Faculty Research: Dr. Suresh Sharma

Dr. SharmaDr. Suresh Sharma is a faculty in Civil and Environmental Engineering at YSU. He is originally from Nepal. He worked as a Civil Engineer in Nepal government before deciding to come to the United States for his PhD at Auburn University in 2008. He worked as a postdoctoral research associate at Purdue University before joining the faculty position at YSU in 2013.

Recently, Dr. Sharma, in collaboration with City of Mentor and Lake County Soil and Water Conservation District, has received a gracious grant from the EPA. The grant was given to him because of his research with the Mentor Marsh. The Mentor Marsh watershed, along the Lake Erie coastline, has the potential for future economic development via eco-tourism related activities, which have strong and positive impacts on the local economy.

“In 2016, we established the monitoring stations from the upland watershed with some grant support from the Ohio Sea Grant and Lake Erie Protection Fund. However, this study was conducted in the upstream tributaries using two monitoring stations, which only provides some basic information from the upland sub-watersheds,” said Dr. Sharma. “Therefore, additional monitoring stations were needed in the Mentor Marsh, especially in the downstream region, to develop a separate hydrodynamic model for the complete investigation of salinity inputs within this watershed. We wrote a proposal to EPA to establish nine (9) additional monitoring stations and couple a watershed model with a hydrodynamic model to fully understand the salinity intrusion mechanism in Mentor Marsh.”

The grant from the EPA was, in total, $187, 959 for three years. In terms of using the grant, Dr. Sharma and his team will be monitoring the additional sites that were added to the Lake Erie coast. They will also be recording the stage of the stream and developing models. With the addition of more sites, Dr. Sharma will be adding new students to his research team after reviewing various applications from interested candidates.

Aside from his research, Dr. Sharma is also the faculty advisor for the Nepali Student Organization on campus. The organization was created to help Nepali students become used to the multi-cultural setting at YSU. There are currently about 40 students in the organization. To learn more about his research and involvement at YSU, please take a look at his website http://ssharma06.people.ysu.edu/. To find out more about the Nepali Student Organization, contact the club President, Romit Thapa at rthapa@student.ysu.edu.

Faculty Faction: Joshua Blackann

Mr. BlackannMr. Joshua Blackann is an Assistant Professor of Engineering Technology at YSU. He is originally from the Austintown area. He received a Bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from YSU and then used his degree in the workforce for several years before coming back to YSU to complete his Master’s degree in 2011.

His first industry job was at Canfield Connector in Boardman, Ohio.  His main job was to integrate micro-controllers so the company could stop using various discrete parts to create their products. Blackann worked at Canfield Connector for five years before he was hired at Turning Technologies in downtown Youngstown. Here, he helped develop clickers for academic uses and audience responses. Blackann designed the electronics for the clickers and also helped develop the software that made them operate. After working at Turning Technologies, Blackann found an open teaching position at YSU and was hired.

Blackann decided to teach at YSU because of his own experience as a student and how hands-on the engineering technology program currently is. When he was in the electrical engineering program, he saw that there was not much focus on micro-controllers and he felt as though they have increasing importance in his field. Blackann wanted more students to learn about them and he wanted to be able to convey the knowledge and experience he obtained from his years in the workforce to his students.

Currently, Blackann is teaching Electronics 2, where students learn about various electrical components, and Microprocessor Technology, where students learn about coding.

“I feel very welcome at YSU. My fellow colleagues have been very helpful when it comes to content for my courses and advice for tests and lectures,” said Blackann.

Students may contact Mr. Blackann by emailing him at jablackann@ysu.edu or visit him in his office.

In his free time, Blackann enjoys various outdoor activities like snowboarding, biking, and running. Running helps him deal with stress and shut off his brain from the work day and relax.

