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Student Success

SPSU students excel at their academic activities.  Here are some recent success stories.


November 2012

SPSU students help High Museum adapt to digital age
SPSU has partnered with The High Museum of Art in an effort to find ways to make the museum experience more meaningful to 20-something-year-olds. The result is “High Without Walls,” a crowd-sourced, cloud-based museum exhibit that gives visitors a voice and a choice.

“High Without Walls” debuted at the museum in November and is hosted on Trover (www.trover.com), a photo-sharing website that offers a forum for art to be viewed on the internet with information about artists, the location and other details typically found on information plaques at physical museums.

Two new media art classes at SPSU were instructed to come up with creative ways of getting the younger generation involved in contemporary art and museums. The students wanted to have a voice through social-media engagement, and Trover was a good match to test this new idea.

For eight days, visitors to the “High Without Walls” website were invited to take a photo of a great piece of art, upload it to Trover and include #highwithoutwalls in the description. The High Museum staff selected its favorite pieces from the submitted photos, and they were displayed at a one-night event on Nov. 10 at the High Museum.

The cloud-based exhibit is still ongoing online. To view it, go to Trover.com.


November 2012

SPSUTeach students join annual GPEE bus trip
Two students in the SPSUTeach education program participated in the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education’s (GPEE’s) 20th Annual Bus Trip Across Georgia in late October.

Wayne Dunn Jr., a senior majoring in mathematics education, and Samuel Parker, a junior physics major, were among 150-plus education students taking part in two two-day trips around Georgia, visiting elementary, middle and high schools as well as technical colleges in Athens, Cumming, Marietta and Winder, among other towns.

With the theme of “Using technology, creating pathways for student success,” the tour offered students and educators an opportunity to get an inside look at the classroom innovations of educators who have raised their students’ achievements and programs to prepare Georgia’s future workforce.

The tour visited the Marietta Center for Advanced Academics (MCAA), a STEM-focused magnet school for students in grades 3-5, which showcased the Games-for-Learning project, a collaboration between MCAA and SPSU’s Center for Applied Gaming and Media Arts (CAGMA) that is now in its fourth year.

MCAA invited SPSU to paint one of its science labs and brand it with the university’s name in preparation for the GPEE bus tour visit. Dr Jon Preston, CAGMA director and coordinator of the computer game design and development (CGDD) program, and his students Noel Lines, Courtney Bortle, Will Owens, and William Craven donned their best old clothes and decorated an entire wall of the lab.




October 2012

SPSU students to light up Big Chicken as part of national event promoting diabetes awareness
Marietta’s iconic landmark, the Big Chicken, will be bathed in blue lights on the night of Nov. 14, thanks to the SPSU Society of Physics Students (SPS) and the Biology Student Organization (BSO). The two organizations are participating in the Shine a Light on Diabetes event for World Diabetes Day, promoted by the International Diabetes Federation.

More than 40 iconic buildings and sites all over the world will be lit in blue to raise awareness for diabetes in what is known as the Blue Monument Challenge. Since 2007, over 1,000 monuments and landmarks in more than 80 countries have been involved in this day.

“I approached KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken, which owns the restaurant) with the idea of using the Big Chicken, and they liked the idea of supporting the cause,” said BSO President Curtis Anderson. “Since then, we’ve been working out all of the details together, including lights, media, etc. KFC has never done anything in conjunction with either of our groups and hadn’t heard of the Blue Monument Challenge until I brought it up.”

Students will place blue filters on the flood lights that illuminate the Big Chicken and put a message on the marquee sign. The lights will turn on after sunset and will shine until closing.

There are 65 students and faculty members in the SPS. Dr. Kisa Ranasinghe, assistant professor of physics, is the advisor. The BSO has 43 members, and Dr. Jennifer Louten, assistant professor of biology, serves as advisor.



October 2012

Speech team has good showing
The SPSU Speech Team qualified for a national competition in two events at a recent competition called “The Chicken or the Egg,” held at Gainesville State College in Gainesville, Ga.

Junior political science major Tyler Maran placed fourth in both impromptu and extemporaneous speaking, and senior technical communication major Toby Pope placed fifth in impromptu speaking. These placements qualify them to compete at the National Forensic Association Tournament in April 2013.

Maran also placed fifth in editorial impromptu speaking, while Pope earned seventh-place honors in editorial impromptu and informative speaking. SPSU placed fourth in the team sweepstakes.

“We brought home awards for every event we entered,” said Prof. Misty York, speech team coordinator and a lecturer in English, Technical Communication and Media Arts (ETCMA). “That is an extraordinary achievement, and the national qualifications made the day even sweeter.”

Dr. Mark Stevens, assistant coach and professor of English, added, “To achieve these results in the first competition of the year shows the team’s hard work and remarkable talent. SPSU is preparing students not only in technical ability but also in the skills needed to communicate that knowledge to our linked-in 21st-century world.”

The team has upcoming competitions at the University of Alabama and Berry College in Rome, Ga., remaining. Prof. Kelsey Harr-Lagin, an instructor in ETCMA, also coaches the team.



