Undergraduate student research programs wrap up

The ECU College of Engineering and Technology hosted 10-week research experiences for undergraduate this summer, completing the program in early August. Above, participants learn about presenting research in a poster session. (Contributed photo)

The ECU College of Engineering and Technology hosted 10-week research experiences for undergraduates this summer, completing the program in early August. Pictured above, participants learned about presenting research in a poster session. (Contributed photo)

By Margaret Turner
ECU College of Engineering and Technology

Undergraduate students from East Carolina University and more than 10 other universities spent the summer learning about research practices in the College of Engineering and Technology.

The ECU departments of computer science and engineering each hosted a 10-week Research Experience for Undergraduates, or REU, which ended Aug. 1. The programs were funded by grants offered through the National Science Foundation.

Eleven students participated in the computer science REU titled “Software Testing:  Foundations, Applications, and Tools.” Students selected their own research topics, which included developing and testing a neural network-based spam-detection system, collecting and analyzing data from a social network system, building a dynamic program analysis prototype and testing mobile computing systems.

Students also attended seminars with guest speakers such as ECU computer science associate professor Dr. Ronnie Smith, who discussed frontiers in artificial intelligence, Dr. Mary Farwell, interim assistant vice chancellor and director of undergraduate research, who offered advice on undergraduate research, and Dr. Ernest Marshburn, director of research development, who provided information on graduate fellowship programs. Students took field trips to the Brody School of Medicine’s robotics research and training center and the biomedical laser lab in the physics department.

Delaney Rhodes, a rising senior at Georgia College in Milledgeville, Georgia, said she and Kevin Kulp, also from Georgia College, heard about the program from a former REU student who attended last year’s summer program at ECU. “I feel more prepared for graduate school,” said Kulp, who plans to pursue a graduate degree after graduation in May. Rhodes and Kulp said they enjoyed meeting other students and being on a large campus.

Engineering hosted eight students from seven different universities, including two ECU students for the REU titled “Biomedical Engineering in Simulation, Imaging, and Modeling.” Dr. Stephanie George, ECU assistant professor of engineering, and Dr. Zac Domire, ECU associate professor of kinesiology, collaborated on the NSF grant to fund the program.

Student research projects included testing viscosity and velocity related to nanofiber production, developing predictors of bone geometry in physically active populations and exploring modeling and simulation in biomedical applications.

“The goal of the REU program is to provide experiences that students may not have at their home institutions, to increase their interest and knowledge in graduate school, while also promoting diversity at this level,” George said. “Student summer research experiences will help to create a competitive graduate school application.”

The department of engineering was recently approved to offer its first graduate degree program, a master’s in biomedical engineering, beginning this fall.

Participants were treated to an ice cream social and attended several lunch seminars where topics included how to apply to graduate school, what to expect at a research conference and how to compose a scientific poster.

Share

ECU engineering student awarded SMART scholarship

An East Carolina University junior is one of approximately 150 engineering students nationwide to receive a prestigious scholarship.

Swink

Swink

Jacob Swink of Roanoke Rapids was awarded the Science, Mathematics And Research for Transformation (SMART) scholarship by the American Society for Engineering Education and the U.S. Department of Defense. Approximately 1,900 applications were received.

The scholarship was established to support both undergraduate and graduate students pursuing degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. It aims to increase the number of civilian scientists and engineers who work in national defense laboratories, according to the scholarship website.

The scholarship will cover Swink’s full tuition and books through the completion of his engineering degree at ECU – an estimated value of more than $14,700. It also will pay for a graduate degree program should he choose to pursue one. The award includes a $35,000 stipend each year, as well as a summer internship and post-graduation employment with Fleet Readiness Center East, the engineering support group for marine and naval aircraft, at Marine Corps Air Station – Cherry Point.

Swink believes he was selected because of his relatively high GPA and summer work experience. He also is an Eagle Scout. “I was asked multiple questions about that, and the interviewers expressed what a great accomplishment that was,” he said.

Swink was accepted into multiple engineering programs but chose ECU because of its size. “My engineering classes have no more than 30 students in them, and I enjoy the attention the professor gives each student,” he said.

Swink is the son of David and Nina Swink. His mother has a master’s degree in math from ECU.

ECU’s engineering program, established 10 years ago, has 520 students enrolled and resides in the College of Engineering and Technology.

For more information about the SMART scholarship program, visit https://smart.asee.org/ or to learn more about the ECU engineering program, visit www.ecu.edu/cet/.

Share

Capstone projects provide a way to give back to the community

As part of their capstone project, ECU students assist with technology at the Greenville Boys and Girls Club. (Contributed photo)

As part of their capstone project, ECU students assist with technology at the Boys and Girls Club of Pitt County. (Contributed photo)

By Margaret Turner
College of Engineering and Technology

Students in East Carolina University’s College of Engineering and Technology helped revamp information technology systems and make process improvements for two Pitt County agencies dedicated to improving the lives of children.

The Boys and Girls Club of Pitt County, and the TEDI BEAR Children’s Advocacy Center in the Brody School of Medicine hosted senior capstone teams in the 2013-2014 year.

A capstone project is an assignment that serves as a student’s culminating academic experience, resulting in a final product, presentation or performance. The term means “high point” or “crowning achievement.”

The projects are designed to encourage students to think critically, solve problems, conduct research and develop oral communication, public speaking, teamwork and planning skills. At ECU, the capstone project often has been a way to connect and support the university’s strategic initiatives of leadership, service and economic prosperity in eastern North Carolina.

