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Top Stories

(Note: Web articles are organized in descending order from the most recent to the oldest articles.)

MechSE’s Leon Liebenberg, SIIP Team Use Play-in-Learning Elements to Engage Students, Foster Learning

September 19, 2018

We’ve all seen toddlers learn about shapes by trying to place a round object into a toy’s square hole, and vice versa. We’ve also seen children learn basic structural engineering principles by building a tall tower of blocks or Legos with insufficient structural support, only to have it crash to the floor. If small children can learn through play, couldn’t much older students, such as undergraduates in Illinois Engineering courses? Leon Liebenberg, a MechSE Professor, and a team of colleagues who are part of his “Play-in-Learning: Cognition, Emotion, and Playful Pedagogy” SIIP proposal all seem to think so. However, Liebenberg reports, “Not everyone is convinced that play belongs in engineering…Some people are cynical or suspicious about the prospective benefits of play in engineering.”

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Fall 2018 Career Fair Is a Win-Win, Both for Illinois’ Engineering Students and Industry Recruiters

September 13, 2018

Armed with a list of companies they were interested in working for, a list of questions they intended to ask, and probably a revised resume, a steady stream of Illinois engineering students—dressed to the nines—made their way across campus to the ARC for the Engineering Career Fair on September 11–12. Their goal: network with company representatives and land an internship, or even more importantly, a job for once they graduate. For the recruiters, their goal was to romance the coveted Illinois engineering students, possibly attracting the best and the brightest to their companies.

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Illinois Space Society members with their rocket.Illinois Space Society Provides Members Stellar Technical and Leadership Experiences to Prepare Them for Careers in Space Technology

September 11, 2018

For the 150 or so members of the Illinois Space Society (ISS), the organization forms a community on campus where, according to ISS Director Sarah Legg, the “rocket nerds” from Aerospace Engineering (Aero) and beyond can get to know each other: “I've made my best friends here,” she acknowledges. “They're all rocket nerds.” In order to prepare members for careers in the field of space exploration, ISS also offers professional activities, including the opportunity to attend national conferences. To give its members hands-on, technical experience in rockets and space technology, ISS sponsors several different projects, many related to national competitions. Finally, to ensure that the next generation gets as excited about space as the ISS members are, its educational outreach experiences allow members to share their passion for space and rockets with interested youngsters of all ages. One of their biggies is coming up on October 6—Illinois Space Day.

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A NRES junior, Alondra Estrada.NRES Junior Alondra Estrada Passionate About Environmental Science, Research, and…Turtles!

September 11, 2018

Growing up in Adison Illinois, Alondra Estrada, a first-generation Hispanic college student, wasn’t even sure she’d be going to college. Then she came to an Illinois summer camp and, as a result, she changed her mind about becoming a veterinarian and decided to study environmental science in Then, for the last two summers, she participated in the WE CAN which further muddied the waters regarding her next step career wise. Should she become an animal photographer, go to grad school and become an environmental scientist, or, go for her dream job, an environmental lawyer? While she isn’t sure what the future holds, she does know this: her many experiences have given her a lot of great career options.

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Amy Doroff sitting in front of the Quintessential Engineer statue.Alumna Amy Doroff Gives Back to Illinois Women in Engineering

September 4, 2018

Being a freshman woman in engineering at the University of Illinois is not an easy task. Not only are the classes especially challenging, but their populations tend to have many more males than females, which can be quite intimidating for freshman girls. This is exactly why Illinois alumna Amy Doroff decided to return to the university as a keynote speaker at the Women in Engineering (WIE) freshman orientation this fall. Doroff’s college experience certainly wasn’t easy, but she had received support from various people to help her push through it. Now, it’s her turn to be the one giving support to students. “I'm three years out of college now and I want to remind people that I made it to this point, but also that it wasn't because there weren't any challenges and I want to be part of their story now.”

