Previous From the Dean Columns (Spring 2012-February 2013)

February 2013

One of the cornerstones of the YSU 2020 Strategic Plan is Community Engagement.  For the STEM College, this often means outreach events for area K-12 schools.  Our faculty is busy organizing events for area students.  In the spring semester, it seems we have something almost every week.  It’s a great opportunity to showcase the College and to provide some educational outreach to area students. 

My role in these events is generally to provide welcome remarks to the students participating competition or festival. I enjoy these opportunities because it gives me a chance to talk about the importance of science and engineering and the critical function that these future STEM students will have in the success of our region.  I can talk about the advances that have been made by our engineering graduates, and the success of our STEM alumni.  It’s not only an opportunity to brag about YSU success stories, but also an opportunity to sell STEM fields in general.

The range of activities is highlighted on our STEM College web page (http://stem.ysu.edu).  If you browse through the calendar, you will see that February started with the National Ocean Science Bowl, and then Mathcounts.  In March, it’s the Mahoning Valley Miniature Bridge Building competition, the Northeast Ohio Robotics Education program, and the Physics Olympics.  April brings Women in Science and Engineering and the STEM Showcase (which is our chance to show off the activities of our own students).  Each one of these events has its target student population and specific flavor.  Having a chance to meet these students and see the excitement that they have from participating is truly one of the highlights of being Dean.

Of course, we have other ways in which students from the community can engage with the College.  We have regular planetarium shows and our mineral museum is open weekdays and weekends.  We’re in the process of putting together an additive manufacturing display that will illustrate what’s going on at NAMII and we’re also building a display to highlight our efforts in alternative energy.  These displays will be visible both in our lobby in Moser Hall, and at OH Wow! Roger and Gloria Jones Children’s Center for Science and Technology.  Our goal is to spread the word about science and engineering and all that we’re doing at YSU to give students the opportunity to excel in these areas.

Our community is a tremendous asset to YSU, and we’re fortunate to have your support.  I continue to be grateful for all that you do to make YSU a leader in STEM education and outreach.

January 2013

Wow, it’s 2013.  Hard to believe the academic year is halfway through and we’ve already begun the spring semester (although the weather around here certainly made it seem like spring this past weekend).

I’m very pleased to be able to share with you our list of 2013 STEM Award recipients, whom we will honor at our annual Awards Dinner on February 21st.  We have two truly outstanding alumni that we’ll be honoring at this year’s dinner.  Jack Scott has been engaged with the STEM College since I first came to YSU.  He worked with me to redevelop our STEM Advisory Board, and his efforts to build his own company in Youngstown, after retiring from a long career at Parsons Engineering, has allowed us to work together on many projects of interest to our students and future students.  Ted Burke, a vice-President with Ajax Tocco Magnathermic, is another long time supporter of the STEM College.  He has worked with our students in engineering design, and was instrumental in bringing a large-scale induction furnace to our efforts for co- laboratory, an interdisciplinary program we support in collaboration with the Art Department.

We will also be recognizing our partnership with the Youngstown Business Incubator, another long-time collaborator with the STEM College.  Our efforts to promote area business, particularly in the information technology arena, have led to many job opportunities for both STEM and Business majors.  YBI is considered one of the gems of the Mahoning Valley, and I’m particularly pleased to be able to recognize them for all they’ve done for our community.

I don’t want to forget our Outstanding Young Alumnus Dan Martin, Engineering Manager at Lubrizol, responsible for product development activities.  Since Dan is still a recent graduate, his list of accomplishments is mostly still ahead of him, but we’re expecting big things.  Also, we are recognizing the Austintown City Schools as our education partner, because of all they have done to promote STEM education throughout their district.

Our Awards dinner has been moved to the Chestnut Room at Kilcawley Center, because it is always a sellout, and that’s the biggest room on campus.  The event is one of the true highlights of my year.  Not only do we get to recognize some fantastic accomplishments of our outstanding graduates, but I get to spend the evening with about 300 STEM College supporters.  They get to reconnect with the College and old friends, and help build their professional network.  There is so much excitement and energy in the room that it takes weeks to come back down to reality.  And that’s a good thing, because it reminds me of who we’re working for—the students, and our alumni.

Thanks to all of you for making YSU such a great place.

December 2012

This month, I want to take a moment to reflect on the value of the STEM College at YSU.  Twice each year I have the opportunity to meet with Engineering Deans from throughout the State.  During these meetings, I realize how engaged our own college is within the community, the quality of the education that we provide the students, and the level of success our graduates have in the workplace or graduate school.  Each time, I am struck by the fact that YSU delivers more than most.

While we don’t always get the recognition for our accomplishments, I know that our faculty and staff deliver a top notch academic product that is a benefit to our community.  I am thankful for the opportunity I have been given to work with such outstanding people and students, and the great support we have received from our alumni and the community.

As an example of the greatness of our University, I am looking forward to YSU commencement on December 16.  We will have about 600 new YSU graduates, and about 100 or more new STEM graduates.  STEM College Advisory Council member Mike Garvey, president and chief executive of M*7 Technologies, will be delivering the commencement address, and Geology graduate Vincent Deem is our student speaker.  It should be an enjoyable ceremony.  Congratulations to all of our new graduates, who now join the ranks of YSU STEM College alumni.

