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

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.

3 Mar

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 school—their 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.

2 Mar

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.

25 Feb

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.

20 Feb

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.

19 Feb

After train derailment, neighbors aid neighbors

Jennifer | February 19th, 2015

Charleston Daily Mail Editorial – February 19, 2015

No time is a good time for a fiery train derailment. But one could hardly imagine a worse week than this one, with its snow and frigid temperatures.

The CSX train that derailed Monday in Fayette County brought with it a host of unexpected challenges for residents, from burning buildings to water warnings. And the brutal weather conditions made all of it more difficult.

But emergency responders and relief organizations were undeterred, stepping in immediately to provide help.

The Red Cross acted with its customary speed and efficiency, providing shelter for residents who were forced out of their homes overnight by the burning tank cars. CSX is now providing hotel rooms for displaced residents.

Multiple organizations provided bottled water, including J&J Trucking, a local company that diverted a tractor-trailer that was already filled with pallets of water.

Fraternity members from West Virginia University Institute of Technology in Montgomery volunteered to help distribute water to members of the community while the safety of the water supply remained uncertain.

Lawmakers, including U.S. Representative Evan Jenkins, Sen. Joe Manchin and Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, and their staffs also reacted quickly to communicate with constituents and keep the public informed.

And most importantly, emergency first responders — many of them volunteers — have been working tirelessly since Monday to control fires, direct traffic and get residents the help they need.

Throughout the crisis, those affected have been able to dial 211 — a 24-hour toll-free hotline — for referrals to places where they can receive shelter, water and other support.

Residents of Fayette County could hardly have predicted on Monday that the weather would among be the least of this week’s worries.

But thanks to the exemplary work of emergency personnel and dedicated volunteers, those whose lives were disrupted by the train derailment have remained safe amidst the cold and confusion.

It’s something to be thankful for as we look forward to warmer and less eventful days ahead.

Read the original editorial from the Charleston Daily Mail.

18 Feb

WVU Tech to keep campus closed until Monday
Samuel Speciale, Charleston Daily Mail

Water services in Montgomery were fully restored Wednesday afternoon, but West Virginia University Institute of Technology officials have decided not to reopen campus to students until a boil advisory is lifted.

The campus has been closed since 5 p.m. Tuesday when school officials canceled classes for the week in response to the nearby derailment of a CSX train carrying Bakken crude oil.

The small campus is tucked into the Montgomery hillside just miles away from Mount Carbon, Fayette County where more than 20 derailed tankers leaked oil into the Kanawha River near the city’s water intakes.

While initial water tests have come back clear of contaminates and city residents have been given the OK to use water, a school spokeswoman said most students do not have a way to boil water for safe consumption in their dorm rooms.

“For that reason, we will keep the campus closed until this weekend,” said university spokeswoman Jennifer Wood.

Because there is limited access to water on campus, university officials also chose to move students to a residence hall at the former Mountain State University campus in Beckley.

Wood said CSX helped the school charter buses to transport 180 students. Others, who live close enough to drive home, went back to their families. About 1,200 students attend WVU Tech.

The school initially arranged to also use beds in the Beckley Marriott Courtyard as overflow, but Wood said the space in the residence hall ended up being sufficient.

University officials made the call to shut down campus hours before West Virginia American Water reopened its intakes in Montgomery. Wood said school officials decided to move forward with the evacuation because they knew the boil advisory was coming and transportation was already organized. She also said there is work that needs done in the dining halls to make sure water and ice are safe.

While the situation isn’t ideal, Wood said the WVU Tech community was quick to respond and that students and teachers have been understanding and patient.

They’ve also been cooperative with the city, which, as of Tuesday, was overrun with state and federal agencies moving in heavy machinery to being cleaning up the train wreckage.

Because the derailment directly affected the WVU Tech community, students were quick to help distribute bottled water and other aid Tuesday when water was still shut off throughout the area.

Members of the school’s [Phi] Kappa Tau fraternity helped unload and distribute cases of bottled water at Montgomery’s city hall. Wood said other students volunteered their services to the fire department.

“You’ll see a lot of that happening,” Wood said. “I don’t know all the details of who was doing what, but its common for our student body to pitch in and help the community in times of need. It’s part of the campus culture.”

Students will be instructed when they can return to campus, and classes will resume Monday at 8 a.m.

See the original story from the Charleston Daily Mail.

18 Feb

When classes were cancelled for the remainder of the week due to an off-campus incident and water outage, students were given the option to be transported to Beckley for residential accommodations or go home for the remainder of the week. Students who opted to go home found it difficult to dig their cars out from the many inches of snow that fell in this week’s winter storm. That is, until they received help from three dedicated WVU Tech staff members – Roger Koch, Roy Ford and Keith Cottrell.


WOWK’s Nicky Walters reports, ”...[No] water wasn’t the only problem, students were also dealing with the weather as they were trying to leave town.
To the average Joe, these three guys might not look like angels. but try looking at them through the eyes of a stranded college student and you might see them a little differently…One by one, Roger, Keith and Roy shoveled and shoved, helping nervous students get out of a tough spot.”

Check out the full video on WOWK TV 13.

16 Feb

(2/20/15 2:00 p.m.)
Campus is closed on Friday, February 20, 2015 and will officially reopen to employees on Friday, February 20, 2015 at 4:30 p.m. Classes have been cancelled through February 20, 2015 and are scheduled to resume at 8 a.m. on Monday, February 23, 2015.

(2/19/15 12:15 p.m.)
Campus will be closed on Friday, February 20, 2015 and only essential employees are to report. Classes are scheduled to resume at 8 a.m. on Monday, February 23, 2015.

(2/18/15 1:15 p.m.)
Campus will be closed on Thursday, February 19, 2015 and only essential employees are to report.

Classes at WVU Tech have been cancelled through February 20, 2015 and are scheduled to resume at 8 a.m. on Monday, February 23, 2015.

(2/17/15 10:40 p.m.)
Due to ongoing water issues in the Montgomery area, campus will be closed on Wednesday, February 18, 2015 and only essential employees are to report.

Classes at WVU Tech have been cancelled through February 20, 2015 and are scheduled to resume at 8 a.m. on Monday, February 23, 2015.

(2/17/15 12:00 p.m.)
Since water service on campus is not expected to be restored for another 48 to 72 hours, classes will be cancelled for the remainder of this week. We plan to resume classes on Monday, February 23, 2015 at 8:00 a.m.

With cooperation from CSX, Mountain State University and the University of Charleston, residential accommodations will be provided to WVU Tech on-campus students in residence hall facilities in Beckley and the Beckley Marriott Courtyard will be used as overflow space, if necessary. Buses will be on campus early this afternoon to transport students to Beckley. Arrangements for food service have been made and University Police and Residence Life staff will be on site. WVU Tech residence hall policies and the student code of conduct will be in effect on the Beckley campus.

Residence halls on the Montgomery campus will close today at 5:00 p.m. and will remain closed until after water service on campus is restored.

(2/16/15 4:00 p.m.)
Off-campus Incident Closes Montgomery Water Intake, Calls for Conservation of Water
This afternoon, a train derailment occurred in the Mount Carbon area. This incident does not currently pose a threat to those on campus.

As a result of this incident, the water treatment facility in Montgomery has closed its intake and we will need to conserve water on campus. All non-essential use of water is prohibited. The Bears Den will remain open to distribute water to all students, regardless of whether or not they have a meal plan.

Due to these concerns and the current weather conditions, campus will be closed on Tuesday, February 17, 2015.

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