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Shelana Martin with her poster at the end-of-the summer Poster Session at NCSA.SPIN Introduces Shelana Martin to Cybersecurity and the Open Source Platform, Moodle

September 4, 2018

How did Shelana Martin, who’s not a computer science major, end up in an NCSA internship? The rising senior in education technology under the College of Education’s Learning and Education Studies program was part of NCSA’s SPIN (Students Pushing Innovation) internship program. SPIN fosters interdisciplinary collaboration, encouraging Illinois undergraduate students, and not just computer science students, to do challenging research related to cutting-edge new technology. The new technology Martin learned was Moodle, an open-source learning management system. Plus she also learned quite a bit about cybersecurity too.

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Hahn and Wolters’ New Book About Women Engineers at Illinois Poised to Inspire, Retain, and Recruit Women Engineers

August 30, 2018

Several years ago, Laura Hahn (currently the Director of Engineering’s Academy for Excellence in Engineering Education [AE3]) stumbled across the book, Men and Ideas in Engineering: Twelve Histories from Illinois. On her way to show it to Angie Wolters (current Director of Women in Engineering), she had an epiphany, and determined, “Oh, I know what we have to do: we have to write a sequel!” So she asked Wolters, “Do you see this?” and at that moment, the idea for Women and Ideas in Engineering: Twelve Stories from Illinois was born.

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Freshman Women in Engineering Get Ahead of the Curve At WIE Orientation

August 28, 2018

Avoiding the insanity of campus move-in day, 275 female freshman engineering students participated in the 16th annual WIE (Women in Engineering) orientation on August 21st– 23rd. Moving in early was a nice perk— they got to avoid being stuck waiting with mom and dad in a long line to unload one’s car at the dorm. However, most girls would say that wasn’t their main reason for coming. They hoped to get acquainted with campus, find out about their major and resources available to them, and to start building community. They hoped to see a familiar face the first day of class.

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Vet Med Students Experience Veterinary Research During Summer Research Training Program

August 23, 2018

Nineteen Vet Med students participated in the College of Veterinary Medicine’s Summer Research Training Program (SRTP) this past summer. They not only conducted research, but made a poster and had a chance to present it at a number of venues. According to the director, Lois Hoyer, SRTP is intended to be a pipeline into veterinary research. Its goal is “to identify the students who have a potential interest in a research-focused career or a career that has some research component to it, and then start them out early.” Because many SRTP students are just finishing their first year of the veterinary program, they can find another research opportunity next summer to continue to build their research credentials.

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Youngster shows the item he 3D printed.MechSE’s Joe Muskin Enlightens Local Youngsters About 3D Printing During Champaign Public Library Event

August 17, 2018

Does learning about STEM have to stop just because it’s summer vacation? Several local youth (and their moms) say, “No!” So on July 25, some teens (and preteens) showed up at the Champaign Public Library (CPL) to learn about, then experiment with, 3D printing. Courtesy of Mechanical Science and Engineering’s Joe Muskin, the participants first learned a bit about the technology. They explored the equipment used and how and why Stereolithographic 3D printing works, including about the light spectrum. But even more fun was doing the printing itself; plus, they left the CPL armed with a couple of 3D printed objects they could whip out as proof when boasting about the activity to friends and family.

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Alexandra MoorePOETS REU Fosters Innovative Thinking to Change the Future of Power Dense Electronic Systems

August 15, 2018

Ever wonder what the future of electronics could look like—say over the next decade? As part of the POETS (Power Optimization of Electro-Thermal Systems) ERC's 10-week, NSF-funded Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU), 15 students were able to explore the possibilities through authentic research experiences. Additionally, the students were exposed to a variety of educational programs that not only enhanced their knowledge base, and supplemented their research, but also exposed them to and prepared them for STEM careers.

