Five College of Engineering and Technology students recently competed and won third place in the 2018 Human Exploration Rover Challenge. The April event, which was held in Huntsville, Alabama, was sponsored by Marshall Space Flight Center and U.S. Space & Rocket Center.
According to a NASA news release, the competition challenged high school and college teams to design, build and test human-powered roving vehicles inspired by the Apollo lunar missions and future exploration missions to the moon, Mars and beyond. This year’s competition challenged teams to complete 14 obstacles and five tasks throughout a half-mile course, with a six-minute supply of “virtual” oxygen.
From left, Morgan Watkins, Dr. Tarek Abdel-Salam (advisor), Andrew Grena, Jameson Morris and Evan Diener (sitting). Not pictured: Tanner Guin. (Contributed photos)
ECU competed against 63 colleges and universities in the Human Exploration Rover Challenge.
The obstacles simulated the terrain found throughout the solar system, and the tasks challenged teams to collect and return samples, take photographs and plant a flag. Teams had to decide which tasks and obstacles to attempt or bypass before their clock expired.
ECU’s team competed against 63 other universities and colleges. They were the only team to complete the entire obstacle course. The team included juniors Evan Diener, Andrew Grena, Tanner Guin, Jameson Morris and Morgan Watkins. Dr. Tarek Abdel-Salam served as the faculty advisor.
“The goal was for these students to take what they learned and apply it to future competitions,” said Abdel-Salam.
Students in the team are members of the college’s American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. The team’s participation in the competition was made possible by the North Carolina Space Grant.
This year marked the second time an ECU team participated in the event.
ECU juniors from the College of Engineering and Technology built a human-powered roving vehicle that had to handle simulated terrain found throughout the solar system.
The Department of Engineering recently inducted 73 graduating engineers and three professionals into the Order of the Engineer during its ninth induction ceremony. (Contributed photos)
The College of Engineering and Technology’s Department of Engineering hosted the Ninth Order of the Engineer induction ceremony on May 2. The basic premise for the Order recognizes the obligation engineers have to each other, the profession and the public they serve.
During the presentation, the new engineers were given a ring to wear on their little finger. The ring symbolizes a dedication to upholding honesty, integrity and lessons learned from their predecessors.
“According to tradition, a twisted iron pipe from an early 1900s bridge failure was sliced into rings and worn by engineers to remind them of their solemn responsibilities and the potential consequences of their work,” said Dr. Gene Dixon, professor in the Department of Engineering.
“The ring signifies the wearer is an engineer who is possessed of a publicly-avowed dedication to his profession and the public it serves.”
A graduate joins the Pirate Engineer Link #269.
With this ceremony, 73 graduating students and three professionals joined the Pirate Engineer Link #269. Links are the local sections of the Order, and ECU’s link was established in 2009 after the accreditation of the college’s engineering program.
Sponsors of this year’s induction ceremony included Goldsboro’s SPX Transformers Solutions and Greenville’s Terracon.
Dixon hosted the induction ceremony. Speakers included Jim Hackney, CEO of the Hackney Group, who provided a history of the Order, and Carl Bonner of Terracon, who spoke about the Order’s significance.
Engineer and ECU 2016 alumna Lindsay Staten, currently an electrical engineer with SPX, spoke to the new inductees to close out the ceremony.
New inductees were given a ring that will serve as a reminder of responsibilities and consequences of their work.
Students from ECU’s College of Engineering and Technology and College of Business will collaborate and learn how to bring their products to market thanks to a new $27,000 grant. (Photos by Michael Rudd)
This collaboration is possible thanks to a $27,000 faculty grant from the VentureWell, which provides funding, immersive workshops and specialized coaching to student STEM innovators to help them move their inventions into the marketplace.
According to Dr. Ranjeet Agarwala, assistant professor with CET’s Department of Technology Systems, one project objective is to strengthen team building, spur innovation and grow entrepreneurship at ECU and in the rural communities it serves.
