STEM Showcase

On April 22, Moser Hall was the location for the annual College of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Showcase. The three hour event serves as a way for undergraduate STEM students to present their research projects to the campus community, as well as have high school students see, first hand, the opportunities available at the College and YSU.

About 30 projects were on display, such as the concrete canoe and moon rover. STEM faculty was also present to guide tours through research laboratories and answer questions.

In addition, Dr. Nathan Ritchey, chair of the Mathematics & Statistics Department, welcomed incoming Fall 2012 YSU students who will be inducted into the STEM Leadership Society (SLS).  Through an application process, SLS accepts exceptional high schools students majoring in any STEM discipline.  The students will be involved in community service, internships, and various research initiatives.

Edward W. Powers Women in Science and Engineering Career Day Sets Record in Attendance

This year’s career day on March 3, 2012 smashed the previous attendance record. One hundred and eighty five middle school and high school girls from over 50 different schools attended.

The keynote speaker, astronomer Dr. Pamela Gay from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, gave an exciting presentation on the history of space exploration and how students have contributed to scientific discovery in the field.

After the talk, the students attended panels where professional women who are working in science and engineering discussed their careers, their training, their lives and the highlights of their jobs. A number of the panelists were YSU graduates, emphasizing the quality education in STEM available at YSU. In the afternoon, STEM faculty and other professionals led a variety of hands-on workshops that allowed the students to experience science and engineering in action. Two new workshops were added this year. The girls built motors and learned about electricity in one and used protein chemistry to identify a suspected criminal in another.

More than 35 Youngstown State University graduate and undergraduate students volunteered their time, helping in workshops and acting as chaperones. This year’s program was enhanced through an endowment from the Edward W. Powers Foundation, which allowed for increased activity, broader workshops, and more well-known speakers.

Not only was this the largest group of participating girls we have had, but they were also very engaged. This shows that word is getting out about the career day and also that area schools are increasing their emphasis on science and technology. We are already looking forward to next year’s program and hope to continue to build on this year’s success.

WISE Career Day for Girls in Grades 6-12

Women in the science and engineering fields are underrepresented; however, one program at Youngstown State University is bringing exposure in these areas to the forefront.

The fifteenth annual Women in Science and Engineering Career Day (WISE) will be held on YSU’s campus Saturday, March 3, 2012. This free all day event is open to girls in grades 6-12.

The program is filled with educational, hands-on activities throughout campus, and presentations from a keynote speaker and panelists of industry professionals.
YSU Professor and Director of WISE, Diana Fagan, said the program began because participation in these fields is low, and WISE wants to “reach” the girls “before they attend college.” The first year of WISE saw 56-80 girls from twenty different schools come for the event; these numbers have dramatically increased. Within the past five years, 120-140 girls from 99 schools have partaken in WISE each year, and come anywhere from Akron to Pittsburgh, Fagan noted.

Dr. Pamela L. Gay is this year’s opening keynote speaker, and is an assistant research professor at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Gay’s educational background is extensive: she received her B.S. in astrophysics from Michigan State University, and her Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of Texas.

On her blog, Star Stryder, Gay states that she is …”focused on using new media to engage people in science & technology.” Another way she furthers this is by co-hosting Astronomy Cast; a weekly program that answers listeners questions, and discusses various scientific topics.

One of the many benefits of WISE is that the girls simply will have “fun” Fagan said. Workshops are designed to be very interactive, and may include activities such as investigating a crime scene, fingerprinting, or involvement with chemistry, physical therapy, and bioengineering. The girls can also choose from various panel discussions, and will be linked with women in science and engineering disciplines that have provided their information in order to serve as mentors.

While the girls join their sessions, parents or guardians will have the opportunity for a tour of YSU’s campus, as well as attend financial aid informational sessions.

WISE will be expanding in the future, thanks to the generous support of the Edward W. Powers Educational Charitable Fund. Senior Development Officer, Heather Chunn, conveyed that a public announcement of a new endowment for the program will be held on Wednesday, February 15, 2012 at 2:00pm.

