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

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.

Intern’s at Butech Bliss

Internships are an important part of gaining real work experience. At Youngstown State University (YSU), student internship opportunities prepare STEM majors for future careers.

This spring semester, three mechanical engineering majors, Joseph Myers, German Natal, and Brandon Strahin, are working at Butech Bliss, in Salem, Ohio. With a 125 year history, Butech Bliss builds coil processing equipment, rolling mills, custom applications and extrusion/ forging machinery. Many YSU alumni work for the company, such as mechanical engineer Robert Kerr. A 1983 graduate, Kerr joined Butech Bliss in 2005. Kerr said that working for the organization has been a …”rewarding experience.” Furthermore, he conveyed how the intern’s have been beneficial: “It immediately became obvious to me that their education at YSU had prepared them well for becoming potential assets to the company.”

All of the intern’s tasks vary. Strahin noted “The intern program cycles job duties so we can get experience in all of the different departments in the company. I think that all of the different job responsibilities really help in learning how the company works and how all of the different departments tie together.”

Myers furthered this saying how being involved in other areas permits…” to see how each part of a project comes together from the initial sale through production which helps my understanding of the business side of things.”Additionally, he has been prepared for the future by Butech Bliss …” allowing me to work on an actual project and being given the trust to do things on my own then receive feedback on the work I’ve done…”

German Natal said his experience has been beneficial because “At Butech, the managers place the interns in a position which allows them to work with engineers and shadow the job processes, along with participating in the job where applicable.”

More information about internships with the College of STEM is available on the Office of Professional Practice site here.

STEM College Awards Dinner

In “An Evening of Celebration and Recognition” the Fourth Annual College of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Awards Dinner was held on Thursday, February 23, 2012, at Youngstown State University (YSU).

The event began as a way to provide … “an opportunity to recognize alumni who demonstrate the success that can be achieved after receiving a degree from the College, and friends who have been instrumental in promoting the success of our students” said Martin Abraham, dean of STEM.

This year, seven awardees were honored. In the Outstanding Alumni categories were Harry Bircher, professor of geological and environmental sciences at YSU; Dr. Peyman Givi, mechanical engineering and petroleum engineering professor at the University of Pittsburgh; Matt Ragan, Senior Controls Engineer at Lockheed Martin, in Akron, Ohio; and Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at Babcock & Wilcox Co., Mary Pat Salomone.

 

For the past seven years, Harry Bircher has been the co -owner of Buckeye Civil Design LLC, a civil engineering design firm, in North Lima, Ohio, and a YSU professor for ten years. Upon hearing of his award, Bircher said it was a “total surprise.” Bircher received his Bachelor of Science from YSU in 1988 in geology, and a Master of Science of Geology from Wright State University with attention to geophysics. Bircher returned to YSU to obtain a Master of Science in Engineering, concentrating on civil and environmental engineering in 1995.

Deemed a “modern rocket scientist” Dr. Peymen Givi said YSU is “100 percent responsible” in contributing to his career. Dr. Givi, who received his Ph.D. from Carnegie Mellon University in 1984, is internationally recognized for his research, and has over 200 publications. In 1992, Dr. Givi was amongst one of 15 engineering faculty nationwide who were honored at the White House to receive the Presidential Faculty Fellowship from President George H. W. Bush.

Outstanding Young Alumnus, Matt Ragan, has advanced substantially in his career since leaving YSU in 2005 with a BE in electrical engineering and BS in physics with a minor in mathematics. Ragan was recommended to the Lockheed Martin Engineering Leadership and Development Program (ELDP) shortly after joining the company. Ragan graduated from the two-year program, which only takes the top one percent of entry-level engineers, in order to prepare them to be future leaders with the company.

Mary Pat Salomone, resides in Charlotte, North Carolina, and graduated in 1982 with her bachelors’ degree in civil engineering, She had not been back in the area for five years and said that that her education at YSU gave her a “good foundation” to where she is today. Salomone has been in various management positions since joining B&W in 1982. Some of Salomone’s current roles include directing the operations of the company’s five business units, holding responsibility for commercial and government contracts, health and safety, in addition to day-to-day operations.

Roger and Gloria Jones of Youngstown, Ohio, based Fireline Inc., and the OH, Wow! Roger & Gloria Jones Children’s Center for Science and Technology, in downtown Youngstown, were presented with the Outstanding Community Partners award for their dedication to the Mahoning Valley and YSU. Roger Jones conveyed how Fireline has been “enriched” by a “42 year partnership” with YSU, and many employees at Fireline are YSU alumni.

