CUTC Meeting and Outstanding Student Awards Dinner

Washington, D.C. was the destination of YSU’s Center for Transportation and Materials Engineering (CTME) Director, Joann Esenwein, and awards winner, Matthew Coppage, this past weekend, Jan. 21 – 22, 2012.

Matt, a senior in Civil Engineering, was selected for this award based on his ability to work with a team as well as individually, focusing on his leadership and problem solving skills. He has worked on various transportation-related research projects including the Center’s outreach programs and has assisted with various lab assignments. An active member of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)  student chapter, Matt participated in Contractor for a Day.

The Council of University Transportation Centers was established in 1979 by major transportation research centers and institutes in the United States and provides a forum for Universities and Centers to interact collectively with government and industry. Currently, there are over 130 academic institutions involved in membership representing the nation’s leading university-based transportation research and education programs whose members work to advance the state of the art in all modes and disciplines of transportation.

Science Day

The accompanying photos are provided by Dr. Felicia Armstrong.

Science is bringing area students to Youngstown State University.

The Ohio Academy of Science (OAS) District 15 Lake-to-River Science day will make its way to Beeghly arena (Roselli court) on Saturday March 31, 2012. Science Day is a yearly regional event that brings hundreds of students from parochial, public, and private schools in grades 5-12 for presentations in scientific research. District 15, which includes Ashtabula, Columbiana, Mahoning, and Trumbull Counties are just one of 16 districts that participate in the all day science fair. The accompanying photos are provided by Dr. Felicia Armstrong.

According to Stephen E. Rodabaugh, YSU’s Science Day council member and Associate Dean of the STEM College, students must adhere to strict guidelines set by the OAS. Students begin their research months in advance in one of thirteen categories and will have to log their research, create an abstract/hypothesis and complete a poster board presentation. Projects cannot be demonstrated, but students may have photos, graphs and charts that describe their work. Two judges are assigned to each project, and participants are rated on a 40-point scale. Those with a minimum score of 36 will advance to the State Science Day, held on Saturday, May 5, 2012 at The Ohio State University. Participants at this level compete for substantial prizes and scholarship dollars.

Science fairs have been on the decline across the nation, especially in District 15. However, grants awarded by Dominion Gas and General Motors have aided in bringing these events back to the schools in various ways. Due to their generosity, Rodabaugh noted that many of these funds help students with materials and in cases of need waive the $30.00 registration fee. Teachers also benefit through science workshop trainings and assistance with how to bring science fairs back to the schools. Grants received for Science Day also allow YSU STEM students to travel to participating schools as coaches, assisting with project research. Students from Trumbull County’s Neal Middle School and McGuffey Elementary, and Volney Rogers Middle School in Youngstown will represent their schools at YSU, with 20-25 students expected to participate.

Science Day is not only a day of academic enrichment, but also an opportunity to learn more about STEM at YSU. Students and their families will have time to explore YSU’s campus, and are invited to the awards ceremony that will close out the day’s festivities. Rodabaugh conveyed that Science Day is very beneficial to District 15, as well as it is “engaging students not otherwise engaged.”

YSU Materials students work with NSF Research Center through Case connection

A growing new research effort at YSU originates in the Photonic, Optical, and Electronic Materials (POEM) group, begun by YSU physics faculty and now including engineering and chemistry faculty. In physics, for example, the POEM group has been actively recruiting students for the past three summers in cutting-edge research supported by multiple National Science Foundation grants, as well as grants from the State of Ohio Third Frontier Program. Ongoing support for YSU student research into polymers as photonic and optical materials has been provided through YSU’s affiliation with the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Science & Technology Center for Layered Polymeric Systems (CLiPS). CLiPS is a multi-institution collaborative research and education Center begun in 2007 with now ten years of pledged NSF support at nearly $40M. Four YSU faculty members have participated in CLiPS, including Drs. Andrews, Crescimanno, and Oder in Physics and Dr. Price in Chemical Engineering. In addition to material support, research collaboration opportunities, and support for off-campus research experiences for YSU students, direct support to YSU as an affiliate of CLiPS is anticipated to total over $300k. Since 2008, YSU faculty has co-authored at least seven refereed publications partially supported through CLiPS with several more in preparation and many including YSU students as co-authors.

