp is so popular because students get to see firsthand how their aptitudes in STEM fields can be applied to a real career – and many Camp STEM students are uncovering areas of study they are instantly passionate about.

“Camp STEM is built to guide students to different fields in an introductory way, though we’ve seen that students are going beyond those introductions and truly immersing themselves in the courses they enjoy. We’re seeing students find something they’re interested in – like robotics, for instance – and really dig into it here,” she said.

“They won’t take no for an answer and when they try something in that field and fail, they’re coming back on their own time to try again. They take full advantage of the time they have at the camp to explore what they find fascinating. When they return home and start thinking about the courses they’ll take in school next year, they have that experience driving them to keep exploring,” she said.

Jacob Bedekovich, 14, is a tenth grader from Williamstown High School in Wood County, West Virginia.

IMG_5941xx Student Jacob Bedekovich (left) works with a survey crew during the camp’s civil engineering course.

He said he wants to go to college after high school, but that he isn’t sure what he wants to study. The Biology course at Camp STEM put the subject on the map for him.

“We learned how to grow bacteria and how to make them resistant to antibiotics – you can actually grow bacteria that can help people if they’re sick,” he said.

Macie Higginbotham, a 14-year-old ninth grader from Roane County High School, attended the camp’s courses in biology, chemical engineering, robotics and computer science. She said she was most excited to explore some of the science driving advances in the medical field where she ultimately wants to end up.

“I want to be in the health field. This camp isn’t for that specifically, but I know that everything I learn here is going to help me in the future. I wanted to get into radiology, but after this week, I’m really interested in biology and chemistry, too.”

IMG_6159 Macie Higginbotham examines bacterial growth under UV light in Camp STEM’s biology lab.

Visiting students wrapped up the camp with a family picnic and the final robotics competition on Friday, June 26.

“It’s a great camp and what they teach us is really useful,” said Higginbotham. “I definitely want to come back next year.”

WVU Tech is grateful to the AEP Foundation, the ECA Foundation, Dow, Toyota and AT&T, who provided financial support and lent the camp their time and talents. Camp STEM’s sponsors ensure that students have access to the best activities possible and that students who can benefit most from the camp are able to attend.

ECA Manager of Corporate Affairs Jennifer Vieweg visited the camp on Tuesday, June 23, to see the camp’s courses in action.

“The ECA Foundation is committed to promoting youth and education. We especially like to support programs designed to improve high school graduation rates, encourage college and career readiness, and provide West Virginia with a well-educated and skilled workforce,” she shared.

“Camp STEM contributes to all of these critical areas; it is a proven program with a great track record that continues to grow year after year. Interesting, interactive and engaging activities, like Camp STEM, help keep kids interested in these important fields so they will be better prepared to fill jobs in the 21st century,” she said.

Check out local media coverage of the camp from WOAY and WCHS.

Visit WVU Tech on Flickr to see photos from Camp STEM 2015.

25 Jun

West Virginia University Institute of Technology (WVU Tech) and BridgeValley Community and Technical College (BridgeValley) signed an articulation agreement today establishing multiple associate-to-bachelor degree educational pathways.

“BridgeValley works closely with business and industry leaders to provide a number of opportunities for graduates to start high-paying careers in West Virginia,” said Dr. Jo Harris, President of BridgeValley. “This agreement provides an opportunity for our associate-degree graduates to continue their education at WVU Tech.”

This agreement enables students who complete an eligible associate program at BridgeValley to pursue a baccalaureate degree from the WVU Tech’s College of Business, Humanities and Social Sciences.

“The partnership between BridgeValley and WVU Tech provides students with opportunities to obtain associates and bachelor degrees while learning from knowledgeable and caring faculty and staff. This agreement, along with our current pathway with BridgeValley in engineering technology, will provide students more options to continue their education at WVU Tech,” said Carolyn Long, Campus President of WVU Tech.

The pathway programs in this agreement include Accounting AAS to Accounting BS, Finance AAS to Accounting BS, Management AAS to Business Management BS, Marketing AAS to Business Management BS, Criminal Justice AAS to Criminal Justice BS, Healthcare Management AAS to Health Services Administration BS and Paralegal Studies AAS to Public Service Administration BS.

3 Jun

by Pamela Pritt

Beckley-area residents were excited to learn Monday that the Mountaineers are definitely coming to town.

West Virginia University officials signed the final papers that completed the state flagship university’s purchase of the former Mountain State University campus.

Carolyn Long, president of WVU Tech in Montgomery, will be at the helm of the WVU Beckley campus as well. Long said Tuesday that she is excited at the prospect of leading the way for WVU in Beckley, even though her workload will essentially double.

