Inside STEM Professional Practice

by Kara Miller

stemprofpracjan13In just over a year, the STEM Professional Practice Program has shown me, and many other students, all it has to offer. Students have the opportunity to meet with the program’s coordinator to discuss the opportunities offered to them, like constructing a resume and landing an internship. Students are also offered a variety of resources like career development and professional etiquette techniques. The opportunities for students are always growing with new grants and programs being added all the time.

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STEM Graduate Careers

Youngtown State University (YSU) graduates prepared for commencement on Saturday, May 19, while three STEM College students prepared to begin their careers with nationally-known companies and what they can anticipate being a future YSU success story.

Jennifer Moy, a chemical engineering major, has accepted a position with pharmaceutical company, Eli Lilly, in Indianapolis, Indiana. Moy, an active member of the Society for Women Engineers, attended their national conference in Chicago, Illinois. Moy said there was a two -day career fair with over 200 employers, and that was her first introduction to Eli Lilly. She received a phone call asking her to speak with company representatives on the second day of the career fair, and after the conference, she was invited for a tour of the plant. Soon after, Moy received a job offer.As a chemical engineer, Moy said she would be working with the dry plant, which is responsible for the commercial production of tablets and capsules, and the scale up for new medications.

Computer science student Jeremy Cummins is off to Redmond, Washington, working for Microsoft as a Software Development Engineer (SDE). Last summer, Cummins went through a three- part interview process for an internship with the company. There, Cummins said, he was able to do work that a full-time SDE would. At the end of his internship, Cummins was offered a full-time position beginning this July. Cummins said that he was interested in being a SDE because …”since a young age, solving problems has interested me, as well as computers. Software Engineering allows me to solve real problems and see my solutions in a product.” Cummins cites coursework and research with Dr. Graciela Perera, assistant professor of computer science and information systems at YSU, as an important part of how he prepared for his current position. “The research” Cummins said, “allowed me to practice and refine what I learned in the classroom and learn how to apply it to real world problems.”

Mechanical engineering major Christopher Fenstermaker gained full-time employment with GE Transportation, working with locomotives. Already having an interest in GE, he became aware of the program through Dr. Daniel Suchora, chair of the department of mechanical and industrial engineering. Fenstermaker said “My experience here (YSU) has shown me that I can do things that I did not think I could do, and it has made me much more confident in myself.”Fenstermaker indicated that during his co-op …”I will have the chance to work on big projects with multiple groups within the company.” An advantage, he added, is that he would be able to work with different engineering groups, allowing him to realize interests and direction on his career path. In the fall Fenstermaker will move on to a master’s program in mechanical engineering at Gannon University, in Erie, Pennsylvania.

As for the value of her time at YSU, Moy said, “In addition to my coursework, research, and internship experience, my involvement in extracurricular activities at YSU has aided me significantly.” Nevertheless, Moy did have a warning to students: “The only issue within YSU is that there are so many opportunities for students that they can’t possibly take advantage of them all.”

Dr. Daniel Suchora

The Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering will have a faculty change this June 30.

Dr. Daniel Suchora, chair of the department for the past seven years, will be retiring after a 32-year career on the campus of Youngstown State University (YSU). Before examining his time at YSU, it’s valuable to look back on how it all began.

“When I was growing up, I liked to tinker with things, and take things apart” Dr. Suchora said. Following that desire, he worked at a bowling alley as a teenager, working on the machinery, and enjoyed it. When it was time to go to college, Dr. Suchora said he knew “…mechanical engineering was a good idea.”

Dr. Suchora went on to obtain his undergraduate and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering from YSU, and his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Case Western Reserve University. During his master’s program, Dr. Suchora found his passion for teaching. Although he did consulting work with other companies, Dr. Suchora conveyed that he “liked the connection of teaching and practicing in the field.” That way, he could bring real world experience to the classroom.

