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SIUE’s Gorlewicz to Present at Renowned Engineering Summit

22 April 2015, 8:29 AM

[IMAGE: Gorlewicz, Jenna]Jenna Gorlewicz, PhD, and assistant professor of mechanical and industrial engineering at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, has been invited to present at the 2015 Engineering Disruption Leadership Summit. The Summit will be held September 28-29 in Arlington, Va.

“This invitation recognizes Dr. Gorlewicz’s contribution to the field of engineering,” said Hasan Sevim, dean of the SIUE School of Engineering. “The invitation came personally from the executive director of the American Society of Engineering Education. He has recognized Dr. Gorlewicz as one of the leading users of innovative educational technologies.”

Thought leaders and policymakers from engineering education, industry and professional societies will be in attendance. The Summit will explore ways to enhance student learning and assessment, sustain emerging innovations and overcome 21st century challenges in engineering.

Gorlewicz plans to present her work using vibratory touchscreens to teach STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) concepts to students with visual impairments and blindness.

 “What a humbling experience to be invited to participate in such an important, impactful event that will certainly shape engineering education and its future,” said Gorlewicz. “Being involved in meetings like this enables me to join other innovative leaders in pushing the field of engineering education as a whole, while at the same time, bringing best practices and strategies back to SIUE and my own classroom.”

Gorlewicz received her bachelor’s in mechanical engineering from SIUE in 2008, and her doctorate in mechanical engineering from Vanderbilt University in 2013.


SIUE Computer Engineering Demonstrates Robots at Worden Elementary

21 April 2015, 2:20 PM

[IMAGE: Worden]Gary Mayer, PhD and assistant professor of computer science in the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville School of Engineering, along with engineering students, visited Edwardsville’s Worden Elementary School in late March for its annual Space Day.

Worden hosts Space Day each spring to give fifth-grade students a variety of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) experiences. 

Mayer and his students provided three separate groups of approximately 20 Worden students with a presentation about robotics. Afterward, student members of the SIUE Special Interest Group - Robotics (SIG-R) demonstrated various robotic platforms. 

“My students and I are always impressed by the breadth and depth of the questions asked by the Worden Elementary students,” Mayer said. “They are a diverse group and all of them are entirely engaged in the presentation and demonstrations. It’s our hope that we can spark their imaginations and motivate them to want to learn more.”

One of the favorites among Worden students was Puppy-bot, a dog-shaped robot built from a bioloid robotic kit. Puppy-bot responds to audio prompts (clapping) and performs various tricks, such as shaking his head, doing a dance, doing a headstand and rolling over. Puppy-bot also sits, lies down and then goes to sleep after a period of inactivity. 

The SIUE student demonstrators were Cathy Casey of O’Fallon, SIG-R vice-president and computer science major; Jared Charter of Bonfield, SIG-R president and major in electrical and computer engineering; Cameron Costanzo of East Alton, SIG-R treasurer and major in electrical and computer engineering; Bryan Orabutt, SIG-R secretary and major in electrical and computer engineering.

SIG-R is open to all SIUE students with an interest in robotics. The group is currently building an autonomous robot golf cart to compete in the International Ground Vehicle Competition (igvc.org) in June.

Photo: A Worden Elementary fifth-grader controls Puppy-bot with (l-r) Gary Mayer, Cameron Costanzo and Cathy Casey.

SIUE’s Annual Botball Tournament Showcases Creative Young Minds

19 April 2015, 2:50 PM

[IMAGE: Gary Mayer]Middle and high school students will engage their minds and their robots when Southern Illinois University Edwardsville hosts its annual Botball tournament on Sat., Apr. 25.

This is the 18th Botball season and the 13th year that SIUE will host the region’s tournament. Sixteen teams will be coming to the Morris University Center’s Meridian Ballroom for the competition.

The event, coordinated through the KISS Institute for Practical Robotics, pits teams against one another in two-minute rounds. A team’s student-created robot must demonstrate its ability to perform a number of tasks worth varying points. The regional competition is open to the public and typically draws approximately 200 spectators with teams from Illinois, Missouri, Indiana and Arkansas.

“Jerry Weinberg (associate provost for research, dean of the Graduate School and professor of computer science) originally started the regional tournament,” said Gary Mayer, assistant professor of computer science in SIUE’s School of Engineering. “The goal is to use hand-on robotics programs in order to communicate the excitement, knowledge and practical understanding of technology, engineering and math.”

A team often includes both middle school and high school youths. Those who participate in the regional Botball tourney are actively working on robotics year-round, according to Mayer.

“Ultimately another goal with this competition is to make students comfortable with STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics),” Mayer said. “We try to bring this opportunity to students of all ages and backgrounds. Often the robotics kits are used as part of classroom instruction or for after-school activities during the off-season.”

Learning how to write computer programs that power the robot is but one skill that the Botball competition instills in youths.

“They’re learning the C programming language, one of the most widely used software languages in the world,” Mayer said. Honing their communications and teamwork talents is another key advantage of participating as a Botball tournament competitor.

Six to eight weeks prior to the April competition, Mayer leads a two-day weekend workshop for mentors and participants to explain and demonstrate every nuance of the event – the preparation required, rules about the building and operating of students’ robots, and more.

In the process of brainstorming creative add-ons for their robot – along with how they can most efficiently design it to meet and defeat its ultimate challenger – students are learning without even realizing it, because they’re having so much fun, Mayer said.

“Their robots are autonomous, so there’s no remote control,” he said. “Once the light source activates the robots and the round begins, students are not permitted to intervene. It’s all up to the robot from that moment on, as it meets each challenge such as finding objects, picking them up and stacking them.” 

