Student Organization Spotlight: STEM Leadership Society

SLS LogoSTEM Leadership Society is an organization for all majors within STEM who want to become more involved with volunteer work and professional networking.

Every year, invitations are sent out to local area high school seniors who plan to attend YSU as a STEM student. Those students, who are in good academic standing, will have a chance to be interviewed to join SLS.

To be accepted, students must display academic success as well as leadership skills. Because of this, many SLS members are also involved in other student organizations.

In addition to the group’s monthly meetings, members volunteer to help with many STEM-related events around campus and in the local community. SLS organized Meet the Employers and a recent STEM jacket sale, and they helped out with the STEM Open House and Silly Science Sunday. Officers in SLS are hoping to schedule a Habitat for Humanity build day in the near future.

SLS Members

Incoming freshmen are encouraged to join, but current YSU students can also apply here online.

Joining an organization like STEM Leadership Society is beneficial for multiple reasons: students get more involved in the community and the college, it provides great networking opportunities, and it looks great on a resume!

ACS Student Chapter Receives Commendable Award

ACS studentsThe American Chemical Society (ACS) student chapter at Youngstown State University has been selected to receive a Commendable award for its activities conducted during the 2015-2016 academic year.

More than 400 reports were submitted concerning chapter activity across the nation. The ACS presented 46 outstanding, 93 commendable, and 145 honorable mention awards. The chapters that received awards will be honored at the 253rd ACS National Meeting and are listed in the November/December issue of inChemistry.

Professor Michael Serra, the faculty advisor of YSU’s ACS chapter, was specifically recognized and congratulated by the ACS for leading such an outstanding group of students.

You can find a description of the award and a list of recipients on the ACS website.

Student Organization Spotlight: Theme Park Engineering Group

TPEG LogoYSU’s Theme Park Engineering Group might not be what you expect. Most of its members are indeed engineering students, but the group is very flexible and can plan to accommodate almost any major. That’s because the group (TPEG) is not solely focused on the engineering that goes into theme parks but rather the park experience in general.

“We’re a group of mainly STEM students,” said TPEG president and mechanical engineering senior Jacob Janoso, “but we’ve had other majors in the past. We are interested in the technical aspects of the amusement industry.”

Amusement parks deal with so many types of careers, from engineering to communications to graphic design, and TPEG kind of encompasses all of those things by attending conferences and working with larger organizations like the Themed Entertainment Association.

students at IAAPA“It’s a great way for us to gain knowledge in the industry through professionals and it’s a great way to expand our networking as well,” said Jacob.

The most recent conference attended by TPEG members was hosted by the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, the largest organization of its kind in the world.

The NextGen Initiative of the Themed Entertainment Association is an important affiliate of TPEG, providing resources for students and recent graduates. Conferences, webinars, internships, and jobs are all offered by NextGen for groups like this to help them develop professionally.

Any students interested in getting involved in theme parks should definitely check out TPEG. By joining, new resources will be available regardless of major. Officer contact information is available on their website and useful information is posted on their Facebook page.


Bird Day 2016

Bird Day was a fund raising event that the YSU Biology Club held for the local bird sanctuary, Birds in Flight, located in the Warren/Niles area. Birds in Flight rescues, rehabilitates, and releases over 1000 birds per year without any government assistance.

Bird Day was held to raise money and awareness for this organization; informational posters were made by undergraduates Cartier Howlett and Leah Bayer along with graduate student Kyle Spainhower, guided bird walks were led by undergraduate student Daniel Bancroft, and there was a “guess how many feathers are in the jar” competition.

The main attractions for the event were the birds. Birds in Flight Sanctuary brought a Barred Owl, Red-tailed Hawk, and a Harris Hawk.

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Despite unfavorable weather for the day, more than $400 was raised by approximately 70 guests within four hours. 16 Biology Club members worked hard to make the day a success.

Since the Bird Day was such a great success, it is likely that this could become a yearly fundraising event hosted by the YSU Biology club. Keep an eye out for future Bird Days.

Student Organization Spotlight: Tau Beta Pi

Did you know that there is an honor society specifically for engineering students? Did you know that Youngstown State University has a student chapter of this honor society? Tau Beta Pi the only engineering honor society that covers all disciplines of engineering, and we have a chapter at YSU!