When asked what has been the greatest accomplishment of the department, Dr. Suchora simply said “the students: their successes are our successes.”

And for YSU students, they feel the same sentiment. Aubrey Garland, junior in mechanical engineering, and student employee of the department, relayed how she has enjoyed working with Dr. Suchora as well as being a student of his. Garland said “There is no question he wants the students to really learn the material so we are not just successful students but successful and effective engineers.”  She added “To this day I am still more nervous about taking a Dr. Suchora test than anything else; not because I am afraid I won’t do well, but because I don’t want to disappoint him.”

Another junior mechanical engineering student, Amanda Cox, furthered this, saying how Dr. Suchora …” genuinely cares about his students and did his best to prepare us to be the best engineers we could be. I appreciate Dr. Suchora so much for all he has done for me, and I am so thankful I got to experience having him for class.”

Students are not the only members of YSU who will miss Dr. Suchora’s leadership. Faculty members also emphasized the impact he has made. Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Dr. Hazel Marie, said how Dr. Suchora always “puts the good of program, department, and university first.” Dr. Martin Cala, professor and coordinator of industrial and systems engineering said that he and Dr. Suchora worked together on projects such as hiring a new Industrial Engineering faculty member, and …” coordinated the reconfiguration of laboratory space together, and made some progress in improving shared resources not only between the two programs in our department but with other STEM programs and other colleges.”

Though Dr. Suchora will be missed, he will not be entirely gone. He will continue to teach in fall 2012 part time. Reflecting on his experiences overall, Dr. Suchora added: “I’ve been lucky to get into a career that I really enjoy.”

Retirees: Bob Hogue

Bob Hogue
Associate Professor
Computer Science and Information Systems

Bob Hogue retired this year after a 23-year affiliation with the University. He started his career at YSU in 1988 as a faculty member in the Department of Computer Technology. He served as Secretary of the Academic Senate for nine years and was First Vice President of YSU-OEA for several years. He also served as OEA President for a year. He developed an individual curriculum program in web communications and established a scholarship for new students majoring in creative writing, journalism or technical writing and created a website with Dean Abraham for the STEM Leadership Conservatory.

After retirement, Bob will teach one or two courses a year under Extended Teaching Service. He is involved with the development of various websites and will continue to be involved with the English Festival. In the winter months, he plans to travel to warmer climates.

Bob enjoyed working with the students at YSU. He said, “They inspired me with their energy and their creativity and their ability to keep everything in proper perspective. They are very talented people, and I consider it an honor to have worked with them.”

New Faculty: Dr. Bonita Sharif

Dr. Bonita Sharif
Assistant Professor
Computer Science and Information Systems

Dr. Sharif started teaching classes at YSU this fall after serving as Adjunct Assistant Professor at Ohio University. She has conducted research in empirical software engineering and program comprehension and has experience in software visualization to support maintenance of large systems and eye-tracking research related to software engineering.

She received her MS in 2003 and Ph.D. in 2010 from Kent State University. Her dissertation work involved controlled experiments and eye-tracking studies evaluating the impact of layout on the comprehension of Unified Modeling Language class diagrams.

Dr. Sharif hopes to be a valuable asset to YSU’s growing masters program in Computing and Information Systems by contributing her knowledge of software engineering. She said, “I enjoy working with students, and my research is accessible to them.” She looks forward to building collaborative relationships with the other departments and promoting the software engineering expertise of students and faculty.

Retirees: Carolyn Denny-Schaefer

Carolyn Denny-Schaefer
Secretary 1
Electrical & Computer Engineering

Carolyn Denny-Schaefer retired in July of this year. She began her employment at the University in 1976 as the secretary for the Physical Plant. In 1984, she became the secretary for Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering and later moved to the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department where she remained until her retirement.

Carolyn is also a YSU graduate from the School of Business where she received an associate’s degree and a bachelor’s degree in business administration. Her husband is a graduate of the YSU School of Business as well.