Recent Publication: Engineering Group

Title: “3D Printed Smart Molds for Sand Casting”

Authors: Jason Walker, Evan Harris, Charles Lynagh, Andrea Beck, Rich Lonardo, Brian Vuksanovich, Jerry Thiel, Kirk Rogers, Brett Conner, Eric MacDonald

Date Published: February 15, 2018



Additive manufacturing, also commonly referred to as 3D printing, stands to transform sand casting with binder jetting technology that can create sand molds with unmatched geometric complexity. With printed sand molds, castings can be optimized with regard to the strength-versus-weight trade-off and structures such as periodic lattices are now available within molds that are not possible with traditional casting technology. However, an increase in design complexity invites more challenges in terms of understanding and managing both the thermodynamics and physics of the casting process. Simulations of castings are more important than ever, and empirical in situ sensor data are required to validate high fidelity computer modeling (e.g., MAGMASOFT®). One novel solution is to leverage the design freedom of CAD-based solid modeling to introduce unique mold features specifically for housing sensors (Internet of Things) within the mold to enable the collection of a diversity of data at manifold locations: temperature, pressure, moisture, gas chemistries, motion of the molds and internal cores (shifting or rotation), and magnetic field. This report describes a proof of concept in which unprecedented levels of process monitoring were integrated—both wirelessly and wired—at strategic locations throughout a printed mold and inside of internal cores. The collected data were used to validate the quality of a casting in situ as well as to provide feedback for optimizing the casting process, mold design, and simulations. A trade-off was explored between sensor survivability and disposability.

Three MVNECA Scholarships Awarded to Students

During a luncheon held on January 11, the Mahoning Valley Chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association (MVNECA) awarded three $1000 scholarships to students enrolled in the EET program.  Recipients of the scholarships are: Mr. Thomas Welch, Sophomore EET; Mr. Elias Rafidi, Junior EET; and Mr. Daniel Vodhanel, Senior EET.


MVNECA is a trade association of electrical contractors affiliated with the National Electrical Contractors Association that serves the management interests of the electrical contracting industry throughout the Youngstown-Warren, Ohio area.

Winners Announced for STEM Awards

This year has been flying by! The winners have already been announced for the STEM Awards this year. The STEM College will recognize excellence at the upcoming Annual STEM Awards Dinner.

Congratulations to all the winners! Below is the list of awards and their recipients.

Outstanding Young Alumnus:                

Zachary Rodgers, PhD.

Outstanding Alumnus:                         

John A. Scott

Outstanding Education Partner:


Outstanding Community Partner:   


Intern Employer of the Year & Co-Op Employer of the Year:


STEM Intern of the Year:   

Matthew Perham

Co-Op Student of the Year:   

Jared Vanasdale


Alumni Spotlight: Caleb Tatebe

Caleb TatebeCaleb Tatebe is an alumnus from YSU. He graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry in 2012 and then continued his education and received a Master’s degree in Chemistry in 2014. Caleb is now pursuing a PhD at Purdue University where he is studying inorganic chemistry, specifically.

Within the past year, Caleb has been chosen as the recipient of two major awards. The first award he received was the 2017 Innovations in Nuclear Technologies R&D Award. This award was for a recent publication he had in the journal Inorganic Chemistry that studies the reactivity of uranium-nitrogen multiple bonds. The second award was the 2017 Graduate Student Mentor of the Summer that recognized him for his work mentoring an undergraduate student in his research group during Purdue’s summer research program for undergraduates.

While at YSU, Caleb was involved in the YSU American Chemical Society (ACS) Student Chapter. He was also briefly a representative for Graduate Studies in the YSU Student Government (SGA).

Caleb also loved his job at YSU. He had a great experience being a resident assistant (RA) for Housing and Residence Life for 3 years.

When speaking of current students, Caleb urged that students should take advantage of all the opportunities to connect and speak with faculty members. Specifically, for medical students, Caleb encourages the building of relationships with their faculty.

“The better faculty knows you, the better they can advise you on specific programs or universities,” Said Caleb. “Whatever your goal may be, it is very important to fully understand what is expected of your program! This can help you stay on top of applications and take some stress out of the process. Also, do not be afraid to explore different professional development seminars early in your collegiate career.”

Caleb also has a two-year-old son, Theo, who keeps him very busy while in graduate school, but he wouldn’t trade it for the world!

To learn more about Caleb’s journey, please email us at STEMNews@ysu.edu and we can get in contact with him.

United Way Young Women’s Mentoring Program Visits YSU STEM!

We were very excited to welcome the United Way Young Women’s Mentorship Program to YSU STEM.

The program is designed to help 5th and 6th grade girls from Youngstown area schools make informed and wise decisions in their lives.  It focuses on giving the girls the knowledge they need to be well-informed citizens, take care of their bodies, and develop communication skills.

