Category Archives: Community

Make-a-thon inspires innovation

East Carolina University students brought new ideas and innovations to the university’s BrainSTORM make-a-thon event on Oct. 4, offering fresh perspectives to problems that plague communities after natural disasters.

Nearly 60 students attended the seven-hour event at the university’s Innovation Design Lab, exploring problems encountered by families, businesses and first responders, and prototyping solutions to those challenges.

East Carolina University alumnus Magus Pereria tests a laser sensor that detects the depth of water at the university’s make-a-thon event. The event brought students and mentors together to develop ideas to combat challenges that arise from natural and man-made disasters.

East Carolina University alumnus Magus Pereria tests a laser sensor that detects the depth of water at the university’s make-a-thon event. The event brought students and mentors together to develop ideas to combat challenges that arise from natural and man-made disasters. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

ECU innovators developed plans to provide power through interchangeable batteries to those affected by power outages during disasters; investigated how they could collect and distribute data during disasters using existing infrastructure that could help inform emergency management decision making; and worked on sensors that could detect food spoilage during disaster events.

Senior Austin Rabah, a business management major, said he learned about BrainSTORM through one of his classes.

“This was my first time attending such an event,” Rabah said. “Because of it, I was able to come out of my comfort zone to try to help hurricane victims. I learned a lot about technology development, more specifically the actual amount of work that goes into creating items that could make a difference (in a time of need).”

The make-a-thon, hosted by ECU’s Miller School of Entrepreneurship, Innovation Design Lab, and Division of Research, Economic Development and Engagement, was broken into three sessions. During the morning session, students learned about disaster response and recovery basics during both natural and man-made disasters. The afternoon session saw students split into teams and identify potential disaster issues before building a prototype or business plan in the afternoon session.

Pereira and David Mayo, right, work on the laser sensor during the make-a-thon event.

Pereira and David Mayo, right, work on the laser sensor during the make-a-thon event.

While hurricane relief weighed heavy on the minds of many students, the prototypes developed by the participants weren’t only storm related. A major component of the event was producing solutions that could be used in many types disasters, whether they be hurricanes, floods, earthquakes or even terrorist attacks.

“I believe they learned a lot about the innovation process and how entrepreneurship can help others,” said David Mayo, a teaching instructor with the Miller School of Entrepreneurship and BrainSTORM coordinator. “One day these students may create ventures that can make an impact on their community and the world. It’s not just about making money, it’s about doing good.”

Mayo said the students worked diligently on solutions that could scale beyond just the Greenville community.

“They saw that they can make a big impact in their community by working toward solutions to tough problems, but we really wanted them to think about the big picture,” he said. “Our students can create solutions that really scale. They don’t have to just help in one or two disasters, they can be used across the globe to help a lot of people.”

Rabah agreed and hopes that in the future, even more ECU students will participate in events like the make-a-thon and share their potential ideas.

“I think the make-a-thon was extremely beneficial for all students,” Rahab said. “I really think we should market the event to everyone on campus, not just for business majors, but for everyone who might have even the slightest inclination to help.”

Learn more about how you can help victims of Hurricane Florence at East Carolina Undaunted.

The laser sensor detects the depth of water.

The laser sensor detects the depth of water.

 

-by Matt Smith, University Communications

ECU one of 18 campuses partnering to address food insecurity in NC

North Carolina Campus Compact has joined forces with Food Lion Feeds to launch a Collegiate Challenge that will mobilize colleges and universities to address hunger in their local communities.

East Carolina University is among a group of 18 geographically diverse schools — including four-year colleges and universities and two-year community colleges — that will host events to raise awareness about hunger in partnership with their local food banks, on-campus pantries and local Food Lion stores.

Winning schools can receive $10,000 for the most engagement and creativity on campus, and a second award of $10,000 will be presented to the campus that collects the most food – adjusted for school size – in a food drive. Funds will support hunger-related initiatives; ECU plans to use the funds to support the Purple Pantry, an on-campus initiative tackling food insecurity among the student population. The Collegiate Challenge began in September and runs through December.

“We are excited to partner with N.C. Campus Compact and these 18 campuses that are already doing so much around food insecurity,” said Pat Taft, community relations manager for Food Lion. “It is a natural fit for us because we are passionate about feeding our neighbors who shop with us and those who may have the difficult task of choosing between rent and gas and groceries. We want to encourage the great work these students are already doing and by supporting their efforts we can broaden the reach of our hunger relief efforts in the towns and cities we serve.”