 In the first portion of the daylong event at SIUE, teams enter a seeding round uncontested. The points earned during that round determine placement in the double-elimination bracket. A team’s overall score is earned by accumulating points equally from the seeding rounds, the tournament and also documentation provided to the judges, such as design of the robot and the team’s specific approach to problem-solving. An alliance match allows teams that lost early in the day to compete against each other, so they remain a part of the day’s action.

 Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois, under the guidance of Emily Stanley, GSSI’s STEM program manager, are entering three teams this year. Stanley said it’s commendable that a host of dedicated mentors – some parents, some not – are committed to coaching each Botball team.

“We’re very proud of our girls and our robotics programs,” said Stanley. “The majority of girls in Botball are in sixth through eighth grade. Our O’Fallon (Ill.) team was our very first team to compete regionally, and it was also the first all-Girl Scout team in the nation.”

Helping girls realize that the science profession is open to them is one long-range reason for encouraging them to participate in the Botball competition and in the Girl Scouts’ robotics programs overall, according to Stanley.

“Not every girl is going to pursue a science career and that’s fine,” Stanley said. “But we want to make sure she sees and learns that several of her goals as a Girl Scout – making the world a better place in which to live and helping others – can be achieved in this field.”

When tweens and young teens are intermixed on a team with high school students, the combination is often effective and enlightening for all of the competitors, Stanley said.

“Often a middle school girl’s approach to robotics problem-solving is unique to that of a high school male’s,” she said. “Together there’s great synergy of minds. Middle school students often communicate their ideas boldly. It makes for a great team dynamic.”

Last year’s robotics premise was Bot Guy’s (the competition’s mascot) trip to Mars. This year, Mayer said, Bot Guy is acclimating to being back on Earth. Required scenarios and tasks required of the students’ robots this year include assisting Bot Guy working out on a weight bench, picking up hangers and more.

“We really appreciate the time, expertise and support of our mentors and their emphasis on making sure the kids are the ones doing the work on their bots,” he said. “Because on competition day, the adults are in the seats watching, and it’s all up to the students.”

More than 8,000 middle and high school students around the world participate in KISS Botball competitions.

Photo:  Gary Mayer, assistant professor of computer science in SIUE’s School of Engineering.


ERTC Training Center at SIUE Provides Jobs Training

14 April 2015, 4:10 PM

[IMAGE: ERTC Center]With its year-long Water Quality Control Operations Program, the Environmental Resources Training Center (ERTC) at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville is poised to assist people facing uncertain employment situations.

“The water treatment industry is quite stable, and layoffs are rare,” said Paul Shetley, ERTC director. “People who enter the career usually stay until they retire. This is a great option for people impacted by downsizing and layoffs like those at U.S. Steel in Granite City.” 

ERTC serves as Illinois’ sole training center in the field of water treatment technology and has been providing jobs training in water treatment technology for over 30 years. Participants in the program are given the opportunity to operate all five of the training scale water treatment plants – two wastewater plants and three forms of drinking water treatment plants.

The training the students receive includes plant operations, instrumentation, electrical and mechanical maintenance, sampling, laboratory analysis and safety practices. Students are trained in all aspects of water treatment from the basics to the most advanced systems such as reverse osmosis and biological nutrient removal.

ERTC offers a certificate of completion in Water Quality Control Operations Program. In conjunction with Lewis and Clark Community College, students may earn an associate’s in applied science degree. Graduates from ERTC are eligible to take the state exams to become certified water treatment operators in Illinois and Missouri.

“Students who graduate have the opportunity to hold five professional certifications in water treatment,” Shetley said. “There is no other training center that provides that opportunity.”  

Information on ERTC can be obtained by calling 618-650-2030 or visiting their website at siue.edu/ertc.


SIUE Department of Civil Engineering Awarded Over $275,000 in Grants

8 April 2015, 9:15 AM

Department of Civil Engineering faculty within the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville School of Engineering have been awarded four new research grants, totaling more than $275,000.

“These successful grants have brought further recognition to our faculty members for their excellence in research, and have enhanced the reputation of the Department of Civil Engineering,” said Jianpeng Zhou, PhD and department chair. “In addition to supporting the expansion, development and dissemination of knowledge in the disciplinary fields of these faculty members, the grants also bring support to SIUE students for their education and learning, and prepare our students for developing into future professionals or scholars.”            

Yan Qi, PhD and assistant professor, obtained two grants. The first, awarded from the SIUE Office of Research and Projects after a highly competitive process, provides nearly $15,000 for Qi’s work in “Exploring Distracted Driver Detection Algorithm Using a Driving Simulator Study.”

Qi’s second grant, awarded from the Minnesota Department of Transportation, provides $99,994 in funding during 2015-2016. The grant supports development of training materials for “Best Practices and Techniques in Clearing Different Interchange Configurations and Other Geometric Layouts.” 

Reza Osouli, PhD and assistant professor, and Brent Vaughn, civil engineering specialist, along with a subcontracted faculty member from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, obtained a grant from the Illinois Department of Transportation/Illinois Center for Transportation. The grant provides $96,386 (including 25 percent cost-share) in 2015-2017 to support investigating “Plasticity Requirements of the Aggregates as Subbase, Base, Surface and Should Courses.” 

The Illinois Department of Transportation awarded $67,433 (including 25 percent cost-share) for 2015 to Ryan Fries, PhD and associate professor. The grant supports his work on “Real-time Information Dissemination Requirements for Illinois per New Federal Rule: Phase II.” 


SIUE Joins U.S. Engineering Schools to Meet Grand Challenges

30 March 2015, 9:05 AM

[IMAGE: Chris Gordon]In a letter of commitment presented to President Barack Obama at the White House Science Fair Monday, March 23, the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville School of Engineering was among more than 120 U.S. engineering schools announcing plans to educate a new generation of engineers expressly equipped to tackle some of the most pressing issues facing society in the 21st century.