Their mentors are female students from YSU, both current students and alumni. The trip was designed to show the girls a little bit about college and give them insight on what their mentors do every day.

They spent their day with their mentors and a few faculty members and students in the CSIS Department, followed by a luncheon. They learned about eye tracking and robots that can read barcodes.

Below are pictures from their visits.

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Available Internship: African Campus

African Campus is offering an opportunity for undergraduate students of all levels to become a member of the Oceans Research Unit in Mossel Bay, South Africa.

The renowned Oceans Research Internship offers a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ opportunity for students to gain hands on practical training in conducting research on South Africa’s marine mega-fauna, including the great white shark. Interns join our scientists daily on their research expeditions to conduct groundbreaking research and experiments involving Mossel Bay’s sharks and marine mammals.

Being a part of this internship, students will gain valuable insight and training in the latest research techniques and seamanship to equip them with the skills necessary to be a successful marine biologist.

If you feel that this opportunity is something that you may be interested in, please check out the link below or contact Dr. Gary Walker at grwalker@ysu.edu.


Tau Beta Pi Holding Engineering Futures Sessions

Tau Beta Pi will be holding Engineering Futures Sessions again this year. The event will take place from 9am-2pm on February 10th. It is helpful for all students. The students will learn presentation skills and there will be problem analyzing sessions.

These are the given descriptions of each session:

Analytical Problem Solving

  • The Problem-Solving Process
    • Learn a structured process for problem-solving. Each step of the process requires two basic activities in order to perform it successfully: generating ideas through brainstorming and choosing the best idea to implement.
  • Creative Thinking
    • Participate in creative thinking exercises.
  • Identifying and Implementing the Problem Solution
    • Learn how to reduce a list of potential solutions and selecting the best idea(s) using specific evaluation techniques. Learn techniques to facilitate decision-making.

Effective Presentation Skills

  • The fear of public speaking
    • Learn and practice techniques for overcoming the fear of speaking in public.
  • Formal presentation preparation
    • Learn the “do’s and dont’s” of oral presentations. Create and deliver team presentations.

For additional information and to sign up for the events, please contact Tau Beta Pi President Tayah Turocy at tdturocy@student.ysu.edu.

Biology Research Series: Dr. Thomas Diggins

Dr. Thomas Diggins is a Professor of Biological Sciences at YSU. He has a Bachelor’s of Arts Degree in Political Science from Kent State University, a Master’s of Science Degree in Environmental Science from the State University of New York at Buffalo, and a PhD in Biology from the State University of New York at Buffalo.

He teaches several classes at YSU like Stream Ecology, Ecology of Lakes, Biometry, Dendrology/Forest Ecology, Ichthyology, Field Ecology, the Senior Capstone course, and he is the Introduction to Biology 2 lab coordinator.

Dr. Diggins also does research outside of his classroom duties. He focuses on ecosystem to regional-scale ecology, mainly concentrating on river, steam, and riparian systems.

“Much of my research is centered on a series of exceptional Lake Erie tributary stream corridors in western New York State,” said Dr. Diggins.

By using these tributary stream corridors, Dr. Diggins has been able to focus his research to find the interplay between hydrology, geology, and riparian forest ecology. He is also focusing on the roles of external disturbances in the environment versus developmental processes of forests and the influences of an organism’s habitat on its community stream organisms.

Dr. Diggins’ research has both “pure science” and applied science aspects. On the pure science aspects side, him and his team seek to better understand the internal and external dynamics of what are some of the most diverse ecosystems in the temperate zone. The applied science aspects him and his team use tend to seek to inform stakeholders involved in management and conservation of such systems.

Dr. Diggins primarily wants to focus on conservation of ecosystems.

“I have been conducting field research in the Zoar Valley Canyon (a New York State-owned parcel of ~3000 acres) of western New York from about 15 years now, and the work of my students and I proved crucial to a long-running and ultimately successful citizen campaign for preservation of >1000 acres of incomparable old-growth forest,” said Dr. Diggins.

To contact Dr. Diggins and learn more about his research, students can email him at tpdiggins@ysu.edu or they may stop by his lab or office at any time he is there.