Carolyn said, “I worked with some of the most phenomenal people.” She added that her relationships with co-workers are what she loved most about working at YSU. “I still get together with my co-workers who are still at the University and some are retired,” she commented.

She has three children attending YSU and is still involved with events at the University. Her son is in the marching band so she goes to all the football games, and she loves to see the theatre productions. Carolyn’s husband is retired, as well, so she plans to spend time with family and friends and support her children in the various clubs they are involved with on campus.

New Staff: Jim Cook

Jim Cook
Lab Coordinator

Jim Cook has been hired as a Lab Coordinator for the STEM College. He began in April and is assisting with automating research and teaching equipment. He is also interfacing general purpose and custom hardware with computers. He works primarily with faculty and researchers, but also assists students with computer hardware needs.

Jim graduated in 2005 from the University of Pittsburgh with a BS degree in Bioengineering. He worked for six years in the Medical Virtual Reality Lab at the University of Pittsburgh where he fabricated and maintained electronic and mechanical testing equipment. He also programmed data acquisition, automation, and data analysis software.

Some major projects Jim was involved with include the automation of a chemical reactor used for carbon absorption research and the configuration of a data logger for acquisition of weather data and wind turbine power generation data.

Jim hopes to enhance the learning and research environment at the University and continue to be a resource for the faculty and researchers at YSU.

New Staff: Sherri Hrusovski

Sherri Hrusovski
Coordinator, STEM Student Professional Services

Sherri Hrusovski is “thrilled” to be back at YSU where she obtained her communications degree in 1989. Hrusovski will centralize the co-op/internship programs in the STEM College and streamline the process for students and employers to connect. She received her MS degree in Higher Education Administration in 2007 from The University of Akron, then worked for almost 11 years at The University of Akron as the Assistant Director for Employer Relations, UA Career Center and as Assistant Director for Cooperative Education/Internship. She was also a training specialist at Youngstown Employment and Training Corporation where she worked extensively with displaced workers from Phar-Mor and the local hospitals as well as economically challenged individuals. Her goal is that every student will have an opportunity to take part in the program and improve their job market viability.

Retirees: Tom Bodnovich

Tom Bodnovich
Associate Professor and Chair
Computer Science and Information Systems

Tom Bodnovich retired in August of this year celebrating a 29 year career at the University. He received his BS degree in Computer Science at YSU in 1979. He returned to the University in 1982 as an analyst designing computer information systems used in the administrative operation of the University. He was vital in the adoption of a relational database paradigm, and he structured numerous programming techniques.

He began teaching in 1988 as an instructor of Computer Technology in the Engineering Technology Department. He became assistant professor in 1996 and associate professor in 2001. He was ultimately appointed Chair of Computer Science and Information Systems in 2006.

Tom said, “The most satisfying accomplishment was helping students to succeed academically and preparing them for productive and fulfilling lives beyond college.” He added that the people of YSU are like an extended family for him, and he treasures the relationships he developed. Tom plans to travel, spend more time with family and friends, and resume his love for golf.

New Faculty: Dr. Robin Mattheus

Dr. Robin Mattheus
Visiting Assistant Professor
Geological & Environmental Sciences

Dr. Mattheus began teaching intro level Geology courses this fall for the College of STEM. He will teach upper level courses in the spring. He received his Ph.D. in 2009 from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He achieved his masters degree in Geology at The University of Alabama in 2006. He was Visiting Assistant Professor at Hamilton College in New York where he taught undergraduate courses in sedimentology/stratigraphy, geo-hazards and river environments, and sea level and environmental change.

Dr. Mattheus is a coastal sedimentologist, and his research interests include studying the processes that define river landscapes and coastlines including the Great Lakes. He has researched river connectivity and sensitivity to environmental change and long-term river and continental margin evolution. He enjoys the urban campus atmosphere at YSU and hopes to be involved in local research and collaboration with other faculty at the University.