The “Grand Challenges,” identified through initiatives such as the White House Strategy for American Innovation, the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) Grand Challenges for Engineering, and the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, include complex yet critical goals such as engineering better medicines, making solar energy cost-competitive with coal, securing cyberspace and advancing personalized learning tools to deliver better education to more individuals.

Each of the 122 signing schools has pledged to graduate a minimum of 20 students per year who have been specially prepared to lead the way in solving such large-scale problems, with the goal of training more than 20,000 formally recognized “Grand Challenge Engineers” over the next decade.

 “Through our initiatives in these areas, we are attracting highly prepared students who are poised to make significant contributions as part of the nationwide effort to address the Grand Challenges,” said Chris Gordon, PhD, associate professor, chair of the Department of Construction and interim associate dean in the SIUE School of Engineering.

Grand Challenge Engineers will be trained through special programs at each institution that integrate five educational elements: 1) a hands-on research or design project connected to the Grand Challenges; 2) real-world, interdisciplinary experiential learning with clients and mentors; 3) entrepreneurship and innovation experience; 4) global and cross-cultural perspectives; and 5) service-learning.

The training model was inspired by the National Academy of Engineering-endorsed Grand Challenge Scholars Program (GCSP), established in 2009 by Duke’s Pratt School of Engineering, Olin College, and the University of Southern California’s Viterbi School of Engineering in response to the NAE’s 14 Grand Challenges for Engineering in the 21st century. There are currently 20 active GCSPs and more than 160 NAE-designated Grand Challenge Scholars have graduated to date. Half of the graduates are women—compared with just 19 percent of U.S. undergraduate engineering students—demonstrating the program’s appeal to groups typically underrepresented in engineering.

“The NAE’s Grand Challenges for Engineering are already inspiring more and more of our brightest young people to pursue careers that will have direct impacts on improving the quality of life for people across the globe,” said NAE President C.D. Mote Jr. “Imagine the impact of tens of thousands of additional creative minds focused on tackling society’s most vexing challenges. ‘Changing the world’ is not hyperbole in this case. With the right encouragement, they will do it and inspire others as well.”

More information on this initiative, including a copy of the letter of commitment, is available here. The initiative grew out of a 2014 workshop organized by the American Association of Engineering Societies, Epicenter, Engineers Without Borders USA, EPICS, and the NAE Grand Challenge Scholars Program.

National Academy of Engineering

The mission of the National Academy of Engineering is to advance the well being of the nation by promoting a vibrant engineering profession and by marshaling the expertise and insights of eminent engineers to provide independent advice to the federal government on matters involving engineering and technology. The NAE, along with the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), Institute of Medicine, and National Research Council make up the National Academies. They are private, independent nonprofit institutions established under a congressional charter granted to NAS in 1863. For more information, visit www.nae.edu.

Photo: Chris Gordon, PhD, associate professor, chair of the Department of Construction and interim associate dean in the SIUE School of Engineering.


SIUE’s Annual Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day Attracts 120

22 March 2015, 2:45 PM
[IMAGE: Engineering Girls] [IMAGE: Engineering girls]
[IMAGE: Engineering girls] [IMAGE: Engineering girls]

The Society of Women Engineers (SWE) at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville hosted more than 120 young girls at its third annual  “Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day” Saturday, March 21, in the SIUE School of Engineering Building.

“We help young girls see that they can do in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields, and that it’s not just a male-oriented field,” said Sofia Chkautovich, a senior civil engineering major and SWE youth outreach chair.

Girls from grades 5-8 attended the daylong event that offered exposure to the engineering field. Participants completed a total of five activities, covering the fields of civil, mechanical, electrical, industrial and computer science engineering.

“They enjoy the activities, because they have group leaders – SWE students – who are closer to their age,” Chkautovich added.

This year’s theme was “Seeing the World as an Engineer.” Attendees built different iconic international engineering feats such as The Pyramids, London Bridge and Times Square. Small groups used teamwork to design and create their projects.

Professional women engineers and SIUE students were on site providing support and guidance to program participants. Following the completion of each activity, the professional engineers and the SIUE engineering students offered analysis and asked the participants probing questions about the project.

During the event, the creative problem solving aspects of engineering were discussed and explored. The participants worked collaboratively on projects, and were encouraged to ask questions and use their imagination.

Attendance was down slightly from a year ago as the event, which was originally slated for Feb. 21, had to be rescheduled because of inclement weather. “We are hopeful that the event will continue to grow,” Chkautovich said. “We believe that we could have a successful day with as many as 200 girls.”

Photos: Sitting and working on their cup project (from left to right) are: Molly Prescott, Hayleigh Bell and Dilyn Halverson.

Enjoying and testing their pin wheels (from left to right) are Megan Huller and Deyana Chism.

Emily Fitzgerald works under a desk and tests her bridge.

Stacking cup upon cup, upon cup are Molly Prescott, left, and Mackenzie Roe, right.


Interface Construction’s Spurgeon is 2015 CLI Alumni Leadership Award Winner

17 March 2015, 10:40 AM

[IMAGE: Becky Spurgeon]Becky Spurgeon, president and chief financial officer of Interface Construction of St. Louis, is the recipient of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville’s 2015 Construction Leadership Institute (CLI) Alumni Award. The presentation was Friday, March 13, as a part of the CLI Alumni Day and graduation celebration in the Morris University Center Meridian Ballroom.

“CLI’s mission is to produce accomplished leaders to improve the processes and outcomes of construction,” said Chris Gordon, co-director of the CLI program, associate dean of SIUE’s School of Engineering and chair of the Department of Construction. “Through her career, Becky Spurgeon has done just that and is setting an example for emerging leaders who strive to advance the construction industry even further.”

The CLI Alumni Leadership Award recognizes an outstanding graduate who has demonstrated exceptional leadership and service to the St. Louis area building community. Spurgeon was a member of CLI’s 2005 class.

