Past OPTIONS Participant to Serve as Mentor-in-Residence for High School Girls
Posted: May 20, 2013
Kelsey Smith, a 2006 OPTIONS for High School Girls summer camp participant, will serve as mentor-in-residence for girls attending this year’s OPTIONS experience, which explores the vast career possibilities in engineering and computer science.
Smith, a resident of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio, will provide guidance and advice to this year’s OPTIONS for High School Girls attendees as well as teaching.
Smith, a Montana native, learned about OPTIONS through the Internet and attended the program before her junior year of high school. She credits the experience for deepening her understanding and interest in the diverse career opportunities in engineering.
“OPTIONS gave me incredible exposure to the different fields of engineering and the roles that women play in them. Being in an all-girls camp gave me the confidence to ask questions and explore more about the ‘how,’” Smith said. “There were so many opportunities offered – we were able to visit a wide range of plants and factories, and really see the in-depth functioning of different systems. In addition, I met some amazing women mentors.”
Smith graduated from high school in Bigfork, Montana, in 2008. There, she received varsity letters in soccer, track, and cheerleading; held leadership positions as speech and debate team captain, student council vice president, and newspaper editor-in-chief; and played first-chair flute.
Smith graduated from the United States Air Force Academy in 2012, where she majored in behavioral science with minors in Arabic and Spanish. Upon graduation from the Academy, Smith was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Air Force. She currently attends the Air Force Institute of Technology and is studying engineering management – human factors engineering. After graduation in 2014, Smith plans to work as a researcher in the Air Force.
Openings are still available in both OPTIONS for High School Girls, June 9-14, and OPTIONS for Middle School Girls, June 16-20. Thanks to the Alcoa Foundation, a limited number of scholarships are available for girls from Vanderburgh and Warrick counties. Attendees are welcome from all states and counties.
For more information, please contact Tina Newman, OPTIONS program coordinator in the University of Evansville’s College of Engineering and Computer Science, at 812-488-2651.
Mark Valenzuela Named UE's Outstanding Teacher of the Year
Posted: May 4, 2013
Mark Valenzuela, associate professor of civil engineering, has been named the University of Evansville’s Outstanding Teacher of the Year for 2012-13. He is the first UE faculty member to win this prestigious honor two times.
The award, presented annually by the UE Alumni Association, was announced today at the Ford Center during the University’s 155th Commencement ceremony.
Valenzuela, known as “Dr. Mark” by his students, first received the Outstanding Teacher of the Year award in 2003. A decade later, thanks to high marks from his students and colleagues, he has earned the award once again.
“Dr. Mark uses a very detailed and interactive teaching style in the classroom by coming to class prepared with real-life examples, hands-on activities, and ideas on how to involve his students,” wrote one student nominator. “Outside of the classroom, Dr. Mark’s door is always open. He is willing to take as much time as necessary to help students understand class material, and it shows when it is time to take exams. Students feel as if they have truly learned the material, not just memorized.”
“Dr. Mark’s influence on students is impressive,” one student said. “He ensures that his students make ethical decisions and treat one another with respect. I have witnessed many situations in which students are having trouble cooperating in groups, and he helps them overcome differences and complete projects.”
“Mark Valenzuela is without a doubt one of the best professors as well as one of the best human beings I have hired,” said Phil Gerhart, dean of UE’s College of Engineering and Computer Science. “For the past 29 years, I have had the great blessing of working with and leading an extremely talented, collegial, and principled group of faculty. Dr. Mark Valenzuela is outstanding among them.”
In addition to his teaching duties, Valenzuela serves as the faculty advisor for Chi Epsilon, the national civil engineering honor society; the student chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE); and the Concrete Canoe team, which has qualified for nationals four times in the last five years. Under his leadership, in 2011, UE became the smallest school ever to host the ASCE National Concrete Canoe Competition. Valenzuela is also the vice president of the Southwest Indiana branch of ASCE and a registered professional engineer in the state of Indiana.