Dr. Ranjeet Agarwala, second from left, will lead a team of collaborators that will help students to innovate and then pitch their products in future competitions. Also pictured: from left, Dr. Carlyle Rogers, ECU’s Office of Technology Transfer; David Mayo, College of Business and Miller School of Entrepreneurship; and Daniel Zuberbier, Joyner Library.
“We’re going to cross-weave two courses from different disciplines to produce teams that are well-versed in both business and technical expertise,” said Agarwala, who is the project’s principal investigator.
Over a three-year period, 200 CET rapid prototyping and COB entrepreneurial students will form 40 teams, with each team having two CET students with three COB students. The teams’ goal is to design and develop real-world products through engineering and entrepreneurship activities, which will ultimately lead to successful and viable ventures.
“Students will create prototypes of products using rapid prototyping and other advanced manufacturing techniques,” said David Mayo, a COB instructor with the Miller School of Entrepreneurship (MSOE) and project co-principal investigator. “The students will also develop business plans around the products and ultimately will present to groups of angel investors, granting agencies or banks.”
“I’m delighted about this VentureWell grant and thankful for the efforts of Ranjeet and David to build this first-of-its-kind CET-COB collaboration,” said Harry Ploehn, CET dean. “Technological innovation is the starting point for much of tomorrow’s successful entrepreneurship, and this grant will give our students a real educational advantage and the possibility of turning great ideas into startup companies.”
Dr. Carlyle Rogers, licensing associate with ECU’s Office of Technology Transfer, and Daniel Zuberbier, education & instructional technology librarian with ECU’s Joyner Library, will serve as collaborators on the VentureWell grant.
Business students Dagi Bayunga, left, and Katy Stotter, will work with College of Engineering and Technology students to learn how to launch and market innovations.
Student teams will work closely with the MSOE, which will provide support for product development and commercialization. The teams will also have access to mentoring at Joyner Library, ECU’s Idea Lab, the Small Business and Technology Development Center, and through the I-Corps @ ECU program.
With the grant, Agarwala, Mayo, MSOE instructors, university and local representatives will have the ability to send teams to apply for stage one of the VentureWell Entrepreneur-Team program. If chosen, teams will have the opportunity to win $5,000 in funding to help them find the right customers and deliver prototypes.
“The Miller School of Entrepreneurship was established to help all ECU students,” said Stan Eakins, COB dean. “This unique collaboration, I hope, will be the first step of many collaborations with many of our colleges. I look forward to seeing the innovation that will come from this project.”
“Who knows what great things may come of this,” added Ploehn.
First-round voting was recently held for the Pirate Entrepreneurship Challenge, a campus-wide event put on by the College of Business’ Miller School of Entrepreneurship. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)
Nearly 700 East Carolina University students and faculty cast approximately 2,000 votes in the first round of the inaugural Pirate Entrepreneurship Challenge, which recently took place in the sculpture garden between Mendenhall Student Center and the Joyner Library. Fifty-seven student teams pitched their ideas, products or dreams and put them on display during this open-air, tradeshow-style event.
Junior Ze’Ondre Slade, along with partner Klinterica Mitchell, formed one of 57 student teams to participate in the Pirate Entrepreneurship Challenge.
The challenge is the signature business pitch competition sponsored by the College of Business’ Miller School of Entrepreneurship. The entire ECU community was invited to participate, as long as one member of the team was an ECU student. Teams from the College of Business, College of Education, College of Engineering and Technology, College of Fine Arts and Communication, and Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences participated in the event.
Junior Zeondre Slade, a criminal justice major, and junior Klinterica Mitchell, an education major, are co-partners in a venture called SPLASH Learning Center. Both want to combine their passions that started as internships in their hometown of Jacksonville, North Carolina. Their goal is to open a learning-based destination for children that is a safe and secure environment.
“With me working in law, I can use those skills that I have learned throughout my college experience to work in the business,” said Slade.
Sophomore Taylor Hicks entered her existing business, Simple & Sentimental, in this year’s Pirate Entrepreneurship Challenge. If she wins, that money will go to “serve her clients better.”