Hannah Grant

Hannah Grant (Contributed photo)

ECU has selected Hannah Grant, a senior studying social work, to lead the campaign. Grant was selected because of her passion to address hunger and her work this summer with the Purple Pantry. Through this experience, she saw firsthand how food insecurity affects the students at ECU and how it, in turn, affects the whole community. The faculty/staff mentor is Nichelle Shuck, associate director in the Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement.

For more information contact Hannah Grant at granth15@students.ecu.edu or follow on social media at @ECUCLCE or #FoodLionFeeds.

 

-Contact: Nichelle E. Shuck, associate director, Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement, 252-328-6979 or shuckn@ecu.edu

Student event at ECU combines innovation, hurricane relief

An event geared toward students aims to bring innovative ideas to disaster relief efforts as eastern North Carolina continues to recover from the effects of Hurricane Florence.

On Thursday, Oct. 4, East Carolina University will host BrainSTORM, a “make-a-thon” exhibition that brings student teams together for a seven-hour period to create products to help communities recover after natural disasters. During the session, students will explore problems encountered by families, businesses and first responders during natural disasters, create ideas to solve those problems and develop prototypes for potential solutions.

Modeled after popular “hack-a-thons,” BrainSTORM will challenge student innovation by providing tools and resources for creative problem solving around specific needs.

The event is hosted by ECU’s Miller School of Entrepreneurship, Innovation Design Lab, and Division of Research, Economic Development and Engagement.

David Mayo, a teaching instructor with the Miller School of Entrepreneurship and leader for BrainSTORM, said the event offers a unique opportunity for students to positively impact distressed regions in eastern North Carolina.

“This event is important because it allows students to create scalable solutions that can impact many lives,” Mayo said. “When we think of disaster recovery, many times we think about cutting tree limbs or handing out water bottles. However, if we can come up with creative solutions to help with disaster prevention, make logistics more efficient in flooded areas, or create early warning systems, we can improve outcomes for many instead of a few.”

Faculty members will be on hand to guide students through the creation process and provide technical development expertise, if needed.

BrainSTORM will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at ECU’s Innovation Design Lab at Suite 100, 211 S. Jarvis St.

Students can register online; however registration is not required to participate.

 

What: BrainSTORM Make-A-Thon

When: Thursday, Oct. 4, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Where: Innovation Design Lab, Suite 110, 211 S. Jarvis St.

 

-Contact: Matt Smith, University Communications, smithmatt17@ecu.edu or 252-737-5423

Called to serve: ECU Police assist NC agencies after Hurricane Florence

ECU officers mobilized to assist UNC Pembroke, a UNC System campus that had heavy flooding.

ECU officers mobilized to assist UNC Pembroke, a UNC System campus that had heavy flooding. (Photos contributed by ECU Police)

Since Hurricane Florence struck eastern North Carolina two weeks ago, groups across East Carolina University have stepped up to help, including the ECU Police Department.

In the aftermath of the hurricane, ECU Police Officers immediately mobilized to assist other UNC System institutions and neighboring communities that received catastrophic damage from the storm. Many areas suffered damage from high winds, but it was the flooding during and immediately after the storm that caused thousands of families, businesses and students to be displaced or lose their homes.

“Fortunately we survived the hurricane with minimal impact to our campus and the City of Greenville,” said Jon Barnwell, ECU police chief. “Those east of us weren’t so lucky. When ECU was asked to help, it was exciting to see how many officers selflessly volunteered to assist those affected by the storm.”

Officers from ECU traveled to UNC Pembroke, UNC Wilmington and the Town of New Bern to assist local law enforcement. The first group headed south to UNC Pembroke, which is located in Robeson County, one of the areas that received heavy flood damage. Assistant Chief Jason Sugg and three additional ECU officers worked at UNCP for three days.

ECUPD at UNCP

ECUPD at UNCP

“They had a few trees down, but most of the campus was under 6 inches to 2 feet of water. Several buildings had water damage and there were many flooded areas in town,” said Sugg.

ECU along with officers from N.C. State University, North Carolina A&T and the N.C. Arboretum assisted with damage assessments and general patrol duties. They also supported swift water rescue task forces from Oklahoma and Colorado and the National Guard by monitoring their equipment while they were stationed at UNCP.