In addition to the Outstanding Teacher of the Year award, his previous teaching awards include the Dean’s Teaching Award for the College of Engineering and Computer Science (2003 and 2013), a UE Global Scholar award (2008), and the ExCEED New Faculty Excellence in Teaching Award from the American Society of Civil Engineers (2002).
Valenzuela holds a PhD and Master of Science in structural engineering from Cornell University and a Bachelor of Engineering in civil and environmental engineering from Vanderbilt University. He came to UE in 1999 and received tenure and promotion to associate professor in 2005.
UE Concrete Canoe Headed to Nationals
Posted: April 22, 2013
For the fourth time in the past five years, the University of Evansville’s Concrete Canoe team has qualified for the American Society of Civil Engineers National Concrete Canoe Competition, held this year from June 20-22 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
UE’s team of civil engineering students earned a bid to nationals by winning the Concrete Canoe competition at the ASCE Great Lakes Student Conference, held April 18-20 at Trine University in Angola, Indiana. UE placed first out of 17 Concrete Canoe teams, besting the perennial powerhouse team from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (which has won regionals 17 of the last 19 years), as well as teams from Purdue University, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the University of Notre Dame, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, and others.
“I’m incredibly proud of this year’s team for earning a first-place finish at the regional competition. The team has logged over 1,000 hours since the fall semester to design and build their canoe, and unlike other teams in the competition, they do not receive academic credit to participate in Concrete Canoe. They compete simply because they love a challenge, take pride in doing an excellent job, and want to carry on a winning tradition,” said Mark Valenzuela, associate professor of civil engineering and the team’s faculty advisor. “After enduring hours-long road trips, late nights, and freezing wind and rain, we sometimes wonder, ‘Is it worth it?’ And win or lose, each year the answer has always been ‘Yes!’”
The Concrete Canoe competition consists of four categories: races, oral presentation, final product, and design paper, with each counting equally toward the final score. Because of severe weather during the ASCE Great Lakes Student Conference, the races were canceled, shifting the fight to the academic portion of the competition.
“Civil engineering students on the Concrete Canoe team compete both as athletes and scholars. At the ASCE Great Lakes Student Conference, they must demonstrate outstanding presentation, writing, and academic skills to qualify for nationals,” said Brian Swenty, chair of the Department of Mechanical and Civil Engineering. “This year, our students once again proved that they can rise to the top in a highly competitive field of civil engineering students from the region’s best public and private universities. We’re very proud of our students’ work and look forward to another great showing at nationals this summer.”
This year’s canoe, “Palus” (an astronomical term to describe a surface feature on the moon), is 19.9 feet long and weighs 216 pounds. Inspired by an episode of “MythBusters” that investigated whether a car with a dimpled texture like a golf ball could obtain better gas mileage, the canoe features dimples to help reduce drag in the water.
UE Concrete Canoe team members are Jamie Johnson (project manager), Jaclyn Altstadt, Christina Bernauer, Abby Browder, George Carroll, Aubin Fowler, James Gabe, Ryan Hayes, Luc Heidenreich, Amanda Hopf, Chris Kuester, Hieronymus Mitchell, Alejandro Mojica Cadario, Zach Neukam, Hannah Okray, Shannon Osiecki, Heather Passey, Alex Schwinghamer, Katelyn Spainhour, Kilian Sweet, and Bekah Taylor.
UE Civil Engineering Freshmen Test Balsawood Bridges
Posted: November 30, 2012
The annual civil engineering freshman balsawood bridge competition was conducted during the week of November 26-30, 2012. Students made presentations and bridges were tested in UE’s Bowen Engineering Laboratory. The winning team built a bridge with an efficiency rating of 2.41 pounds of load per gram of bridge weight. The winning bridge, pictured, weighed 158 grams or just over 1/3 of a pound, and was able to support a load of 381 pounds as measured on the program’s 50-kip Material Testing Systems (MTS) machine.
