Category: CMS-Newsletter

Area Industry Partners Sponsor Engineering Senior Design Projects

Every student who graduates from an engineering program at UCO participates in a 2-semester senior engineering design capstone experience.  During this experience, an interdisciplinary team composed of three to four students will identify an engineering problem, design and develop potential solutions to the problem, analyze and improve their solutions, and ultimately deliver a final prototype. Throughout the process, students utilize the knowledge and skills attained in their degree program’s prior coursework, while ensuring they meet specific industry standards and work within their projects’ identified constraints.

While many senior design projects are proposed by UCO faculty, and a few by the students themselves, over one-third of the projects, come from the department’s many industry partners. Last August, for example, Dakota Maxwell (a 2018 graduate of UCO’s Mechanical Engineering program and who is currently an R&D Mechanical Engineer at Nortek Air Solutions), approached the department with three potential projects. After some discussion, it was agreed to submit two of the projects for review by new senior design students in the 2021 Fall Semester. There are always more projects than student teams, and some projects end up being shifted to future semesters. In this case, both projects were chosen.

The first project, the Nortek Air Solution Duct Air Sampling System, involves developing an apparatus to take uniformly averaged air temperatures in rectangular air ducts of arbitrary sizes. The Senior Design Team of Amanda Durbin (Mechanical Engineering), Jenny James (Biomedical Engineering), and Samantha Mas (Biomedical Engineering and Electrical Engineering) are undertaking this project under faculty sponsor Dr. Evan Lemley.

The second project is the Nortek Air Solution Center of Family Love Filter Frame Helper. The Center of Family Love is an organization that employs individuals with special needs. One of their programs allows their employees to manufacture air filters for residential and commercial applications. Unfortunately, many of the workers do not have the dexterity to fold the air filter cardboard frames without assistance. This project involves the design and fabrication of an automated jig to provide the assistance the workers need to overcome their dexterity challenges in assembling air filters. The Senior Design Team of Luis Martinez (Electrical Engineering), Rose Njoki (Biomedical Engineering), and Aaron Smith (Electrical Engineering) are undertaking this project under faculty sponsor Dr. Abdellah Ait moussa.

The department is extremely thankful to our many industry partners for their assistance in identifying and providing support for these industry-sponsored projects. In addition to Nortek Air Solutions, recent Senior Design Project sponsors have included ClimateMaster, Aaon Heating and Cooling, Oklahoma City VA Health Care System, OU Health Science Center, Pelco Products, Boeing, FAA, Tinker AFB, Kamray, Oklahoma Department of Transportation, Stanfield Engineering, and many others. Companies interested in sponsoring future projects may contact the department’s Industry Liaison, Dr. Mohamed Bingabr (mbingabr@uco.edu).

Remembering Dr. John Bowen

Bowen teaching fencing to a student

It is with a heavy heart to announce the passing of Dr. John Bowen on January 16, 2022, after struggling with a long illness.  John joined the University of Central Oklahoma in August of 2000 and retired in May 2018.  John received a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from Central State University and a Ph.D. in Chemistry from Oklahoma State University.  At UCO he taught General Chemistry I lab, Quantitative Analysis lecture and lab, and Instrumental Analysis lecture and lab.

He was an active faculty member who coordinated the departmental seminar program.  Among his other activities, he was a member of various task forces for the College and University, a co-sponsor of the Forensic Science and Chemistry Clubs, collaborated on projects with the University of Wyoming, worked with GEAR-UP, was an advisor for the Gold Key Honor Society and Fencing Club.

Adventures of Dr. Bowen

Old newspaper article

John co-authored papers published in various chemical journals, received funding for his research from the Office of Research and Grants, and mentored students who presented papers at Research Day and at the ACS national meeting. John particularly loved to be outdoors.  He had interests in mountaineering, skiing, caving, and especially whitewater rafting.

John was kind and soft-spoken. He always had time for other faculty members and students.  He will be missed by all of us at UCO.

 

Oklahoma Academy of Sciences Technical Meeting at East Central University in Ada, OK

The College of Mathematics and Science had several undergraduate and graduate students attend and present at the Oklahoma Academy of Sciences Technical Meeting at East Central University in Ada, OK. OAS holds annual technical meetings, field meetings, and, until recently, junior academy meetings. The purpose of the Academy is to stimulate scientific research in Oklahoma.

CMS had one Outstanding Undergraduate Oral Presentation winner at the 110th Technical Meeting of the Oklahoma Academy of Science. Sidra Jawaid won in the Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science section with her abstract titled “IDENTIFYING CRITICAL HIGHER-ORDER INTERACTIONS IN COMPLEX NETWORKS”.

Dr. David Bass has been involved in OAS since 1985 and has served in many leadership roles including president in 2000, and as the Executive Director for 20 years.  When asked what the value of OAS as a forum is, Dr. Bass said, “The technical meeting is a great venue for students to attend. Students have opportunities to listen to presentations by professionals and learn how these talks are conducted. Students also have an opportunity to present their own research findings in a low-key, friendly environment. It is also noteworthy that, as students, many faculty gave their first research talk at a state academy meeting.”