CLI alumni representing 12 years of the program and the Class of 2015 participated in the festivities. The Class of 2015 graduates are: 

Derek Bartlett, Anderson Electric                                            Cole Bensa, Nooter Construction

Tom Coleman, Geotechnology                                                Barbra Davis, Donco Electrical/Phone Masters

Travis Dearmont, McCarthy Building Cos.                                Jonathan Feekes, Harold O’Shea Builders

Rodney Frey, Anderson Electric                                              Seth Hall, Nooter Construction

Dennis Harter, BRK Electrical Contractors                                Amy Heeger, AME Constructors

Caitlin Huber, Alberici Constructors                                         Matt Koehne, Nooter Construction

Daniel Kruep, Saint Louis University                                        Greg Kutz, S.M. Wilson & Company

Jeremy Lammers, Rhody Construction                                     Nicholas Lange, Alberici Constructors

Chris Marsh, Alberici Constructors                                           Mark Militzer, Aschinger Electric Company

Eric Paulek, The Korte Company                                              Ralph Powell, Jr., McCarthy Building Cos.

Brent Richter, Alberici Constructors                                          Angela Ridgway, Contegra Construction

Ryan Savage, Holland Construction Services                             Omar Senghore, Alberici Constructors

Matt Sink, Solutions AEC                                                         Keith Tay, Anderson Electric

“The Construction Leadership Institute attracts a variety of top emerging leaders representing different areas of the building industry,” said Kristine Jarden, program co-director and director of Executive Education in the School of Business.

CLI is an executive education program jointly developed by SIUE’s School of Business and the School of Engineering’s Department of Construction. It brings together professionals from many sectors of the building industry.

“The CLI program is designed to align with leadership development needs of the rapidly changing construction industry,” said Gordon. “The CLI Advisory Board takes an active role in helping us continuously update this unique and innovative leadership development program to develop future building industry leaders.”

Since CLI’s creation, more than 275 professionals have benefitted from the nine-week program that strengthens leadership, strategic thinking, communications and key management skills.

For more information on the Construction Leadership Institute, visit siue.edu/cli or call 618-650-5440.


SIUE ICorps Team Receives NSF Top Team Award

9 March 2015, 6:30 PM

[IMAGE: SIUE NSF ICorps Team]Southern Illinois University Edwardsville’s National Science Foundation (NSF) “I-Corps™ for Learning” team received the Top Team Recognition Award in late February at the final meeting of the 24 teams in California.

The team is comprised of Jenna Gorlewicz, assistant professor of mechanical and industrial engineering in the SIUE School of Engineering, team mentor Dan Harres and Corrine Mueller, graduate assistant in the SIUE Small Business Development Center (SBDC). A retiree from Boeing where he was a Technical Fellow, Harres owns Bitstream Technologies, a start-up company focused on low-cost educational robotics.

The project is titled “Real-Time Graphical Presentation for Visually Impaired STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) Students.” The project aims to assess the commercial viability, market potential and technological impact of touchscreen-based educational curriculum that will enable real-time graphical information presentation through visual, auditory and vibratory feedback.

The proposed innovation leverages commercially available touchscreens and custom software created in the form of Android applications to translate visual content displayed on-screen into content that can be felt through vibrations and heard through sound. These real-time, hands-on learning experiences are particularly necessary for the 656,000 school-aged individuals with blindness or visual impairments.

“There exists a dire need for a portable, refreshable real-time display of graphical information via nonvisual feedback that can be easily integrated within a classroom setting,” Gorlewicz said. “Such a platform is paramount in affording visually impaired individuals equal opportunities to excel in STEM classrooms and STEM professions. It will equip visually impaired students with new technologies to enhance their independence and participation both in and out of the classroom.

“The infrastructure and software in this work will promote a transformed classroom in which visually impaired students independently interact with their sighted peers and primary classroom teacher, in real-time via touchscreens.”

About I-Corps™ for Learning

The primary goal of National Science Foundation I-Corps™ for Learning (Innovation Corps for Learning) is to foster entrepreneurship that will lead to the commercialization of technology that has been supported previously by NSF-funded research.

  • The approach to entrepreneurship uses techniques developed to validate each commercial opportunity in a recognized, effective way: customer and business model development
  • The vehicle for commercialization activities will most often be start-ups founded by the I-Corps participants; successful I-Corps projects will be prepared for business formation
  • The I-Corps programs feed the NSF Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs
  • NSF will work with the private sector to bring additional resources to the table (in the form of partnerships and finance), when warranted

I-Corps Teams

I-Corps Teams are composed of three main members: the principal investigator (Gorlewicz), the entrepreneurial lead (Mueller) and the mentor (Harres). Gorlewicz serves as SIUE’s technical lead and project manager. Mueller is the entrepreneurial lead, typically a postdoctoral researcher or graduate student, possessing relevant technical knowledge and a deep commitment to investigating the commercial landscape surrounding the innovation. As the entrepreneurial lead, Mueller supports the transition of the technology should the project demonstrate a level of readiness appropriate to leave the academic institution. The mentor brings entrepreneurial experience and serves as the principal guide in determining the technology disposition. All three members of the team participate fully in the I-Corps Curriculum.

Photo (L-R): SIUE I-Corps team members Dan Harres, Jenna Gorlewicz and Corrine Mueller.

Phillips 66 Wood River Refinery Sponsors SIUE Summer Camps

26 February 2015, 1:02 pm

[IMAGE: check presentaion Phillips 66 Engineering SOE 02-24-15]The Phillips 66 Wood River Refinery presented a $20,000 check to the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville School of Engineering on Tuesday, Feb. 24. Phillips 66 is sponsoring SIUE’s Engineering Summer Camp by providing support for equipment, activities and 10 scholarships to students who demonstrate financial need.

