In a month packed with outreach events, the students and faculty of WVU Tech’s Leonard C. Nelson College of Engineering and Sciences are showing young students their potential in STEM fields and celebrating National Engineers Week (February 21-27).
On Tuesday, February 9, members of WVU Tech’s Association for Women Engineers, Scientists, or Mathematicians Empowerment (AWESOME), visited the Culture Center in Charleston for Girls’ Day at the Legislature.
AWESOME members taught students from Cabell Midland High School about computer coding and robotics. They also worked with the students on action plans addressing education concerns and ways female students could better explore the career options available to them.
On Saturday, February 20, dozens of Tech students and faculty members will participate in Discover Engineering Day at the Clay Center in Charleston. Attendees will learn about electrocardiograms, how studying aquatic insects can help determine the health of a stream and how binary and hexadecimal code is used in computing. They’ll also pilot robots using Wii Fit balance boards, build circuits, construct bridges, learn about chromatography, generate electricity with Gatorade, explore how engines work and check out WVU Tech’s popular Baja racing buggy.
Discover Engineering Day runs from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Saturday, February 20. Girl Scout groups will have early access to the event from 9 11 a.m.
The Thursday of National Engineers Week is designated as Girl Day, and to celebrate, BridgeValley Community and Technical College will host its annual Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day on February 25 at the Columbia Pipeline Group building in Charleston. The event brings in eighth-grade girls from throughout Southern West Virginia to work on engineering projects and connect with women who are currently studying or working in engineering fields.
Dr. Kimberlyn Gray, assistant professor of chemical engineering, coordinates the University’s STEM and engineering outreach programs. She said that WVU Tech students and faculty are always excited to be a part of Girl Day because attendees often discover opportunities they never knew existed.
“We want to introduce them to engineering as a career, but this is also a chance for these girls to meet women in engineering who come from a variety of backgrounds and hold a tremendous range of interests outside of engineering. They’ll see that you don’t have to be a particular type of person to be an engineer,” she said.
Gray said that WVU Tech’s celebration of STEM and career outreach will continue in the days following National Engineers Week.
On February 29, fifth-graders from Chesapeake Elementary in Kanawha County will visit the Montgomery campus for a day of career exploration. They’ll meet with engineering, nursing, biology, computer science, political science and athletics faculty to discover career paths, conduct experiments and learn how the upcoming presidential election works.
“A lot of the research that covers driving interest in STEM fields particularly in engineering shows that if you don’t capture their attention by the fifth grade, you lose students. They lose interest. That seems very early to us, but having a spark of interest catch at that age can help these students figure out what they really want to do later,” she said.
The following week, Gray will visit Tolsia High School in Wayne County. There, Gray and her group will teach biology students about gel electrophoresis (a method of separating DNA fragments using electricity), conduct experiments in the chemistry class and discuss the wide range of career options open to physics students.
“High school students are in a different situation. They know they’re good at math or science, but they don’t necessarily know what engineers do. They don’t know what the different disciplines within engineering involve,” said Gray. “We all know what doctors, police officers and teachers do because we see it every day, but engineering is often a very behind-the-scenes field. Events like this give them an opportunity to interact with college students in these fields and find out how their interests connect to these different disciplines.”
For WVU Tech mechanical engineering student Kaylah Bovard, this type of outreach reinforces the fundamentals college students learn in the classroom.
“When students are placed into an environment where they have to explain relatively complex ideas to younger minds, their knowledge of a subject is tested. Teaching opens up a whole new perspective on what you think you already know,” she said.
Gray said that WVU Tech’s STEM outreach is not limited to the spring semester, and that educators interested in bringing programs to their classrooms can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Those interested in more information on National Engineers Week can visit the Discover Engineers Week website. To mark this year’s celebration, WVU Tech will be featuring the stories of students and alumni from various engineering disciplines throughout the week on the WVU Tech News Archive.
On Sunday, February 21, WVU Tech financial aid experts will meet with high school and college students, their parents and anyone else who would like assistance completing the FAFSA on College Goal Sunday.
The event runs from 1 4 p.m. on the first floor of WVU Tech’s Vining Library and is open to public.