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Alondra EstradaIllinois Summer Research Symposium Showcases Undergraduates’ REU Experiences

August 14, 2018

On July 19–20, 2018, over 150 undergraduate students and pre-doctoral students presented posters at the 2018 Illinois Summer Research Symposium (ISRS) as a culmination of their summer research experiences at Illinois. The students not only conducted studies in the labs of some of Illinois’ world-renowned researchers, but many of them were part of undergraduate programs that also partnered with SROP, the Graduate College’s Summer Research Opportunities Program. This allowed the undergrads to participate in professional development activities, many of them in preparation for possibly continuing their education and research in graduate school, and also provided the students networking opportunities.

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Lisa KanburUndergrads Experience Open Source Software & Interdisciplinary Research Via INCLUSION REU

August 13, 2018

Twelve undergraduate students participated in the second summer of NCSA’s NSF-funded INCLUSION (Incubating a New Community of Leaders Using Software, Inclusion, Innovation, Interdisciplinary and OpeN-Science) REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates). Students gained skills they hope employ down the road, including coding in a new programming language and using Open Source Software. Plus, they got the chance to prepare a poster and present their research at the July 25th end-of-the-summer Poster Session at the NCSA (National Center for Supercomputing Applications). Participants also made some new relationships.

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GBAM GAMES camper demonstrates her team's prosthetic device. GBAM GAMES Camp Gets High School Girls Geared Up for Mechanical Engineering

August 9, 2018

“Lots of times, engineering is kind of this abstract sort of thing where someday I guess I'll be an engineer, but I'm not sure what they are, or what they do, or whatever, and I think it might be interesting. It's great to get [students] here and get them doing and seeing what [engineering] really is and how impactful it can really be.” – Joe Muskin, MechSE Educational Coordinator.

That’s exactly what 24 high school girls experienced when they attended the 6th annual GBAM (Girls Building Awesome Machines) GAMES (Girls’ Adventures in Mathematics, Engineering, and Science) camp from July 8–17, 2018.

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CS GAMES Camp Embraces Creativity in High School Girls Through Computer Science

July 25, 2018

Computer Science is a lot more than just sitting in front of a computer and coding. This is what 19 high school girls from Illinois and beyond discovered when they participated in the Computer Science (CS) GAMES (Girls' Adventures in Mathematics, Engineering, and Science) camp from July 8–14, 2018. So, according to camp Co-Coordinator Dot (Dorothy) Silverman, the main emphasis of the camp was not just software and hardware, but encouraged creativity.

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Undergrad Brione Griffin Gets One Step Closer to Her Dream of Becoming a Doctor Via REACH RCEU

July 25, 2018

Brione Griffin’s career goals have always been “to be a doctor—be a doctor and help people out.” So when she learned about REACH (Research and Education for the Advancement of Compassionate Health Care) RCEU (a Research Experience for Undergraduates with an added clinical component), sponsored and funded by the new Carle Illinois College of Medicine, she was intrigued. "I think it's something I've loved all my life,” Griffin says regarding her passion for science, biology, and medicine. She shares an anecdote about how she got interested in those.

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WE CAN REU Provides Minority Students an International Experience, Research at the Intersection of Engineering and Agriculture

July 20, 2018

The six minority undergraduate students who participated in the USDA-funded WE CAN (Wildlife Engineers Co-managing Agriculture in Nature) REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates), spent the summer of 2018 learning what conducting research is like. However, because We CAN is a two-summer program, this summer’s research opportunity followed on the heels of last summer’s 4-week trip to South Africa where participants collaborated with South African students to do ag-related engineering projects. According to Agricultural and Biological Engineering Assistant Professor Paul Davidson, the focus of WE CAN was to recruit underrepresented minorities and train them for careers in agriculture. Of the six WE CAN fellows, three are African American, and three are Hispanic. And it just so happens that all six are female. “That wasn’t on purpose,” Co-PI Michelle Green, a Research Assistant Professor in Animal Sciences, qualifies, “but they were our best matches for the program.”

