8 Apr

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.”

For more information on joining the club or details on upcoming events, contact the club at wvuitesports@gmail.com, and be sure to visit the club’s Facebook group.

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.

7 Apr

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.

1 Apr
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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.

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“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.”

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“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.

Visit hfhkp.org to find out more about Habitat for Humanity of Kanawha and Putnam, and be sure to check out WVU Tech on Flickr to see photos from this year’s alternative spring break project.

31 Mar
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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.

30 Mar

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.”

Original story on the Charleston Gazette.

16 Mar

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.

9 Mar

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:

AFLAC
Bureau of the Fiscal Service
Enterprise Holdings
Gibbons & Kawash, A.C.
Prestera
Shenandoah University
West Virginia Division of Corrections
West Virginia Public Broadcasting
West Virginia State Tax Department
Brickstreet Insurance
Enervest Operating, LLC
Fastenal
Golden Living Center
Security Group Services LLC
University of Charleston
West Virginia Division of Personnel
West Virginia Regional Jail Authority

9 Mar

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 is available to the WVU Tech community to download for free on iPhone and Android devices. Smartphones without a data plan can interact with LiveSafe over Wi-Fi.

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 techstudentlife@mail.wvu.edu or by phone at 304.442.3158.

5 Mar
16450912437_7650c1d081_z Students build a rollercoaster at Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day.

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.

5 Mar
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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.

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