“Anyone that needs assistance with the FAFSA or has general financial aid questions is welcome, including high school students, adults who are thinking about going back to school and returning college students. This is a free event designed to encourage completion of the FAFSA and get people up to speed on financial aid,” said Scott Robertson, director of WVU Tech’s Student Support Services program.
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a required step for all students seeking financial aid, and College Goal Sunday is built to help attendees navigate the application, including sections that require financial and tax information.
The event is also a well-timed opportunity for students seeking scholarships. Many scholarship programs, including the state’s PROMISE scholarship, operate on a March 1 deadline.
Participants in College Goal Sunday at WVU Tech will be registered to win a Samsung tablet provided by WV TRiO and other door prizes donated by various departments within WVU Tech. Tech student volunteers will also host a kid’s zone during the event to entertain children while students and parents work with financial aid counselors to complete their FAFSA.
“We wanted to create an environment where everyone is welcome,” said Robertson. “A place where they can come regardless of where they plan to attend college. We don’t care where they’re going we just want to make sure they have that assistance.”
Robertson said that information shared in the workshop is kept strictly confidential. In the event of a weather cancellation, Tech’s College Goal Sunday makeup day will be February 28.
For more information, including what to bring to College Goal Sunday, visit collegegoalsundaywv.org. For college planning tips and state scholarship requirements, visit the College Foundation of West Virginia (CFWV) website.
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 have been up to:
Dr. David M. Yost (Career and Technical Education) published an article entitled “Adapting LEAN Principles to Career and Technical Education” in the February, 2016 edition of Techniques, the national journal for career and technical educators. Dr. Yost also serves on the Executive Board of the Association for Career and Technical Education Research (ACTER).
Dr. Farshid Zabihian (Mechanical Engineering) served in a Fellowship for Visiting Scientists sponsored by the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TUBITAK). Dr. Zabihian traveled to Turkey, the Netherlands and Germany between December 7, 2015 and January 9, 2016. During this trip, Dr. Zabihian attended three conferences, presented three papers and delivered an invited speech at Dokuz Eylül Üniversitesi in Izmir, Turkey.
Dr. Paul Rakes (History) was featured in the PBS American Experience documentary “The Mine Wars.” Dr. Rakes worked with the show during production to provide guidance in historical research, help separate legends from historical facts and connect the show with other scholars.
Dr. Houbing Song (Electrical and Computer Engineering) was recognized as a finalist for the 2015 Innovator of the Year Award by TechConnect West Virginia on November 16, 2015.
Dr. Song also gave an invited talk entitled “Standardization Efforts for Green Metrics under Data Explosion” in the IEEE Green ICT initiative rapid reaction standardization workshop (RRSW) on November 24, 2015, in Heathrow, United Kingdom; served as the chair of the technical program committee of 4th IEEE International Workshop on Cloud Computing Systems, Networks, and Applications (CCSNA), December 6-10, 2015, in San Diego, California; and participated in a NSF Workshop on Applications and Services in the Year 2021 on January 27-28, 2016, in Washington, D.C.
Dr. Song has also recently collaborated on eight peer-reviewed journal papers in IEEE Transactions on Intelligent Transportation Systems, IEEE Access, Sensors (MDPI), PLOS ONE, and Smart Computing Review.
On Thursday, February 11, students and members of the WVU Tech community will meet in Old Main for “From Hate to Hope,” a presentation on the destructive nature of harboring hatred for someone based on their gender, race, sexuality or religion.
Scott Robertson, director of WVU Tech’s Student Support Services program, is leading the presentation.
“It deals with how people have used, and still use, hate or ignorance about others to justify their actions, and how that creates a negative legacy that they leave behind,” he said.
The workshop will discuss victims of hatred and the devastating violence it can breed victims such as James Byrd Jr., Matthew Shepard, Emmett Till, and others. It will also cover modern hate groups and racially motivated police violence.
“A lot of people don’t know these stories, but they all have impacted how we live now and, in some ways, how we have progressed as a country. Things are still volatile for certain people because of their religion, who they are or who they love, but we’re going to continue to progress and be a more diverse population. This is designed to get attendees to understand that reality and to think about their actions,” said Robertson.
