STEM Happenings for Weeks Ending March 23rd and March 30th

Week ending March 30th…

The 35th Annual YSU Physics Olympics was held (mostly) in the Beeghly Center on Saturday, March 23rd, with a student attendance of 221 from 16 schools. There were also an estimated 58 parents and friends for a total attendance of 279. Three events were held in the three gymnasiums under the Stambaugh Stadium seats due to the Canisius vs. YSU basketball game. Everything proceeded without a hitch; the support staff from Athletics was extremely helpful. Thanks go to Ron Strollo for his help in making these arrangements and for allowing our basketball team to host a home game in their tournament. The first five places overall (for trophies) were Poland, Hickory, West Branch, Lakeview, and Lisbon.

The YSU Biological Sciences Herbarium has reached over 112,139 specimens, making it one of the largest repositories of plant seeds in the nation.

YSU Chemistry department hosted Dr. Ken Singer from Case Western Reserve University. Dr. Singer presented a seminar entitled “Photonic Multilayered Polymer Films: From Origami Lasers to Optical Data Storage to Photovoltaics,” in support of our new PhD in Materials Science and Engineering.

In response to frequent calls for STEM demonstrations at area middle and high schools, several STEM College Student Organizations participated in the “STEM IN A BOX” competition.  Student Organization teams were challenged to develop a compact, lightweight, and portable science and engineering demonstrations, including a lesson plan and setup instructions. All of these items needed to be contained in a shoebox-sized package. The entry from the American Chemical Society (ACS) student team, which demonstrated material density using rice in bottles, was declared “Best of Show” by judges from the OH WOW! Science and Technology Center. Going forward, both YSU STEM College and OH WOW! will use each of these portable demonstrations to provide an insight into STEM when contacted by area schools. Each participating student organization team will receive a nominal cash award from the Dean’s office for supporting STEM College Student Organizational initiatives.

YSU STEM hosted Ohio Senator Troy Balderson, who represents Senate District 20, which includes the counties of Athens (in part), Fairfield, Guernsey, Hocking, Morgan, Muskingum, and Pickaway (in part). Senator Balderson is the chairperson of the Ohio Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. The Senator toured the Geological and Environmental Engineering and Chemistry laboratories and discussed several of YSU’s energy related research initiatives.

YSU Chemistry is hosting a visiting PhD Student – Opel (Ruthairat) Nimthong from Thailand. She is working with us through mid-August, and she is making exceptional progress learning the hands-on side of crystallography for both samples from her PhD thesis and those of other colleagues back at Prince of Songkla University, as well as a broader variety of crystal types from our collaborators here at YSU. The non-crystallographic work is mostly done. Her work here emphasizes advanced structural studies of several series of metal-sulfur cluster compounds, from her PhD, and becoming a high level proficient broadly skilled crystallographer.

Biology Day is being held April 11th.  The STEM Advisory Council meeting will be April 12th.  Women in Science and Engineering will be April 13th.

Week ending March 23rd…

Professor Hazel Marie accompanied a group of Mechanical Engineering students to the ASME District B 2013 Student Professional Development Conference in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The student conference includes networking activities, Old Guard Oral Presentations, Old Guard Poster Presentations, Student Design Competition, Student Leadership Conference, and an Impromptu Design Competition.  In addition to the student conference, there is a Student Leadership Seminar, Student Section Advisor Conference, and a Professional Section Leadership Conference.  Stephen Rakocy, senior Mechanical Engineering student presented a paper on Performance Analysis of Natural Gas Conversion of Internal Combustion Engine, completed under the direction of faculty advisor Dr. Hyun W. Kim. In addition, all thirty-five students took part in the impromptu design competition, on several teams.  The parameters for this competition were released at the conference and the students had thirty minutes to complete their respective designs.

The YSU Biology Club hosted Bowl-A-Strike Against Cancer, an event designed to raise money on behalf of the American Cancer Society.

YSU hosted the annual Physics Olympics, a gathering of high school students in a competition designed to strengthen the mind, demonstrate physics in applied settings, and have fun in twelve different “Physics Contests.” Sixteen teams and over 300 students participated in events including the ping pong ball launcher, the flying machine, making music, mousetrap racer, and more at various venues throughout the Beeghly Center.


Week Ending March 16th…

Several of Gary Walker’s students, from the Biology department, are presenting their research work at the 35th Symposium on Biotechnology for Fuels and Chemicals April 29th-May 2nd in Portland, OR. The program stems from YSU’s Automobile Fuels, a project funded by the DOE. The Biomass Program of the DOE, NREL, and Oak Ridge National Laboratories also supports this conference of the Society for Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology.

A group of YSU students has advanced to the semi-finals of the annual LaunchTownTM competition, and they will present to the LaunchTownTM Leadership Team at CSU Monte Ahuja College of Business on March 22. LaunchTownTM is the most innovative program of its kind, with a track record of helping college and university students, of all majors, in launching their winning ideas for creating new wealth and business. The 2012 winning team received a $10,000 cash prize, plus an additional package of mentor and advisory services valued at $20,000! LaunchtownTM includes Youngstown State University, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland State University, Kent State University, and the University of Akron.

The STEM College hosted a visit from State Representative Kirk Schuring, chair of the State’s 21st Century Manufacturing Task Force.  Rep. Schuring toured several labs to learn about YSU activities in additive manufacturing and materials research.  A follow-up activity with the full committee is being planned for summer.