From the Dean

September

Although we still have that summer feeling due to the nice weather, the Fall semester is well on its way and the “census” numbers for enrollment are available. The College of STEM is proud to announce that its headcount is 200 students higher than last Fall semester, bringing the total number of students to almost 3400.

In an effort to expose the STEM College, our best kept secret, to the community and especially to high school students, I previously reported that we started to invite high schools for a field trip to YSU and expose the students to STEM in an interactive way.

On July 14th, the first high school we hosted at the STEM College was Warren G. Harding High School.  Last Friday, September 9th, we had the honor to host Champion high school (photo).

Champion HS students with Dean SteelantMany of the students that are in the picture will have completed 20 credit hours of YSU college credit through the College Credit Plus program that we offer at Champion High School. Very impressive!

The reason I am personally engaged with the students is because it is my mission to expose as many students to the “awesomeness” of what STEM can be. Throughout the coming academic year, with the help of faculty, we will be hosting many high schools and will bedazzle them with the magic world of STEM and take them on a journey they will not easily forget.

Go Penguins!

Wim F. Steelant

August

The summer is winding down and the academic year 2016-2017 is already knocking at the front door. My major goal for my first full academic year as Dean of STEM will be to further stimulate the quality of our programs. I will be focusing on more “hands-on” possibilities for our students through research, internships, and co-ops. I strongly believe that exposing our students early-on to be engaged in research makes a world of difference.

To give an example: a few engineering students recently achieved a major milestone with their capstone project. My administrative assistant, Laurie Wittkugle, and her 13-year old Border Collie, Shelby, and a handful of our students made the local news on WKBN recently. Shelby has deformed legs, but with the use of 3-D printing technology and determined engineering students and faculty, they were able to make a brace for one of Shelby’s legs to aid in her mobility. The brace went through many trial runs before the one with the perfect material was selected. The brace has really helped to highlight the quality of work that our STEM students can accomplish. You can read the full story on Shelby here.

Way to go and keep up the excellent work! Go Penguins!

Wim F. Steelant

July

The summer already brought us to the middle of July. As the hot summer is hitting us, so is the notion that the new academic year is around the corner! In an effort to expose the STEM College, our best kept secret, to the community and especially to high school students, I decided to start inviting high schools for a field trip to YSU.

On the 14th of July, we hosted students of the Academic Achievers program from Warren G. Harding High School at the STEM College (Photo), which is the only high school in the Warren City schools district. I exposed the students to “material density” and “material phase transitions” in an interactive hands-on demonstration. At the end of each session we go outside of Moser hall and blow-up a plastic bottle using dry ice (carbon dioxide).

Dean and studentsThe reason I am personally engaged with the students is because it is my mission to expose as many students to the “awesomeness” of what STEM can be. Throughout the coming academic year, with the help of faculty, I will be hosting many high schools and will bedazzle them with the magic world of STEM and take them on a journey they will not easily forget.

Go Penguins!

Wim F. Steelant

June

The summer is well under way and the University is coming back to life with students involved in undergraduate and graduate research and taking summer courses. Speaking of the latter, I decided to teach voluntarily CHEM 1501, Introduction to Chemistry, during the fall semester of 2016.

I have three main reasons to do this: 1) Providing opportunities and leading by example: the students that are taking this class usually never had chemistry in high school or are not far enough along in mathematics. It is my goal to give these students the opportunity to come up to speed; 2) Getting to know the STEM students: by teaching an introductory class, I get in contact with incoming freshman and I have the opportunity to get to know them; 3) Collegiality: it is a pleasure for me to join the faculty on the classroom floor.

As a dean, this will be my sixth year teaching introductory courses to incoming students and by doing so, I am able to mingle and stay in touch with the students. By breaking this student-dean barrier, the students no longer hesitate to enjoy my open-door policy and share good and bad things with me.

Just my opinion …

Go penguins!

Wim F. Steelant

May

On May 7th I had the honor to be on the podium during my first YSU Commencement Ceremony. A little over 60 students received a master’s degree and about 320 students received a bachelor’s degree. I am very proud of all our graduates and particularly of Kyle Myers, who is the first student to receive a YSU PhD (Materials and Science Engineering) and Ashley Orr (BS Mathematics and Economics) who is YSU’s first Rhodes Scholar.

Meanwhile, I completed my first 100 days as Dean of STEM at YSU. During this time, I have been very busy meeting with students, staff, departments, and department chairs; listening to their passions, dreams, and suggestions.

Together with faculty and chairs, we will develop a 5-year plan for the college of STEM, focusing on three very important priorities: recruitment, retention, and job placement/continued education. Recruiting students, their retention, and eventually job placement or continued education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) are a growing concern for colleges and universities.

Does spending millions of dollars on marketing guarantee the recruitment and success of quality students? How do we retain the students by offering a quality education without lowering the standards or inflating GPAs? How do we warrant an in-field job placement or continued education in STEM? These are three questions every Dean wishes he or she had the correct answers for.

To be continued….

Go Penguins!