Robertson said the open-ended presentation is half lecture, half discussion panel. The event starts with a short pre-presentation test designed to find out what attendees already know, then the discussion will move through the stories of how people have used concepts such as skin color or sexual orientation to justify hate.
“It’s not going to be an easy discussion because it’s very honest, but the mission of this workshop is not to incite anger. The mission is to incite understanding and compassion,” he said.
At the end of the discussion, Robertson will ask attendees to reflect on what they’ve learned and to critically think about the kind of legacy they want to leave behind.
“We have students from all over the country and from all over the world. We have a lot of diversity at Tech for a school this size. I want them to think about what they want their legacy to be; to think about the positive impact they can have on the world” said Robertson. “They also have to understand that we are in a global setting where information is available at our fingertips and can be uploaded instantly. Their legacy could be a ten-second clip on YouTube.”
“From Hate to Hope” is open to anyone within the WVU Tech community. The presentation begins at 5 p.m. on Thursday, February 11, in Old Main 310.
Throughout the spring semester, students of WVU Tech’s World Religions course will meet with featured speakers from a wide range of religions for a series of lectures and discussions covering Baha’i, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Unitarian Universalism.
During the convocations, attendees will discuss topics ranging from a specific religion’s practices and sacred texts to principal beliefs about birth, death and the afterlife.
“The world religions course is meant to bring education and awareness about the diversity in religion. Many students, and people in general, are not exposed to this diversity,” said WVU Tech sociology professor and World Religions course instructor Dr. Janis Rezek. “It promotes acceptance of this diversity.”
The convocation are designed for World Religions students, but are open to members of the WVU Tech community interested in attending the lectures.
The convocation series begins on Monday, February 1, with speaker Dr. Ravi Isaiah, Director of the Pastoral Care Department at CAMC. Born in India, Dr. Isaiah moved to the United States in 1973. He holds a degree in psychology, a masters in divinity and a Ph.D. in counseling. Isaiah will be discussing Christianity.
The following Monday, February 8, WVU Tech’s chair of the Computer Science and Information Systems department, Dr. Ranjith Munasinghe, will discuss Buddhism. Munasinghe earned his Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Wyoming, has worked internationally as an engineering and has been a professor at WVU Tech since 1992.
The February 15 convocation will feature Dr. Sameh Asal, who will discuss Islam. Lead of the Islamic Association of West Virginia, Asal earned his Ph.D. in Islamic studies at an international Islamic university in Cairo, Egypt. Prior to coming to West Virginia, Asal served as Imam of the Islamic Association of Raleigh in North Carolina, where he participated in community outreach and promoted interfaith relationships with Christian and Jewish faith leaders.
Speakers are chosen for their unique experience and educational perspective on their religion.
“I take care to always have professional, educated speakers who come at the religion from an academic viewpoint,” said Rezek. “They offer a perspective that I could not offer and that a text book could not offer.”
All convocations begin at 6 p.m. in COBE 117.
More speakers will be announced in the coming weeks. WVU Tech students and community members interested in attending the convocations should keep an eye on the WVU Tech calendar.
WVU Tech history professor Dr. Paul Rakes was recently featured in “The Mine Wars,” a PBS American Experience documentary covering labor wars in the coalfields of West Virginia. Dr. Rakes worked with the show during production to provide guidance in historical research, help separate legends from historical facts and connect the show with other scholars.
Check out the “Fighting Strikebreakers” chapter below:
Read Dr. Rakes’ take on violence and political expression during the period in a supplemental interview.
Watch the full documentary and explore more of “The Mine Wars” on the PBS website.
WVU Tech’s graduates are known for their workplace readiness, and a major driver of that reputation is the University’s Career Services Office.
The office offers WVU Tech students a wide range of services, including career counseling and coaching, resume and cover letter review, interviewing skill workshops, internship and co-op placement, full-time employment search assistance, job fairs and other career-related events.
And if you’re noticing a big jump in career services activities on campus this semester, it’s no coincidence. It’s the work of Candice Stadler, WVU Tech’s new Director of Career Services.
Meet the Director
Stadler grew up in Pinch, West Virginia, and brings with her more than a decade of experience in student affairs, academic advising, student leadership, career services and workforce development at higher education institutions in West Virginia and Colorado.