A UCO Senior majoring in Biomedical Sciences, Hallum Ewbank, presented her research this fall. When looking back at her experience she said “I really enjoyed getting to share my research and receive support and feedback from other students and professors. It was very encouraging to see others excited to hear about what I was doing and I gained valuable ideas for changes to make in the future. Additionally, it was a great way to hear about what others are researching in many different fields.” Professor Christopher Goodchild responded by stating, “The greatest accomplishment as a professor is seeing my students succeed.”

Dr. Chad King will continue to send his students to OAS stating that “This venue is a fantastic place for students who are new to research, to present their research findings and work on their science communication skills. This was the case for my research student, Valeria, who started in my research lab during Summer 2021. The research experience and OAS Technical Meeting has motivated her to pursue funding through the UCO RCSA grant program to answer a research question that she has fully developed on her own!”

Central has seven faculty members involved in the Executive Council of OAS including Dr. Benjamin Tayo, Dr. Brad Watkins, Dr. Nesreen Alsbou, Dr. Gang Xu, Dr. Mehmet Aktas, Dr. Nikki Seagraves, and Dr. David Bass.

For more information about the Oklahoma Academy of Science visit its website at www.oklahomaacademyofscience.org

Editor’s Note: See the full list of winners from the 110th Technical Meeting of the Oklahoma Academy of Science Collegiate Academy awards (2021). www.oklahomaacademyofscience.org/2021.html

Department of Funeral Service Thriving in Difficult Times

As many areas in higher education are struggling, the UCO Department of Funeral Service is thriving.  Not only is the department experiencing unprecedented growth in majors and credit hour production, the department is also a national leader with respect to passing the required National Board Exam (NBE).  As many funeral service programs struggled to address how to deliver their educational programs during the COVID-19 pandemic, the UCO program was positioned to operate as closely as possible to business as usual, because of the department’s dedication to a strong distance education presence.  This has translated into continued success on the NBE which is required for licensure.  Between January 1, 2021 and December 31, 2021, the national NBE pass rate was only 68% on the Arts exam and only 57% on the Science exam.  UCO students once again delivered, with an 89% Arts pass rate, and an 85% Science pass rate.

CONGRATULATIONS UCO FUNERAL SERVICE

Spring Update from our Dean

Dear CMS Alumni and Friends,

I am writing this from my sunroom at home as I watch a variety of birds pecking through an inch and a half of sleet to find the seeds I scattered for them this morning.  UCO is closed for another winter storm, and it is good to be in a peaceful place to reflect on the past few months and decide what to share with you.

Our labs and classrooms are filled with students this semester in spite of the latest COVID variant.  It appears that most students and faculty would rather be in the classroom than teaching and learning remotely!  Our students have continued to be engaged in numerous lab and field research projects.  We were just notified that two of our students, Ghazal Hesami and Faezeh Soltani, mentored by Dr. Christina Hendrickson in the Department of Biology, have been accepted to present their research on the anti-cancer effects of Taraxacum officinale (dandelion) at the Council on Undergraduate Research Posters on the Hill 2022 in Washington, D.C.  From hundreds of applications nationwide, only 60 are selected for this prestigious event.

We have been making many efforts to increase our students’ preparation and competitiveness for the workforce, and to help fill critical workforce needs in Oklahoma.  We have added programs in areas in which demand is high, including three new programs this year: a B.S. in Environmental Chemistry; a B.S. in Computer Engineering, a joint program between the Department of Engineering and Physics and the Department of Computer Science; and a M.S. in Data Science, a joint program between the Department of Computer Science and the Department of Mathematics and Statistics. We have been pursuing partnerships with engineering and biotechnology companies that could lead to collaborations, internships, and a jobs pipeline for our students.

We have received some funds from the state for workforce development in engineering and nursing.  The Department of Engineering and Physics is planning to use their funds toward a Makerspace that will allow students to have a large and well-designed space to create prototypes and which can also be used for outreach. It will replace the “shop” in the basement of Howell Hall. The Department of Nursing is using their funds for faculty in their new Fast Track, which allows students who have completed another degree to earn a B.S. in Nursing in 18 months, and for additional support staff to advise, mentor, and tutor students to increase their retention and success.

In April, through the efforts of Dr. Carrie Bentley (Biology; Health Professions Advisor) and Mary Matlock (CMS Development Officer), we will host our First Annual Health Professionals Mentorship Dinner.  This will provide an opportunity for our pre-health students to meet physicians, PAs, dentists, and other health professionals who are UCO alumni. We hope this will lead to more mentorship opportunities for our students, and to our health professions alumni becoming more engaged with our students on campus.

Our Westmoreland Gallery in the STEM Building finally looks like a gallery!  We have hung colorful abstract paintings, many of which were inspired by science, that were donated to us by the artist Julie Richman.  The paintings are a perfect fit for the large white walls in the building, and I am sure will inspire imagination and creativity in our students.