In their Engineering 101 course, civil engineering freshmen learn about basic mechanics principles, trusses, and different types of bridges. Based on these principles, they are divided into teams and assigned a project to design and construct an efficient bridge from light-weight balsawood and glue. Students are trained to use STAADPro software to assist them in completing their design. The students built their bridges and displayed them at the monthly ASCE meeting on Wednesday, November 28 where they also made presentations to faculty and students about their bridge designs.
The next evening, the bridges were tested to failure in the Bowen Engineering Laboratory materials testing lab with the top bridge being the one whose efficiency rating (applied load to self-weight ratio) was the highest.
Members of the winning team, pictured, include Alejandro Mojica-Cadario, Hieronymus Mitchell, and Peter Sadler.
UE VETS Wins Top Honors Among Indiana Student Veteran Organizations
Posted: November 1, 2012
Against stiff competition from student veteran organizations around Indiana, UE VETS from the University of Evansville today was named the winner of the SVO Hall of Fame Competition, held October 27 in Indianapolis and sponsored by the Military Family Research Institute at Purdue University (MFRI).
The event, which was open to the public, showcased the talents and achievements of the top student veteran organizations in Indiana. The University of Evansville was the only private college or university selected to compete. Other participants were Ball State University, Indiana University Southeast (second place), Ivy Tech Bloomington, Ivy Tech Sellersburg, Ivy Tech Wabash Valley, and Purdue University (third place).
The event was the culmination of previously held grant competitions sponsored by Operation Diploma, MFRI’s post-secondary education initiative. All organizations presented to a panel of judges before a live audience at the NCAA Hall of Champions.
Army veteran Jariah Besing, a civil engineering major from Francisco, Indiana, and Army Reserve member and Iraq veteran Hayli Cingle, a criminal justice and sociology major from Landisville, Pennsylvania, presented on behalf of UE VETS, discussing how the organization provides support and outreach to veterans, current service members, and their families as they transition from the military to college and beyond to the workforce. They received high praise from all of the judges.
“The University of Evansville is an example of what an SVO should be,” said Michael Dakduk, a competition judge and executive director of Student Veterans of America. “Not just in Indiana; they are a national example of what SVOs can aspire to be.”
UE VETS has successfully competed for Operation Diploma grants every year since 2009, and has been named a military-friendly school by G.I. Jobs for four consecutive years. The University’s 2009 partnership with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to serve as a Yellow Ribbon school has led to a 383 percent increase in student veteran enrollment since 2009.
The SVO has put on a number of collaborative events, including a Veterans Day 5K Walk, Run, and Roll race, a veterans’ fair, and a citywide book read aimed at increasing understanding of readjustment issues after military deployments. These events engaged a number of different constituencies, including UE alumni veterans, the UE campus, and student veteran organizations at the University of Southern Indiana and Ivy Tech Community College Southwest.
During opening remarks at the competition, MFRI Director Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth emphasized that all organizations in attendance earned their way there through exemplary work.
“There’s a reason why you have been chosen to participate today,” she said. “By providing important avenues of connection and support, you are crucial to your peers’ success, and you are also helping to educate your faculty and administrators about how much student service members and veterans bring to Indiana campuses. Thank you for making a difference on your campuses, in your communities, and beyond.”
OPTIONS Program Receives $30,000 Grant from Alcoa Foundation
Posted: September 24, 2012
The University of Evansville is proud to announce that it has received a $30,000 grant from the Alcoa Foundation in support of OPTIONS, a summer program that introduces middle and high school students to the vast career possibilities in engineering and computer science.
The grant will provide scholarships for middle and high school girls to attend OPTIONS in 2013 and 2014, opening up STEM opportunities (science, technology, engineering, and math) to a population that is underrepresented in these career fields. Scholarships will also be available to OPTIONS graduates who enroll in a four-year degree program at UE.
During OPTIONS programs, students stay on UE’s campus in a residence hall, complete hands-on projects, take classes taught by UE faculty members, and meet local professional women in the engineering and computer science fields.