Wim F. Steelant

April

Being one month into the job as Dean of STEM, I would like to express my gratitude for the warm welcoming and for my opportunity to be part of the excitement at the College of STEM. I assure you that filling in the position of the former Dean of STEM, Dr. Martin Abraham, now provost, and Interim Dean Gregg Sturrus will not be an easy task.

As the academic year comes to an end, I would like to use this opportunity to wish all our STEM students the best of luck during their final exams. I also would like to congratulate the students that will graduate, begin a new career, or continue on their path of education.

Two students in particular need to be congratulated: Maggie Wansack, student office assistant in the Dean’s office for five years, graduating with a master’s degree in counseling; and Cassy Twoey, STEM Social Media & Newsletter Editor for two years, graduating with a master’s degree in English.

I am looking forward to being at your service, and please do not hesitate to swing by the Dean’s office.

Go Penguins!

Wim F. Steelant

March

As the time approaches to mark the end of my interim position as dean, I would like to take a minute to thank those who have helped me keep the STEM College continuously moving toward greater and greater achievement.

As always, the STEM chairs have been instrumental in the success of the college. Among their many ways of service, the chairs have increased departmental recruitment efforts, devised more efficient class offerings, and kept within budget despite greater numbers of students served so that the Professional Development Dean’s Reassigned Time could be distributed and encourage more research activities for STEM faculty.

The chairs and faculty of the college have also taken on a number of additional duties in the past year and a half without complaint. Duties such as Program Improvement Plans, First Year Experience Program development, and Program Review to name a few. My thanks to all involved in these efforts.

I have also enjoyed the benefit of a dedicated staff in the STEM College to serve our students and maintain connections to our industrial and educational partners.

The STEM Advising Office staff, the STEM Professional Student Services Office staff, the STEM Dean’s Office staff, and Emilie Eberth comprise the members of a highly functioning system that I believe has performed with even greater commitment during my term as interim dean. It is amazing how often I encounter these staff members and faculty serving YSU students on weekends and weeknights by volunteering outside of their areas to help with other duties of the college.

It has been a privilege to serve as leader of such a highly skilled group of professionals dedicated to YSU’s current and future students.

I hope everyone will join me in welcoming the new dean, Dr. Wim Steelant, who arrived on March 16.

I’m sure he will appreciate becoming acquainted with all of the people who make the STEM College a huge success.

Gregg Sturrus

February

It’s that time in the spring term when it is appropriate to send a handful of reminders to students, faculty, and friends of the STEM College.

Students should be aware that the deadline for applications for STEM scholarships is approaching.

If you go to the STEM College website and hover over the undergraduate students banner, the scholarships button will appear for you.

You can also find scholarship information on the bulletin board just outside the Dean’s Office in Moser Hall Room 2200.

I want to encourage all new STEM students to consider applying for the STEM Leadership Society. This selective group represents some of the finest students in our college.

The organization strives to support and enhance academic and professional development through service to the university and networking with industry partners. Students who are passionate about and committed to education, service, and leadership should apply.

For more information about SLS and to apply by March 1, please visit ysu.edu/sls/.

Finally, I would like to remind all friends of the college that our annual awards banquet is coming up on February 17.

You can view information about the event here.

I welcome you to come and help us celebrate the achievements of our award winners and their contributions to our STEM College.

January

Welcome back from the holiday break! It is my sincere hope that you enjoyed your time with friends and family and anticipate an engaging and rewarding semester.

With all the activity associated with the start of the new Spring Semester, the STEM College is expanding recruitment efforts for the Fall 2016 term. According to the most recent admissions report, there is a 38 percent increase in student applications as compared to this time last year, and 10 times that amount as compared to the applications two years ago.

Since most students form their college decisions by the middle of March or beginning of April, our efforts to connect with them are essential in the next couple of months.

It is exciting to report that many STEM departments are implementing new recruitment strategies to attract these new student applicants to enroll before the start of next year. These prospective students are often invited to visit campus and usually want to talk to faculty and current students.

If you have the chance, be sure to tell these visitors the strengths of your program and the strengths of YSU. We really need to roll out our best efforts to bring the best of these applicants into our programs.

December

Safety has always been a top priority in the STEM College. For the last few years, we have implemented safety training programs and increased the monitoring activities by safety personnel on campus. We want to actively avoid the types of accidents seen nationally involving students on college campuses in machine shops and laboratories. Since the YSU STEM College promotes active learning opportunities for students including work with hazardous equipment and materials, we want to maintain a noteworthy safety record about which we can boast when talking to prospective students and their parents.

Our interaction with the Youngstown Fire Department is an important factor in maintaining a high safety record. We have recently been inspected by the YFD in the STEM buildings and found to have some potential challenges in Ward Beecher and Moser Halls. I believe it will benefit all of us to cooperate fully with YFD and to take their suggestions regarding safety with the highest consideration. I encourage you to make any changes necessary to make your office or laboratory area come into compliance. My understanding is that the non-compliance issues in our buildings are typically easy to remedy and can be handled by our faculty. If you have any questions about areas in your control, please contact Tim Styranec or Dan Sahli for help as our internal inspectors. Also, it is essential that all faculty participate in and encourage safe and efficient egress during any fire alarm (including fire drills). Let’s make sure the YSU STEM College is a safe place for our staff and students.

