Category Archives: Students

Maritime students go from surveying WWII sites underwater to local outreach

ECU maritime studies program professor Dr. Jennifer McKinnon and several graduate students are in Saipan this summer to conduct archaeological surveys of surrounding waters to locate and document sites related to World War II. McKinnon and the students – including Ryan Miranda, who details some of the experience in a personal account below – hope their work will lead to identifying possible sites containing the remains of missing servicemen.

This is the third post from the trip. Read the first and second posts to learn more about the journey to Saipan and the importance of the trip.

Bird Island

Bird Island (Contributed photos)

As we fly on top of the crystal blue waters in the zodiac boat, multiple thoughts run through my head: the plan for the day, my job during the dives and what types of materials we are looking for. Scanning the horizon, I imagine how 74 years ago it would be filled with the huge metal masses of United States Navy ships.

Our field school has been underway for the past few weeks and it’s been an amazing experience. For me, the best way to learn the techniques and methods of the archaeological process has been being in the field or, in our case, on the water. We’ve dived, snorkeled and have become a lean, mean surveying machine.

As the field school progresses, our knowledge and execution of archaeological methods such as six-person snorkel surveys, side scan sonar lines or two-person dive circle searches has improved. We were even able to help conduct surveys with a Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV) that was provided and driven by one of our partners.

We also conducted public outreach about our research and the overall mission.

Several maritime students appeared on radio shows, the local news and classmate Joel Cook and I talked to several classes at Kagman High School on the island. Our camaraderie has grown as well. On the boats, we talk, joke and grow closer as a group.

Joel Cook and Ryan Miranda with Kagman High School students. (Contributed photos)

Joel Cook and Ryan Miranda with Kagman High School students.

But while we have been working hard, we also have been taking time to explore Saipan and the massive amount of history here. We have walked into a Japanese bomb bunker, machine gun emplacements, visited Banzai and Suicide Cliffs and looked at the ancient paintings at Kalabera Cave.

Japanese Bomb Magazine where explosives were stored prior to and during the war

Japanese Bomb Magazine, where explosives were stored prior to and during the war

A special treat came on the final day of jumping targets when we finished early and were able to dive at some of the better-known sites on the WWII Maritime Heritage Trail: Battle of Saipan. We were able to explore downed aircraft and shipwrecks and marvel at the amount of preservation. It reminded all of us why we chose this field of study.

As our work turns from being on the water to being behind a computer, we realize how much we have achieved and the area we have covered. Personally, I am amazed and surprised how much we have done.

Looking back, I am thankful for the opportunity to be a part of this field school and the overall mission of the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency. It allowed us to learn and improve our archaeological skill while serving a greater purpose.

We still may have more to learn but I look forward to the challenges and adventures that are on the way.

 

-by Ryan Miranda, graduate student

Wanted: Fall move-in volunteers

Campus Living is seeking groups and organizations to serve as volunteers for this coming fall’s move-in from Wednesday, Aug. 15 through Friday, Aug. 17.

Move-in volunteers welcome residents and their families to campus while assisting them with carrying boxes, answering questions and providing directions. Additional volunteers assist with the check-in process at Minges Coliseum.

Volunteers help students move in at the start of the 2017 fall semester. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

Volunteers help students move in at the start of the 2017 fall semester. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

Any size group can be accommodated, and individuals also are welcome to volunteer.

If your department, organization or group is interested in participating or would like more information, please arrange for a representative to contact Dave Hilbert in Campus Living at hilbertd17@ecu.edu or 737-1063.

Graduate students learning to become better archaeologists, divers on Saipan trip

ECU maritime studies program professor Dr. Jennifer McKinnon and several graduate students are in Saipan this summer to conduct archaeological surveys of surrounding waters to locate and document sites related to World War II. McKinnon and the students – including Aleck Tan, who shares below what they already have learned – hope their work will lead to identifying possible sites containing the remains of missing servicemen.

This is the second post from the trip. Read the first post to learn more about the journey to Saipan and the importance of the trip.

Our Saipan field school has been underway for the past few days. Professors and graduate students in the East Carolina University Program in Maritime Studies have settled into a routine. At 7 a.m. each day we travel to our base in Smiling Cove Marina, and then it’s a short boat ride to our project sites in Tanapag Lagoon. We conduct surveys until 3 p.m. then come back to our hotel to de-salt ourselves and post-process data. 