A major component of CLiPS programs is the training of undergraduate students at Affiliates Programs, like YSU, and the recruitment of undergraduates into summer research experiences and, eventually, graduate research in polymer science & engineering. In addition to their research at YSU, POEM students have participated each summer in research experiences for undergraduates (REUs) at nearby Case Western Reserve University, the lead institution for CLiPS. The REU program introduces students to CLiPS technologies, polymer science and STEM research and serves as an important pipeline for American students into CLiPS graduate programs. This year the first four American students accepted into the CWRU PhD program in Macromolecular Science & Engineering were REU alumni, including James Aldridge, graduate of Youngstown State University, who joined the prestigious research group of Dr. Eric Baer, Director of CLiPS, in June, 2011. As part of the REU experience, students work as members of CLiPS Layered Research Teams for ten weeks under the mentorship of a graduate student. In addition to daily research activities, REU students participate in weekly program meetings during which they hone their presentation skills, attend lectures in various areas of polymer science and engineering, and discuss professional ethics. The summer program culminates in the Northeast Ohio Undergraduate Polymer Symposium, an event showcasing the summer research work of undergraduates from CWRU, the University of Akron, Kent State University, and NASA.

CTME Advisory Board Meeting

YSU’s Center for Transportation and Materials Engineering held an Advisory Board Meeting in Moser Hall, Friday, January 6, 2012 with 16 members present including Ms. Cynthia Gerst, Research Program Manager at the Ohio Department of Transportation. The Advisory Board sets policies and procedures for the CTME which are the guidelines Joann Esenwein, as Director, uses to make decisions throughout the year. The Board also has input on the selection of research, outreach and workforce development projects selected for funding. Ms. Gerst presented an overview of the ODOT Strategic Research Plan. Ms. Esenwein went over the highlights of 2011 which included the submission of a proposal for new funding through the University Transportation Centers program, submitted in collaboration with the University of Pittsburg and University of Akron. Additional highlights included YSU’s Transportation Career Day, an ODOT visit, and funding received from ODOT District 4. Esenwein also informed the Board that the call for white papers for new research activities within the current funding cycle went out January 3, 2012 and are due January 18, 2012.

Dr. Pedro Cortes

Dr. Cortes and his team has recently developed with the collaboration of Javier Lara at The Universidad the Michoacán,  a sensor based on renewable biological carbon nanotubes capable of detecting parts per million of hazardous gases. The novel approach will open opportunities for relatively non-expensive chemical sensors. The team is currently working towards the detection of explosives, cancer, and bioanalytes.

Cushwa Fellows

Three STEM graduate students are taking the next step in their academic aspirations. YSU graduates Kristin Frank, Michael Kovach, and Adam Palumbo are the recipients of the 2011-2012 Cushwa Commercial Shearing Graduate Fellowship. Established in 2003 by the Cushwa family, in cooperation with the YSU Foundation, the Fellowship gives outstanding graduate students real work experience through research and internships (working 20 hours a week for 16 weeks) and lessens the financial burden by granting a $15,000 stipend. For the Fellows, a great deal of their preparation began as an undergraduate.

For chemistry student Kristin Frank, she said “as an undergraduate I spent the majority of my time studying and preparing for classes to ensure the best grades possible.” Her dedication has paid off. With YSU chemistry professor Dr. Brian Leskiw, Frank is conducting research in the physical chemistry field, and will be interning with Timothy Eastly, another YSU faculty member, through Toxicology Enterprises Inc., a Warren based drug and alcohol detection laboratory. Frank will be assisting Eastly with probationary drug testing. Frank said that the Fellowship…” has provided me with several opportunities I would have probably not otherwise had access to.” Frank’s future plans include obtaining her Doctor of Pharmacy degree.