October 2012

SPSU No. 1 in Green Energy Challenge student poster competition
SPSU students took home the top prize for a poster they prepared as part of a project entered in the fourth annual Green Energy Challenge student design competition.

ELECTRI International – The Foundation for Electrical Construction and the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) sponsored the Green Energy Challenge at the NECA Student Chapter Summit in Las Vegas on Sept. 30. Contractors and industry partners judged the student presentations. Contractors also come to the competition finals each year to snap up the best students about to enter the profession.

Coached by Prof. Maureen Weidner, a construction management (CM) lecturer, and supported by the Atlanta Electrical Contractors Association, SPSU students Samantha Anselmo, a senior in CM, Jamaal Stubbs, a senior in electrical engineering, and Jonathan Zambrano, who earned his degree in CM this past May, entered the 2012 Green Energy Challenge early in the spring semester. The SPSU team represented one of 18 NECA student chapters across the country that took part.

Teams were instructed to select a campus facility in need of energy-efficiency improvements, conduct an energy audit of its power and lighting systems and design a retrofit for those systems. Participants were also required to design a new solar photovoltaic and/or wind-energy-generation system for the facility and perform a financial analysis of the result. They were also asked to develop a plan to improve the energy conservation awareness of students and employees on their campus.

The winning poster prepared by Anselmo, Stubbs and Zambrano was judged on professional appearance, technical content and creativity. The prize for their first-place finish in the competition was $750. Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., was second, and Youngstown State University in Ohio ranked third in the competition.

In addition to Prof. Weidner, faculty advisors for the competition included two other members of the CM department: Dr. John Mench, a senior lecturer, and adjunct Prof. Jacqueline Stephens. John Cameli, a graduate student in business administration, also advised the team.



October 2012

NSLS chapter president wins regional award
The SPSU chapter of the National Society of Leadership and Success (NSLS), launched in 2011, already has 300 members. On Sept. 15-16, three members accompanied Dr. Beth Stutzmann of the English, Technical Communication and Media Arts department to the NSLS Regional Conference in Atlanta, where chapter President Alex Kramer, a mechatronics major, won the award for Most Personable and Most Spirited.

The NSLS honor society is open to students with a GPA of 3.0 or better. Operating under the philosophy that better leaders make a better world, NSLS teaches students to achieve their goals by building leadership skills through community service and networking.

In addition to Kramer, the students who accompanied Dr. Stutzmann to the conference were Felicia Baker, an architecture major, and Matthew Lawrence, a mechatronics major.



August 2012

Construction Management students earn praise for work with House Proud Atlanta
Students in the Construction Management (CM) department joined the community service organization House Proud Atlanta earlier this summer in staging its annual “House Party” of home repairs. They assist the organization with smaller-scale projects on a monthly basis and have earned praise from both House Proud and the homeowners who benefit from their industrious work.

“I am a 72-year-old senior raising a granddaughter,” said one woman. “I am grateful to you for assisting House Proud with the removal of carpet from my floors because it was not healthy for my respiratory issues. The high energy and positive attitude of the volunteers has made a difference in my life; I can now breathe easier and live in a cleaner environment.”

The board of directors of House Proud, which provides low-income senior and disabled homeowners with no-cost home repairs designed to keep them warm, safe and dry, also called the SPSU team’s organizer, Brian Hogue, to add their thanks for the team’s skilled volunteer efforts.

“I told them that we are honored to be helping out 
the local community and that we look forward to completing more projects in the future,” said Hogue, who as vice president for community outreach for CM’s Contractors Guild, is always looking for additional volunteers.

To see photos of a House Party and credit given to SPSU for its participation, go to 2012 Atlanta House Party.



August 2012

AUV Team navigates to semi-finals of international RoboSub Competition
SPSU’s Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) Team immersed itself thoroughly in the 15th Annual International RoboSub Competition in mid-July. The team of three sophomores and one junior got as far as the semi-finals in a strong performance praised by faculty advisor Prof. Scott Tippens of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Technology (ECET) department.

“This is the youngest team we’ve ever sent to the RoboSub Competition, and SPSU did really well, considering that the sub was basically put together in about three months,” Prof. Tippens said. The group consisted of team captain Bennett Stedwell (mechatronics), Jake Robinson (electrical engineering), Taylor Martin (computer science) and Sarah Tippens. The latter is Prof. Tippens’ daughter, a media productions major at Florida State University who created the team’s website (www.spsuauv.org), social media presence, banners, T-shirts and videos and posted photos of the testing process and competition on Facebook (SPSU AUV).

Cosponsored by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) and the U.S. Office of Naval Research, the RoboSub Competition fosters ties between young engineers and the organizations developing AUV technologies, challenging them to perform realistic missions in an underwater environment with autonomous vehicles. SPSU competed at the Navy’s Transducer Evaluation Center (TRANSDEC) pool in San Diego, Calif., with about 30 teams from high schools and colleges in the United States, Canada, India, China, Japan, Turkey and Iceland.

Prof. Tippens is the team’s main advisor and accompanied its members to San Diego, but fellow ECET faculty members Prof. Pam Frinzi and Prof. Scott Larisch served as co-advisors as the team designed and built their AUV, dubbed Hornet II.