Recent Publication: Dr. Snow Balaz, David Bernand, & Research Group

Title: “Support structure effect on CO oxidation: A comparative study on SiO2 nanospheres and CeO2 nanorods supported CuOx catalysts”

Authors: Shaikh Tofazzel Hossain, Yazeed Almesned, Kefu Zhang, Elizabeth T. Zella, David T.Bernard. Snjezana Balaz, & RuigangWange

Date Published: January 15, 2018



The effect of support reducibility and reduction treatment was studied in SiO2nanospheres and CeO2 nanorods supported CuOx (0 ≤ x ≤ 1) catalysts on CO oxidation. CuO nanoparticles were impregnated on SiO2 nanospheres and CeO2nanorods using thermal decomposition method and then the samples were oxidized in air at different temperatures (400–600 °C). The sample oxidized at 400 °C was also further reduced under hydrogen atmosphere to compare the effect of reduction treatment on the catalytic activity. Detailed XRD, Raman, H2-TPR, and CO oxidation analyses were carried out to understand the effect of CuOx-support interaction and different CuOx species on the catalytic performance. Compared to SiO2 nanospheres supported CuOx catalysts, both CuO/CeO2 and reduced CuOx/CeO2 catalysts exhibited superior catalytic performance in terms of CO conversion and low-temperature hydrogen consumption. The enhanced activity of CeO2 nanorods supported CuOx catalysts was correlated strongly to the surface defects on CeO2nanorods and interfacial structures.

Several STEM Faculty Members Receive Research Professorship Award

Several STEM faculty members have been awarded a Research Professorship Award for the 2018-2019 school year. We would like to congratulate all the faculty that received this award. We hope you do great things in your research efforts!

Below is the list of STEM faculty who received the award, along with their research interests:

  • Christopher Arntsen, Chemistry; “Prediction of Band Gaps in Novel Materials Using Stochastic GW” — Awarded 6 Hours
  • Jonathan Caguiat, Biological Sciences; “Cloning and Sequencing of Three Penicillin Resistance Genes from Stenotrophomonas maltophilia OR02” — Awarded 6 Hours
  • Kyosung Choo, Mechanical and Industrial Engineering; “Single Bubble Collision on a Heated Surface” — Awarded 9 Hours
  • Pedro Cortes, Civil/Environmental & Chemical Engineering; “Development of novel fiber metal laminates based on continuously reinforced 3D printed composites” – Awarded 9 Hours
  • Thomas P. Diggins, Biological Sciences; “The Eastern Deciduous Biome in the 21st Century – Forests of Unintended Consequences” – Awarded 6 Hours
  • Douglas Genna, Chemistry; “Synthesis of Stable Silyl Rh(III)-hydride complexes for alkene functionalization reactions” — Awarded 9 Hours
  • Jai K. Jung, Civil/Environmental and Chemical Engineering; “Determination of Soil Secant Modulus for Soil-Pipe Interaction” – Awarded 9 Hours
  • Lucy Kerns, Mathematics & Statistics’ “Statistical Approaches for Assessing Adverse Health Effects of Chemical Mixtures” – Awarded 6 Hours
  • Alina Lazar, Computer Science and Information Systems; “Efficient Clustering Algorithms for Real-time Streaming Data” – Awarded 9 Hours
  • Holly J. Martin, Civil/Environmental and Chemical Engineering; “Bonding Polyetherimide to Magnesium to Improve Corrosion Resistance” – Awarded 9 Hours
  • John Martin, Mechanical Engineering; “Exploring Applications and Benefits of 3D Printed Ceramic Shells for Investment Casting Using the XJet” – Awarded 6 Hours
  • Suresh Sharma, Civil/Environmental & Chemical Engineering; “Investigating Salinity Variation across the Marsh Basin Using Coupled Hydrodynamic and Watershed Model for Ecological Benefit” – Awarded 9 Hours
  • Feng Yu, CSIS; “Developing a New Index Structure for Fast Columnar Data Processing in Out-of-Core Environment” – Awarded 9 Hours

Students in Math & Biology Attended Research Presentation Conferences

Within the past month, Dr. Gary Walker of Biological Sciences and Dr. Alicia Prieto Langarica of Mathematics and Statistics took their student teams to present research at conferences. Keep reading to see what they did!