Eligible students are invited each year from the top 1/8 of the junior class and the top 1/5 of the senior class and graduate students. Tau Beta Pi is a very selective society and is very prestigious because of it.

Since this is an honor society, great importance is placed on students’ academics as well as their involvement in extracurricular activities. This means that many members are also involved in other STEM student organizations at YSU.

“Pretty much everyone in Tau Beta Pi [at YSU] is involved in either STEM Leadership Society (SLS) or their unique American society, like the American Society of Mechanical Engineers or the American Society of Chemical Engineers,” said president Libby Rogenski. “We also have a few members involved in the Society of Women Engineers.”

Besides being an impressive note on a resume, Tau Beta Pi students receive a lifetime membership and the benefits associated with that.

“There are a lot of alumni chapters, so they still get together and go to conventions,” said Libby, “and you get a subscription to the Tau Beta Pi magazine, Bent. And what’s cool is a lot of employers are Tau Bates themselves.”

Something that the YSU community is pretty familiar with is Engineers Week during spring semester, which is of course brought to you by Tau Beta Pi. Engineers Week is a whole week of different disciplines of engineering competing against one another in egg drops, fundraisers, and taping people to a wall.

Libby explained that Tau Beta Pi headquarters pays for the president of each chapter to attend the national conference each year, so she and the vice president were able to attend the conference in San Diego this year.

“It was a lot of fun and we learned a lot about the organization on a national scale,” said Libby. “We also got to know some of the other Ohio chapter leaders pretty well.”Tau Beta Pi initiates

Students who receive an invitation to join Tau Beta Pi should seriously consider joining for the benefits. Notable Tau Bates include astronaut Buzz Aldrin, founder Jeff Bezos, and supercomputer pioneer Seymour Cray.

Student Organization Spotlight: The Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers

IISE groupThe Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers, formerly the Institute of Industrial Engineers, is a student organization at YSU welcoming all industrial engineering majors and minors.

“We’re kind of changing our presence on campus,” said Zach Thompson, president of YSU’s IISE and junior IE major. ”We’re going to try to do some more fundraisers and get involved and get our name out there as a group.”

IISE has both student and professional sections in the area. Zach explains that there are many benefits to connecting with these groups.

“We can connect with professionals and get our names out there and network, and they provide a bunch of services for us,” said Zach.

As a YSU IISE member, the students can receive discounts on various certifications for engineers.

The IISE members also attend conferences in the Great Lakes region where they have the option of submitting papers. One conference that they are attending this academic year is being hosted by Ohio University in February.

“We didn’t have any last year, but this year we’re planning on having some professionals from out in the field come in and talk to us, even some local businesses,” said Zach. “It’ll be nice because they can talk to us about what it’s actually like in our area.”

IISE is offering Lean Green Belt training and certification this November and Six Sigma Green Belt training and certification in February, both at a discounted rate. All majors are welcome and encouraged to get these certifications.

Any students interested in joining YSU’s IISE or for more information, contact Zach at or visit their Facebook page.

Student Organization Spotlight: Association for Computing Machinery

Each month, we try to highlight a student organization in STEM to show everyone what they do and why they’re an important part of STEM. This month, the Association for Computing Machinery is our featured organization.

ACM logo

The ACM is actually a much larger organization that is composed of many professional and university chapters. Here at YSU, all CSIS majors are welcome to join and to attend meetings and presentations.

The new student president of YSU’s chapter, Ricky Elrod, explains that students and faculty alike have given presentations on a wide range of topics.

“We’ve had presentations on bitcoin, on Linux-related stuff, on functional programming, robotics—all sorts of computer-science-related subfields,” said Ricky.

Students are also given opportunities to collaborate with others that share their interests in “hack” sessions. Similar to a hackathon, students bring computers and small projects that they work on with other students who attend.

One major goal of YSU’s ACM is to get students interacting with one another (and with faculty) and learning from one another.

Ricky says that another goal for the future of the group is to try to work more with the local professional chapter in Northeast Ohio. He says that networking is a strong asset within the organization.

Students interested in joining or learning more about the ACM can check out their Facebook page or e-mail student president Ricky Elrod.