While our ECU team looks like a well-oiled machine now, it took some trial and error to get there. On the first day of conducting a sonar survey, a wave overcame the 7-meter-long black rubber boat and flooded some of our not-so-waterproof computers. Thankfully, there were other computers available to replace the flooded ones. On my first day of conducting a metal detector survey at one of our project sites, my dive buddy and I forgot the necessary 30-meter measuring tape, but instead got a short 15-meter tape, so we had to return to the boat to get the appropriate length tape. Each mistake has taught us what not to do, what to do, and how to do it better.

This field school has been a great learning experience. In a classroom, one can learn all he or she can about how to conduct circle searches or run metal detector surveys, but it is another thing to actually do the work in the ocean where conditions are different. The current moves you away from survey lines, you might get scratched by coral, the sun might beat down harshly on already sunburnt skin, and you might constantly sweat through your shirt and smell like you haven’t washed it in three days. With every challenge, we have learned how to become better archaeologists and divers. Most importantly, the challenges and new experiences have taught us to go with the flow with a bright and shining positive mental attitude.

ECU graduate student Aleck Tan runs a metal detector over an object while Dr. Nathan Richards supervises. (Contributed photo)

ECU graduate student Aleck Tan runs a metal detector over an object while Dr. Nathan Richards supervises. (Contributed photo)

At the end of the day, our team crowds into a makeshift conference room where we talk about our day and plan for the next day. In our meetings, we also talk about another important topic – where to eat dinner. Food has been one of the highlights of the trip as it reminds me of home.

While Saipan is a thousand miles away from my home in North Carolina, it feels like home for me. As a Filipino immigrant, I was born and raised in the Philippines, where afternoon showers, mangoes and water activities are common. Being geographically close to the Philippines, Saipan is similar in weather and even in culture as Saipan has a very close relationship with the Philippines. Since the 16th century, Filipino migrants have been traveling and bringing their culture and food to Saipan.

Being on an island similar to my birthplace has made the study abroad experience easier to adapt to but also more exciting. While work days are long and nights are filled with post-processing, a lot of duct tape, and discussions of people’s spirit animals, our team looks forward to exploring more of Tanapag Lagoon.

 

-by Aleck Tan, graduate student

Graduate students’ work in Saipan could help with recovery of servicemen MIA after WWII

ECU maritime studies program professor Dr. Jennifer McKinnon and several graduate students are in Saipan this summer to conduct archaeological surveys of surrounding waters to locate and document sites related to World War II. McKinnon and the students – including Jack “Gus” Adamson, who details some of the experience in a personal account below – hope their work will lead to identifying possible sites containing the remains of missing servicemen.

In the early morning hours of May 17, our team of archaeologists, dive safety officers and maritime graduate students gathered at Eller House on the edge of East Carolina University’s main campus. Our gear was checked and loaded and we departed for Oceana Naval Air Station in Virginia Beach, Virginia, just as the sun began to break over the horizon announcing a new day. Although a three-hour drive, this would be the first leg of a multiday journey that would take us, quite literally, to the far side of the world ending on the now little-known island of Saipan. Located approximately 1,500 miles south of Japan, Saipan is part of the Marianas Island chain.

In mid-1944, Saipan was the site of one of the most crucial battles of World War II. Its recapture from the Japanese, along with the islands of Guam and Tinian (also in the Marianas), placed Japan within range of newly developed B-29 Superfortress bombers, allowing for strategic bombing of the war industry on the Japanese mainland. Both sides understood the island’s strategic importance and fought bitterly for control of it. The ensuing battle, waged from June 15 to July 9, 1944, resulted in the deaths of approximately 30,000 Japanese and 3,255 Americans. Many of those American servicemen are still unaccounted for and labeled as missing in action (MIA), but they are by no means forgotten. It is that memory that is fueling ECU’s maritime studies summer field school.

As a maritime studies graduate student with aspirations of becoming a conflict archaeologist, this project is particularly exciting for me. Military history and battlefield archaeology have always been a deep passion, and the chance to do a project of this nature is truly once in a lifetime. Further, I have relatives who fought in the Pacific theater and I feel that this brings me much closer to understanding their experiences.

ECU’s maritime studies program is conducting side scan sonar surveys and using underwater metal detection during their field school. (Contributed photo)

ECU’s maritime studies program is conducting side scan sonar surveys and using underwater metal detection during their field school. (Contributed photo)

Partnered with the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA), which is assisting us in our travel arrangements and numerous other logistics of the project, ECU graduate students guided by our mentors will conduct archaeological surveys of the waters surrounding Saipan in order to locate, record and document sites related to the battle. Hopefully, this will lead to identifying possible sites containing the remains of missing servicemen. Our entire team is humbled and proud to be able to undertake this task that will not only reinforce the archaeological knowledge of this Pacific battlefield, but could also result in the return home of a soldier, sailor or Marine whose family hasn’t received closure after 74 years.