UNC Wilmington sustained a great deal of damage across its campus, and ECU sent five officers to assist with traffic posts to keep campus closed. UNCW officials described their campus as a “construction zone” in the days following Hurricane Florence. Workers were cutting so many trees and large limbs, officers had to make sure joggers and sightseers were not wandering around the campus.

ECUPD at UNCW

ECUPD at UNCW

In New Bern, many neighborhoods were so damaged that checkpoints were established allowing only those who had business in the areas to get through. ECU provided four officers for four days to patrol and work residency check points in closed neighborhoods.

“I couldn’t be more proud of the men and women who make up this department, and it warms my heart to be a part of the Pirate Nation,” said Barnwell.

In addition to officers volunteering to help other agencies, ECUPD collected school supplies for the schools in Grifton. It was one of the areas that faced flooding during Hurricane Matthew in 2016, and more flooding occurred after Hurricane Florence. Groups from across campus contributed to the supply drive, including the College of Education, News Services and Student Affairs. Officers delivered 50 book bags filled with supplies and an additional 2,500 items were donated.

 

-by Jamie Smith, ECU News Services

ECU Hurricane Florence food drive off to fast start

East Carolina University’s efforts to help those affected by Hurricane Florence are off to a quick start thanks to early success from its community-wide food drive.

During its first week, the food drive – led by East Carolina Undaunted and the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina – brought in more than 6,200 pounds of water, food and household supplies. In all, 10 pallets were filled with supplies, servicing 10 counties in eastern North Carolina with the capacity to serve nearly 5,300 meals.

East Carolina University faculty, staff and student volunteers sort food at ECU’s Hurricane Florence Food Drive held in partnership with the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina. As of Monday, the food drive brought in more than 6,200 pounds of water, food and household supplies.

East Carolina University faculty, staff and student volunteers sort food at ECU’s Hurricane Florence Food Drive held in partnership with the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina. As of Monday, the food drive brought in more than 6,200 pounds of water, food and household supplies. (Contributed photos)

The food drive, held at the Willis Building across from Greenville’s Town Common at 300 E. First St., continues through Sept. 29. The food drive is open from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday. Those wishing to donate are asked to bring canned fruits and vegetables, canned meat and fish, canned beans and soup, hygiene products, household cleaning supplies, and other non-perishable items.

George Young, eastern regional director for the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina, said so far the community’s response has been “awesome.”

“I think the people of Greenville are appreciative of what they’ve been through in the past,” Young said. “They missed the bullseye of the storm this time, but they realize families and friends in other areas are in need and how important this outreach is.

“These in-kind donations are vital to helping those impacted by the storm,” he said. “Those affected by Hurricane Florence may not be able to get to a grocery store, or their grocery store is without food or power. We’re able to take these items, put them into family packs and put them to good use.”

A volunteer helps load supplies from ECU’s Hurricane Florence Food Drive into a truck for the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina.

A volunteer helps load supplies from ECU’s Hurricane Florence Food Drive into a truck for the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina.

ECU has been able to provide critical assistance through its Hurricane Florence recovery support team – East Carolina Undaunted – and its hurricane recovery website. As of Monday, ECU has received 38 nonemergency assistance requests, including 29 individual and eight community requests. Additionally, the university’s Small Business Technology and Development Center joined forces with the U.S. Small Business Administration to open a business recovery center – the only such center currently operating in the region.

In total, 537 students, faculty, staff and community members have registered to volunteer through the site, totaling 817 volunteer hours. Additionally, the university has raised more than $4,000 toward hurricane recovery efforts.

“The way ECU has approached this food drive, including having a central contact person and location, has been invaluable,” Young said. “ECU volunteers have brought in the food, sorted the items and helped get them packed and on the way out to those in need. We’ve really appreciated them taking our most-needed list and sharing it with the community.”

The Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina serves 34 counties, including 10 from its Greenville branch. The 35-year-old program partners with 800 food agencies across the state, providing food to families suffering from food insecurity and natural disasters like Hurricane Florence.

“The successful first week of our food drive is just the start on the road to recovery for those in eastern North Carolina after Hurricane Florence,” said Jay Golden, vice chancellor for research, economic development and engagement at ECU. “The community support we’ve received so far has been monumental. I urge ECU students, faculty, staff and community members to visit our Florence Recovery website to sign-up for volunteer opportunities and continue the university’s tradition of serving others.”