Before coming to Tech, Stadler served as the director of career services at New River Community and Technical College in Beckley, West Virginia. She also previously served as president of the West Virginia Association of Student Personnel Administrators, where she was actively involved in the student affairs community on a statewide level. A believer in lifelong learning, Stadler is also pursuing her Doctor of Education degree in educational leadership.
A first-generation college student, Stadler said she found her passion for helping students navigate college life while working as a graduate assistant and earning her master’s degree in human resource management. She said she’s followed that passion in her career ever since.
“In all my positions, I have worked directly with students to assist them in identifying their career goals; preparing career related materials such as resumes and personal statements; organizing and facilitating career fairs and other events; and developing relationships with employers,” she said. “Improving the lives and communities of West Virginia is very important to me.”
In her new role at WVU Tech, Stadler said she plans to build a powerful suite of programs and events for WVU Tech’s students a place where they can go for everything they need to put their degrees to work.
“Ultimately, my goal is to create a world-class career services office that will assist WVU Tech students in securing internships, co-ops, post-graduation employment and acceptance to graduate school,” she said. “That will include career counseling, coaching, employment services, assistance in applying to graduate school and opportunities to build career readiness skills.”
Stadler has wasted no time building out new programming for WVU Tech’s students. The department has already packed the spring 2016 semester with seminars and career fairs.
She’s created a series of Workshop Wednesdays designed to give students an edge in everything from resume building and social networking to how to dress for an interview.
“The overall goal in Workshop Wednesdays is to provide students with an opportunity to gain career information and prepare to apply for internships and co-ops; summer employment or a full time job, Stadler said. “The goal is to make WVU Tech students as prepared as possible for the world of work.”
The series kicked off on January 20 with a boot camp for students interested in attending the department’s upcoming Nursing and Health Sciences Career Fair. The boot camp taught attendees tips for engaging employers and how to follow up on job leads.
In the months ahead, Stadler will host the following Workshop Wednesday sessions (each session begins at noon in the Student Success Center):
February 3 Help! How do I find an internship or co-op?
In many cases, students gain their first real-world working experience in internships and co-ops with area employers. This workshop will prepare students to find and land those coveted positions. The workshop will also cover the internship/co-op administrative processes for international students.
February 17 JobFest Boot Camp
This boot camp will offer tips and advice to help students from all majors prepare for the March 15 campus-wide JobFest (read more below).
March 2 Cover Letter and Resume Writing 101
The Cover Letter and Resume Writing 101 is designed as a basic intro, and Stadler said it’s a great opportunity both for students who have never written a resume or cover letter and for those who are looking to fine-tune their current job search materials.
March 30 Interviewing and Professional Dress
For this session, Stadler has teamed up with professional recruiters from Enterprise Rent-a-Car, who will work with students to prepare them for the realities of the professional interview. Since students will be working with professional recruitment specialists, they’ll also have a chance to find out firsthand what recruiters are looking for in successful interview candidates.
April 13 Professional Online Social Networking
Students understand the power of having a strong social network, and this workshop will show job-seeking students how they can use that network to land the perfect job. The session will cover the use of LinkedIn and how students can use social media in employment networking.
April 27 Life After WVU Tech
Built with WVU Tech’s graduating seniors in mind, this workshop will cover some common concepts and processes graduates will need to understand in the working world: employment offers, retirement, healthcare, renter’s insurance and more.
In addition to Workshop Wednesdays, Career Services’ spring schedule marks two major job fairs designed to connect students with area employers.
The first is the Nursing and Health Sciences Career Fair. Hosted in Orndorff Hall on Tuesday, February 16, the fair will connect students interested in nursing and health-related fields with employers and graduate programs in the region.
The second JobFest will bring employers from a wide range of organizations and industries to the WVU Tech Ballroom on Tuesday, March 15. JobFest is the biggest WVU Tech career fair of the year and is open to all students. The event allows students to connect with regional employers who are offering full-time and seasonal employment, internship/co-op and volunteer opportunities. The fair is also a chance for students not actively seeking work to gain valuable job-hunting practice and see the types of opportunities available to them.