August 2012

CET major scores national scholarship from ASCE
Marian Alicea, a student in the Civil Engineering Technology (CET) department who is completing a summer internship at the U.S. Department of Energy’s research lab in Oak Ridge, Tenn., has been selected to receive a scholarship awarded annually to no more than 12 students nationwide.

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) awarded Alicea the 2012 Samuel Fletcher Tapman Student Chapter Scholarship, which will cover her tuition during the fall 2012 and spring 2013 terms. She also recently received a scholarship from the Atlanta Chapter of Women in Electronics.

The Tapman Scholarship is awarded based on academic performance, potential for development, leadership capacity, ASCE activities and financial need.

Alicea, a senior, is president of the SPSU Chapter of ASCE.



July 2012

SPSU student wins statewide co-op/internship award
Andrew Warren, a senior mechanical engineering technology student, has been awarded the Georgia Association of Colleges & Employers’ (GACE) Jack Mangham Award.

The award is given annually to students who exemplify outstanding characteristics in experiential learning programs. GACE receives nominations from colleges throughout the state and presents one student in each of four different categories with the award. Warren was recognized in the Engineering and Technology category.

Warren is in his sixth term as a co-op student at the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI). His direct supervisor assigned him to a team working on a critical project for the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). The project was recognized by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) as one of the Top 10 Technologies for 2012 for the entire National Intelligence and Department of Defense communities.

“Warren not only consistently excels academically, he also maximizes his co-op experience by demonstrating professionalism and a work ethic that has earned the respect of seasoned colleagues and his supervisor,” said Eileen O’Laughlin, assistant director of Career Services.

He was also the recipient of the Career & Counseling Center’s Co-op of the Year Award presented at the 2012 SPSU Student Awards Banquet.



July 2012

Student lands summer internship with Dept. of Energy
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded Marian Alicea, a student in the Civil Engineering Technology (CET) department, an appointment in its Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internship (SULI) program at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Oak Ridge, Tenn.

The CET senior is helping to conduct cutting-edge research using state-of-the-art equipment and instruments and interacting with senior-level researchers at the laboratory. While there, she is required to attend weekly seminars, write a research report, prepare a poster presentation and participate in a poster session. The program began June 4 and will conclude in mid-August.

Alicea is the president of the SPSU Chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers and a member of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers and the Society of Women Engineers. She received scholarships for the coming year from Women in Electronics and the American Society of Civil Engineers.



June 2012

Senior capstone project turns robot into bartender
Students in Dr. Chan Ham’s Mechatronics System Design course configured a robot to make and pour mixed drinks as part of their senior capstone project.

Graduating seniors Guy Pouheu and Nickolas Roe, with the help of an intern from Wheeler High School, followed a minimum-success criterion so that the robot bartender made at least two different drinks and served them with no more than 10 percent of the drink lost in transit.

Supervised by lab technician James Hudak, the students used the Mechatronics department’s Kawasaki FS30L robot and designed and built an autonomous liquid dispenser with a sensor that pumped drinks when it detected the glass on the robotic arm.

The students also designed and fabricated a gripper with two jaws that grasped different-shaped bottles. In addition, the students wrote an operating manual for the bartending robot. The project had a final budget of less than $150 and took the entire spring semester to complete.

“The project was very educational and a lot of fun!” said Roe. “It was very beneficial and was one of the main reasons I got the career I have now. In fact, my company is sending me to Detroit to get training in Fanuc robotic arms.”

“Our mechatronics students nicely completed an interesting robotic project where they successfully applied their classroom knowledge to a real industrial robot,” Dr. Ham said.

To see the robot bartender in action, go to YouTube.




June 2012

ABC salutes students for LEED-certification assistance
A few years ago, a group of SPSU construction management students helped Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) obtain Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification for its Georgia headquarters in Sandy Springs. To this day, the organization highlights the efforts of these six students – most of whom have since graduated – by including their names on its Visionary Partners wall.

Supervised by Dr. John Mench, a senior lecturer in construction management, the students carefully assessed the ways in which the ABC building adhered to LEED standards in 2009. ABC was awarded LEED certification the following year.

At ABC headquarters, a plaque on the organization’s Visionary Partners wall notes the valuable contributions of SPSU graduate students Andria Allen ( 2009), Hao Luo (2011), Michael Sauer (2010) and Arthur Smith (2009), and undergraduate students Anthony Maddox (2010) and Paula Wagner.

“It is involvement in activities like these that build lasting relationships with the community around us,” said Dr. Khalid Siddiqi, chair of the Construction Management department.



June 2012

Five SPSU students win Women in Electronics Scholarships
The Atlanta Chapter of Women in Electronics (WIE) awarded six scholarships in May to bright, promising females from Atlanta area colleges and universities, and the organization chose to award all but one of them to SPSU students.

WIE is a nonprofit regional organization that provides a professional network for women involved in all segments of the electronics industry. Membership includes business owners and women working in such areas as engineering, manufacturing, purchasing, sales, human resources and administration, just to name a few.