We promised a new website, and it has just been launched.  Our goal is to update the content on a regular basis so that we can keep the information fresh. We are currently highlighting our Power Plant Technology program, and have plans to update this with features about students, faculty, staff, research labs, industry partners, and more.  This is also your opportunity to get your accomplishments highlighted on our web page and would welcome the opportunity to feature your achievements in our communications.  Let us know what you think of the new layout.

The STEM College will be a busy place during the spring semester, as all of our high school programs take place.  As you can see from our calendar, we have activities nearly every week beginning in February, with students coming for MathCounts, Miniature Bridge Building, our newly endowed Edward W. Powers Foundation Women in Science and Engineering program, the STEM Showcase, and more.  As you’re making plans for the spring, don’t forget our STEM Awards Dinner on February 21, and get your reservations now. We are looking forward to making many new friends over the course of the semester, as we promote science and engineering to the community.

November 2012

Hello.  It gives me great pleasure to share with you this latest edition of our electronic newsletter.  This is our second year in an all-electronic format.  We’ve switched to a new support structure this year, so we’ve been a little slow getting started and updating our blog pages, but the new support will provide us greater flexibility that should keep our communications current.  Please check out all of our social media, and sign up to be part of our communications network.

We’ve decided to go with smaller issues, but we’re going to send them to you monthly.  There are many things going on in the college, and we’ll do our best to keep you updated.  We have several new faculty that we’ll be profiling in this and upcoming newsletters.  Our students are winning competitions, like the NECA Green Energy Challenge that an interdisciplinary team won last month.  And we’re doing regular events for middle and high school students.  In this issue, we feature the MathFest, which brought over 300 high school students to YSU for a full day of Math fun.

Over the next several months, we’ll be rolling out a new webpage, as well.  The new page is designed to integrate content from our blog so that it is continually refreshed with new and interesting information.  We’ll highlight our programs, faculty, alumni, and labs, and promote upcoming events.  Also, don’t forget to look for information about the STEM Awards Dinner, which will be held on February 21, 2013.  We’ve finally moved to the Chestnut room in Kilcawley, which has enough space for about 400 attendees.  That should hold us for another few years.

Finally, I want to send a special thank you to our donors.  As we’ve done for several years now, we’re acknowledging those people who supported the college over the most recent 6 month period.  This time, it’s January to June of 2012.  These contributions support student projects and travel, and other college programs that provide an enriching experience for our students. Thank you to all of our supporters.  Without your help, we wouldn’t be able to be as effective as we are in reaching out to the community and providing unique learning opportunities for our students.

Enjoy this newsletter issue, and remember to connect with us via Facebook, Twitter, or our blog pages.  We love hearing from you, and would welcome the opportunity to feature your achievements in our communications.

Spring 2012

Welcome to our second issue in electronic format.  By now, I hope you’re getting used to the new format, and have subscribed to our blog or Twitter feed, or liked our Facebook page.  These new social media tools will help you keep up with all of the activities ongoing within the STEM College.

This newsletter provides information about the types of things we are already doing.  The community engagement activities, and the engagement of our undergraduate students into the research agenda of the college.  The new program that the AT&T Foundation is generously supporting in which we will be putting high school students from Youngstown’s Chaney STEM School to work with our industrial partners. What does not get included in the newsletter are the efforts underway in the College that often fly under the radar, but are critical to the success of our students, and to the new activities that we are considering for the future.

First, let’s spend a few moments talking about our students, and their success.  YSU is the midst of a transition, one we started in the STEM College a few years ago with the proposal to refine our admission process.  Beginning with the Fall 2012 incoming freshmen, our STEM students will need to be ready for Freshman English and pre-Calculus, or we will ask them to begin in a special track in which they receive extra support designed to help them to achieve their goals.  My philosophy is simple – I would rather have a student graduate in five years, than to be placed at a level beyond his or her capability (as needed to meet a four year graduation expectation) and then to fail.  Our advisors, who already work tirelessly to help our students succeed, will be working especially closely with this group of students so that they get the help that they need to succeed in our program. And we will watch closely to see that this new procedure and special group of courses provides the benefit that we hope.

Beyond this change, we are also working to make our programs more responsive to the interests of our students, who are looking for opportunities to engage in research, to undertake a co-op or internship experience, or to study abroad.  We are adjusting our curriculum to include specific opportunities for those experiences.  We are beginning to embrace the true breadth of STEM, by asking students to take classes across the college, to gain experiences outside their major, so that they can use this broad knowledge base to be successful in industry. The integrated program with GM and the co-laboratory program run in conjunction with the College of Fine and Performing Arts are just two of these examples.

And finally, the College is planning for the future.  We are in the process of reviewing our STEM strategic plan, to make sure that it properly aligns with the YSU strategic plan, and to help us to determine the critical activities that we need to undertake for the future success of the college.  The Dean’s Advisory Committee is well underway with this effort, which will lead to review by the Chair’s and the External Advisory Council before the end of the academic year.  If you have some ideas on what you believe is important for the future of STEM at YSU, please let me know.  Send an e-mail to me and we’ll be sure to include your thoughts into the revised strategic plan.

We very much value the support of our alumni and friends, and hope that you will become engaged in our efforts as we continue to make the College an important asset for our community.  Thanks for reading.