STEM Leadership Society: Making You a Success

By: Teresa McKinney

slshabitat“Making you a success.” Youngstown State University STEM Leadership Society, known on campus as SLS, is working to do just that for its members—the top students in YSU’s STEM college. SLS was created to provide outstanding students with the tools to grow and develop into leaders in their respective STEM fields. The organization is working to become a presence both on campus and in the community. It offers members the opportunity to have a supportive network of peers and faculty that will help pave the way for a successful, undergraduate experience at YSU.

STEM Leadership Society is a student organization that gives students the tools to succeed. One of its main goals is to convince top high school seniors of that YSU is the university for them. Continue reading

Ursuline Physics Students Receive College Instruction

In partnership with Youngstown State University, students in Mrs. Jennifer Nagy DePizzo’s (’94) Physics Class had a guest lecturer this week.  Professor of Civil Engineering Technology, Robert J. Korenic (’92), incorporated an Engineering Module on Dynamics and Kinematics utilizing an experiment on Projectile Motion.  The students calculated the projectile at various times and graphed the motion of the projectile using computer software.Image

YSU GECT team takes first in Las Vegas NECA competition

Fifteen Engineering students from Youngstown State University’s National Electrical Contractors Association chapter have won the fourth annual Green Energy Challenge in Las Vegas, Nevada in September. It was the Youngstown State University Green Energy Challenge Team’s first victory.

NECA and ELECTRI International– The Foundation for Electrical Construction jointly sponsor the competition. In the past, the YSU team won third place in 2010 and second place in 2011.

“Once again, our students shone on the national stage against competitors from prestigious engineering schools around the country,” said Theodore R. Bosela, YSU professor of Engineering Technology and the team’s advisor. Continue reading

MathFest: Making Math and Music Fun

High school students around the Mahoning Valley geared up for the 10th Annual MathFest this October at Youngstown State University. For the special 10th year anniversary,

MathFest Students

A group of high school students at MathFest

“Calculus: The Musical,” provided by the College of STEM and the YSU Student Government, preformed for the students and faculty.

Dr. Angela Spalsbury, associate professor of Mathematics and Statistics, has organized YSU MathFest for the last ten years. The event requires a great amount of organization and preparation, consisting of a mixed competition, the Challenge of Champions, and different student- and faculty-led workshops.

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Faculty Faction- Dr. Alicia Prieto Langarica

Youngstown State University has more to offer than a great STEM college. New to the faculty this year is Dr. Alicia Prieto Langarica, assistant professor of Mathematics and Statistics.

Prieto, having grown up in Guadalajara, Mexico, received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at Dallas in Applied Mathematics and her doctorate at the University of Texas at Arlington in Mathematics. Dr. Prieto did much of her undergrad work in Mexico.

Even though she holds Mexico dear, one reason she was drawn to Youngstown State University was the weather.

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2012 Business Advocate of the Year: Dean Martin Abraham

This October, the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber named Martin Abraham, STEM dean, the 2012 Business Advocate of the Year. Abraham is responsible for increasing the number of students in the STEM College, as well as promoting research initiatives. He also serves on the Board of the TechBelt Energy Innovation Center, which promotes public and private investment, research, and manufacturing.

Watch below as Dean Abraham accepts his award!

Incredible Edible Cars! The First Edible Car Competition At YSU!

While the future of cars keeps evolving, edible cars may not be the best road to travel down. But for STEM students, edible cars are a great way to learn and apply the different aspects of engineering. At the beginning of the month, almost 50 first-year engineering students participated in the First Edible Car Competition. The three-person groups were judged on speed, distance, and creativity.

Check out the video to see how some of the cars were created!

Johanna Krontiris-Litowitz Chosen to Provide Leadership, Expertise for ASM/NSF Biology Scholars Program

The American Society for Microbiology (ASM) is pleased to announce the selection of Erin Dolan, Ph.D., of the University of Georgia, Marcy Kelly, Ph.D., of Pace University, Johanna Krontiris-Litowitz, Ph.D., of Youngstown State University, and Elisa Stone, Ph.D., of the University of California, Berkeley, to lead the ASM/NSF Biology Scholars Program Transitions Residency. The Biology Scholars Program is a national leadership initiative established in 2008 to improve student learning in the lab or classroom and sustain reform efforts in undergraduate biology education. To date, more than 160 Scholars have created and disseminated examples of scholarship of teaching in biology through the program. These examples have been made possible through the program’s independent, but intertwined, virtual residency programs — the Assessment, Research, and Transitions Residencies.

The yearlong Transitions Residency offers its Scholars an opportunity to “transition” from conducting scholarly work in student learning to begin the steps necessary for publication in biology and/or science education venues. “Scholars will have opportunities to (i) organize their data to support claims about teaching and learning, (ii) identify relevant literature to help situate their work, and (iii) develop a plan and timeline for writing and submitting a manuscript to a peer-reviewed journal,” says Dolan.