Undergraduate Biology Students

In December 2017, Dr. Gary Walker, Professor and Chairperson of Biological Sciences at YSU, took undergraduates from his research team to the American Society for Cell Biology conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The students who were in attendance were Angela Mossor, Victoria Silvis, and Nicholas Osborne.

The students presented information on myogenic cells.

This is the abstract from their study:

Myogenesis is a tightly regulated process resulting in the sequential change in gene expression leading to the expression of muscle cell specific proteins. During the process of myogenesis the basic units of contraction, sarcomeres, are assembled into to the extremely precise structures that provides for the slide filament mechanism of muscle contraction. This study examined the timing of expression of a number of muscle specific proteins that are relevant to myogenesis/sarcomerogenesis over the course of myotube development, using C2C12 mouse myogenic stems cell in culture. Using quantitative PCR, titin expression and specifically expression of the cardiac specific isoform, N2-B, was studied. The expression of several myosin isoforms was also examined. In addition to these sarcomeric components we also looked at the expression of myogenic transcription factors and the cell cycle regulator of the G2/M phase transition (cdk1). At the onset of myogenesis (confluency and lowered growth factors) the expression of cdk1 as well as a transitory increase in the myogenic transcription factor MyoD. In this study we have taken two approaches assessing gene expression in myogenesis and sarcomere genesis, normalized to the expression of GAPDH (expression relative to the cell) or actin (expression relative to the sarcomere assembly). Gene expression after re-exposure of myotubes to high serum was examined.

Pictures are attached with information on their study.

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Math Students Present Research at Conference in San Diego

Dr. Alicia Prieto Langarica took several mathematics students with her to the Joint Mathematics Meeting in San Diego at the beginning of January. The students that attended to present their research were Lexi Rager, Marina Pavlichich, Natalie Halavick, Sara O’Kane, Leah McConnell, Theoni Kasamias, Elise Eckman, and Leah Bayer.

Here is what each student presented:

Lexi Rager and Marina Pavlichich presented: “Helping Students Make Wise, Data-Driven Academic Decisions.”

Theoni Kasamias presented: “Climate Change and its Impact on the Migratory Patterns of Ficedula Hypoleuca and Anser Bachyrhynus.

Natalie Halavick, Sara O’Kane, and Leah McConnell presented a poster entitled “Analyzing New Health Care Placement of Mercy Health Facilities.”

Elise Eckman presented: “Evaluating Kostant’s Multiplicity Formula.”

Leah Bayer presented: “Modeling the effects of crayfish invasion and drought on hypothetical crayfish population dynamics.”

Below are pictures from their time at the mathematics conference.

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Faculty Faction: Dr. Coskun Bayrak

Dr. Coskun BayrakWith great excitement, we would like to introduce the new Chairperson of the Computer Science and Information Systems Department, Dr. Coskun Bayrak.

Dr. Bayrak has a unique background. He was born in Gumushane, Turkey but was raised in Trabzon, Turkey. Geographically, Trabzon is in the northeastern part of Turkey on the coast of the Black Sea.

Dr. Bayrak finished his high school education in Turkey and completed his degrees at Maximilian University in Munich, Germany, Slippery Rock University, Texas Tech University, and Southern Methodist University. Even though he attended several universities, he kept a common interest in Computer Science, leading to each of his degrees reflecting that interest.

Dr. Bayrak first started teaching at the University of Texas at Dallas. He then progressed to teach at Benedict College in South Carolina, Troy University in Alabama, the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, and now Youngstown State University.

“After so many years in academia as a research-intensive faculty, coordinator, and chair, it was time to put the knowledge and experience to good use,” said Dr. Bayrak. “I felt like it was time to take advantage of the opportunity at YSU where I could pay back to society.”

As the new Department Chair for CSIS, Dr. Bayrak hopes to make the existing CSIS programs amongst the best in the state. He wants to provide selective educational environments where students can be trained to excel in the real world. He would also like to strengthen undergraduate and masters programs in CSIS and create PhD programs as well.

“I want to develop a competitive, fruitful learning environment and an efficient work environment to CSIS students and faculty in the department,” said Dr. Bayrak. “I would also like to address issues on campus with timely communication and resource management.”