WIE scholarships are awarded based on financial need, academic achievement and participation in extracurricular activities. Invitations to apply were extended to universities and colleges throughout the metro Atlanta area. To date, the organization has donated over $200,000 in educational assistance for women, including scholarships. 

Congratulations to the SPSU recipients: Marian Alicea, civil engineering technology; Nicole Banks, industrial engineering technology; Kassandra Carman, industrial engineering technology; Yasmine Jonaidi, industrial engineering technology; and Sonia Vanegas, mechanical engineering.



June 2012

CGDD student’s Skyrim modification YouTube hit
Patrick Weaver, a computer game design and development (CGDD) sophomore, recently created a modification to the popular video game “The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim,” and it’s getting a lot of attention on YouTube.

His modification, entitled “Pinkie Pie Skyrim-Smile,” was one of the most-viewed video games on YouTube in late April. It got more than a quarter of a million views within 11 days after Weaver posted it, and “Pinkie Pie” currently has had more than half a million views.

“The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim” is an open-world, role-playing action video game. It was released in November 2011 and is played on Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.



May 2012


Twin chemistry majors are SPSU’s top students
Identical twins Joshua and Isaiah Gober collected armloads of awards and honors for academic achievement along with degrees in chemistry from SPSU this spring. The pair’s tandem accomplishments resulted in a feature story on WSB-TV, which can be viewed at WSB-TV News.

The Gober brothers received the highest honor of the night at last month’s 2012 Student Awards Banquet – the University System of Georgia Chancellor’s Academic Recognition Award, which merits the reading of a proclamation in the Georgia General Assembly. In presenting the award to the Gobers, SPSU President Lisa A. Rossbacher noted that this honor typically is given to only one student per University System institution.

Also, both of the Gober brothers were recognized as Who’s Who Award recipients and Outstanding Chemistry Students, and they shared the award for the Honors Academic Student of the Year. In addition, Joshua Gober won the Honors Student of the Year award and the Honors Service Award for Upperclassmen.

As they made the transition from SPSU students to alumni, the Gober twins were recognized as the university’s first dual recipients of the President’s Distinguished Scholar Award, presented annually to the graduate with the highest GPA.



May 2012


Student competitions abound in spring
SPSU students competed at a furious pace far and wide this spring.

• The SPSU student chapter of the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) earned second place in the first round of the Southern District Traffic Bowl Competition in Lexington, Ky., in April.

Team members Joshua Conrad, David Peters and Nicholas Mullins of civil engineering and civil engineering technology represented the Georgia Section of ITE in the competition. They were advised by Dr. Sung-Hee (Sonny) Kim, assistant professor of civil and construction engineering and director of the SPSU Center for Georgia Aggregates Research.

• Members of the Southern Polytechnic Information Security Association (SPISA) student competition team took part in the Southeast Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition at Kennesaw State University. In this event, the precursor to a national event, students tested their skills in defending computer and network systems and safeguarded a corporate-style network under a sustained attack.

The team, which is partially funded by the SPSU Alumni Association, included co-captains Ruben Hernandez and Christopher Meinert, Chad Long, Innocent Okoyomon, Sarah Pace, Bhavin Patel, Matthew Powell and Troy Collins. Dr. Svetlana Peltsverger, assistant professor of information technology (IT), and Dr. Susan Vande Ven, a lecturer in the IT department, served as the team’s coaches and advisors.

• Two SPSU juniors took part in an annual Convergence Innovation Competition (CIC) at Georgia Tech on April 18, a Google competition that focuses on innovation in the areas of converged services, media, networks and converged client and server platforms and environments.

Software engineering major Christopher Miller created an Android application for the event called Atlanta Commute. The application is intended to help people travel around the metro-Atlanta area more smoothly with full schedules and alerts for buses, trains and shuttles. Computer science major Josh Berry’s entry was a primarily Web-based application for instantly communicating any public-transportation-related question or concern while in transit.

Miller and Berry were advised by Prof. Patricia Roth Pierce, a senior lecturer in the Computer Science and Software Engineering department.



April 2012


SPSU gets honorable mention in NSPS student competition
Students from SPSU’s Surveying and Mapping program presented a project that received an honorable mention in the 11th Annual National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS) Student Competition last month in Portland, Ore.

The Surveying and Mapping Program is based in SPSU’s Civil Engineering Technology (CET) Department.

Eight schools with baccalaureate degree programs in surveying, surveying engineering technology and/or surveying engineering participated in the competition. Each team had four months to develop a project on this year’s theme, “Surveying Applications in Geographic Information Systems (GIS),” write a 30-page paper, prepare a GIS map and give a 25-minute presentation at the conference.

Timothy Gerth, Calvin Johnson, Antonio Sample and Lance Threewitt, all majoring in surveying and mapping, made up the SPSU team. Their advisors were surveying and mapping Prof. Daniel Lee Branham, a CET lecturer, and John Lee, a CET instructor.

The team chose as its topic “Floodplains and Elevation Certificates – Using Current and Preliminary Flood Maps for Future Planning.”