Student Organization Spotlight: Phi Sigma Rho & SAE

Each month, we try to highlight at least one student organization in STEM. This month, we found two student organizations that are really encouraging students to join: Phi Sigma Rho and the Society of Automotive Engineers.

Phi Sigma Rho

Orchid Ball groupThough Phi Sigma Rho is not a part of YSU’s Greek Life, it’s a STEM sorority. President and industrial engineering major Sydney Negro explains that they welcome all STEM majors.

“The university doesn’t consider us a sorority, but we follow all national guidelines of Phi Sigma Rho,” said Sydney.

From coordinating t-shirt sales to joining the Society of Women Engineers for events, Phi Sigma Rho is pretty active throughout the semester.

“We always participate in Relay for Life and we go to Light the Night because our national philanthropy is the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society,” said Sydney.

Most recently, Phi Sigma Rho held their Orchid Ball. At this formal, members danced, received awards, and socialized with alumnae.Phi Sigma Rho

“Our flower is the orchid, so instead of calling it our formal, we call it the Orchid Ball,” said Sydney.

STEMians interested in finding out more about joining Phi Sigma Rho can contact Sydney Negro at

The Society of Automotive Engineers

The Society of Automotive Engineers, or SAE, is a relatively small group at YSU. President and mechanical engineering major Kyle Hogan encourages students from any major to check it out if they’re interested.

“We’re trying to grow and get some more recognition for the program and basically let people know there’s an option for any of the motor heads that might be out there,” said Kyle.

SAE Baja groupThe main event that SAE participates in is the Baja competition. The team must design and build a vehicle that can perform well in different tests, like maneuverability and acceleration.

“So it’s really balancing a lot of different aspects of your car and maybe having things that are variable that you can change between events,” said Kyle.

Anyone interested in learning more about SAE or the Baja competition can check out the group’s Youngstown State SAE Baja page on Facebook or @YSUBajaSAE on Twitter.

“We’re very welcoming of anyone wanting to come in and check it out,” said Kyle. “Even if you decide you’re not interested, that’s fine. If you want to learn, it’s an excellent place to do it. We’re not going to turn you away because you know nothing.”

Student Organization Spotlight: The American Society of Civil Engineers

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The American Society of Civil Engineers Youngstown State University Student Chapter is an organization for engineering students of all disciplines.

The main focus of the group, besides bringing YSU’s engineering students together, is building and preparing for the steel bridge and concrete canoe competitions. All of this preparation has paid off for them this year; they won first place at the Ohio Valley Student Conference for their steel bridge.

“The steel bridge competition is a cost analysis sort of thing,” said Leah McConnell, president of YSU’s ASCE. “So we fabricate this bridge and they do a load test—they measure how much it deflects and they also do a side sway test to see how much it moves from side to side.”

For the steel bridge competition, students compete to make the strongest bridge with the lowest cost.

“Our bridge cost a little bit over six million dollars total and then the next lowest cost was about eight million dollars,” said Leah. “So we beat all the other schools by about two million dollars, which is pretty impressive.”

YSU’s ASCE won $1000 for coming in first place at the regional steel bridge competition. They plan to use the money toward their trip to the national conference that they qualified for.

Any engineering students at YSU are welcome to join the ASCE. They have weekly meetings and compete in regular events against other schools across the country.

“We have a great group of people,” said Leah. “We really do become like a family since we spend so much time together.”

For more information, contact Leah at or Dr. Islam at

Student Organization Spotlight: The Association for Women in Mathematics

female math studentsThe Youngstown State University Student Chapter of the Association for Women in Mathematics is dedicated to encouraging young women in sciences.

Monica Busser, president of the student organization, says it’s really all about making women feel comfortable in their STEM majors.

“The Association for Women in Math focuses on empowering women and girls to pursue careers in math and science and to feel comfortable pursuing those careers, especially in a male dominated field,” said Monica.

The group emphasizes both math and professional women. They have helped to promote the Math Assistance Center, they talk to schoolchildren about careers in math, and they also plan to take on an active role for Women’s History Month.

”We have our first Association for Women in Mathematics Colloquium,” said Monica. “Dr. Pamela Harris is an algebraist, and she’s going to talk to us about her research, which will be really cool.”

Dr. Harris will give her talk on Abstract Algebra on March 25 at 3:00 p.m. in the Cafaro Suite in Lincoln. Afterward in the Cafaro Suite, there will be History of Women in Mathematics Trivia where participants can compete for a gift card prize.

