STEM Showcase

In Moser Hall, engineering projects such as the concrete canoe, steel bridge, and moon rover, competed for space with posters including one which described research that developed a mathematical modeling of fracking, for example, as approximately  30 student projects were on display at the College of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Showcase held on Sunday, April 22. The three-hour event provided an opportunity for STEM students to present their projects to peers, faculty, and the community.

In addition, Dr. Nathan Ritchey, chair of the Mathematics department, welcomed roughly 40 outstanding high school seniors into the STEM Leadership Society (SLS). These incoming fall 2012 students, among the best graduates from their high schools, were selected based on their written application and in-person interview. These outstanding student leaders will have the chance to be engaged in community service, research, and internships through their four year program as STEM majors at YSU.

Upcoming member Matt Pelch, senior at Howland High school will be majoring in computer engineering, and said that computer courses and interest in video games lead to his decision to enroll at YSU. Pelch added that he looks forward to be a part of SLS and YSU.

STEM students spent months, or longer on projects, typically in teams. A part of NASA’s Great Moonbuggy Race, Mike Uhaus and his team were on hand to show their moonbuggy rover, which was a part of a national competition. The event is held in Huntsville Alabama, and high school and college students may participate. Two riders, one male and one female, face away from each other to pedal this human-powered vehicle. Uhaus noted that “last year the team experienced a suspension failure” so for this year’s competition the team focused primarily on suspension design.

Senior mechanical engineering student Chris Fenstermaker and his team worked with Canfield, Ohio, Linde Hydraulics, on the hydraulic system for wind turbine. The team, found, researched, and purchased a small- scale wind turbine then “designed a hydraulic system to fit the turbine size that we purchased.”

Junior Mechanical Engineering student Ken Minteer worked with art student Chris Kamykowski on a Collaborative Learning (CoLab) project. CoLab is an effort from the College of Fine and Performing Arts and STEM to bring art and engineering together.

Minteer described how Kamykowski wanted to make a barrel of monkeys cast out of bronze. With Kamykowski’s design, Minteer made templates on SolidWorks, a 3D program. “From there” Minteer said “we printed them out on our thermal jet printer.” In Bliss Hall, Kamykowski was able to finish the process by baking the molds and pouring the bronze from the two-coil induction furnace located in the art department.

The 2012 Showcase marked a hike in attendance. STEM students were able to present their hard work to families, media, and the community, who were able to see first-hand the capabilities of STEM College students. Also, high school students from area schools were in attendance to learn more about the YSU STEM program, and opportunities for research and project activities.

Art meets Engineering

Bliss Hall is home to the College of Fine and Performing Arts; however, what’s inside is something you may not expect to find: a two-coil induction furnace.

Through a partnership with the Department of Art and College of STEM Mechanical Engineering Technology (MET) program, the Collaborative Learning Laboratory (CoLab) has brought students together for a joint educational experience.

CoLab was founded three years ago when professor and Department of Art Chair, Greg Moring, and Brian Vuksanovich, professor of MET, wanted to see how their disciplines could come together. The result is an expanding partnership.

CoLab is a project where both art and MET students benefit from “hands on experience” Vuksanovich said, as well as work with state of the art equipment. Art students build metal sculptures, and engineering students work on developing machine parts. Art students …”bring their ideas” Moring said, while engineers know …”how to execute the process.”


Since its induction, CoLab has been able to grow due to the generous support of local businesses and YSU.

Ajax Tocco Magnathermic, a Warren based heating induction and melting manufacturer, donated $125,000 towards the $150,000 two-coil furnace. Tom Illencik, President of Ajax Tocco, provided his support to ensure the installation of the two-coil furnace. The additional $25,000 came from contributions by YSU’s Office of the Provost, College of Fine &Performing Arts, and the College of STEM. Crucibles, which are used for molding metals, were donated by Fireline Inc., another Youngstown company. Prior to the new equipment being installed, students worked with a gas-fired furnace that required projects to last up to 90 minutes. Now, with the two-coil furnace, work can be completed in 15-20 minutes.

Even when art and MET students are not collaborating, both programs will be able to have access to the lab. This provides an opportunity for all students to remain engaged throughout the semester.

For F&PA and STEM, CoLab has been a continual success. Bryan DePoy, dean of F&PA conveyed that by partnering F&PA and STEM students…”we support a whole brain experience for those involved. Engineering students can benefit by working with the creativity inherent in artists, while artists can benefit from the sequential thought process valued in engineering.”

STEM Dean Martin Abraham added, “CoLab is an excellent example of interdisciplinary activity.” For students “working together, they learn how to merge their interests, the practicality with the aesthetic.  It’s truly a one-of-a-kind relationship.”