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Underrepresented Minority Undergraduate Students Gain Research, Clinical Experience Via the Carle Illinois College of Medicine’s New REACH RCEU

July 19, 2018

There’s a new RCEU in town, REACH (Research and Education for the Advancement of Compassionate Health Care), sponsored and funded by the new Carle Illinois College of Medicine. What’s an RCEU? It’s an REU (a Research Experience for Undergraduates) with a clinical component in addition to the research. The REACH participants not only gained research and clinical exposure, but a better understanding of the breadth and interdisciplinary nature of the health care system, and research that impacts it.

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REACH Program’s Emphasis of Research Plus Clinical Confirms Alexis Chamorro-Ortiz’s Career Goals: To Both Treat and Research Cancer

July 18, 2018

Alexis Chamorro Ortiz didn’t just wake up one morning and decide he wanted to spend the summer after his sophomore year at the University of Puerto Rico doing cancer research at Illinois as part of the REACH (Research and Education for the Advancement of Compassionate Health Care), a new USDA-funded RCEU (Research Experience for Undergraduates with an added clinical component). For most of his childhood, he had watched his grandfather first overcome a brain tumor, then lose his battle with brain cancer when Ortiz was a freshman in high school. “He passed away so quickly, and it made me want to help other people who are like my grandpa,” Ortiz explains.

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Aerospace Engineering Camps Seek to Ignite High Schoolers’ Interest in Aerospace, STEM

July 17, 2018

Remember building and flying a kite as a kid? Remember the exhilaration you felt as you watched it soar way up high? Even more rewarding is the feeling participating 9–12th grade high school students are getting this summer as they launch the gliders and rockets they designed and built during Aerospace Engineering’s (AeroE) three residential camps: Aerospace Engineering GAMES and two Illinois Aerospace Institutes (IAI). Eyes focused heavenward, the campers watch them soar (or let’s be realistic—“crash and burn!”) during the end-of-the-week launch event—all courtesy of the coordinator of the three camps, Brian Woodard, and his AeroE team.

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Mid-GLAM Camp Exposes Middle School Girls to Materials Science and Engineering

July 11, 2018

What better way to get a bunch of middle school girls excited about Materials Science and Engineering than to let them explore color and making things pretty? That’s exactly what Mid-GLAM, named after its sister camp GLAM (Girls Learn About Materials) did by exposing them to different hands-on activities and design challenges. Mid-GLAM is a summer day camp for middle school girls interested in learning about Materials Science and Engineering. It made a second annual debut from June 25 – June 29 and served students from all over the state.

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High School Students Experience Nuclear Engineering—and More—at the New Exploring NPRE Camp

July 6, 2018

Exactly what is nuclear engineering? It has to do with power plants, right? The 18 high school students, rising juniors and seniors mostly from the Chicagoland area, who were on campus the week of June 25–29th for the first-ever Exploring NPRE camp discovered that nuclear power is just one emphasis of NPRE (the Department of Nuclear, Plasma, and Radiological Engineering). And the high schoolers who attended NPRE’s week-long, residential camp not only learned about nuclear engineering, but plasma and radiological engineering as well, and how they impact our lives. Plus, they learned a bit about Illinois, and what it might be like to be an engineering student on campus.

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ChBE GAMES Camp Introduces High School Girls to Chemical and Molecular Engineering

July 3, 2018

It is time to change the status quo in the male-dominated STEM fields, and Illinois is definitely impacting chemical engineering in this regard through the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering (ChBE) GAMES (Girls' Adventures in Mathematics, Engineering, and Science) camp. So with the goals of increasing the number of women in chemical engineering, and of helping participants understand what chemical engineering actually is, the ChBE GAMEs camp brought 24 rising high school freshmen through seniors to campus from June 17–23, 2018. The camp not only helped the girls to explore concepts in chemical engineering, but was the deciding factor in some choosing careers in the field as a result.

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