The scholarships cover the $400 cost of attendance, including housing, food and field trip transportation, along with materials and supplies. Equipment sponsorship will enable the School to update the robotics technology utilized in the camp. Activity sponsorship enables the School to lower costs to attend the camp, while providing campers access to campus amenities and enlightening field trip opportunities.

“The Phillips 66 Wood River Refinery has an emphasis on outreach, particularly in education that betters our community,” said Melissa Erker, director of government and community affairs for Phillips 66. “With this partnership, we have the ability to enhance the community by supporting science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) at SIUE.

“As an industry, we need strong students from all backgrounds. So, the earlier we can provide this type of educational experience for students, the better it is for us in the long term.”

The camp is designed to introduce participants to various areas of engineering, computer science and construction. Campers design and program a video game, build robots, bridges, rockets and hydro-powered vehicles. They also get to see environmental engineering in action.

“We are extremely appreciative of this partnership, because the Phillips 66 Wood River Refinery is such a good neighbor, so warm and welcoming,” said Hasan Sevim, dean of the School. “We appreciate their support of STEM programs, not just engineering.

“This is a wonderful collaboration for both entities as we are able to deliver quality programs to our constituencies. We are doing something valuable here. It is so rewarding when a student tells us that they attended our summer camp.”

“The refinery has benefitted greatly from SIUE alums, and we want to continue to build relationships with SIUE,” said Chris Johnson, Phillips 66 human resources manager. “It is beneficial to all as we need individuals with these critical skills going forward. Having young people attain these skills at an early age is important to the growth of our business.”

“This collaboration comes at a great time in our camp’s development,” said Chris Gordon, associate dean and chair of the Department of Construction. “The camp has grown 40 percent in the past two years as interest has increased in all engineering fields. We now have had students from all over the country with applications from 10 different states and as far away as California and Alaska. It is a transformative moment in students’ preparations for college.

“Additionally, our campers have a great opportunity to learn about the career opportunities in engineering, computer science and construction management at a company like Phillips 66 during the camp and get a better sense of where they might specialize.”

Erker also looked to the future. “This forges new opportunities for partnerships as we offer refinery tours, topical speakers, mentoring for students and the ability to utilize our refinery team’s talent to synergize with SIUE.”

The Engineering Summer Camp has three weeklong residential sessions beginning Sunday, June 7 and concluding the week of July 5. High school freshmen, sophomores and juniors interested in science, technology and engineering are encouraged to apply.

Application forms are available at the School’s website. For more information, email engineering@siue.edu or call 618-650-2541. Final application deadline is Friday, May 8.

Photo (L to R): Karen Wicks, SIUE School of Engineering director of development; Chris Gordon, School of Engineering associate dean; Hasan Sevim, dean of the School of Engineering; Dustin Graumenz, turnaround coordinator, Phillips 66; Chris Johnson, human resources manager, Phillips 66; Melissa Erker, director of government and community affairs, Phillips 66; and Megan Allen, community affairs coordinator, Phillips 66.




SWE Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day Rescheduled for March 21

20 February 2015, 2:24 pm

The Society of Women Engineers (SWE) at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville has rescheduled it third annual  “Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day” from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, March 21, in the SIUE School of Engineering Building.

The event was originally set for tomorrow, but has been rescheduled because of weather and travel concerns.

Girls from grades 5-8 attend the daylong event that offers exposure to the engineering field. Participants will complete a total of five activities, covering the fields of civil, mechanical, electrical, industrial and computer science engineering.

This year’s theme is “Seeing the World as an Engineer.” Attendees will build different iconic international engineering feats such as The Pyramids, London Bridge and Times Square. Small groups will use teamwork to design and create their projects.

There is a $15 registration fee, which includes all activities, lunch and a T-shirt for each girl. Those interested can register at https://sites.google.com/site/swesiue/igeday.

Registration is limited to the first 250 participants. For more information, contact the SIUE SWE at 618-650-2541, swesiue@gmail.com or by visiting www.facebook.com/swesiue.




SIUE Hosts Educator’s Workshops for 2015 Botball Tournament

18 February 2015, 7:00 am

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville will host 16 teams during the Botball® Educator’s Workshop set for February 21-22 in the Morris University Center (MUC) Conference Center. This year marks the 18th season for Botball® and the 13th year SIUE has hosted the Greater St Louis regional tournament. Teams of middle and high school students from Illinois, Missouri, Indiana and Arkansas are participating.

[IMAGE: ]Dr. Gary Mayer, an assistant professor of computer science at SIUE, is leading the workshop. The purpose of the workshop is to provide team mentors and students with basic programming knowledge, a familiarity with this year’s tournament rules, and tips on building and programming their robots to perform various tasks at the regional tournament. The tournament, which is open to the public, will also be hosted by SIUE on Saturday, April 25.

“Getting young people involved in the Botball program helps develop critical thinking skills that can be applied to any career field,” said Mayer. “In Botball, students need to devise solutions and implement them by building robots and programming their robots’ behaviors. Additionally, they learn about team work.”

Mayer describes the tasks in the tournament as never having a single solution. The workshop teaches the basics of the C programming language and the use of various sensors found in the robotic kits. It emphasizes a hands-on approach for mentors and students, whereby concepts are discussed, and the attendees immediately try to implement them. At least six student volunteers from the SIUE School of Engineering will also be in attendance to assist the mentors and students.

The theme of this year’s tournament is robotic prospectors. The students are building autonomous robots that will travel around a board game attempting to conduct geological surveys for minerals found in the mountains of the Southwestern United States. Some items must be moved from their start locations, and others must be carried to lab locations on the board.

The teams receive a kit with two robot controllers and hundreds of parts such as sensors, motors and structural pieces. Students are free to be as inventive with the kit components as possible. The result is a fleet of unique robots that allow the students to see the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches, especially in head-to-head competition. Additionally, the curriculum provided at the workshop is extended with online content and can be used by the educators for in-class and after-school exercises.