With the weight and pride of this task in our minds, we rolled into Oceana Naval Air Station primed and ready to begin our long journey, only to be told that we must undertake the most difficult of tasks: wait. Our aircraft was down for maintenance and would be unavailable for some time. Murphy’s Law is not the exception but the rule on field projects, and a contingency plan should always be ready. Instead of wasting time on social media or staring at the walls, our team made the short journey to a local museum where, as luck would have it, not only was there an air show of vintage airplanes occurring, but several World War II-era military aircraft were housed there. World War II buffs like me were giddy from being able to study the aircraft and components in person. As an added bonus, some of us were lucky enough to observe an engine test run of a B-25 Mitchell bomber, a rare treat that most can’t claim to have had.

The next leg of our journey finally began on May 19 with our departure for the West Coast before continuing on into the vast blue Pacific Ocean. There will surely be other surprises, but that is part of the adventure!

 

-by Jack “Gus” Adamson, graduate student

ECU takes third in NASA rover challenge

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)

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 64 colleges and universities in the Human Exploration Rover Challenge.

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.

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.

 

-by Michael Rudd, University Communications

New focus for lab courses introduced

Instead of repeating tried-and-true experiments in their science laboratory courses, university and community college students in eastern North Carolina will soon be learning and conducting science in a more interactive, engaging way.

That’s thanks to new way of leading student laboratory courses called X-Labs. Science educators from East Carolina University and area community colleges learned about the concept May 9 at the X-Labs Summer Symposium at ECU.

Traditionally, instructors teach lab courses in a “cookbook style,” said Joi Walker, an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry. Students follow steps, collect data and move on to their next assignment.

Joi Walker, assistant professor of chemistry, discusses the X-Labs concept to a group of educators during a summer symposium in the Science and Technology Building on May 9. (Photos by Rhett Butler)

Joi Walker, assistant professor of chemistry, discusses the X-Labs concept to a group of educators during a summer symposium in the Science and Technology Building on May 9. (Photos by Rhett Butler)

The X-Labs model is a cross-disciplinary, practice-focused model that changes the structure of standard lab courses. Instead of following a set design, students will be a part of the design process while also working with larger teams to create written lab reports and poster presentations.

The program’s goal is to increase student’s ability to engage in science practices between and across disciplines, bringing together a common lab structure and language for undergraduate students.

“Today, we’re introducing the new path we’re headed toward with our lab courses,” Walker said. “We want the leaders in our scientific disciplines to know about the changes coming their way. X-Labs is a different way of doing things; we want to ensure that the campus community is aware of the program and the changes they may see in lab courses moving forward.”

The X-Labs program is a three-year project funded by a $598,000 grant from the National Science Foundation. The grant tasks X-Labs program leaders with transforming lab courses at an institutional level to better prepare undergraduate students for careers in STEM fields. X-Labs will also seek to change lab course structure at community colleges in eastern North Carolina.

East Carolina University student Meghan Lower discusses a poster on X-Labs during a summer symposium on X-Labs at the Science and Technology Building.

ECU student Meghan Lower discusses a poster on X-Labs during a summer symposium on X-Labs at the Science and Technology Building.

The ECU chemistry department is leading the change and will begin conducting courses this summer using argument-driven inquiry. Argument-driven inquiry is an instructional model featuring eight stages of scientific discovery: identifying a task and guiding question, designing a method and collecting data, developing an initial argument, hosting an argument session, conducting a reflective discussion, writing an investigative report, participating in a double-blind peer review, and revising and submitting a final report.

The biology department will follow with X-Labs implementation in the fall, with physics to follow. Walker expects all three deparmtents to have X-Labs courses running by next spring.

“X-Labs changes the culture of lab work,” Walker said. “It’s authentic science. Students are going to be taking a more active role in the lab and that’s going to be better for our students and faculty. ECU has a large undergraduate student population. Our faculty members depend on these undergraduates to help conduct research. X-Labs will better prepare these students to take on that challenge, benefiting both mentor and mentee.”

Mary Farwell, director of undergraduate research, said the program has wide-ranging implications for student research.

“The X-Labs project guides students to make connections between different lab courses,” Farwell said. “They truly learn how science is carried out by scientists. After completing X-Labs, students will be more prepared for and, I believe, more interested in, faculty-mentored undergraduate research.”