Twelve teams, six chosen by ECU judges and six chosen from first-round voting, will move on to the second round. From there, five teams will advance to the third and final round and will be paired with individual mentors to help further develop the business concept. The competition concludes in February of 2018 with a total of $20,000 to be split between the first, second and third-round winners.
Taylor Hicks is a sophomore from Winston-Salem. As a freshman in 2016, Hicks started a company called Simple & Sentimental, which provides unique, hand-lettered products. She was an interior design major, but as it began to grow, she switched her major to business administration. The company currently has an Etsy account that has made more than 2,000 sales since opening. Hicks and her company participated in the challenge’s first round, and if she wins the competition, she already has plans for her winnings.
“We would develop a new product line to serve our customers better,” said Hicks. “We figured out what our customers like, and we need to keep going in that direction.”
Dr. Stan Eakins, dean of the College of Business, attended the challenge’s first round and was very encouraged with what he saw.
College of Business Dean Stan Eakins meets with one of the 57 student teams who participated in the Pirate Entrepreneurship Challenge.
“The variety of ideas, products and stories that were on hand was incredible,” said Eakins. “I’m glad these ECU students saw firsthand the entrepreneurial spirit that’s alive and well at the university.”
“We had a number of goals we wanted to accomplish with this challenge,” said Dr. Mike Harris, director of the Miller School. “First and foremost, we wanted to give these future entrepreneurs an outlet to get their ideas out there and an opportunity to make those ideas come alive.”
Harris also said that the challenge was a chance to educate ECU about the Miller School of Entrepreneurship and how its resources are available to anyone at the university.
Round two of the challenge will feature five mentors who will choose five teams based on a five-minute pitch and responses to a three-minute Q&A session. The Miller School will mentor a team based on the popular student vote from round one. This round will take place Wednesday, Nov. 15, from 5-7 p.m.
According to Harris, there will be another challenge next year.
Dr. Ranjeet Agarwala (top left) and students at the Lucille Gorham Intergenerational Center test solar panels and a portable power station. (Photos by Erik Panarusky)
The Lucille Gorham Intergenerational Community Center will soon have some help with its electrical needs thanks to the sun, students and faculty in the East Carolina University College of Engineering and Technology, and a Constellation E2 Energy to Educate grant.
CET students partnered with the center to study its needs, equipment, appliances and layout, then conducted an energy audit to calculate the total energy consumption and the rate of energy consumption on a daily and monthly basis, said Dr. Ranjeet Agarwala, assistant professor in the Department of Technology Systems.
“We had originally talked about putting solar panels on the roof,” Agarwala said, but based on the center’s needs, a more portable and adaptable system was chosen.
The $37,500 grant funded the purchase of 18 100-watt solar panels and nine portable power stations. Each power station can be charged from the solar panels and can provide power for anything from charging a cell phone to running a refrigerator.
Deborah Moody, director of LGCC, said the center’s campus includes six buildings, so the flexibility of the portable systems made perfect sense.
“We wanted it to be simple and never have an excuse not to use it,” she said.
The panels and power packs can be used during outdoor events, instead of running extension cords everywhere. They will also allow the center to function during power outages.
“Last year when we had the hurricane, we still had to come in because the community still has needs,” Moody said. “But we didn’t have any power in the building. So this would allow us to charge our laptops and go to work like we usually do.”
Agarwala shows students at the Lucille Gorham Intergenerational Center how the unit can power a computer.
In addition to offsetting daily energy consumption needs, powering events and emergency use, there’s an educational component. The center has STEM-based after-school and summer programs, and the students will be able to learn about topics ranging from energy conservation to converting units of power.
Each power station has multiple AC and DC outlets, as well as a digital display showing energy input and usage. The panels and the power stations can be connected in different combinations depending on specific energy needs.
During a demonstration of the equipment, the students were able to see how much energy was being generated by the solar panels and the impact of shadows, as well as the amount of energy drawn by a charging cell phone.
“It’s exciting to watch the kids light up,” Moody said. “We want to get them excited and interested in these fields to prime them and train them, and then have them grow up and contribute to the community.