The Botball® Educational Robotics Program is produced by the KISS Institute for Practical Robotics (KIPR) of Norman, Okla. There are over 8,000 middle and high school students participating around the world, and there is a Junior Botball® Challenge Program that targets elementary-aged students. The curriculum is standards-based and provides educators with the framework for teaching students to write code, solve mathematics problems, practice engineering design, and learn computer science concepts.

“The Botball Education Robotics Program is an outlet for creative minds, an opportunity to meet others with similar interests in science and engineering, and a way for the community to get involved with the students’ successes,” Mayer said.

The entire Botball® season ends July 6-11 at the International Botball® tournament hosted by the Global Conference on Educational Robotics (GCER) in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Teams of students from across the U.S., as well as China, Austria, Africa and other regions will come together to be a part of the international showcase.

Belleville East High School is the defending champion. Local teams such as Bond County Community #2, Collinsville High School, Liberty Middle School, Lincoln Middle School, the SIUE East Saint Louis Charter High School and St. Mary’s School of Edwardsville are among the teams seeking to unseat the reigning champ.

Photo: Gary Mayer, PhD and an assistant professor of computer science at SIUE.




SIUE Encourages STEM Education at Regional Science Olympiad Event

10 February 2015, 12:09 pm

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville is proud to host the Science Olympiad regional tournament and enrich students’ education in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The hands-on, team-based event will be held on Saturday, Feb. 14 from 8 a.m.-4 p.m.

The tournament is similar to a track meet, but with an academic focus. SIUE will host 300 student participants, grades 6-12, from across the region.

“This competition gives students a chance to pursue STEM in a way that stimulates different emotions from other science activities and provides an enhanced feeling of teamwork,” said Colin Wilson, resource center manager of SIUE’s STEM Research Center. “Students interested in Science Olympiad are an enthusiastic population who can see the opportunities that institutions like SIUE provide.”

Teams of 15 students investigate some 23 different events ranging from concepts in life, earth and physical science to engineering devices. Events are held throughout the SIUE campus, in the Engineering Building, Science West Building and the Vadalabene Center, with teams based in the Morris University Center.

“This is a national program, of which Illinois is a leading state,” said Mike Avara, regional director. “Not only are science background and skills emphasized, but also the concept of teamwork and collaboration in research and problem-solving.”

SIUE’s event is one of nine regional competitions in Illinois. Leading teams from each regional tournament will advance to the State Tournament held at The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign on April 17-18.

For more information regarding the tournament at SIUE, click here.

For more information on the Science Olympiad national program, click here.




SIUE Alumni Association Hosts “Launching Your Career Search” Event

27 January 2015, 8:29 am

The Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Alumni Association is hosting a professional development event to help jumpstart your career search. “Launching Your Career Search” will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 10 from 6-8 p.m. in Birger Hall at SIUE.

The event will feature accomplished presenters, who are all SIUE alumni, on the topics of writing an effective resume, LinkedIn secrets and tricks and current interviewing strategies.

Participants will also be offered free professional headshots, taken by photographer Colby Craig BS’11. Photos will be taken in the lounge in Birger Hall beginning at 5:30 p.m.

Presenters include Michelle Swanson BA’05, a professional resume writer and job search strategist and owner of Swanson Career Solutions. Notably, Swanson is the only person worldwide to be certified as both a Nationally Certified Resume Writer and a Certified Executive Resume Master.

Brittany K. Anderson MPA’12 will discuss basic interviewing skills and negotiating the job. With a background in the legal sector, the freelance writer is well-versed in recruiting practices and processes.

Following the presentations, Swanson and Anderson will be available for brief resume critiquing. In addition, each presenter will offer discounted services to event participants after February 10.

The event is free of charge for SIUE students and $10 for SIUE Alumni. Register here.




Illinois Center for Transportation Shines Spotlight on SIUE Professor

6 February 2015, 8:03 am

[IMAGE: Brad Noble Ryan Fries Engineering 1_11_12 Bill]Ryan Fries, associate professor and graduate program director in the Department of Civil Engineering at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, is being recognized by the Illinois Center for Transportation.

Fries’ project efforts and achievements are featured in an Investigator Spotlight, published by the Illinois Center for Transportation.




SIUE’s Furst-Bowe is Speaker/Panelist at ASEE Conference

3 February 2015, 7:00 am

[IMAGE: Chancellor Julie A. Furst-Bowe portrait 7-2-12]Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Chancellor Julie Furst-Bowe will be a speaker and panel member at the American Society for Engineering Education’s (ASEE) 40th Conference for Industry and Education Collaboration (CIEC) this week in Palm Springs, Calif.

The conference theme is “Engineering Education: Past, Present and Future.”

“The invitation to speak at the ASEE conference is testimony to the SIUE School of Engineering’s successful corporate connections and industry relationships,” Furst-Bowe said.

On Wednesday, Feb. 4, Furst-Bowe will team with Cindy Veenstra of Veenstra and Associates, and Reginald McGregor of Rolls Royce to present “Systems Thinking for Co-ops and Internships.” The plenary session will provide ideas of the 21st century continuous improvement (CI) and systems thinking combined with recent research on workforce development and the millennial generation. The session will also discuss strategies for successful co-ops and internships from the perspective of students, industry professionals and universities.

Veenstra and Associates is a consulting firm dedicated to college student retention, particularly for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). McGregor is manager of engineering employee development at Rolls Royce.

Furst-Bowe will also participate on a panel for “Engineering Education: Past, Present and Future – A Socratic Dialogue.” The panel of representatives from industry and academia will discuss issues related to the conference theme and how past and present experiences might lead to new paths in engineering and engineering technology curricular, professional development programs, co-op and internship experiences, and academic-industry partnerships.