April 2012


SPSU students win three ASCE awards 
The university’s American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) student competition teams competed with teams from 24 other schools in 15 different activities during the 2012 ASCE Southeast Student Conference in Tallahassee, Fla., last month and brought home three awards.

Team members took second place in an ASCE T-shirt design competition, third place in a trivia competition on civil engineering and fifth place overall in the Steel Bridge Competition. The team’s overall performance ranked ninth out of the 24 institutions in the competition.

Dr. Fatih Oncul, assistant professor in CET and Prof. Nancy Turner, a CET lecturer, serve as advisors for the ASCE Student Chapter. Prof. Michael Orlandella, associate professor emeritus in CET, advises the Steel Bridge Team.



April 2012


ITE team wins Georgia Traffic Bowl again
The SPSU student chapter of the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) repeated last year’s victory over Georgia Tech at the second intra-section Traffic Bowl in March.

SPSU will represent the Georgia Section of ITE at the Southern District Traffic Bowl Competition in Lexington, Ky., April 15-18.

“We are proud of team members Joshua Conrad, David Peters and Nicholas Mullins from civil engineering and civil engineering technology,” said their advisor, Dr. Sung-Hee (Sonny) Kim, assistant professor of civil and construction engineering and director of the Center for Georgia Aggregates Research at SPSU.




April 2012

SPSU’s first CGDD grad lands job in industry
Billy Olden, SPSU’s first graduate from the Computer Game Design and Development (CGDD) program, has landed his first job in the gaming industry.

The May 2011 grad is working with Kiz Studios, maker of Planet Muck, as a lead programmer on a mobile application. He also plays a role in a multiplayer-online-battle-arena (MOBA)-style game for kids called SmashMuck Champions, which should be entering the testing stage soon.

Olden started out at SPSU as a computer science major in 2008 but switched to CGDD when SPSU launched the program in the fall of 2009.

Currently the CGDD program has two graduates and more than 137 enrolled students, with up to four on track to graduate in May. Additional students are pursuing a minor or a double-major in CGDD.



March 2012

CM student team wins national MCAA competition
A team of students from the SPSU Construction Management (CM) Department won the national Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA) Student Chapter Competition and a cash prize of $5,000 on March 19 in Orlando, Fla.

In SPSU’s first time as one of the four finalists, the team competed against students from the Milwaukee School of Engineering, Illinois State University and California State University at Sacramento. The competition took place during the MCAA National Convention, with teams making oral presentations before a panel of industry judges.

“This is a real coup and is testimony to the fine work that goes on within the CM program,” Vice President for Academic Affairs Zvi Szafran said in congratulating the team, its faculty advisor, Prof. Maureen Weidner, and CM Department Chair Khalid Siddiqi.

The SPSU MCAA Competition Team was captained by Trent Anderson and made up of Sean Barden, Daniel Epps, Billy Hancock, Larnell Jewell, Brian Nelson, Eric Pagan, Tyrone Sheffield and Charles Wall.

The journey to this victory began at the October 2011 MCAA Student Chapter Summit in San Francisco, where students were invited to prepare and submit a proposal to retrofit a historic San Francisco building into the Asian Art Museum. In January, judges selected the four best submissions for the Orlando competition.



March 2012

NECA chapter gears up for Green Energy Challenge
The 2012 Green Energy Challenge is underway with 18 student chapters of the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) from all over the country – including SPSU’s own – competing in an electric energy competition.

This year’s challenge required each team to select a facility on its campus and conduct an energy audit of the building’s power and lighting systems. Then team members must design and propose a retrofit for both systems. Each entry will be judged by the ELECTRI (The Foundation for Electrical Construction Inc.) international jury which consists of contractors and industry partners.

Eight students will represent SPSU in the challenge with Dr. John Mench, senior lecturer in the Construction Management Department, as their faculty advisor. The team is doing an energy audit of the W. Clair Harris Textile Center (Building M).

The SPSU NECA chapter is affiliated with the Atlanta chapter and will represent both Atlanta and Georgia in this national competition.



March 2012

SPSU social business team one step closer to winning $50K in start-up funds
A team of SPSU business administration students on a mission to help local battered women has cleared another hurdle in their quest to create a business that addresses a social issue.

The SPSU Social Business Team was one of two winners in a statewide Social Business Workshop held on March 3, the latest in a series of competitions leading up to a grand prize of $50,000 in start-up funding for the chosen business. SPSU competed with Fort Valley State University, Gainesville State College, Georgia Gwinnett College, Georgia State University and Valdosta State University during the workshop. Each team was mentored by a small group of venture capitalists before making a presentation to and answering questions from the entire assembly.

Team members at this stage included SPSU alumna Sonal Doshi, who obtained a Master of Science in Accounting (MSA) this winter and is now the controller of the Boys and Girls Club of Metro Atlanta, Fred Arnold, an MBA student, Chris Estrada (MBA), Becky Stringer (MBA) and Joelle Day, who graduated this winter with an MSA.

Doshi and Arnold presented the team’s business plan for an organization called Restoration Trust that would enable women to escape abusive relationships by providing them with small, low-interest “microloans” to help them secure housing, additional education and employment. The team determined that homelessness is a big problem for victims of domestic abuse, often leading them to return to their abusers. There are no microloan programs serving this population in Georgia.