Stadler said that Workshop Wednesdays are just the beginning for WVU Tech Career Services, and that she’s currently working on a number of projects to connect students with job-hunting resources, areas employers and WVU Tech alumni already working in their fields.
The Office is partnering with WVU’s Career Center in Morgantown to give Tech students access to the University’s vast career resources. Together, the two offices are replacing the old Experience job portal with a new career management platform and launching a set of job search and career assessment tools, known as Career Shift and Focus2, respectively. Stadler said that links to these resources will be available on the Career Services website in the coming weeks.
Stadler also stressed the importance of alumni in the career development process, and reminds graduates that WVU Tech’s career services are for alumni, too. She said she’s interested in working with alumni as career mentors and as employers.
“It has been exciting to talk with so many WVU Tech alumni that want to be engaged with our students,” she said. “I have talked to numerous Tech alums that want to hire students as interns, co-ops or for full-time employment. Long term, I would like to create an alumni career mentoring program or professionalism institute for students.”
All told, it’s shaping up to be a busy year for Career Services at WVU Tech.
For Stadler, that’s welcome news.
“I am very happy to be a part of the WVU Tech family and I am excited for the things to come,” she said.
Established in 1994 as the country’s only federally observed nation day of service, Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service calls upon volunteers to take time during the national holiday to promote stronger communities, meet the needs of their neighbors and honor the teachings of Dr. King.
On Monday, three groups of WVU Tech students bundled up against the cold and headed out into Montgomery, Beckley and Charleston to spend their day helping the people, pets and environment that make up their communities.
Seven students made the early-morning trip east to Beckley, where they volunteered at the Raleigh County Community Action Association Pine Haven Center. The center offers emergency shelter to the area’s homeless, and Tech’s student volunteers spent hours cleaning, organizing donated clothing items and sorting toys for children housed in the center.
Senior mechanical engineering student and president of the WVU Tech Student Government Association, Rob Leibel, said the group was moved by the center’s mission and was grateful for the opportunity to pitch in.
“The students that volunteered felt really great about being able to help others,” said Leibel. “They were all excited and thrilled after they returned. Words cannot even express how happy the students looked after being able to help.”
Heading in the opposite direction, a van of eleven students visited the Kanawha-Charleston Humane Association animal shelter in Charleston. Student volunteers spent their time at the shelter cleaning cages, walking and bathing dogs and, of course, spending quality play time with the shelter’s residents.
For senior RBA major Stephanie Seewer, the project was a welcome chance to get out into the community and help with the “dirty work” that keeps shelters up and running.
“We got out of our normal routines to go and experience something super cool. The animals all loved to come out and play with us and to be cuddled,” she said. “I always like to remember the quote ‘whenever you think your life is rough, remember there are people who have it ten times tougher.’ This can include animals, which I think are often overlooked, and it is important for these animals to get love and affection until they find a home of their own.”
Another group of students stayed in Montgomery, where they helped members of the Morris Creek Watershed Association by removing litter from Morris Creek a local tributary of the Kanawha River on the rebound from severe acid mine drainage and organizing boots and equipment for the Association’s experiments.
Taken together, Leibel said the day’s service activities were a valuable opportunity to connect students with the communities that support them communities their education and training can one day help.
“The students of WVU Tech are more than just gifted in the classroom, but we are gifted, dedicated students in the community,” he said. “When you see how you impact other people, not only does it make the people you help happy, but it can make you happy. Helping like we did goes a long way, and it shows what the students of WVU Tech are all about.”
With reporting from Rubhi Garcia.
WVU Tech’s Student Activities Board and the Association for Women Engineers, Scientists, or Mathematicians Empowerment (AWESOME) kicked off the semester with a chuckle as they welcomed comedian Ashley Gavin on Tuesday, January 12.
Gavin a self-described “expert geek” with an engineering background and professional experience developing coding curriculum for organizations like Girls Who Code and All Star Code visited with student and faculty members of AWESOME to discuss her experience in the field and ways that the organization can reach out to young women interested in studying STEM disciplines.
“She shared a lot of great information on using the creative aspects of a field like computer science for outreach,” said Dr. Stephany Coffman-Wolph, computer science professor at WVU Tech and faculty advisor to AWESOME. “We were very excited to have her on campus where she served as a powerful role model in the STEM field.”