“Certainly I will have to be very efficient with my time and I will have to be efficient not just with my time, but with traveling in the sense of making sure that wherever I am I utilize my time the best I can and the fullest I can,” Long said.

The trip from Montgomery to Beckley takes about 50 minutes. Long knows that could be problematic, but is also aware that many people in the area travel that far to work every day.

“So I just have to be very aware that I make sure I have full days every place and that I’m efficient and effective as humanly possible,” she said.

Long said she is lucky to have a “wonderful administrative staff on both campuses.”

“Is it going to be a lot of work? Sure. But I think it’s well worth it and I look forward to doing it.”

With the ink on those documents barely dry, Long is already thinking ahead to the local campus’ needs and where to begin the transition.

“This is a creation in progress,” she said. Long said WVU will rebrand the campus and she hopes an admissions counselor will be hired and ready to help prospective students by late summer when the degrees available in Beckley will be set.

“We’re going to get our buildings ready; we’re going to configure them like we need to for the classes that we’ll have to offer,” she continued.

Long said it can take two years to get new programs online since they must be approved by the Higher Learning Commission and the Higher Education Policy Commission, as well as go through internal processes.

“We’ll be working on getting faculty ready to teach,” she said. “Certainly, we’ll be out recruiting for students and getting the campus all ready to welcome everybody in the fall of 2016.”

It’s a lot to juggle, with nearly 44 miles between campuses, but Long is ready. She’s a veteran educator with experience in the classroom and in administration. She’s also a retired superintendent of schools and a former member of the WVU Board of Governors.

Since she’s been at WVU Tech, the school has seen a 10 percent increase in enrollment, according to the school’s website.

If she’s looking forward to WVU at Beckley, she’s not looking at WVU Tech in the rearview mirror.

She calls the school a jewel in the state’s education crown, and when she’s asked about the “good” engineering program at WVU Tech, she laughs.

“There’s not a good engineering program, there’s a great engineering program,” she said. “There’s an absolutely wonderful engineering program. It is small, very intimate, but we have nine fully accredited programs on that campus.”

Beckley and Montgomery will likely share more than Long, as technology will allow distance learning between the two schools, and possibly Morgantown.

That saves resources, both financial and human, but Long wants students in both places to have a “real” classroom experience.

“It’s very important that students get to know their professors,” she said. “So I would envision professors who choose to do both campuses will take turns conducting the class on the Beckley campus one day and maybe two days later conducting the class on the Tech campus.

“It’s important we still have that family atmosphere,” she said. “Teleconferencing is fine, but in person is much better. Even though technology can be our friend, it can be our enemy if you overuse it. I want to make sure we use it appropriately.”

Long said WVU Beckley will not only be working with WVU Tech, but also with area universities and colleges to develop programs that will benefit the region’s residents and potential students.

“I look forward to working with Bluefield (State College) and Concord (University) to see if we can cooperate on some programs and some classes that may be helpful to all of us,” Long said. “We want to be a good steward of the education system and we want to be good neighbors in West Virginia.”

Long said masters degree programs will be a good way to partner with other schools.

She said a visitors center will open on the campus later this summer, the first building to open before students arrive next year. Long said she’ll see the interior design of the building later this week.

The WVU Board of Governors meets at the Resort at Glade Springs on Friday.

1 Jun

From WVU Today – 6/1/15

West Virginia University’s purchase of the former Mountain State University campus in Beckley was completed today (June 1), and President Gordon Gee said University officials hope to offer classes there by fall 2016.

“This is truly a unique opportunity to better serve the citizens of southern West Virginia with niche and relevant academic programs that meet the needs of the region,” Gee said. “It is also an opportunity to partner with area colleges and universities on additional educational pathways.”

Carolyn Long, campus president of West Virginia University Institute of Technology, will lead the WVU Beckley campus while continuing her leadership role at Tech.

“Because of Carolyn’s background as a former member of the WVU Board of Governors and now as campus president at our divisional campus in Montgomery, she has a great understanding of the role West Virginia University plays in providing access to our state citizens, especially in the southern part of our state,” Provost Joyce McConnell said. “We are delighted that she has accepted this dual role as we gear up for a wonderful educational environment in Beckley – which, we feel confident, will complement what is being offered at Tech.”

Mountain State’s Board of Trustees Chairman Max Beard called the agreement historic, saying, “As a native of Beckley I believe the arrival of WVU in Beckley is the most significant event in the history of our city. This promising opportunity would not have happened without the relentless commitment and dedicated economic development efforts of MSU Trustee Elmer Coppoolse, managing partner of The Resort of Glade Springs. His contribution to this transaction is unparalleled.”