University panelists will include:

  • Nelson Baker, dean of professional education at Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Walter Buchanan, professor and past head of Engineering Technology and Industrial Distribution at Texas A&M
  • Patricia Fox, clinical assistant professor of Organizational Leadership and Supervision at IUPUI
  • John Gilligan, executive associate dean in the Department of Nuclear Engineering at N.C. State
  • Annette M. Karlsson, dean of Fenn College of Engineering at Cleveland State
  • Ron Madler, dean of the College of Engineering at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical
  • Yannis Yortos, dean of the Viterbi School of Engineering at Southern California



SIUE Engineering’s Celik Earns International Best Presentation Award

2 February 2015, 5:30 pm

[IMAGE: Celik-Serdar_mug]

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville’s Dr. Serdar Celik earned Best Presentation Award for his research “Effect of Cooling on Solar Panel Performance” at the 6th International Conference on Chemical, Biological and Environmental Engineering in Paris, France.

An SIUE School of Engineering associate professor of mechanical engineering (ME), Celik faced 66 competitors among the more than 200 engineering professionals attending the conference from around the world.

The presentation was the result of a yearlong collaboration between Celik and former SIUE School of Engineering graduate student Rehan Ali. Their study compared the effects of cooling on the performance of photovoltaic systems.

Celik and Ali used two different methods (water and air) of cooling in an effort to prove which cooling agent more successfully prolonged the energy conversion efficiency of photovoltaic cells.

“This recognition has brought about several great future opportunities,” said Celik. “I made several connections at the conference and was invited to be a guest speaker for their next annual event.”

Celik is proud of the several real-world applications that his presentation will receive, particularly in his SIUE lectures for the ME 417 HVAC (Heating, Ventilating and Air-Conditioning) course.

“It is obviously a good feeling to get this award among other researchers from different parts of the world that are working in the same field,” he said. “It was also a good indication that we have good quality research and graduate students at SIUE.

“This presentation motivates me to go further to observe how much more the system can be improved. This honor ultimately belongs to the SIUE School of Engineering, as all of this achievement could not have been gained without the resources and support that the School provided to us.”




Third Annual Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day Set for Feb. 21

13 January 2015, 9:04 am

The Society of Women Engineers (SWE) at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville is hosting its third annual  “Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day” from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 21, in the SIUE School of Engineering Building

Girls from grades 5-8 are invited to attend the daylong event that offers exposure to the engineering field. Participants will complete a total of five activities, covering the fields of civil, mechanical, electrical, industrial and computer science engineering.

This year’s theme is “Seeing the World as an Engineer.” Attendees will build different iconic international engineering feats such as The Pyramids, London Bridge and Times Square. Small groups will use teamwork to design and create their projects.

“Some activities will be stand-alone, but some activities may require them to use a previous creation to help complete the new one,” said Sofia Chkautovich, a senior civil engineering major and SWE youth outreach chair. “As always, the girls will be encouraged to first brainstorm, use their peers to design and create, and then discuss what worked or didn’t work, and what could be changed to obtain a different outcome.”

Again this year, professional women engineers and SIUE students will be on site providing support and guidance to program participants. Following the completion of each activity, the professional engineers and the SIUE engineering students will offer analysis and ask the participants probing questions about the project.

During the event, the creative problem solving aspects of engineering will be discussed and explored. The participants will work collaboratively on projects, be encouraged to ask questions and use their imagination.

The program will be led by volunteers through SWE. The group is anticipating more than the approximately 150 girls who participated in last year’s event.

There is a $15 registration fee, which includes all activities, lunch and a T-shirt for each girl. Those interested can register at https://sites.google.com/site/swesiue/igeday.

Registration is limited to the first 250 participants. For more information, contact the SIUE SWE at 618-650-2541, swesiue@gmail.com or by visiting www.facebook.com/swesiue.




SIUE Alumni Recognized on STL Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 List

9 January 2015, 4:14 pm

[IMAGE: Dr. Munier El-Beck Courtesy St. Anthonys]Five Southern Illinois University Edwardsville alumni are considered among the “best and brightest business leaders in the St. Louis community.” Munier El-Beck, MD BS’00, Ryan Freeman BS’01, Travis Liebig BS’02 MS’08, Tolga Tanriseven MS’03 and Scott Thoma BS’98 MS’00 were named to the St. Louis Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 Class of 2015.

The SIUE alums were among more than 750 nominees vying for a spot on the competitive list. When considering the multitude of candidates, the Business Journal indicates it looked mainly for statistical value that each nominee added to his or her company or organization.

El-Beck is the medical director of both the Hospitalist Program and the Observation Unit at St. Anthony’s Medical Center in St. Louis. After receiving his bachelor’s in biological sciences and chemistry from SIUE, El-Beck went on to complete medical school at Ross University, School of Medicine in Roseau, Dominica.

“I am humbled and honored to receive such recognition,” El-Beck said. “I want to be sure to thank the amazing people who I am fortunate enough to work for, and with, whose efforts I feel this honor also represents.”

El-Beck has helped develop and maintain the day-to-day operations of a group of board certified physicians practicing hospital medicine at St. Anthony’s Medical Center. His leadership also aided in the development of a “short-stay” observation unit.

“The unit is designed to evaluate and manage patients who require a more extended period of observation than the emergency department can provide, but are not quite sick enough to require an official hospitalization,” El-Beck explained.

El-Beck credits SIUE with laying the foundation for his current professional career.

“My degree was always recognized and highly regarded at every stage of my professional growth, from medical school, all the way to my current position,” El-Beck said. “The curriculum I went through provided a solid background in the sciences, and also in areas such as business and information technology that continue to serve me today.”