“I am very proud of our students for all the extremely hard work they’ve put into this project,” said Dr. Donald Ariail, associate professor of accounting, who has been advising the team along with Dr. Greg Quinet, assistant professor of management, Dr. Joyce McGriff, associate professor of marketing, and Dr. Sandra Vasa-Sideris, professor of management. Working on their own time with no course credit, the group has put in well over 200 hours on Restoration Trust.

Until now, the SPSU team has been competing with other schools in the University System of Georgia, but that is about to change. On April 5-6, SPSU and the other winner of the March 3 competition, Georgia Gwinnett College, will be pitted against 20-25 entrepreneurs from around the region for a spot in a 10-week entrepreneurial training program by Village Capital-Atlanta, leading up to a June competition at which Village Capital will award the $50,000.

The groups participating in the March 3 workshop presented the top six out of 38 business plans showcased last October during the Georgia Social Business and Microcredit Forum, a statewide social business plan competition hosted by the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia. The SPSU team took first place in that competition.



March 2012

SPSU Speech Team earns statewide honors
SPSU hosted the Georgia Intercollegiate Forensic Association’s annual State Championship Tournament on Feb. 25. Eight SPSU students from multiple majors competed, and Speech Team members earned top honors in two events.

Competing in the Readers’ Theater for the first time, the SPSU team won first place with its entry, “The Job.” Senior technical communication major Toby Pope also earned first place in program oral interpretation and second place in impromptu speaking.

Other Speech Team members who placed in the top three in their events included:

• Tyler Maran, a sophomore in mechanical engineering technology, finished third in poetry interpretation and extemporaneous speaking.
• Ayana Reyes Howell, a sophomore in architecture, placed third in program oral interpretation.
• Anthony Stallworth, a junior in industrial engineering technology, won second place in informative speaking.
• Kyle Wood, a freshman in mechatronics engineering, took third place in after-dinner speaking.

SPSU also placed third in the Team Sweeps event.

Speech Team Coordinator Misty York, a lecturer in communication, said this was SPSU’s best showing at the state tournament. “Our students have put in a tremendous amount of time and effort to reach this level of competition,” she said. “As a coach, it’s my privilege to work with a program so full of potential.”

SPSU placed third overall at the tournament, only two points behind the second place winner, Gainesville State College. Berry College took home the team championship for the sixth consecutive year.

The competition ended with the presentation of the first-ever Jack Haley Memorial Award to a student from Berry College as the best overall performer at the tournament. Haley was a speech professor at SPSU who died last summer.

In addition to York, Dr. Mark Stevens, professor of English, and Kelsey Harr-Lagin, communication instructor, also assist in coaching the SPSU team.


February 2012

SPSU students score big in leadership competition
SPSU students for the first time entered a case study competition held in conjunction with the 16th Annual Georgia Collegiate Leadership Conference held on Feb. 11 and emerged from the experience with a $200 cash prize for their second-place finish.


SPSU team members were Bobby Givens, an electrical engineering major, and Matt Gosa and Kris Vickers, both construction management majors. All of the competitors were tasked with creating a student group to address student smoking on campus.

The conference is designed to enhance the leadership skills and abilities of undergraduate students and to foster interaction among campus leaders and advisors. Other schools in attendance included Dalton State College, Georgia College & State University, University of Alabama Birmingham, Valdosta State University, Georgia Highlands College, Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, University of Georgia, Athens Technical College and Gainesville State College.



February 2012

SPSU students participate in Global Game Jam
The world’s largest game jam event, Global Game Jam (GGJ), took place Jan. 27-29.

The GGJ is an annual event that brings together thousands of game enthusiasts to participate in hundreds of local jams around the world. All of the sites are challenged to create games on the same theme that must be completed over the weekend of the event.

SPSU hosted the first statewide GGJ last year. This year, students enjoyed the educational and fun event at the Atlanta campus of the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). The event had over 200 participants, a third of whom were SPSU students, and was the largest GGJ event in the United States and third largest in the world.

Local gaming companies such as Eyes Wide Game, Kaneva, Hi-Rez, Tripwire, Microsoft and Mowgli were on hand for the event.



February 2012

SPSU again boasts Engineering and Engineering Technology students of the year
The Georgia Engineering Alliance (GEA) has, for the second consecutive year, selected SPSU students to receive two prestigious awards. No other institution in recent history has been honored with both of these student awards, which will be presented at the 2012 Georgia Engineers Week Awards Gala on Feb. 25.

Garrett Bailey, a senior majoring in mechatronics engineering, is the state’s Engineering Student of the Year, while Christopher Cutter, a senior in mechanical engineering technology (MET), is the Engineering Technology Student of the Year.

Bailey recently became the first recipient of SPSU’s Engineering Innovation Scholarship, and he has maintained a 4.0 GPA throughout his time at SPSU. A non-traditional student, he holds a degree in philosophy from Georgia State University and, among other pursuits, worked as a ferryman on Martha’s Vineyard for several years before coming to SPSU.