Following a review under an exclusive due diligence agreement entered into in November, and then extended, WVU offered to purchase the Beckley campus land and assets for $8 million on Dec. 31. The Mountain State board accepted the offer, pending court approval, which was granted Jan. 16. Today’s action completes the purchase.

See original post from WVU Today.

CONTACT: University Relations/News

27 May

Dr. Zeljko “Z” Torbica, dean of the WVU Tech Leonard C. Nelson College of Engineering and Sciences, travelled to Greece this week to speak at the eighth Construction in the 21st Century (CITC-8) conference in Thessaloniki, the country’s second-largest city.

Organized by the East Carolina University Department of Construction Management and the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki Department of Civil Engineering, the conference will draw construction and engineering professionals from dozens of nations to discuss topics ranging from mega projects and future trends to innovation and education in the construction industry.

Dr. Torbica’s keynote presentation, “Advancing Undergraduate Construction Management Education: Lessons Learned from the Engineering Education – a U.S. Perspective,” will discuss how methods used to address challenges in engineering education can be applied to the study of construction management, a much younger field.

The conference is just one in a series of many events and activities WVU Tech faculty and administration have been attending in an effort to both promote the advancement of their fields and share the work going on at WVU Tech.

“This type of engagement helps with raising the visibility of any institution,” said Dr. Torbica. “In this particular case, many of the attendees, who are either faculty members or industry professionals, may hear of WVU Tech for the first time.”

CITC-8 runs from May 27 – 30.

26 May

Remembering Dr. John Nash

Zachary | May 26th, 2015

The WVU Tech community is saddened to hear of the passing of John and Alicia Nash.

Dr. John Forbes Nash, Jr., a Nobel laureate and one of the 20th century’s greatest mathematical minds, was a West Virginia native and a man of staggering mathematical genius.

Nash’s work in game theory – the mathematical study of decision making – impacted scholarship on everything from political science and foreign affairs to biology and psychology. In his lifetime, Nash also endured a heartbreaking, decades-long struggle with mental illness. His story served as the inspiration for the Oscar-winning film “A Beautiful Mind.”

In 2006, WVU Tech had the distinct honor of welcoming Dr. Nash to the institution’s 107th Commencement Ceremony, where he was recognized for his scientific contributions and awarded an honorary doctorate alongside noted architect Henry Elden and historian Ronald Alexander.

WVU Tech joins the scientific community in mourning the loss of this truly beautiful mind.

For more about Nash, listen to Still a Beautiful Mind – and an Inspiring West Virginian from West Virginia Public Broadcasting. You can read local coverage of Nash’s life at The Charleston Gazette, Times West Virginian, West Virginia Metro News and West Virginia Public Broadcasting.

19 May
IMG_5097xx WVU Tech’s Dr. Hasan El-Rifai holds a ball of flame during a chemistry presentation for visiting Tolsia High School students.

Thirteen juniors and seniors from Tolsia High School in Wayne County, West Virginia, visited WVU Tech May 14-15 for two days of classroom, laboratory and field demonstrations.

The students – pupils of Tolsia’s AP biology and genetics courses – participated in biology, mathematics, ecology, chemistry, computer science and robotics activities while on campus.

Roger Spry, an AP biology and AP physics teacher at Tolsia, said the event is a way to give these bright students both exposure to high-tech laboratory equipment and a chance to work in the field.

“We’re working on upgrading our own equipment, but we currently don’t have access to the types of lab equipment available at WVU Tech,” he said. “Our students are doing new things in these labs, like staining bacteria and using powerful microscopes to examine their sizes and shapes.”

IMG_5009 Tolsia High students wrap up a biology course in WVU Tech’s Orndorff Hall

“We’re also visiting an acid mine drainage site to look at the ecology of the stream and how they’re trying to reclaim that area. An outdoor field environment where students can work with the actual insects they’re studying and where they can see how tools are used in the field is an awesome experience for them, and there are a lot of real-world applications to what they’re doing here,” he said.

For visiting AP biology student Annalyse Mann, the experience was also a glimpse into the future.

“I’ve always liked science since I was young, so it’s nice to be able to have this kind of experience. Just being able to experience college classrooms and labs is great. A lot of the students plan to study biology in college and they get a chance to work in a setting they will be seeing in the future,” she said.

Spry said that the two-day visit is an extension of the longstanding partnership between Tolsia and WVU Tech’s Dr. Kimberlyn Gray, who organizes the annual event.

“I can’t express how thankful we are for the partnership with WVU Tech and Dr. Gray, who is great about working with our students throughout the year,” he said.

View photos from the visit on Flickr.

11 May

WVU Tech’s 116th Commencement Ceremony honored nearly 200 graduates on Saturday, May 9, 2015 at the Baisi Athletic Center in Montgomery.