“We started OPTIONS for High School Girls in 1992 — and OPTIONS for Middle School Girls in 2004 — as residential summer programs to help young women with an aptitude for math and science learn about the exciting career opportunities in engineering and computer science,” said Phil Gerhart, dean of UE’s College of Engineering and Computer Science. “Today, we’re very grateful to the Alcoa Foundation for providing scholarship support to this program, which will allow a greater number of talented, motivated young women to experience OPTIONS.”
“Alcoa Warrick Operations is excited to be able to help support this program through the plant’s annual allocation from the Alcoa Foundation,” said Royce Haws, the location manager for the Primary Metals Division at Warrick Operations. “Most of our community investments from the Foundation are focused on education, recognizing that changes in the economy require upgraded skills that will help keep Warrick Operations globally competitive — investments in science, technology, engineering, and math are a key community and business need.”
The University of Evansville wishes to thank the Alcoa Foundation for its generous support of OPTIONS, in addition to other programs and projects at UE. Past Alcoa Foundation grants to the University of Evansville have supported the development of the LEED-certified Ridgway University Center, development of TWICE (the Tri-State Women in Computing and Engineering professional network), student scholarships, and the community-wide RecycleMania initiative.
For more information on OPTIONS, please visit options.evansville.edu or contact the College of Engineering and Computer Science at 812-488-2651.
UE to Offer Review Course for Fundamentals of Engineering Exam
Posted: September 5, 2012
Beginning this fall, the University of Evansville College of Engineering and Computer Science will offer a review course for those preparing to take the 2013 Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam, administered by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying.
The eight-hour FE exam, to be held April 13, 2013 in Hyde Hall on the UE campus, is designed for students who are close to finishing an undergraduate engineering degree. It is typically the first step in the process to becoming a licensed professional engineer. Information about the exam is available here.
The review class is taught by University of Evansville faculty members and offered only once a year. It covers information required for the exam, including mathematics, materials science, chemistry, statics, mechanics of materials, dynamics, electricity and magnetism, thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, probability and statistics, and engineering economics.
Most classes will take place on Thursday nights (with occasional Wednesdays) from 6:30-9 p.m. in UE’s Koch Center for Engineering and Science. Those who are reviewing for the civil engineering portion of the exam should plan to attend from October 18 to March 28; all other disciplines will attend classes through February 21. No classes will be held between November 28 and January 10.
The review class costs $100 for current UE students, $250 for non-UE college students, and $400 for the general public. Required texts will be provided in the fee.
The deadline to register for the review course is October 15. For more information or to register, please contact the College of Engineering and Computer Science at 812-488-2651.
Concrete Canoe Team Earns Record Finish at Nationals
Posted: June 18, 2012
Despite unexpected challenges, such as a canoe that cracked in half, the University of Evansville’s Concrete Canoe team earned 12th place overall in the American Society of Civil Engineers National Concrete Canoe Competition — the team’s second highest finish in its 12-year history.
The 25th annual competition took place June 14-16 at the University of Nevada, Reno. Twenty-two teams from some of the top engineering schools in the United States and Canada competed and were judged on the design, construction, innovative features, and racing ability of each concrete canoe.
UE’s 17-member team finished seventh in the technical paper category, 10th in oral presentation, 13th in the races, and 12th overall. UE was the smallest school and the only private American university that qualified for the competition.
One harrowing moment came before the last race on Saturday, when UE’s purple and gray canoe, Tempest (measuring 20 feet long and weighing 250 pounds) cracked in half as team members climbed in.
Thanks to help from several other universities’ Concrete Canoe teams and plenty of duct tape, Tempest was patched up in time for the Aces to complete their final race.
“This year, our students not only proved that they can excel in the academic and athletic portions of the competition, but also that they can think and act quickly to solve problems,” said Mark Valenzuela, UE associate professor of civil engineering and the team’s faculty advisor. “I’m so proud of their hard work and dedication, and know this experience will serve them well in their future careers as civil engineers.”
Last year, UE hosted the National Concrete Canoe Competition and was the smallest school ever invited to do so. This year marks the third time in the past four years that UE has qualified for nationals.
For more information on the 25th Annual ASCE National Concrete Canoe Competition, please visit www.asce.org/concretecanoe.