Senior information and computer technology students Richard Everhart, Ben McKinzie, Trevor Dildy, Daniel Pennington and Lindsey Esslinger worked at the Boys and Girls Club in Winterville. Misty Marston, director of the Boys and Girls Club, identified technological areas that needed improvement to help the organization continue to grow and provide services to more Pitt County children.

Some of the technology needs included faster infrastructure, increased reliability, secure access to files and remote access for leaders who may be traveling or working from another site. The upgrades allow for a more stable information technology platform.

“Knowing the project was going to benefit such a worthy cause gave it more of a purpose than just completing a job,” Everhart said. “We got a chance to see how hard the staff at the club works and how passionate they are about improving the lives of children they work with.”

Engineering students Bobby Cox, William Gurkin, and Patricia Pigg completed another community project at the TEDI BEAR Children’s Advocacy Center, which provides child-centered and comprehensive services by experts in the field of child abuse.

Many parents scheduled for initial evaluation failed to show up, thus missing out on the help they needed and filling appointment slots other patients might have taken. The students developed new reminder systems and processes designed to decrease the number of missed appointments. As a result, there has been a significant drop in missed appointments, which will allow more children to be seen on an annual basis.

“The engineering students were the best group of student learners I have supervised in my ten years at ECU,” said Julie Gill, TEDI BEAR director and capstone supervisor. “I have no doubt of the significant positive impact this project will have for improving our ability to serve abused children in our region.”

Dr. Charles Lesko, assistant professor of information and computer technology, mentors each capstone team in his department. “One of the biggest challenges to any capstone program is finding projects with meaning and value,” he said. “I challenge the students to find projects to work on that will add value both to their education as well as to others. It’s a tremendous feeling when you can take the skills you have learned at the college and impact the lives of others.”

In 2007, information and computer technology and engineering began requiring yearlong capstone projects for senior students. The information and computer technology program is housed within the technology systems department. Both departments reside in the College of Engineering and Technology. Most departments in the college require an internship or capstone project, or provide opportunities for both.

 

 

 

Share

Center for Sustainability Announces 2013-2014 Outstanding Affiliate Faculty Member

Dr. Scott Curtis, associate professor in the Department of Geography, Planning and Environment, has been selected for the 2013-2014 Outstanding Affiliate Faculty Member of the Year Award for the Center for Sustainability. The Center for Sustainability is housed in the College of Engineering and Technology at ECU.

Curtis

              Curtis

Since 2008, Curtis has contributed to both the Center’s research and outreach activities and to the learning experiences of the students pursuing the master’s in sustainable tourism.

As the faculty lead in the Climate, Weather and Tourism Initiative, Curtis co-hosted the first Southeast U.S. Regional workshop for tourism businesses, researchers and policy-makers, chaired a master’s thesis addressing information use in decision-making by tourism businesses and conducted a focus group of tourism business owners in Beaufort, North Carolina on the effects of weather on tourism products and services.

Curtis received his bachelor’s in environmental sciences at the University of Virginia and then received his master’s and doctorate in atmospheric and oceanic sciences from the University of Wisconsin. His research areas include climate variability and smallholder farming in the Caribbean, climate, weather, and tourism and coastal storms.

Curtis co-authored the “Climate, Weather and Tourism: Bridging Science and Practice” publication, has presented at six conferences on behalf of the Center, developed the Seasonal Weather and Tourism Dispatch and contributed to the National Climate Assessment- Southeast Climate Consortium report. He participates in a wide range of Center- and student-sponsored events.

- Margaret Turner

Share

Passion, persistence leads to success for ECU student

Anthony Peterson

Anthony Peterson

By Margaret Turner
ECU College of Engineering and Technology

At the end of July, at least one East Carolina University senior will be working full time in the Research Triangle area for Cisco, an international networking company.

Anthony Peterson Jr., a Sampson County native and first generation college student, is expected to graduate magna cum laude May 9 with a bachelor’s degree in information and computer technology. The program is in the Department of Technology Systems in the College of Engineering and Technology. Peterson spent a year at Cisco as an intern in their Customer Advocacy Lab Operations.

Peterson developed a passion for technology in high school. “I tinkered around a lot with computers in high school so I knew I wanted to work in information technology when I came to ECU,” he said. “The program is really hands-on, which is what attracted me.”

After initially being turned down for an internship with Cisco, Peterson was persistent and tried a second time. John Pickard, a teaching instructor in the information and computer technology program, encouraged him to “go for it and get your name out there.”

He was hired and agreed to intern for six months, while taking night and online classes so he wouldn’t have to postpone his graduation date. After his first six months, he stayed on for another six-month internship, earning several certifications through Cisco along the way.

Peterson credits his strong work ethic to his parents, Anthony Peterson Sr. and Charlene Peterson, both of whom work for the public school system in Sampson County. “I’ve seen them work hard their entire lives,” he added.

While at Cisco, Peterson became well known for his work ethic. He even mentored fellow interns. “Working at Cisco provided me with real world examples and lots of lessons of how to succeed in this world,” Peterson said. “It also showed me a glimpse of what’s in store for my future. My interpersonal skills grew and I just grew better as a person.”

After the internship, Peterson was able to share his newfound knowledge and skills with underclassmen when he returned to ECU and worked as a lab monitor.

“Anthony is an outstanding student and has excelled in our ICT program,” Pickard said. “His high level of maturity and ability to handle responsibility led me to hire him as a lab worker in our networking lab for multiple semesters. His hard work and determination have definitely paid off, and I know he will excel in his next endeavor.”

Peterson set several goals early on to “finish high school, then college, and then, to get a good degree with a job in hand.

“I know my parents are proud of me, and it makes me happy to make them proud,” he said.

 

 

Share