For more information on X-Labs, contact Walker at walkerjoi15@ecu.edu.

 

-by Matt Smith, University Communications

Blockfest competition gives construction students real-life experience

Blockfest, a structure building competition made possible by Oldcastle Adams, recently came to ECU, where 42 construction students participated in the daylong event.

Blockfest, a structure building competition made possible by Oldcastle Adams, recently came to ECU, where 42 construction students participated in the daylong event. (Contributed photos)

Construction management students recently competed in Blockfest, a design and craft competition in which seven teams of 42 students had to dry-stack a structure using a selection of concrete masonry units (CMU) that were provided by Oldcastle Adams products of Goldsboro.

Before competition day, the teams created an 11-by-17 presentation board that showed the plans and elevations of their proposed structures. On the day of the competition, teams had two hours to build the structures, which had to be approximately 48 inches tall and not exceed a maximum site size of 6-by-6.

Once the students completed construction of the structures, which ranged from benches to grills to firepits, industry judges reviewed the structures. The winning structure was built by Cailey Hastings (team leader), Adam Ghanayem and Andrew Dickerson.

The student team that built the winning structure included Andrew Dickerson, standing and front row, left to right, Adam Ghanayem and Cailey Hastings.

The student team that built the winning structure included Andrew Dickerson, standing and front row, left to right, Adam Ghanayem and Cailey Hastings.

Brett Hardy, vice president of sales for Oldcastle Adams, serves on the advisory board for the College of Engineering and Technology’s Department of Construction Management. He says the competition allows the students to learn more about the CMUs they’ll encounter once in the real world.

“This is the future of our industry (the students),” said Hardy. “I think it’s important for them to understand the different material types.”

Construction sophomore Nathaniel Matthewson levels sand for the base for a structure built during Blockfest.

Construction sophomore Nathanial Mathewson levels sand that served as the base for a structure built during Blockfest.

“It’s like a live lab for them to get hands-on experience,” said Dr. Amin Akhnoukh, assistant professor in construction management.

Akhnoukh said the competition is much more than building the structure. Each team had to not only supply the drawings, but also had to coordinate the purchasing and delivery of materials.

This year’s Blockfest was the third time the event has been held at ECU.

 

-by Michael Rudd, University Communications

Local company benefits from ECU innovation

Linda McMahon (Contributed photo)

Linda McMahon (Contributed photo)

National Small Business Week (NSBW) is April 30-May 5. Linda McMahon, administrator for the United States Small Business Administration and East Carolina University alumna, will wrap up a multi-city bus tour that celebrates NSBW by serving as the keynote speaker for ECU’s Spring Commencement Ceremony, which is Friday, May 4, at 7 p.m.

McMahon’s tour is an annual event that celebrates small-business owners and their key support groups. It highlights American entrepreneurship with events such as community workshops, award ceremonies and a three-day virtual conference for small-business owners.

About her participation in ECU’s commencement ceremony, McMahon said, “Whether or not they (graduates) will become part of America’s 30 million small businesses, they now have an opportunity to work hard to achieve success for themselves and to make a positive impact in their communities and beyond.”

ECU impacting small businesses

Snow Hill’s Glean is a subsidiary of Ham’s Farms, a family-owned small business that focuses on sweet potatoes and other vegetables such as beets and pumpkins, and has used many of the resources available to small businesses through ECU.

Glean’s name is what it does. It gleans, or extracts, reserve products to produce sweet potato and pumpkin flours and powder from beets. Knowing it had university resources in its backyard, Glean reached out to ECU’s Department of Nutrition Science through the university’s I-Corps NSF grant to help develop recipes for products like protein bars and smoothies in which the flours can be used. The partnership between ECU and Glean provides students, who are taking food science and marketing courses, with real-time, real-world examples for economic development and interdisciplinary collaborative learning opportunities.

Students with the College of Business present packaging research to local small business, Glean out of Snow Hill. (Contributed photos)

Students with the College of Business present packaging research to local small business, Glean out of Snow Hill. (Contributed photos)

After assisting with product development, nutrition science faculty and students brought in the College of Business’ (COB) marketing department to look at how these new products can be marketed and to whom. In the fall of 2017, student teams presented ideas to Laura Hearn and Will Kornegay. Both are co-founders of Glean. Of these initial presentations, Hearn wrote in a follow-up email, “After talking with each class, we walked away incredibly blown away by the engagement and commitment by the students. Will and I both said we would love to be able to go back to school at ECU and learn under the professors we have met.”