[IMAGE: Ryan Freeman]Freeman was surprised to learn he had been nominated for the 40 Under 40 list. Made apparent by his nomination letter, Freeman’s brother and colleague, Reed Freeman, also an SIUE alum, believed Ryan was deserving of this accolade due to his accomplishments in the construction industry.

“I was both surprised and proud to have been selected from what I am sure was a very accomplished group of individuals,” said Freeman.

Freeman is the vice president of operations, commercial projects at McCarthy Building Companies, Inc. in St. Louis. Freeman received a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering at SIUE.

“In my current role I am responsible for growing our market presence in the office, justice, airport and municipal markets,” Freeman explained. “Once we have been selected, I oversee projects in those sectors and a team of very talented sales, marketing and operations professionals, including a few SIUE grads!”

During his 10 years with the company, notable projects Freeman has worked on include the Edward Jones Corporate Headquarters, a more than $100 million development that added hundreds of jobs to the region. He is currently working on the first phases of the Arch Grounds renovations.

“I love the construction industry, because the efforts of a large group of people result in progress in a physical form,” Freeman said. “It’s rewarding when you see projects you’ve worked on benefiting people’s everyday lives the way that hospitals, schools and businesses do.”

He attributes his professional success to the problem-solving and teamwork skills he has gained during his schooling and throughout his career. Many of his strongest business partners and friends are people he met during his schooling at SIUE, according to Freeman.

[IMAGE: Travis Liebig Headshot]Liebig earned his bachelor’s in both business administration economics and business administration finance, along with his master’s in business administration at SIUE. Now the president of Simmons First National Bank in St. Louis, Liebig said he was both humbled and surprised by this achievement.

“I am proud to be part of such a worthy group of professionals,” Liebig said.

His career in banking began with a co-op internship during his senior year at SIUE. From then, he has risen to the top of the banking industry, attributing his success to the team of professionals he has built around him.

“Banking in St. Louis and across the river is extremely competitive, so having a solid team is crucial,” Liebig explained. “Each day is different. You never know what’s going to come your way when you walk in to work, and I find that exciting.”

Liebig acknowledges the coursework, extra-curricular activities and the University’s career development center all contributed to his professional success.

“SIUE being in a major metropolitan area has helped open a lot of doors for me,” Liebig said. “I cross paths with many alumni during my day-to-day activities as a banker. Getting my MBA gave me an edge against many competitors and has allowed me to stand out among my professional peers.”

Also achieving a spot on the list is Tanriseven, founder and CEO of GirlsAskGuys, LLC. He achieved a master’s in electrical engineering at SIUE and went on to launch his company in 2008.

“It’s very refreshing to see recognition and validation of success, especially in the start-up world, since the journey is long and has a lot of ups and downs,” Tanriseven noted.

[IMAGE: Tolga-Tanriseven-Fit]The entrepreneur describes the social media platform as a digital community made up of trusted, and sometimes anonymous, friends from the opposite sex who share opinions and experiences.

“Working on a platform that touches, changes and most importantly, helps millions of people all around the world is quite fulfilling,” Tanriseven said. “Holding the key to that platform is a big responsibility.

“Making sure technology scales as we reach many more millions, and making sure our online community stays helpful and connected as it grows are the biggest challenges.”

Tanriseven’s brainchild, GirlsAskGuys, reaches an international audience with versions in English, Turkish and Spanish.

Thoma is responsible for the client needs research team at Edwards Jones. He also received recognition on the 40 Under 40 list for his professional success. The SIUE alum received his bachelor’s in business administration economics and business administration finance. He was one of the first students to graduate with a master’s in economics and finance from the SIUE School of Business.

“The most attractive, yet challenging part of my career in finance is that things change very frequently,” Thoma explained. “There’s always something new. News comes out that needs to be addressed because our clients have questions.”

[IMAGE: scott thoma]Thoma’s responsibilities include researching investments and strategies for his company’s advisors to recommend to clients.

“As things change with the market, economy and laws, we need to make sure we are always providing information regarding the risks and opportunities that our financial advisors need to talk with our clients about.

“The most fulfilling part is that you realize at the end of the day we are helping clients reach their long-term financial goals like planning for retirement or putting kids through college,” Thoma said. “It’s a humbling responsibility, and it provides a lot of meaning to my day-to-day work.”

Thoma has served as an instructor in corporate finance, as well as banking and risk management, at SIUE. His experiences as both a student and instructor have contributed to his professional growth and success, according to Thoma.

This year’s winners will be profiled in the February 13th issue of the St. Louis Business Journal. An awards banquet will be held for the 2015 recipients on Thursday, Feb. 19 from 5:30-8:30 p.m. at America’s Center in St. Louis.

Photos (top to bottom): Munier El-Beck, MD, Ryan Freeman, Travis Liebig, Tolga Tanriseven, Scott Thoma




SIUE Engineering Alum is Highland Gigabit Challenge Winner

5 January 2015, 1:48 pm

[IMAGE: Chico Weber School of Engineering Dean's Report 9-11-13]

SIUE School of Engineering alum Chico Weber (’13, BS mechanical engineering) won the inaugural City of Highland Gigabit Challenge.

Alton Telegraph wrote about the competition in a story posted December 28. Read it here.

Weber also was featured on page 7 in the School of Engineering’s 2013 Dean’s Report.

City of Highland Gigabit Challenge




Paul Seaburg, 1934-2014; Was Engineering Emeritus Dean

5 January 2015, 11:15 am

[IMAGE: Seaburg_sm]Paul Allen Seaburg, of Edwardsville, died Monday, Dec. 29, at Anderson Hospital in Maryville. He was 80.

Seaburg served as Dean for the SIUE School of Engineering from 2000 to 2005.

A memorial service was held Saturday, Jan. 3, at Trinity Lutheran Church in Edwardsville.

A complete obituary is available in The Edwardsville Intelligencer.

Condolences may be expressed at weberfuneralhome.com.



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