We have formed a Student Advisory Board for the College, composed of a student representative from each department.  We had our first meeting at which we discussed some areas of student concern that we will work to address.  We will seek the board’s input on new initiatives to increase retention and student satisfaction.

On behalf of the CMS faculty, staff, and students, I thank you for your continued confidence in and support of our college.  And I wish you peaceful days this spring!

Sincerely,
Dr. Gloria Caddell

Fall Update from the Dean

Dear CMS Alumni and Friends,

I am excited to be writing this letter in my new role as Dean of the College of Mathematics and Science.  This past summer the “Interim” was removed from my title.  Likewise, Dr. Bob Brennan, who served this past year in an interim role, is now the Associate Dean.  We also recently welcomed two new members of our Dean’s Office team: Dr. John Walkup, our Director of Sponsored Programs, and Mary Matlock, our Development Officer.  Dr. Walkup has a doctorate in Physics and has extensive grant-writing experience. Mary comes to us with years of leadership experience in development and annual giving at several higher ed institutions, where she had great success with fundraising.

When I wrote my letter last year at this time, I said that our challenge over this past year was to maintain a sense of normalcy as much as possible during the pandemic and maintain our values and our commitment to academic excellence, transformative learning, and student success.  I used the analogy of a crater I had just hiked through on the Big Island of Hawaii to represent our challenging landscape, but I said that I was certain we were going to adapt, grow, succeed, and thrive, like the plants that are able to become established on the harsh lava and ash landscapes of the Big Island.  As I reflect on the past year, I know I was right.  The awards our outstanding faculty received at the August convocation demonstrate the many ways we contributed to academic excellence, transformative learning, and student success, and engaged with our community:

  • Britney Hopkins from the Department of Mathematics and Statistics was a recipient of the Neely Excellence in Teaching Award. This is notable because this is the third year in a row that a mathematician has received this prestigious university-wide award!
  • The Vanderford Award for Undergraduate Research went to Dr. Nikki Seagraves from the Department of Biology. It was two of Dr. Seagraves’ students who were selected to present their research at the CUR Posters on the Hill last year.
  • The Vanderford Engagement Award went to Dr. Kathy Smith from the Department of Nursing, and the Citizens Bank Leadership and Civic Engagement Award went to Dr. Pam Rollins, also from the Department of Nursing. These awards recognized their engagement of nursing students in flu and COVID-19 vaccine clinics as well as their contributions to the community.
  • The Masonic Endowment for Transformative Learning Award was given to Dr. Carrie Bentley from the Department of Biology for her work helping our pre-health professions students develop their cultural competency – to understand, respect, and better be able to help the diverse types of people they will encounter as a health professional.
  • Robi Hossan from the Department of Engineering & Physics received a Merit Credit Award for Research.
  • And at our CMS Back-to-School Meeting, Dr. Amanda Waters from the Department of Chemistry received the CMS Vanderford Teaching Award.

There were other noteworthy accomplishments last year.  We responded to workforce needs by developing a new Computer Engineering program (a joint program between Engineering & Physics and Computer Science), an Environmental Chemistry degree, thirteen pathways for students to earn an accelerated professional science master’s degree in Computational Science, and a Fast Track in Nursing for students who have earned a B.S. in a non-nursing major.  The Computer Science and Funeral Service departments added more interactive video courses to accommodate working and remote students. The Department of Chemistry received about $800,000 from the estate of Dr. von Minden for an Instrumentation Fund that will allow our students to be better prepared for the workforce, especially with skills for jobs in Quality Assurance/Quality Control.  Our lab and field research continued, and our faculty and students produced many publications, gave many research presentations, and submitted 40 external grant proposals.  We were able to hold some programs this past summer that were not held last year because of the pandemic.  Several faculty-mentored incoming students in our Summer Bridge Program and the Department of Engineering & Physics held a STEM Summer Academy.

We contributed much service to our community and our professions.  First and foremost, the Nursing faculty and students organized COVID-19 vaccine clinics for our community, and they are continuing to do so this fall.  Our faculty held leadership positions in national organizations; one example is Dr. Beth Allan from the Department of Biology, who served as the President of the National Science Teachers Association. And although many events were canceled, we were able to host some events such as the Oklahoma Native Plant Society’s Wildflower Weekend at the Selman Living Lab this summer.

This year, the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education is focusing on workforce development in Nursing and Engineering, and they have allocated funds provided by the legislature to support these initiatives at universities including UCO.  The Engineering & Physics and Nursing departments are developing proposals for the use of these funds, which should increase recruitment, retention, and graduation in these areas.   An interdisciplinary team of CMS faculty and staff is seeking funding for a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics) van or bus to transport faculty, students, and materials and equipment to area schools to engage students in STEAM activities.  We are offering our first Broncho Blueprint courses, which are first-year experiences that immerse students in their chosen discipline, introduce them to career opportunities, and help them develop professional skills. We have remained an energetic and innovative college despite the pandemic!

On behalf of the faculty, staff, and students, I thank you for your continued confidence in and support of our college.

Gloria Caddell, Ph.D.
Dean, College of Mathematics and Science