Transitions Scholars begin their residencies with the intensive From Science Education Research to Publication Institute held each July in Washington, D.C., and throughout the residency experience, they receive close mentoring from Dolan, Kelly, Krontiris-Litowitz, and Stone. As editors of leading biology education journals, e.g., CBE-Life Sciences Education, the Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education, and Advances in Physiology Education, they are well prepared to help Scholars navigate the researching and publishing process, including identifying appropriate venues for publication.

The Biology Scholars Program was developed with the support of the National Science Foundation under grant number DUE-1022542 and sponsored by ASM. In addition, several life science professional societies partner with and contribute expertise to the program; these include the American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Institute of Biological Sciences, American Physiological Society, American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, American Society for Cell Biology, American Society of Human Genetics, American Society of Plant Biologists, Ecological Society of America, Genetics Society of America, Human Anatomy and Physiology Society, and Society of Toxicology.

The next Transitions Residency begins with the 2013 From Science Education Research to Publication Institute scheduled for July. Applications will be accepted through February 1. Learn more at

Sharon Shanks Honored by IPS

The International Planetarium Society’s Service Award, the highest honor conferred, was presented to Youngstown State University’s Planetarium Lecturer, Sharon Shanks at the annual IPS Conference held July 22-27, 2012 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  Shanks was recognized for her work during the past six years as executive editor of Planetarian, the quarterly IPS professional journal.  She was also named a Fellow of IPS at the Awards Banquet.

Standing Rules of IPS state, “An IPS Service Award shall be bestowed, from time to time, by the Society upon an individual or institution whose presence and work in the planetarium field has been, through the years, an inspiration to the profession and its members.”  Between 1982 and 2010, twenty-one Service Awards were presented.

Shanks, a 1978 graduate of YSU, worked seven years as a reporter and editor at newspapers in Columbiana County before returning to work at YSU in 1985.  She has been the planetarium lecturer for 15 years and is a member of the Great Lakes Planetarium Society and a fellow of the GLPA, the Mid-Atlantic Planetarium Society, associate member of the Southeastern Planetarium Association, and the Cleveland Regional Association of Planetariums.

Sharon Shanks and IPS President David Weinrich. Photo by Dale Smith.

YSU Featured at ASEE Meeting in Texas

The YSU College of STEM was featured at the recent American Society of Engineering Educators (ASEE) meeting in San Antonio, TX.   Selected as one of only 25 universities to be featured, ASEE included a video presentation of college highlights that was shown during the meeting, and currently resides on the ASEE website.  This video highlights YSU’s unique relationships with area businesses, including Fireline, Inc. and General Motors and the importance of these relationships in enhancing the students’ experience.

ASM Materials Teachers’ Camp held at YSU

The ASM Teachers’ Camp was held on Campus from Monday, July 9 – 13, 2012 in Moser Hall introducing high school and middle school teachers to the engineering professions through Materials Science.  ASM, a professional organization since 1913, is operating approximately 50 “Materials Camps” throughout the United States and Canada this summer.

Under the guidance of master teachers Thomas Glasgow and Georgia Peet, fifteen teachers took this opportunity to re-visit science principles, and perform experiments with the intention of being able to bring new lessons into their classrooms.  The camp is free for teacher attendees.  For their participation, they received 4 Continuing Education Units (CEU’s) and had the opportunity for 2 graduate level courses. They were also provided curricular tools in both digital (CD ROM) format and print; supplies needed to replicate some of the classroom activities at their school; a one year membership in ASM International; and access to the time and talents of numerous local engineers and scientists.

Featured speakers at the Camp were Eric Schmidt, Ph.D., V & M Star, Youngstown, Ohio and Mr. Chuck Fryman,  Ellwood Quality Steel, New Castle, Pennsylvania.  Because Materials are also a very important and integral part of the manufacturing process, the teachers were given a tour of Brilex Industries, Youngstown, Ohio, by Mr. Brian Benyo, Co-Founder.  Virgil Solomon, Ph.D., YSU Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, presented a demonstration of the electron microscope in the Electron Microscope Facility at YSU.

The week long workshop ended with a formal luncheon with guests Dr. Martin Abraham, Dean of the STEM College and Mr. Thomas Frazier, Chairperson of the Warren ASM Chapter in attendance.

National Sigma Alpha Lambda Award to STEM’s Brenda Crouse

Sigma Alpha Lambda is a National Leadership and Honors Organization in the United States with over 70 chapters. Because Faculty Advisors are such an integral part of each chapter providing support, guidance and help to members, the National Office of SAL created an Outstanding Advisor Award which is presented at the end of each academic year.

The College Of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) is proud to announce and congratulate Brenda Crouse on being named  as the 2011-2012 National Outstanding Advisor for Youngstown State University’s (YSU) chapter of Sigma Alpha Lambda.

Crouse, who is also the senior academic advisor for STEM, has been working with Sigma Alpha Lambda since its inception at YSU 8 years ago. The national organization is highly selective, with membership by invitation only. To be considered, students must meet certain standards such as academic standing, and must maintain a 3.0 GPA. Currently, Crouse said, there are 400 active members at YSU.