“We also want the youth to help us think of other ways to use these to help save energy. And then they’ll become advocates at home with their parents, and tell them, ‘These are things we can do to save energy in the house.’”
The LGCC opened in 2007 and is operated through a partnership between ECU, the City of Greenville and Pitt Community College. Constellation’s E2 Energy to Educate grants fund student projects focusing on energy science, technology and education.
The solar panels and power stations, funded by an E2 Energy to Educate grant from Constellation, will be used for events, emergency power and daily energy needs at the center.
The College’s Department of Construction Management was recently reaccredited for another six years by the American Council for Construction Education (ACCE). In order to receive reaccreditation, the department had to meet 20 student learning outcomes, which was a new process required by ACCE.
“Previously, the accreditation process was prescriptive-based,” said Dr. Syed Ahmed, department chair. “We, along with a few other universities, were the forerunners of the new outcomes-based approach, and it showed our students are learning what they need to succeed.”
Ahmed said receiving the new accreditation also reflects numerous, positive approaches the department is taking. “Our curriculum is current. Our faculty is qualified. We excel at self assessing. And, our facilities are up-to-date,” he added.
The College of Engineering and Technology’s Department of Construction Management was recently reaccredited. (Photo by Jay Clark)
The reaccreditation has come at a good time. Ahmed sees the construction industry rebounding after a slump around 2006, which resulted in a drop in enrollment. Today, he sees an increase in enrollment across all universities due to growth in commercial and residential construction.
“The construction industry needs more students like our department is producing,” says Ahmed. “Our employment levels are excellent.”
In the spring of 2017, the department graduated 42 students. Of those students, 88 percent have landed a job. Dr. Ahmed is quick to point out that these students will also have a chance to make an exceptional salary upon graduation from college. Over the past 36 months, 62 percent of starting salaries for those with a bachelor’s degree in construction management have a range of $50,000 – $65,000 (and up). The national average is just over $54,000.
“Our students are serving a critical need for the construction industry,” added Ahmed.
As the construction industry grows, along with the demands for college to produce qualified talent, the need for additional faculty also grows.
“It’s a good problem to have,” said Ahmed. “We just need to make sure we can match our high level of student enrollment with the increased need for faculty in the department.”
Last week’s College of Engineering and Technology graduation ceremonies saw a couple of momentous occasions. First, the College’s Department of Engineering graduated its 500th student! Secondly, three students were the first to graduate with a concentration in environmental engineering.
Matthew Edwards, Brian Garrett and Troy Puryear came to the program two years ago and then this past Friday, they became a part of college history.
However, the impetus for this program started when the College wanted to add another engineering concentration almost five years ago. The goal was to create opportunities that would complement the needs of eastern North Carolina.
Pictured, from left to right: Instructor Jeff Foeller, Troy Puryear, Matthew Edwards and Asst. Professor Randall Etheridge, Ph.D. Puryear and Edwards are two of the first three graduates to receive an engineering degree with a concentration in environmental engineering. (contributed photo)
“We sat down internally and asked what’s going to make a good environmental engineer for this area,” said Jeff Foeller, an Instructor with College and one of the architects of the original curriculum. “We have a lot of water and lot of coastline. Therefore, we knew the program should have a water concentration.”
So, the department mapped out the classes, got the curriculum approved and classes were then made available.
Puryear, who is from Greenville, says this concentration appealed to him because he, “wanted the opportunity to work hands-on, in the field; rather than always indoors or in an office.” Puryear is currently an intern at a local firm and has hopes to continue with that firm as a full-time employee.
Along with the intimacy of the program, Edwards chose the environmental concentration because, “my uncle is an environmental engineer, and I’m able to work both outside and inside.” Edwards has accepted a position with an engineering firm in Raleigh.
Though only three graduated in this first group, Foeller expects to double that number over the next year. The goal is to sustain a program that can handle one or two dozen students a year.
“As we’re growing in the East and developing more land, the need for environmental engineers will increase,” said Foeller.