In his short time at YSU, Dr. Bayrak has already made a tremendous impact. He oversees an independent study course and mentors six students within the Choose Ohio First program. He is also working on two grant proposals for NSF and NIH. In addition to these tasks, he keeps a busy schedule with his collaborations with the Honors program, STEM program, and International Affairs Office. He is also adamantly pushing to build relations with local industry, forming an advisory board, and working with area high schools to create stronger relationships with them.

“It has been only 4 months, but I feel like I have been here for 4 years,” said Dr. Bayrak. “I love the atmosphere and the people I work and interact with.”

In his free time, Dr. Bayrak said that he loves to read, write, plant, restore, play soccer, and go fishing. What an awesome man!

Want to meet with Dr. Bayrak? Students may schedule an appointment to meet with him, or stop by every Friday from 12:00pm-1:00pm where they can “Meet the Department Chair” and ask him any questions they may have. He also has an open-door policy, so if students can catch him, Dr. Bayrak encourages that they come to him with any questions or concerns. His office is in Meshel Hall, Room 339A. He is also reachable by email at cbayrak@ysu.edu or by phone via 330-941-3134.

STEM Professional Services Offering Students Career Service Events

Looking for a way to get your feet wet in a STEM career field? The College of STEM has you covered! There have been several events created for STEM students to meet employers, learn how to be successful while searching for jobs, and learn the specifics for various companies who hire a tremendous amount of YSU students. Every event is open to students who are interested in internship/co-op or full-time job opportunities. There is no registration to participate.


How to Be Successful at an Expo

  • Multiple information sessions will provide you with the knowledge you need to be successful at an expo. Below are the dates, locations, and times of each session:
Dates Time Presenter Company Location
Monday, January 22, 2018 12:00pm-1:00pm Chad Thorne Simmers Crane Lincoln Building, Cafaro Suite, Room 510
Tuesday, January 23, 2018
3:30pm-4:30pm Danielle Lanterman Dearing Compressor Moser Hall, Room 2400
Wednesday, February 14, 2018 3:30pm-4:30pm TBA TBA Moser Hall, Room 2008
Thursday, February 15, 2018 12:00pm-1:00pm Chris Allen Vallourec USA Corp. Lincoln Building, Cafaro Suite, Room 510


Interviewing for Success – From Student to Professional and Beyond – A STEM Interviewing Prep Workshop

  • Come out on the dates listed below and get tips to help your interview run smoothly from STEM Professional Services.
Date Time Location
January 22, 2018 3:00pm-4:00pm Moser Hall, Room 2400
January 29, 2018 3:00pm-4:00pm Lincoln, Room 202
February 5, 2018 1:00pm-2:00pm Ward Beecher, Room 6029
February 5, 2018 3:00pm-4:00pm Meshell Hall, Room 338
March 29, 2018 3:00pm-4:00pm Moser Hall, Room 2400


Spring 2018 Internship and Co-op Workshops

  • There will be several sessions where students can come and find out ways to land the internship or co-op they are interested in!
Date Time Location
January 18, 2018 3:00pm-4:00pm Meshel Hall, Room 338
January 25, 2018 3:00pm-4:00pm Ward Beecher, Room 6029
February 1, 2018 3:00pm-4:00pm Lincoln, Room 510
March 26, 2018 3:00pm-4:00pm Moser Hall, Room 2400

College of STEM Spring Expo 2018

  • Thursday, Febraury 22, 2018 from 12pm-4pm at Stambaugh Stadium Gymnasiums
    • Companies Seeking Science Majors for Internship/Co-ops and Full-time Opportunities:
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        Slideshow picture postions can be found on the Handshake Database

    •  ACA Engineering, Inc. ~ Ajax TOCCO Magnethermic Corporation ~ AK-Steel—Butler Works ~ Autosoft Inc. ~ Baird Brothers Fine Woods ~ Butech Bliss~ Cafaro~ CMI Industry Americas Inc. ~ Columbia Gas (NiSource) ~ Columbiana Boiler Company ~ Commercial Metal Forming (CMF) ~ Component Repair Technologies ~ CT Consultants ~ Dearing Compressor~ DFAS ~ Defense Research Associates, Inc. ~ Drund ~ AND MANY MORE!

For more information on any of these events, contact STEM Professional Services at stem.jobs@ysu.edu.