Cutter’s 3.46 GPA places him in the top 15 percent of seniors in the MET program, and he has made the Dean’s List and received a Georgia Engineering Foundation Scholarship for the past two years. He is secretary of the campus chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers and is active on the Autonomous Underwater Vehicle Team.

“Chris [Cutter] is a bright and determined student, someone who always takes the initiative and is not a follower,” wrote one of his professors in nominating him for the GEA award. “He has a very special personality.”

Georgia Engineers Week will be celebrated Feb. 20-25. A list of special events and activities being planned at SPSU will be included in next week’s issue of the Hornet’s Nest.



January 2012

SPSU student team makes final cut for upcoming national competition

A nine-student team from the Construction Management Department competed against 26 other teams from across the nation and was selected in January as one of four finalists in the Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA) Student Chapter Competition.

SPSU’s team bested students from Purdue University, Northwestern University, Virginia Tech, Colorado State University, Kansas State University, and the Pennsylvania State University to make the finals for the first time. Led by their advisor, Prof. Maureen Weidner, the SPSU students will compete against the Milwaukee School of Engineering, Illinois State University and California State University, Sacramento, for the top prize of $5,000 at the MCAA National Convention on March 19 in Orlando, Fla.

The journey to the final stage of the competition began in early October at the 2011 MCAA Student Chapter Summit in San Francisco, where chapters were invited to prepare and submit a proposal to retrofit a historic San Francisco building into the Asian Art Museum. Teams were also required to prepare a bid for a post-construction service-and-maintenance package on the building.

SPSU students worked diligently in preparing their submission, which was due in mid-December. At a meeting in early January, MCAA judges chose the four best-scoring proposals. The finalists will deliver oral presentations on their submissions at the national convention.

The members of the SPSU MCAA Competition Team are: Trent Anderson (captain), Sean Barden, Daniel Epps, Billy Hancock, Larnell Jewell, Brian Nelson, Eric Pagan, Tyrone Sheffield and Charles Wall.

For more information about the competition, check the MCAA website.



December 2011

Construction Management students volunteer with HouseProud Atlanta

HouseProud project

Marietta, Ga. (Dec. 2, 2011) A group of students from the Construction Management (CM) Department put their education to work this fall by volunteering on three community service projects with HouseProud Atlanta, Inc.

This organization provides Atlanta’s low-income senior and disabled homeowners with no-cost home repairs to keep them warm, safe and dry in their existing homes. HouseProud relies heavily on skilled volunteers to fulfill its mission.

Groups of as many as eight CM students at a time – including the members of the SPSU Constructor’s Guild – took part in activities such as replacing rotted porch handrails and decking, re-attaching gutters, removing and replacing deteriorated soffit, installing new exterior handrails, re-screening porches and doors, fixing cabinets and replacing exterior doors.

HouseProud volunteer

“We had the pleasure of assisting a 75-year-old blind gentleman who lives by himself, an elderly lady whose husband recently passed away and other individuals in need,” said Trent Anderson, president of the SPSU Constructor’s Guild and vice president of the SPSU Student Government Association. “Students enjoyed taking some time on Saturday mornings to work with their hands and give back to the less fortunate, and we look forward to continuing these projects in the spring semester.”

“The work the SPSU students did in one day would have probably taken us several weeks to complete with the individual volunteers who work with HouseProud on a semi-regular basis,” HouseProud Atlanta’s Jonathan Kidwell wrote to Anderson after the most recent volunteer effort, on Nov. 19.


December, 2011

SPSU students collect three NSBE research awards
SPSU made a splash at the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) Fall Regional Conference in Jackson, Miss. last month, with two students bringing home three awards.

Caleb Burke, a senior electrical engineering technology major, won first place for his poster presentation and second place for an oral presentation of his research on "Exploring Effective Techniques to Fabricate Thin Film Cells Composed of CZTS (Cu2ZnSnS4).”

Nekeshia Griffin, a senior biology major, won third place for her oral presentation, “The Examination of the Population Growth Rates of the Redbreast and Bluegill Sunfish in Nickajack Creek.”

She was selected afterward to work as an apprentice researcher with Dr. Robert L. Howard of NASA’s Johnson Space Center on a project of her choice next summer at NASA’s Mars Desert Research Station. This is a facility in Utah that simulates a human outpost on the planet Mars. Teams of scientists, engineers and students routinely conduct two-week expeditions to the facility to study various aspects of life on Mars, work that is intended to help prepare the U.S. for eventual manned missions to Mars, the moon and other planets.


 November 2011

SPSU architecture students win 2011 Canstruction Atlanta Award
The SPSU American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS) partnered with the Atlanta-based architecture firm BRPH to compete in the 13th Annual Canstruction of Atlanta, a design/build competition involving canned food held Nov 2-13 at Colony Square: SPSU won an award for Structural Ingenuity in its first appearance at this competition, facing off against teams of Atlanta architects, engineers, contractors, designers and students from schools of architecture, engineering and design.

The SPSU AIAS team created an eight-foot tall cancer-awareness “ribbon” from 1,400 cans of food in remembrance of those who have fought any type of cancer.

