Several years ago, I brought together a group of industry leaders, some alumni and some with other interests in the college, and started talking with them about opportunities for the STEM College. This group continues to meet in person twice a year, spending a Friday afternoon with me to talk about current issues of concern. We just finished our fall meeting, so I thought I would use this space to send out a big thank you to the members of my STEM Advisory Council, and then to provide a little more detail about the role of the Council.
Who are the members of the Advisory Council? Their names are all listed on our website, but in short, they represent a group of dedicated and committed individuals, who care about the success of the college. They are alumni who have had a successful career. They are industry partners, who conduct research with college faculty. They hire our graduates. And they are all volunteers.
Why do I have an advisory council? First, and foremost, to get their advice. They have insight into the operations of industry, which should impact the programs that we are offering for our students. Since they are hiring our graduates, they know both their strengths and weaknesses. I use the information about our strengths when recruiting new students into STEM, and in visiting with new employers as I talk about the quality of our graduates. And I use the weaknesses of our graduates as input through which we adjust our curriculum, such that our students are continually getting an education that makes them the ideal candidates for the jobs that industry is looking to fill.
Some of our council members are heavily engaged in research activities, making them very knowledgeable about upcoming trends. Others see trends that are occurring in their own business; knowing how the conduct of their business is changing and projecting key skills for the future. The information they can share allows us to make adjustments now, so that students entering the program today and graduating in four or five years will be prepared for the job market of tomorrow.
The advisory council members represent a group of people that I can call upon to support the college, beyond the regular meetings. Several of them will be meeting with our ABET evaluators during our regular accreditation visit at the end of the month. Others will be participating in an alumni panel early next month. They participate as speakers for programs, and help us recruit speakers. They arrange plant tours for student groups. They speak to prospective students. They are knowledgeable about the college and willing to use that knowledge to promote the college. Similarly, they are knowledgeable about industry and willing to share that knowledge with faculty and students.
I am deeply indebted to all of the work that my advisory council does on behalf of the college. One of the great strengths of YSU is our alumni network, and this is another example of how we all benefit from our STEM alumni. There is no way to place a value on the time and effort they expend to make us a better place. All I can say is thank you.
Last month, I used my column to welcome folks back to campus, pointing out that we were gearing up to begin the semester. In the month since, we’ve moved from high speed to overdrive. Things seem to be happening lightning fast, all good for students and faculty. I would like to use this month’s column to mention just a few of the highlights.
STEM participated in the 3rd Annual YOUNG (Youngstown Ohio Utica Natural Gas) Exposition. We hosted a booth and advertised for our Natural Gas Consortium, the research element of our Natural Gas initiative. This research activity will allow our faculty to accelerate their interactions with companies in an effort to develop new technologies for recovery, refining, and use of shale-derived natural gas. The research activity complements the existing internship and education programs, demonstrating the breadth of capability and need in this growing regional industry.
Also during YOUNG, we interacted with several companies inviting them to participate in the NASA Roadshow that will be coming up on October 23rd (National Mole Day). Through YSU STEM College efforts, we will connect small and medium sized businesses with NASA engineers. The businesses have technical problems; the NASA engineers have possible solutions. YSU STEM faculty and students will become engaged in this effort, providing further opportunity for connections with key regional industry,
This past Friday, we hosted Jim Menego and Mike Senediak from Siemens, who presented an overview of the PLM software to roughly 30 STEM faculty. This was a broad ranging conversation. The capability of the full software suite is truly astounding. The software is already installed and available, along with the Siemens training modules. We’re beginning to plan for the follow-up, deep-dive session, and I’m looking forward to watching our faculty implement this software contribution in class and in research. We are extremely grateful to Siemens for demonstrating their faith in us with this very generous donation to the college.
NAMII (the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute) released its second call for proposals at the beginning of this month, and STEM faculty are busily working to put their project teams together. It looks like we will be participating on a few collaborative teams, and leading at least one submission. We came close to winning an award in the first round of funding, and are optimistic that we will receive funding this time around. When we do, we’ll be announcing it on our blog and through our newsletter!
All of this is on top of the key mission of educating students. Our undergraduate enrollment in the college is up again this year, and we’re working hard to accommodate all of our students, meeting their course and advisement needs.
President Dunn has defined the three pillars of his administration as enrollment, excellence, and engagement. As you can see from just the few paragraphs above, the STEM College is already living that mission. It continues to be a wild ride.