Dr. Kimberlyn Gray, assistant professor of chemical engineering, said that Gavin’s meeting with the students highlighted the universal value of STEM fields.
“She talked about how that fact that she’s doing comedy does not negate her computer science background that she uses what she’s learned in a very non-traditional way. She gave them a lot of ideas about how widely a STEM field like computer science is used,” she said.
After her visit with AWESOME, Gavin performed to a packed house in the Tech Center Ballroom, where her unique brand of social commentary and personal humor was a clear hit with the crowd.
Gavin said she enjoys performing on college campuses.
“College for me is an opportunity to get stage time for presence and delivery, and also because I love the kids. For me it’s the first step in becoming an economically productive comedian,” she said.
Student feedback to Gavin’s visit was extremely positive.
“I thought she was really funny and it was very interesting,” shared sophomore Quentin Cooper.
“I enjoyed the show,” said senior student Janet Cunningham. “I really appreciated her style of comedy.”
Gavin’s visit was one of many such events the WVU Tech Student Activities Board has planned for the spring semester. Keep up with the SAB on Facebook, and find out more about Ashley Gavin on her website.
WVU Tech student Timothy Egyud believes in the power of using one’s talents to improve the lives of others. A CDL instructor at the John D. Rockefeller IV Career Center in New Cumberland, West Virginia, Egyud has 25 years of experience behind the wheel of a tractor-trailer and uses his talents to help others launch their own careers.
Over the holiday season, he was also able to use his skills to help thousands of volunteers honor our nation’s fallen veterans through the Wreaths Across America project.
When Egyud first heard about Wreaths Across America at a conference in New Orleans, he knew he had to get involved. The initiative coordinates annual wreath-laying ceremonies at veteran’s cemeteries in all 50 states, and calls upon volunteer truck drivers to move the hundreds of thousands of wreaths to the cemeteries where they will be placed.
Egyud contacted the organization, and jumped at the chance to take on a route. In early December, he and CDL student Bruce Wildman made the 16-hour, one-way trip from northern West Virginia to Maine to pick up a truckload of wreaths. They delivered their more than 3,500 wreaths to the National Cemetery of the Alleghenies in Bridgeville, Pennsylvania.
In all, the two men spent more than 40 hours transporting and delivering wreaths for the ceremony. For Egyud, there was no hesitation to give of his time.
“This is such a great way to give back for those who gave all,” he said. “These people gave everything so that we could enjoy the lives we live today. Putting in the hours to bring wreaths to the cemetery is so little compared to what these men and woman had to go through, and this is something that touches every family in the country in some way.”
At the cemetery, project volunteers enlisted help from a dozen local high school students and more than 50 veterans to unload and stage the area for the wreath-laying ceremony on Saturday, December 12, where nearly 2,000 volunteers gathered to lay the wreaths on each grave.
“Wreaths Across America’s slogan is ‘Remember. Honor. Teach.’ Having these high school students there to help out was a chance to see all three of those in action. It really lifted the spirits of the veteran volunteers to see these young people take an interest in this,” Egyud said.
Egyud found the ceremony so moving that he and his students are already fundraising for next year’s project. Those interested in donating can contact the Career Center at 304.564.3337.
When he’s not donating his time and talents to Wreaths Across America, Egyud spends his days teaching students to drive and working toward his bachelor’s degree. As a teacher who helps others continue their own education, he said it made sense to do the same for himself. He enrolled in WVU Tech’s Career Technical Education program and hopes to graduate in the fall of 2016. The program is specifically designed for teachers already employed in career and technical education fields.
“I joined the program to earn some professional development experience and I’ve received so much encouragement from my wife and from the counselors at WVU Tech that I thought I’d go for it I’d finish my degree,” he said.
For Egyud, continuing his own education is also about leading by example.
“It’s what I tell my CDL students all the time. This is about more than just earning a license. This is the first in a long series of doors that will open to you,” he said. “It shows that you can do what you want, even if the path you planned didn’t always take you where you wanted to go. It shows that if you stick with it, you’ll meet your goals.”