Michael Kovach’s mechanical engineering background has given him the opportunity to work with General Motors, Lordstown. Kovach is working on one of the main robotic arms in the planting department conducting a failure analysis (weakening of frequently used parts). Kovach said that when one of these arms fails, the production slows or shuts down; this can potentially cause a considerable loss of revenue. After completing his project Kovach said that…”we are trying to develop a monitoring system that would give an early indication of trouble so it could be fixed. If successful, it may be implemented on other robotic arms and /or other GM facilities.” With the Fellowship, Kovach said that he has gained “real life experience” and plans on obtaining his Professional Engineering license.

Adam Palumbo, another mechanical engineering Fellow, has taken a different route with his research. Palumbo is working on using different technologies to cool surfaces of solar panels. Palumbo said that he was fortunate to have begun research as an undergraduate with faculty member Dr. Ganesh V. Kudav. Palmubo said this helped him transition to the graduate program, and the Fellowship has provided him with a “sense of responsibility.” Like Kovach, Palumbo also plans on obtaining his PE license in the future, after working full-time with a company.

The Cushwa Commercial Shearing Fellowship provides students with unique opportunities, and experience in their field. In addition to the three students highlighted, other Fellows include Brianne Ciccone, industrial systems engineering, Mark Macali, mechanical engineering, and Brandon McMillen, mathematics. Students with an undergraduate degree from any STEM discipline, including those who have obtained their degrees from other institutions, are encouraged. Also for the first time, students interested in the new PhD in Materials Science and Engineering are welcome to apply; the PhD stipend level has been established at $25,000 The next application deadline will be April 2012.

More information about the Fellowship is available here.

Air Force – Summer Faculty Fellowship Program Award

Dr. Pedro Cortes was a 2011 Air Force-Summer Faculty Fellowship Program awardee, spending 11 weeks at Wright Patterson Air Force Base, working in the area of smart hybrid materials.

News For CS&IS

A new student association, Information Technology Student Association (ITSA), has been established in the department of Computer Science & Information Systems. The goals of ITSA are (1) to stimulate student interest in information technology field, (2) to seek networking opportunities between students within the department and companies doing business in information technology field in the region, (3) to help CS&IS department publicize Information Technology field to the university and the public. Membership is open to anyone who is interested in Information Technology at YSU. Some of the initiatives ITSA has taken are opening a facebook account, Department of Computer Science and Information Systems, and a twitter account at YSU_CSIS for the CS&IS department.

Fall 2011 Mechanical Engineering Technology class at GM Lordstown Plant

The Fall 2011 Mechanical Engineering Technology Tool Design class worked on projects hosted at the General Motors Lordstown Stamping Plant. The students attended class at the plant instead of on campus, and worked on projects that will go into plant use in 2012.

Class instructor Mark Vuksanovich said, “This was an opportunity for the students to handle a real project in the field. Students rarely have experiences that simulate the work they will be doing after they graduate. We would like to change that.”

YSU Assistant Professor Brian Vuksanovich, who oversaw the class implementation, said, “The on-site class gave these students an opportunity to experience what they will be doing as graduates in the workplace. Both the students and the plant benefitted from this type of class. We are already looking at offering more field courses in the future.”

Class projects involved redesign of press components that will be installed next year, and a system to precisely measure press movements during die changeover operations. Proposals, mechanical drawings, parts sourcing and physical measurements of components were some of the aspects of plant engineering that were accomplished by the students. Students also got a private tour of the stamping, weld shop and assembly areas of the Lordstown Complex.

General Motors project manager Dave Brown, who oversaw the class at the plant, said, “The class projects encompassed designs that would have required plant resources to develop. Having the students perform the design work helped with our manpower sourcing and gave the students valuable work experience they would not have had otherwise.”