The criteria for the award were based on areas such as service, mentorship, and dedication. Crouse was nominated by Biology pre-med major and President of Sigma Alpha Lambda, Kara Miller, for always going above and beyond for the group.

Miller said although Crouse had a very heavy workload, she still stayed with the organization, assisting with their community service activities, coordinating meetings, and any other needs they had. For Miller’s nomination, she cited Crouse as being someone who …”wants to give everyone the recognition they deserve. That is why I feel it’s her time for some recognition.”

Crouse, who has a master’s in education in counseling, is no stranger to the campus community. She has obtained three degrees from YSU, and since 2000, has been an advisor, first initially with the William Rayen College of Engineering and Technology, now the College of STEM.

Crouse said the award was an honor and “as the chapter advisor my philosophy has been to ‘empower’ the members, to be their support and encourage them throughout their endeavors and projects.”  Furthermore, she added, “The constant that remains and what has been my inspiration are the students.”

How do you cure tapeworm

Just ask 25 middle school students from 8 area schools and they will definitely let you know how they created “medicine” to cure tapeworm from a recipe dating back to the ‘80’s, that’s the 1880’s to be more correct!  The students were part of the YSU STEM Explore Program which met for 2 weeks on the YSU campus.

Ten days were filled with activities in all STEM areas which included:  building pasta bridges, designing and building solar cars, building weather instruments (anemometer, thermometer, barometer, cloud in a jar), building rockets, conducting forensic activities, collecting and analyzing bacteria,  and designing podcasts just to name a few.  In addition, the students toured the Melnik Medical Museum (where they made the “medicine”), YSU Planetarium, YSU Mineral Museum, OH WOW! The Gloria and Rogers Jones Children’s Center and many other places around campus.

This program is a collaboration between YSU’s College of STEM  and Beeghly College of Education and was motivated by the undersized numbers, nationally and regionally, of capable high school students entering into STEM majors at the college level.

A Great Finish for the Concrete Canoe in Reno

A team of Youngstown State University students finished in the top 10 at the 25th annual National Concrete Canoe Competition in Reno, Nev.

The YSU team finished ninth, ahead of schools such as University of California Berkeley, Clemson University, Oregon State and Rutgers. California Polytechnic State University finished first.

The YSU team consisted of students Nathan Knapp (project manager) of Warren, Joe Reedy of Austintown, Samantha Rovnak of Austintown, Allison McMillen of East Palestine, Mike Kaldy of Brookfield, Kim Klonowski of Canton, Mich., Justin Ambrosio of Cortland and Sentel Rodgers of Youngstown. The team’s advisor was Adam DePizzo.

“We were very happy and proud to compete with the best engineering schools in the nation and finish in the top 10,” Knapp said. “With this accomplishment, YSU is clearly one of the top engineering schools in the nation.”

The American Society of Civil Engineers sponsors the three-day competition. Throughout the year, teams of civil engineering students from across the country and Canada research design and construct canoes made out of concrete. After coming out on top in regional competitions throughout the spring, the best and brightest from 22 top engineering schools matched wits and skills in the national finals.

The competition is comprised of both academic and athletic events. Students write a paper detailing the design and construction of their canoe and then give an oral presentation. They are also judged on their final product, the canoe, and their accompanying display, which further explains their design process. Finally, they put their canoe through the paces in a series of five race events—men’s and women’s slalom/endurance races and men’s, women’s and co-ed sprint races.

For more information on the competition, including photos, race results and event details, visit

International Internship for Mechanical Engineering Student

Bryan Zilka is going global with a co-op internship in Seoul, South Korea this summer.

A junior mechanical engineering major in YSU’s College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, Zilka will be working for light electric vehicle manufacturer MPS Korea Co., Ltd. MPS is based in Seoul and sells products throughout Asia and North America as the maker of small electric vehicles, such as golf carts, electric manufacturing trucks and other applications.

This is the first time the STEM College has been able to send an intern on a foreign assignment in recent memory. Zilka will spend the summer and return in the fall.

Zilka says he’s excited for an opportunity to work abroad in his field. He will be staying in Seoul for nearly two months this summer, working on the product line for an MPS industrial truck.

“Mechanical engineering is a much broader field than I thought it was going into my major,” said Zilka. “So I’m working on figuring out all the opportunities available to me before deciding on a career. That’s what this internship will really help me do.”

Zilka is a member the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the Honors Program at YSU.

The Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber approached the STEM College in the spring about the opportunity, as in their communication with MPS found a need for engineering support for some of MPS’s upcoming new products. The Regional Chamber’s Vice-President of International Business Attraction, Eric Planey, lauded the efforts by MPS to hire Zilka:  “MPS has given us at the Chamber great insight as to the business climate in Korea, to help attract Korean businesses to the area. Further, we have seen how MPS excels at engineering-driven solutions for its products, and we thought this would be an excellent opportunity for a student like Bryan and the STEM College to showcase their talents.”

MPS was one of three Asian companies that came to Youngstown to attend  the YSU Sustainable Energy Forum, and they were hosted by the Regional Chamber.