Thanks to a company that “believes strongly in moving toward a better future,” five engineering students from the College of Engineering and Technology are each the recipient of a $1,000 scholarship.
Pictured, from left to right: Patricia Malcolm, Basel Abdelfattah and Laith Damreh. All three are biomedical engineering students who each received a scholarship from TiMOTION. (contributed photos)
In a recent news release, Taiwan’s TiMOTION and its North American Subsidiary awarded these scholarships, which will benefit full-time students of high academic standing who are enrolled in engineering programs. The company considers these awards an investment in the engineers of tomorrow.
Scholarship recipients include:
All five students are from North Carolina
Junior Jamie LoScalzo is a recipient of a $1,000 scholarship from TiMOTION.
Junior Jamie LoScalzo is from New Bern, and she’s currently president of the Dean’s Student Leadership Advisory Council for the College of Engineering and Technology. About the scholarship, she said, “this award helps to alleviate my financial concerns for next semester, and will allow me to focus on my coursework, as well as my extracurricular activities within the college.”
Laith Damreh, a junior from Raleigh, echoed LoScalzo. “This opportunity is very helpful because, with the scholarship, I can work less so I can focus more on my academics.”
Goldsboro’s Malcolm knew from an early age that paying for her education would fall squarely on her shoulders. “My parents told me from a very early age that they would not pay for my college education and that I would be responsible for it myself,” she said. “Getting this scholarship will allow me to continue pursuing my education goals.”
Abdelfattah is from Greenville. Like the other ECU scholarship recipients, this scholarship will have an impact. “It’s motivation for me to work diligently for academic success,” said Abdelfattah. “The scholarship will help lessen the impact of my tuition costs.”
As part of this funding, TiMOTION said it will provide “products for classroom learning and projects.”
TiMOTION is an industry-leading provider of electric linear actuators worldwide.
Between 9 p.m. Feb. 23 and 8 a.m. Feb. 24, 16 students from the College of Engineering and Technology (CET), the College of Business (COB) and other University colleges came together to help launch a company.
The College of Business’ Student Technology Center hosted a hackathon where these students created a website, or what they call a web store, for gamers, musicians, writers, artists, etc., to sell their content.
Computer Sciences Senior Patrick Luy, left, works with Samuel Carraway, computer sciences, junior, on a business model canvas during the hackathon. (Photos by Michael Rudd)
“I was working on a project in my spare time,” said Samuel Carraway, a CET junior from Chapel Hill. “I wanted to make it a reality.”
Carraway said he participated in two hackathons off campus and that’s where the idea germinated to have a hackathon at the University. He presented the idea to the recently formed student organization, EPIC or Empowering Pioneers through Innovative Culture, which includes students from all over the University who have an entrepreneurial spirit.
To help cultivate that spirit, COB’s Miller School of Entrepreneurship and instructor David Mayo oversaw that hackathon’s proceedings. Though these types of events are usually software intensive, Mayo believes it’s important to have a business component, as well.
“This hackathon not only produced a product, but we also came out with a business model that makes that product useful for the owner and the customer,” said Mayo. “Entrepreneurship acts as a bridge for that innovation.”
“We liked this collaborative atmosphere and having people from different majors and backgrounds come together,” said CET senior and EPIC co-president, Magus Pereira. “The hackathon was a good experience.”
The Feb. 23 & 24 hackathon included students from both the College of Engineering and Technology and the College of Business.
Along with the new web store, a business plan was also finalized to help the store go to market. Teams of engineering and business students focused on three areas: the building of the website, a Kickstarter campaign, and a business model canvas. Business senior Christopher Rudkowski joined the hackathon and was anxious to take what he’s learned and put it to practical use. He said, “I’ve never been so immersed in a situation where we can get together and make something work.”
Business senior Dakota Votaw had never participated in a hackathon, but he’s glad he joined in this one. “It was a very positive experience for everyone,” he said. “I don’t think anyone left there thinking it was a wasted night.”
-by Michael Rudd, College of Engineering & Technology