Local media covered the event, including the following from WSAZ:

MONTGOMERY, W.Va. (WSAZ) – Nearly 200 students at WVU Tech turned their tassels Saturday during the school’s 116th commencement ceremony.

One of the speakers at the graduation was U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin.

“To anyone who says that America in a nation in decline and our young people are soft and uncompetitive, I would say this – come to WVU Tech and I’ll introduce you to a 190-plus graduates who I guarantee will change your mind,” said Goodwin in his address.

Campus President Carolyn Long also spoke, advising students to take what they’ve learned during their years at WVU Tech, and use it to make positive changes.

“Some of you may wander the planet in search of your passion while others will find it right here at home,” Long said. “Wherever you land and wherever you go in the months and years ahead, know that you have everything you need to make a better life for you and the ones you love.”

“WVU Tech has prepared us with the knowledge to go out and face the world – to not just challenge it, but to improve it,” said Amy Haddix, graduate and President of the WVU Tech Student Government Association.

Read more coverage of the ceremony from WOAY and WCHS.

During the weekend, local media outlets also covered the story of WVU Tech graduate Jermaine Gadson, who overcame a devastating coma in 1998 and completed his degree after 16 years.

From The Charleston Gazette:

On Dec. 14, 1998, doctors told Johnnie Gadson to come to Cabell Huntington Hospital, and to come quickly. Gadson’s son, Jermaine, a freshman at Marshall University, was in a coma and was not expected to wake up.

On Saturday, Jermaine Gadson graduated from the West Virginia University Institute of Technology, in Montgomery.

“I don’t think I’m the oldest graduate in this walking class, but I’m up there,” Jermaine, now 35, said.
He can’t remember how he ended up in the hospital. He had been at a party drinking when something happened.

Johnnie said campus police never did determine exactly what happened to his son. About all he knows is that Jermaine ended up in the hospital, where his condition kept getting worse.

Doctors said Jermaine was brain-dead, and would probably never recover.

“They wanted to know if I’d donate his organs,” Johnnie recalled.

About all family members could do was pray. Johnnie prayed a lot. Then, 28 days later, Jermaine Gadson came out of his coma.

Within a week, he drove himself to a basketball game.

“His short-term memory wasn’t that good, but everything else was fine,” Johnnie said. “Even the doctor admitted they had no medical reason for his recovery.

“I believe God can reverse any situation.”

Jermaine tried to go back to college in 1999, but the effort proved too much for him. He just couldn’t remember things.

But he stuck to it. He worked for a while, tried school again, then went to work again.

He had to relearn how to learn. But he refused to give up.

“I knew I’d be able to graduate,” he said. “It wasn’t something I was going to be denied.”

Jermaine Gadson now has a degree in sports management.

“Never give up hope,” he said. “Never give up faith. That’s what got me through it.”

Read more about Jermaine at The Herald-Dispatch, The Exponent Telegram and Daily Journal.

To see photos from WVU Tech’s commencement weekend, visit the WVU Teck Flickr page.

Graduates who want to order portraits taken during the commencement ceremony can do so at Grad Images.

7 May

On Tuesday, May 5, a group of more than 15 students, faculty and staff represented WVU Tech at the Junior League of Charleston’s Women on the Move event at the Women’s Club of Charleston.

The networking event featured a panel of female professionals from STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) fields to discuss the important role of women in these growing industries.

WVU Tech Campus President Carolyn Long served on the panel alongside Kathy D’Antoni, Assistant Superintendent of Schools, West Virginia Department of Education, Division of Technical and Adult Education Services; Betty King, Vice President of Operations and Education, West Virginia Symphony Orchestra; Sherry Cole, Electrical & Instrumentation Engineering Team Leader, DuPont, and Dr. Christen Simpson Raynes, Dentist, Simpson Dental.

Optimized-2W1A0444 WVU Tech students and faculty attend the second annual Women on the Move event.

During the panel, attendees learned about advances in STEAM education, the power of mentorships and the importance of integrating educational subjects so that students might better understand the connections between them.

“STEAM is important because it helps students learn how to think. It’s more than just knowing the right answer, it’s about knowing how to learn and find the answer,” said President Long.

Panelists also provided words of encouragement to students studying STEAM disciplines.

Sherry Cole, Electrical & Instrumentation Engineering Team Leader at DuPont, said that women in STEAM fields should not be afraid to go after the career of their dreams.

“Don’t give up. If there’s something you want to do, do it,” she said.

“Make sure you love what you do, else you will just walk through life – and you want to be able to fly,” added President Long.

View photos from the event on Flickr.

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