YSU Cyber Defense Team

The Youngstown State University Cyber Defense Team (CDT) recently placed second in a statewide competition. The team, comprised of eight YSU computer information systems and information technology students, were amongst seven teams participating in the Midwest Regional Cyber Defense Competition (CCDC), held on Saturday, February 11, 2012.

The challenge is open to all two-year colleges and four-year universities: this is the first year Youngstown State University participated. The CCDC is a part of the Systems for Security and Information Assurance, a National Resource Center, with funding by the National Science Foundation. By participating in the competition, students were able to gain additional skills that would prepare them for the work force. According to the CCDC, participating schools will also receive feedback for the school’s securities, and information technology programs.

Groups competed in an eight-hour long event where members were …”presented with a small corporate network that has several user workstations, servers for internal services, email, and an e-commerce website” and the CDT took “months preparing” said Stephen Mesik, a computer information systems major.

Jonathan Eddy, another CDT member and computer information systems student, said the team was presented with a specific task: “The scenario was that we were an entirely new IT staff brought in to a company’s network as-is and we were to provide common services such as an HTTP e-Commerce site, email, FTP server, Windows Active Directory authentication, DNS lookup, and others…” How the teams were scored was …” ultimately determined by our (participants) ability to keep those services available and complete as many of the tasks provided as possible” Mesik conveyed.
Eddy added, “Being attacked in real-time in a realistic network environment is like nothing else I’ve ever experienced. Seeing the attacks happen live and trying to mitigate them actually gives you a sort of rush.”

Both Eddy and Mesik are anticipated to graduate this spring 2012, and wish to obtain a masters degree from YSU.

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.

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!

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.”

YSU, YCS and AT&T unveil STEM Outreach Initiative

Youngstown State University announced on Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2011, a new initiative aimed at encouraging Youngstown city high school students to pursue college degrees and careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields.

The STEM Outreach Initiative is funded by a $20,000 grant from the AT&T Foundation.

“STEM education is imperative to Youngstown’s growth as a leader in sustainable energy, advanced materials and technology,” said Martin Abraham, dean of YSU’s STEM College. “To be successful, the Youngstown area will require technologically advanced and highly skilled STEM professionals.

“This initiative will inspire high school students to pursue STEM careers by nurturing and mentoring past and current YSU STEM students and by providing them with career experiences that give them a deep understanding of the opportunities of STEM education.”

The STEM Outreach Initiative is a partnership between YSU’s STEM College, Youngstown City Schools’ Chaney STEM High School, AT&T and area employers.

“Not only are STEM disciplines integral to communications technology and at the heart of our business, they are increasingly important to every business and the growth of our local economy,” said Stephen Kristan, director of external affairs for AT&T.

“That’s why all students need at least basic STEM exposure and knowledge. Our work with the Youngstown City Schools and YSU is vital to helping young people develop these skills so they can effectively compete with students from around the world in advanced technology fields and enjoy productive and rewarding careers.”

YCS Superintendent Connie Hathorn said: “STEM jobs are growing three times faster than non-STEM jobs, and local businesses, as well as employers across the nation, are concerned about the supply and availability of future workers. Most of our high school students are not aware of the opportunities available to them in the STEM fields. This grant provides students a vital link from our new STEM program to college and future jobs.”

The fundamental objective of the initiative is to connect students at Chaney STEM High School with area STEM-related businesses as a means of encouraging them to pursue education and careers in STEM fields.

Abraham said the decision to work specifically with the Youngstown City Schools is intended to address populations that are nationally underrepresented in STEM disciplines, including economically disadvantaged, blue collar, first college generation, and minorities, particularly African-Americans.

The centerpiece of the initiative is an internship program starting summer 2012 for Chaney STEM students to attain hands-on, real-world experience in STEM-related fields, Abraham said.

“Such experiences help students to better understand the importance and relevance of academic coursework, giving them a better understanding of the academic rigor and requirements of a STEM education,” he said. “Moreover, these experiences make students more desirable for potential employers during their college programs and after graduation, giving them a head start on a fulfilling lifetime career.”

In addition to internships, the initiative will include tutoring and mentorship activities that engage YSU STEM students and recent STEM College graduates to assist high school STEM students.

The initiative also will provide scholarships to students who graduate from the Chaney STEM High School, successfully complete the internship program, and enroll in the YSU STEM College.

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.

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.