In the Outstanding Community Leader category was Dr. Connie Hathorn, superintendent of the Youngstown City Schools District (YCSD). Under Dr. Hathorn’s leadership, the YCSD was able to provide visual arts and STEM programs; a first for YCSD. With a generous grant by the AT&T Foundation, the YCSD is collaborating with YSU’s STEM in order to gain outreach with high school students in pursuing STEM disciplines. Dean Abraham also shared how the YCSD will have a high school internship program. The purpose, Dean Abraham said is so the students are “engaged in work because that’s how you learn.”

The STEM awards dinner has grown tremendously since its inception. Over 200 guests were in attendance, and Dean Abraham shared “We (STEM) are truly grateful for the support shown to us by the community, who continues to turn out each year, in increasing number, to recognize the achievements of our alumni and friends. “

YSU Professor Leads the Way in Diabetes Research

Diabetes is a life long disease that affects populations worldwide. According to the American Diabetes Association, in the United States alone, 25.8 million adults and children have diabetes: this accounts for 8.3 percent of the U.S. population. Though diabetes numbers continue to rise, so does research, and one professor at Youngstown State University (YSU) performs a study encompassing this area.

For the past several years, professor of biochemistry Dr.Ganesaratnam (“Bali”) K. Balendiran has been researching type 2 diabetes (those who are not totally insulin dependent) in his study “Biochemical Studies of Fibrates and Related Molecules.” Dr. Balendiran, who received his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin- Madison, noted that some aspects of the research include diabetes as a whole, though type 2 is the primary focus.

Dr. Balendiran received a grant by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the leading source of funding for medical research, and a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dr. Balendiran’s grant from the NIH is the only operational one at YSU. The activities are housed within the Center for Applied Chemical Biology, one of the designated YSU Centers of Excellence.

The research activity also supports student success, as undergraduate and graduate students are partaking in this study. They are “excited to see something they can bring into the lab that is based on what they have learned from classrooms…” Dr. Balendiran said. Furthermore, students are able to gain firsthand experience in the chemistry field, which will better prepare them as they move toward their careers.

Sorbitol, a sugar alcohol formed in the body through an enzyme catalyzed pathway, was thought to cause diabetes when it accrues in cells. Dr. Balendiran is seeking a way to lower the level of sorbitol by discovering the right fibrates (a group of amphipathic carboxylic acids, mainly used to treat high blood pressure) to enter the polyol pathway, which is initiated in pre-diabetics. Dr. Balendiran conveyed that “chemistry can be utilized to address in the biological setup or to control what is going on in the cell…” One area that has been able to aide Dr. Balendiran significantly in his research is funding.

Grants from the NIH are highly selective and applicants go through an extensive scrutiny process. Dr. Balendiran said that the NIH focuses at certain criteria, for instance, the research itself, and merit, in addition to the research environment, plus much more.

One of the challenges of applying for the grant, Dr. Balendiran said, was to “convince them (NIH) is that in a place like YSU work can be done too.” Though YSU is small in comparison to other colleges, academic research here continues to grow.  Dr. Balendiran’s NIH grant is a prime example of the research capabilities of faculty here at Youngstown State University.

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.

STEM Recognizes Donors from 2011

The YSU College of STEM is pleased to recognize those alumni, friends and companies who help make our work possible. We’ve received great support over the past year and are very grateful to those who see value in supporting our efforts to educating tomorrow’s STEM workforce.

You can view our updated list of 2011 donors by clicking here, or visiting the “Our Donors” page from our blog.

If you would like to contribute to our work, please consider making a donation. You can donate through the YSU Development site. Please be sure to designate the STEM College as your recipient, so your contribution can be correctly directed and recognized.

Thank you to all of our past, present and future supporters!

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.

YSU’s 36th Annual Holiday Breakfast

Dean Martin Abraham hosted a table for several members of the STEM staff on Wednesday, December 14, 2011 at the 36th Anniversary of the Holiday Breakfast held in Kilcawley Center.  Those who participated brought new unwrapped toys which were collected by the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve for the Toys for Tots campaign.  We thank Dr. Abraham for the opportunity to join in the festivities of the season.  Of course, Santa was on hand, not only to collect the toys, but also, to pose for a picture with Dr. Dan Suchora, Chair, Mechanical and Industrial Engineering.

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.