The group also participated in YSU’s Women in STEM Day to encourage local middle school and high school students to pursue STEM majors and careers. This event also included many professionals in STEM fields to interact with the girls and answer questions.

At the end of January, six of YSU’s female math majors (pictured above with Dr. Spalsbury) attended the Nebraska Conference for Undergraduate Women in Mathematics where they presented research in the company of fellow math women. This is what each of them presented:

Unique Hamiltonicity and Computational Algebraic Geometry by Monica Busser

The Fifteen Schoolgirl Problem by Sheri Cope

Developing an Educational Sudoku Solver by Emily Hoopes

Numerical Results for the IVP to the Burgers Equation with External Forces by Crystal Mackey

A Study of Youngstown Public Housing Program Participants’ Preferences by Ashley Orr

A Bone Eat Bone World: Math Models of Bone Metabolism by Gabrielle Van Scoy

Any students interested in the Association for Women in Mathematics, any gender or major, can contact Monica Busser at

HackYSU is Back, All 36 hours!

Penguin Hackers logoThis year’s hackathon begins at 10 p.m. on Feb. 5 and will run until 10 a.m. on Feb. 7.

Doors open at 7 p.m. on Feb. 5.

Joe Duncko, chair of Penguin Hackers, said that they have made many changes from last year’s HackYSU.

“The biggest one that people will notice is the venue,” he said. “We’re not doing it in Meshel Hall this year; we’re going to be in the DeBartolo Stadium Club in Stambaugh Stadium . So I’m really excited. It’s a great view, really great room.”

Major League Hacking is scheduled to return this year, bringing with them Oculus Rifts, fitness trackers, and other hardware for participants to tinker with.

According to Joe, not only are staff from the CSIS department and YSU’s IEEE student chapter going to be involved in this, but representatives from Drund and the Youngstown Business Incubator are also going to be present to act as guides and mentors.

The goal for this hackathon is to bring in 100 YSU students to participate.

“It looks like we’ll have no problems hitting the non-YSU student quota—we have a bunch of groups from Waterloo, Kent, and more that have registered and are planning to drive up here. So right now we are just working on hyping YSU students,” Joe explained.

For penguins new to the hackathon, this is a free event where you can experiment with new software and hardware and work with a team of fellow students to create something fun and unique. You may even win a prize from Major League Hacking.

Students and mentors looking for more information should e-mail or visit to register.

Student Organization Spotlight: The Information Security and Ethical Hacking Association

ISEHA LogoThe Information Security and Ethical Hacking Association is a student organization devoted to teaching its members about security threats and exploring how to safeguard digital information.

While most people think of hacking as a negative thing, the ISEHA looks at hacking in a different way.

Members of the ISEHA think it is important to understand what goes into hacking so they are able to protect their own information from any threats.

Wes Stanton, president of the ISEHA, serves as a mentor to many of the students involved.

He gives demonstrations at the meetings and will help some of the others in penetration testing.

“It’s kind of at all levels,” he said. “During those little demos I did, I let them go by themselves and see if they are able to do it, and then I did guide them through it at the very end to show them the specific steps that I would take to be able to break the server or to get into my switch.”

Though the ISEHA does not have any specific events planned for this semester, more student involvement will lead to more group activities.

In the past, these students have competed nationally in cybersecurity competitions and they have held several local capture the flag style matches among themselves.

“Another thing that we’re trying to do is get speakers in. We have a lot of people who are very qualified on campus here and people who I’ve been talking to on Facebook to talk and give lectures, and we just want more people to show up to those,” said Stanton.

If you’re interested in joining ISEHA, email Stanton at, visit their Facebook page, or stop by a meeting. Meets are in Meshel 116 on Fridays at 5:30 p.m.

Student Organization Spotlight: American Chemical Society

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The Youngstown State University American Chemical Society is part of the larger, national organization, American Chemical Society.

The ACS is the world’s largest scientific society, and our student chapter follows its lead in promoting chemistry on our campus and in our community,” said Jennifer Miller, president of YSU ACS. “We also are actively involved in community service, professional development and networking.”