Visit FlorenceRecovery.ecu.edu to volunteer and get connected with ECU’s hurricane recovery efforts. Learn more about the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina at foodbankcenc.org.

 

-by Matt Smith, University Communications

State releases data on lab school performance

Students work at their desks at the ECU Community School.

Students work at their desks at the ECU Community School. (Contributed photos)

On Wednesday, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction released the first year of data on student achievement at UNC System Laboratory Schools at Western Carolina University and East Carolina University.

State test results show that more than half of the students at Catamount School at WCU met proficiency benchmarks, with 65 percent of students scoring proficient in reading. Students enrolled in the ECU Community School — the overwhelming majority of whom are from economically disadvantaged families — met expected growth targets in reading and math.

The data also reveal clear areas for improvement. The UNC System Office and the UNC Board of Governors Subcommittee on Laboratory Schools will continue to monitor these issues and work towards finding solutions.

“The General Assembly challenged our universities to build new K-12 schools that expand opportunity for some of the state’s most underserved students,” said UNC System President Margaret Spellings. “As first adopters, our lab schools at ECU and Western have stepped up to that challenge with optimism and creativity, and I commend them for their hard work. At the same time, we all know there is much more work to be done to ensure that this next generation of students is well-equipped for college and career, and we stand ready to support the Catamount School and the ECU Community School in their continued efforts to increase student achievement.”

Students enrolled in the ECU Community School — the overwhelming majority of whom are from economically disadvantaged families — met expected growth targets in reading and math.

Students enrolled in the ECU Community School — the overwhelming majority of whom are from economically disadvantaged families — met expected growth targets in reading and math.

“I applaud the leaders, faculty, and staff at Western Carolina and ECU for their hard work in getting brand new schools up and running on a very tight timeline,” UNC Board of Governors member and Subcommittee Chair Phil Byers said. “The parents who have chosen to enroll their children in our lab schools have entrusted the UNC System with a great responsibility. While much of the new data is encouraging, the results also indicate the size of the challenge that our institutions have gladly taken on. Our subcommittee is committed to high expectations for our lab schools, and we will continue to provide whatever support we can to ensure that these first two schools, along with the three that opened this summer, are successful.”

In addition to the Lab Schools at ECU and Western Carolina, three additional schools opened this fall: Appalachian Academy at Middle Fork in Walkertown (Appalachian State University), Moss Street Partnership School in Reidsville (UNC Greensboro), and the DC Virgo Preparatory Academy in Wilmington (UNC Wilmington).

 

-Contact: ECU News Services, 252-328-6481, ecunews@ecu.edu

Sylvan Heights Bird Park, ECU announce formal collaboration

Sylvan Heights Bird Park and East Carolina University officials have approved a formal collaboration to boost interdisciplinary research alliances and preserve endangered waterfowl.

The collaboration allows both parties to support their organizational missions through developing, promoting and implementing mutually beneficial projects and activities.

Sylvan Heights Bird Park board of directors chairman Don Butler (from left), Sylvan Heights executive director and founder Mike Lubbock, and East Carolina University vice chancellor for research, economic development and engagement Jay Golden celebrate after signing a collaboration agreement between Sylvan Heights and ECU.

Sylvan Heights Bird Park board of directors chairman Don Butler (from left), Sylvan Heights executive director and founder Mike Lubbock, and ECU vice chancellor for research, economic development and engagement Jay Golden celebrate after signing a collaboration agreement between Sylvan Heights and ECU. (Photos by Rhett Butler)

Sylvan Heights and ECU will use their alliance to combat global challenges and encourage interdisciplinary research. The collaboration will focus on preserving endangered species and conserving their habitats in addition to projects focused on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education and related work.

The deal allows ECU to create a research facility, ECU at Sylvan Heights, at the bird park in Scotland Neck. The facility catalyzes joint endeavors between the park and the academic community by: advancing community-based conservation of waterfowl and wetlands, both domestically and abroad; providing practical, hands-on learning opportunities for ECU students across majors and disciplines; advancing the development of aviculturists, biologists, educators, researchers and scientists; and furthering scientific research and discovery at a world-class facility that houses more than 2,000 waterfowl, toucans, flamingos and other exotic birds from around the world.