Girls coming to the Women in Science and Engineering Career Day receive real exposure to occupations in science and engineering fields. If they continue with their interest and work hard, they may become future students at Youngstown State University.

More information and registration for WISE is available on the College of STEM website.

YSU develops Natural Gas and Water Resources Institute

Youngstown State University is developing a new institute designed to educate professionals and provide research for the emerging multi-billion dollar shale natural gas industry in Ohio and Pennsylvania.

The YSU Natural Gas and Water Resources Institute will provide bachelor’s degree level courses in science and engineering that will lead to an academic minor in gas technologies and also will provide research opportunities for industry focusing on analysis of water used in the shale gas extraction process.

“Given YSU’s location in the heart of the Utica shale region, this new Institute is well-poised to meet the educational and research demands and needs central to this new and growing industry,” said Martin Abraham, dean of the YSU College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, in which the new Institute will be located.

“Establishing YSU’s presence in this fast-changing field is a critical necessity if we are to have a role in educating the future workforce to support this economic growth opportunity.”

Formation of the Institute was announced this morning at the Youngstown, Ohio Utica and Natural Gas Conference and Expo in the Covelli Centre in downtown Youngtown. The event, presented by the Youngstown Warren Regional Chamber, is the first conference and exhibition solely focused on Ohio’s emerging shale gas industry.

The Utica shale is a large rock formation thousands of feet below the surface spanning an area from eastern Ohio to Pennsylvania and across the Canadian border. Gas contained in the Utica shale is expected to become a dominant source of natural gas in the United States in this decade. A recent study showed that more than 200,000 jobs, including nearly 9,000 in professional and technical services, will be created or supported by 2015 due to exploration, leasing, drilling and pipeline construction for the Utica shale reserve.

One of the significant issues for the extraction of the gas is the use and recovery of large volumes of water used in the hydraulic fracturing process and the need to treat, analyze and monitor this water.

The YSU Natural Gas and Water Resources Institute will provide research on water-related issues such as analysis and monitoring, remote sensing, remediation and treatment, and reuse and recycle, utilizing faculty and facilities in YSU’s chemistry, mechanical engineering, environmental science, chemical engineering, geology and civil engineering departments.

In addition, the Institute’s educational component will establish an academic minor in natural gas and water resources for students interested in careers in professional and technical fields directly related to shale gas and other unconventional resources, or the petroleum industry in general. Most of the faculty, expertise, courses and laboratory components for the new minor already exist in the STEM College, Abraham said. A few new courses will be created to provide specific technical competencies required for understanding water resource issues associated with the Utica and Marcellus formations.

The concept of the new Institute will be presented to the YSU Board of Trustees in December. Abraham said he hopes to work with an industrial advisory board to identify specific research targets for the new institute and complete the development of the minor by next fall. The first students in the new minor in natural gas and water resources could graduate as early as May 2013.

OH Wow Fundraiser

OH Wow, the Roger and Gloria Jones Children’s Center for Science and Technology, held a fundraiser in downtown Youngstown on September 25, 2011, promoting science and technology for younger children.  The STEM College participated by hosting a tent, packed with examples of projects STEM students have engaged in over the years.  Over 600 attendees came to the event and sampled the activities, including all of the exhibits contained within the Center itself, as well as a broad array of activities occurring on the street. The musical group, Hey Kid, also was present to offer children’s songs as part of the afternoon.

The College was well-represented, displaying the Concrete Canoe , the Steel Bridge, the singing Tesla Coil, a wind turbine,  the supermileage vehicle, a display of minerals courtesy of the Smith Museum, and the solar telescope.  Prof. Ray Beiersdorfer presented his amazing sideshow of science, and brought a collection of Madagascar hissing cockroaches that caught the attention of the young guests.  Children and parents lined the street to see all of the activities, and the weather cooperated, giving everyone a wonderful afternoon of science and technology in downtown Youngstown.  The STEM College was pleased to be able to support this event, enhancing the stature of STEM in our community and expanding the interest for our future engineers and scientists.