November

Though the fall 2015 semester is not yet over, the STEM College recruitment for fall 2016 is in full swing. We hosted nearly 400 students out of nearly 1500 for the University at the recent Crash Day event held on Nov. 20. This is such a large turnout of students (plus their parents) that the STEM College luncheon was moved into the Stambaugh Gyms under the football stadium. I would like to thank all the faculty, staff and students who took the time to attend the luncheon and talk to the new student recruits. I believe it is this personal attention that impresses future STEM students and helps them form their decisions to come to YSU.

In addition, recruitment is just beginning for the new YSU BaccMed program. This program originates in the previous daul-admission pre-med program called the BS/MD program. The new program has an early entry feature and an emphasis on rural and urban medicine. The Associate Dean, Steve Rodabaugh and Advisor, Brett Kengor have already visited Hubbard, Niles, and Warren high schools publicizing this program. We believe this program may attract as many as twice the students the old program did and will make our pre-med students more competitive for medical school programs nationwide.

I encourage all current students and faculty to take part in discussions with prospective students as this helps the STEM College attract the best students and enhances the prestige of the degree programs at the University.

October

The STEM Dean’s Advisory Council met on Oct. 9 to discuss some new plans for the College and to meet with the STEM Chairs. Two of the many items discussed were the Engineering Grand Challenge and the Engineering Diversity Initiative.

National Academy of Engineering is sponsoring the Engineering Grand Challenge to produce 20,000 engineers in the next decade committed to addressing global engineering issues. There are 14 challenge statements which include providing clean drinking water, developing carbon sequestration methods, making solar energy economical, providing energy from fusion and 10 others. YSU is among 122 engineering institutions signing on to the directive originating in March 2015 from President Obama. We have pledged to produce 20 students each year equipped to address one or more of the challenges through a specialized curriculum. The discussion at the Council meeting held suggestions for the curriculum and the goal of developing a certified plan by the time of the spring council meeting.

The response of over 100 engineering school deans to President Obama’s concern over the lack of diversity among engineering students was to send a letter through the ASEE showing commitment to the Engineering Diversity Initiative in August 2015. YSU’s STEM College participation in this initiative will involve YSU’s chapters of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE). Although still in its early stages, the Council and chairs had several ideas for implementation pending the meetings with SWE and NSBE.

 

September

The past month has been filled with activities that demonstrate the STEM College’s strength in community engagement and workforce development in the Valley. In the past week alone, we had three prominent events.

The STEM College played an important role in supporting and participating in the OHWow Childrens’ Museum event called Silly Science Sunday on September 20. There were activity tables presented by YSU students and YSU staff and there were also stage shows by Ray Beiersdorfer and Kerry Meyers. The day attracted about 4,000 people and helped keep science and technology in the minds of the children attending. I am grateful for all the effort Emilie Eberth put into the organization of the YSU presentations for this event.

The first annual Civil Engineering night kicked off a celebration of achievement for the YSU Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering on September 21. The event attracted over 100 participants from area and regional industrial partners interested in civil engineering. Several YSU Civil Engineering students used the event to network with area professionals. A special thanks to the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering for sponsoring and organizing this very successful event.

The first Advanced Manufacturing Summit concentrating on workforce development was held on campus on September 22 with nearly 200 participants. Speakers for the event included congressmen, local community leaders, and YSU administrative leaders. Visitors from the media and Columbus were impressed by the large variety of groups dedicated to the single idea of educating a high quality workforce in the region. The event would not have been nearly as successful if it weren’t for the STEM Professional Service Office lead by Sherri Hrusovski. We are definitely getting it right in September.

August

If your summer was like mine, you’ve probably found the break has passed by too quickly. The renovations on the first floor of Moser Hall are well underway. The last word from the University Architect is that the first floor will be ready for the first day of classes. Take a look at the progress; it is a big improvement. The third floor renovations in Moser Hall will extend through the fall semester, but shouldn’t cause significant interruption of classes. I think the renovations will make quite a positive impression on students passing through the building and the students using the research rooms in Moser Hall.

I would like to welcome all students and faculty back to the STEM College after the summer break, even though many were active throughout the summer with classes, outreach activities and workshops. I also hope STEM faculty got the opportunity to participate in the IGNITE program for new students. In any case, please make the effort to welcome all returning students during the first week of classes and help make their return to us as a positive experience.

There are a couple reminders for the early part of the semester. Silly Science Sunday happens at the OHWOW! Childrens’ Museum downtown on Sept. 20. Emilie Eberth is arranging STEM College activities and displays for that event. Also, the Northeastern Ohio/Western Pennsylvania Advanced Manufacturing Cereer pathways Summit will be held on campus on Sept. 22. The summit will connect employers and educators interested in workforce development and dedicated to providing student opportunities. Meeting details can be obtained from Sherri Hrusovski in the STEM Profession Practice Office.