“The announcement of this collaborative working relationship between ECU and Sylvan Heights is a very important and exciting development,” said Don Butler, chairman of the board of directors at Sylvan Heights Bird Park. “This agreement will be mutually beneficial to ECU and Sylvan Heights and will provide unique opportunities to engage and prepare the next generation of avian conservationists to help save the waterfowl of the world.”

In the past, ECU and Sylvan Heights teamed up to advance scientific discovery through a number of research projects, including National Science Foundation-funded research conducted at the park. The pair have also collaborated to provide student internships, offer a lecture series by ECU graduate students, host Earth Day events and introduce Pitt County students to the bird park through ECU’s Biodiversity Initiative.

Butler and Golden ink a collaboration agreement between Sylvan Heights and ECU.

Butler and Golden ink a collaboration agreement between Sylvan Heights and ECU.

“This is an exciting opportunity to catapult ECU into a space rarely occupied by academic institutions,” said Jay Golden, vice chancellor for research, economic development and engagement at ECU. “No other program across the country has a formal collaboration such as this. We see opportunities for student projects and faculty research that extend into all facets of our university, including science, engineering, computing, business, social science and the humanities. Sylvan Heights provides the university with a rich set of opportunities to explore.”

Sylvan Heights Bird Park’s mission of educating the next generation of waterfowl conservationists will continue at ECU this October with the 2018 Waterfowl Conservation Workshop. The event is designed to foster collaboration between conservationists, biologists and aviculturists specializing in wild waterfowl. Sylvan Heights and ECU will also explore the potential for student assistantships and research projects focusing on wetland restoration, renewable energy and the conservation of endangered international waterfowl.

For more information on Sylvan Heights Bird Park, visit http://shwpark.com/.

 

-by Matt Smith, University Communications

Science Adventure Day gives children a head start

Area students got a head start on the school year at ECU’s Summer Science Adventure Day, where they learned some of the practical applications of science while building robots, examining DNA and making ice cream.

Thirty-five children in grades 2-8 participated in the inaugural event on Aug. 15, which featured five hands-on sessions.

Dr. Sunghan Kim explains how a robot works during the Summer Science Adventure Day at ECU on Aug. 15.

Dr. Sunghan Kim explains how a robot works during the Summer Science Adventure Day at ECU on Aug. 15. (Photos by Rhett Butler)

The event was organized by the ECU Korean Faculty Interest Group, the Korean Association in the Greenville Area and the Korean-American Scientists and Engineers Association of Greenville.

One of the goals for the day was to offer children an opportunity to see the real-life applications for some of the lessons they learn in school. This year, the focus was on STEM fields, which included learning more about biology by looking at DNA in a mock crime scene analysis, exploring engineering and technology by building robots and learning about drones, and developing an understanding about the chemistry behind liquid nitrogen ice cream.

Organizers of the event hope to offer similar programs in the future, with an eye toward focusing on additional subjects.

Engineering graduate student Austin White works with participants in the Summer Science Adventure Day.

Engineering graduate student Austin White works with participants during the Summer Science Adventure Day.

“We envision that this event can be continued in the coming years, potentially with broader focuses than just basic science or STEM to give children more opportunities to experience application of different studies and application of knowledge they have obtained from their regular academic curriculum,” said Dr. Young Kim, assistant professor in the College of Allied Health Sciences’ Department of Occupational Therapy, who helped to organize the event.

While open to all children, the event was aimed at giving children from minority communities a chance to interact with others who share similar backgrounds. Participants this year included children with Asian, African-American and Hispanic heritage, as well as children from non-minority groups.

“I believe that, through this event, children who are a minority in the Greenville community may feel more inclusion by interacting with children who may have similar cultural background in the context of hands-on, interactive topics,” Kim said. “This type of event is also beneficial for children who are not a minority because it is a great opportunity for them to experience the diversity in the community by interacting with children with diverse cultural backgrounds, as well as with faculty and instructors who have different cultural backgrounds.”

 

-Natalie Sayewich, University Communications

Summer athletic camps showcase ECU

Hundreds of area school-age children took part in various summer athletic camps at East Carolina University this year. The camps ranged from volleyball to football and all points in-between.

The camps gave the young athletes, from grade school to high school, a chance to interact with ECU coaches and players and learn the Pirate way. They also learned different training techniques and proper form. Some of the kids who took part may one day end up playing for the purple and gold, so getting them on the field, court or diamond is a great way to showcase what ECU has to offer.

 

-by Rich Klindworth, ECU News Services

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