YSU ACS is a very active student organization and participates in a variety of different activities. This past fall semester, YSU ACS has done science shows at OH WOW!, the Canfield Fair, on campus, and participated in a clean-up day with the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation. YSU ACS also hosted an informational session on NEOMED’s pharmacy and medical programs.

To end the fall semester, YSU ACS visited Fairhaven School for Special Education and put on a science show for their students.

We’ve revamped our demo list throughout the semester, so the students [were] in for quite a show!” Miller said.

To join YSU ACS, you don’t have to be a chemistry major.

We have members who are in chemical engineering, biology, civil engineering…” Miller said. “We welcome anyone, and we’re always happy to have new members join! Students should join ACS because not only are we a highly active organization, we offer a variety of events throughout the semester. We put quite a bit of focus on professional development and networking as well.”

Student Organization Spotlight: Society of Physics Students

This month, we’re starting a new monthly series that highlights various active student organizations in the STEM community. This month YSU STEM is featuring the Society of Physics Students, also knows as SPS.

SPS is a student organization with a purpose of bringing together faculty and students who share interests in physics, astronomy and other STEM-related fields. The organization meets once a month, where members listen to guest lectures, learn and discuss recent advancements in scientific fields and plan future events and activities. Events and activities include guest lectures, planetarium shows, and trips to regional physics meetings, such as the Ohio-Region Section of the American Physical Society. SPS President Martin Strong said they’re also famous for their many pizza parties, and you don’t even have to be a physics major (or any STEM major) to join!

“Students should join SPS if they express any interest in physics and astronomy,” Strong said. “We are an extremely active club, which hosts many guest lectures and events. SPS allows students to become more familiar with the faculty members and the research they conduct at Youngstown State University. Each member will leave every meeting knowing something new, interesting, and if I may say, mind-blowing about the field of physics and astronomy, whether they have a strong math background or not.”

Currently, SPS is working on putting together their first Grill-Out Under the Stars event, where club members and students meet at the end of the school year to cook out and look at astronomical objects through telescopes as a way to officially kick off the beginning of summer break.

If anyone is interested in joining SPS, they can go to the Department of Physics and Astronomy to have their name added to the email list. Also, SPS-hosted guest lectures are open to anyone who would like to attend.

Concrete Canoe Places Second at Regionals

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The YSU chapter of American Society of Civil Engineers traveled to Lawrenceburg, Indiana, to compete in the Concrete Canoe and Steel Bridge competitions at the end of March. The ASCE broke up into two groups, with one group designing and creating the bridge and the other designing and creating the canoe.

The concrete canoe placed second overall in the competition.

Miranda DeFuria, captain of the concrete canoe team, said she was a little nervous going into the competition. It was DeFuria’s first year as captain, and the team also had new paddlers who had never practiced before.

The team designed, tested and built the canoe. This year, the canoe had a Ghostbuster’s theme.

“Our first step was to figure out the hull design of the canoe, which is basically its shape. We used the same design from last year because it was very stable for our new and inexperienced paddlers,” DeFuria said. “We chose our mix design to be compatible with the new shotcrete method.”

She explained that a pneumatic shotcrete sprayer was used to place the concrete on the mold, which affected how mix of their concrete. The hull of the canoe was made from three layers of concrete with two layers of PBO (polyparaphenylene benzobisoxazole) in between each later of concrete. Once the mold was set, the team sanded the canoe and painted it to represent the Ghostbuster’s theme.

Before the canoe could compete in the five different races, it had to pass some preliminary tests.

“Everyone set up their displays and canoes for judging. Then canoes have to undergo a flotation test, also known as swamp testing,” DeFuria explained. “Each canoe must be placed in the lake, filled with water, and submerged under the surface. Two 25-pound sand bags also had to be in the canoe during the test. The canoe must be able to float to pass the test and participate in races.”

DeFuria said that since their canoe placed second overall, they did not qualify for the national competition. Even though they can’t move on, she is still happy with their success.

“It was such a rewarding experience to see the canoe at competition because of the amount of time and work we put into this project,” she said. “I am very proud of my team and am so thankful for everyone that made the canoe a success.  I love this project and cannot wait to see what the team will do next year.”

Unfortunately, the bridge was disqualified. In order to compete in the competition, the bridge had to hold 2,500 pounds. The steel bridge held 2,200 before it snapped.