After the initial presentations, Glean wanted to continue its relationship with COB, just like it continues to work with the Department of Nutrition Science. Kornegay said they developed a list of projects in which the company thought the COB could provide guidance. This list resulted in project opportunities in six Department of Marketing and Supply Chain Management courses.

“We met with a team of professors, kind of a roundtable discussion, and put together a scope of work of things that we were looking for as a startup, a small company, a small business,” Kornegay said.

He added the company realized it wanted to provide projects for the students to work on and give them “real-industry experience. They’re helping us accomplish a lot of things we want to do right now that we (Glean) don’t have time to do.”

Impacting students

Nicole Peters

Nicole Peters

ECU senior Nicole Peters will graduate with a degree in business administration with a marketing concentration this spring. She participated in the fall 2017 projects, as well as this spring’s Glean project, which focused on research and branding. Her team looked at ways Glean could bring an unboxing experience to its product delivery process. She said she appreciated the opportunity of working directly with the client, and, like Kornegay, she sees the value of participating in this project with Glean.

“Since they are such a new company, you (the student) are learning the whole process with them, how to utilize what you’re learning in your classes,” Peters said.

Senior Garrett Hinton of Fayetteville also was part of a student team that worked with Glean this spring. His team focused on packaging analysis and wanted to know what the consumer response was to Glean’s current packaging. Their deliverable showed Glean the consumer would like to see the actual vegetable – sweet potato, beet and pumpkin – as opposed to clip art or no art on its packaging.

Garrett Hinton

Garrett Hinton

“This (experience) means something because I’m helping a client on top of receiving a grade,” Hinton said. “It was gratifying. Not many other students can say they’re pitching ideas to a company.”

Glean also has turned to the Small Business Institute, which is part of the College’s Miller School of Entrepreneurship. Miller School director Mike Harris said both COB and College of Engineering and Technology students spent 500 hours to deliver Glean strategic and implementation plans that included analysis, objectives and issues regarding retail and budgets.

Dr. Christine Kowalczyk, associate professor in COB’s Department of Marketing and Supply Chain Management, highlighted the importance of this relationship for the college and students. “Our relationship with Glean is perfectly aligned with the mission of ECU. We offered unique hands-on learning projects that are preparing our students to become future business leaders. The project experience has resulted in job and internship opportunities with Glean. We look forward to continuing our support of Glean and innovating the learning opportunities for our students.”

What’s next

Hearn and Kornegay said that Glean plans to continue its relationship with ECU and COB. They see ECU as an innovator that can help other small businesses in the area.

“The professors and academia stand out among the universities that we’ve become familiar with in North Carolina and it’s right in our backyard,” said Hearn. “Any small business who is able to lean on the professors and students will gain something valuable from it.”

Glean’s Laura Hearn, left, and Will Kornegay, right, listen to students present ideas on how to package Glean products.

Glean’s Laura Hearn, left, and Will Kornegay, right, listen to students present ideas on how to package Glean products.

 

-by Michael Rudd, University Communications

Commencement week to feature Grad Bash, fireworks

East Carolina University’s Spring Commencement Ceremony will be held at 7 p.m. Friday, May 4 in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium and will be capped off with a celebratory display of fireworks.

The keynote speaker will be Linda McMahon, head of the U.S. Small Business Administration and ECU alumna.

The spring ceremony will commemorate the accomplishments of 5,479 graduates who have completed their degrees or will do so this summer, including 3,989 undergraduate, 1,236 graduate and 254 doctoral degrees.

New this year is Grad Bash 2K18: ARRRGH You Ready! — a festival-style celebration for graduates and their families from 6-9 p.m. on Thursday, May 3 at Five Points Plaza in downtown Greenville.

“This will be a commencement week unlike any other in ECU’s 110-year history,” said Chancellor Cecil Staton. “We look forward to recognizing and applauding the hard work and accomplishments of our graduates, and we can’t wait to see where they will go from here. As they embark on the next leg of their journey, they are prepared both to fulfill their own dreams and to have a positive impact on the world and in their communities.”

Many of ECU’s colleges, schools and departments will hold unit recognition ceremonies during commencement weekend. A complete listing can be found at https://commencement.ecu.edu/.

Commencement is an outdoor ceremony and will be held rain or shine. In the unexpected event of severe weather, the university ceremony will be postponed until Saturday, May 5 at 9 a.m. Any changes to the ceremony will be communicated via ECU Alert and the ECU website (www.ecu.edu).

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