The team included Adam Thomas (team captain), Adam Lamb (BRPH and SPSU alumnus), Jessica Nelson, Felicia Blake, Richard Burden, Ruben Chitu, Marie Kitchen, Chase Robinson, Eleanor Rochelle (SPSU alumnus), Kristen Tolentino, and Jereme Smith (SPSU alumnus).

Canstruction Inc. is a nonprofit organization that holds annual design and build competitions to construct fantastic, giant structures made entirely out of canned food. In each city after the structures are built and the winners declared the creations go on view to the general public as an art exhibit. All of the food used in building the structures is donated to local food banks for distribution to community emergency feeding programs.


November 2011

SPSU represented at National Collegiate Honors Council Conference
Last month, members of the SPSU Honors Program attended the National Collegiate Honors Council Conference in Phoenix.

 Brothers and SPSU students Isaiah and Joshua Gober presented a research assistant project that they conducted with Dr. Rajnish Singh, an associate professor of biology, concerning cell-to-cell adhesion in cancer. Their poster presentation was titled “To Adhere or Not to Adhere: Understanding the Molecular Mechanism of Inflammation and Cell-Cell Adhesion in Cancer.”

The SPSU presentations were well received at the conference, where the theme was “Stewards of our Colliding Worlds: Rights, Wrongs, and Responsibilities.”



October 2011

SPSU students win statewide business competition

A team of graduate and undergraduate students from SPSU won first place on Oct. 17 in a business plan competition at the Georgia Social Business and Microcredit Forum that involved 38 teams from 32 colleges and universities across the state.

The forum’s keynote speaker was Dr. Muhammad Yunus, winner of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize and founder of the microcredit concept, who presented the top award to SPSU for having developed a plan for a workable business to address a critical social issue. The SPSU team created Restoration Trust, a microloan program to help abused women in Marietta break the cycle of violence by reshaping their lives via educational pursuits and enterprise.

“Our students did a wonderful job in the three short weeks they had to put together a business plan and presentation. I was proud to be there to see them win against some very strong competition,” said Dr. Zvi Szafran, vice president for Academic Affairs.

Sonal Doshi, a student in the Master of Science in Accounting (MSA) program, and Fred Arnold, an MBA student, presented SPSU’s business plan in two different rounds of competition judged by the leaders of companies such as the Kimberly Clark Corporation, Starbucks, PayPal, Church’s Chicken, the Intel Corporation and Motorola. 

The rest of the student team included: Lauren Tyus, an honors student in the Bachelor of Science in Business Administration program; James (Ben) Fulghum, also a student in the Bachelor of Science in Business Administration program; Joelle Day, MSA; Arthur Vaughn, MSA; Christopher Estrada, MBA; Rebecca Stringer, MBA; Sana Yasmeen, a high school, dual-enrollment, honors biology student; and Tiane McKoy, a student in the Bachelor of Apparel and Textiles program.

Their faculty advisors were: Don Ariail, associate professor of accounting; Greg Quinet, assistant professor of management; Joyce McGriff, associate professor of marketing; and Sandra Vasa-Sideris, professor of management.

The University System of Georgia organized the Georgia Social Business and Microcredit Forum in collaboration with a number of other state agencies to bring together economic development interests from all regions of the state to hear Dr. Yunus’ social business concept of combining business know-how with the desire to improve quality of life.


October 2011

CM students take top places in MCAA and ASC competitions

The SPSU Construction Management Team, led by Prof. Maureen Weidner with students Trent Anderson, Eric Pagan and Daniel Epps, recently attended the Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA) 2011 Student Chapter Summit in San Francisco.

Senior Daniel Epps’ team received first prize in the National Mini Competition, which challenges students to analyze, plan and prepare a project presentation in less than a day.

The summit provided a weekend of educational sessions, networking opportunities and career exploration. The focus of the event was on the two critical components of a bid package: determining and pricing general conditions and estimating the construction of mechanical systems.

From Oct. 26-28, students from the SPSU Department of Construction Management also traveled to Hoover, Ala., to compete in the 2011 Associated Schools of Construction and the Associated General Contractors Region II Student Competition.

The SPSU Commercial Team, led by senior Trent Anderson, won first place in this highly competitive event. SPSU’s Heavy/Civil Competition Team, led by senior Phillip Young, brought home the second place award to beat out teams from Auburn, Clemson, University of Florida, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Georgia Southern and Mississippi State.

The teams worked tirelessly for weeks to prepare and submit a preliminary proposal prior to traveling to the competition. SPSU delivered a 30-minute oral presentation and a response to an RFP (Request for Proposal) for a multi-million dollar project to bring home the hardware. The first place Commercial team received a $1,500 award and the second place Heavy/Civil team received a $750 award.


October 2011

Speech team competes, places in recent competitions
The SPSU Speech team, coached by Prof. Misty York of ETCMA, finished its last tournament of the semester after garnering a number of honors.

At Gainesville State College on Oct. 1, Kinga Grewszecka, a junior majoring in technical communication, placed fifth in the persuasive speaking category. Sophomore Ayana Reyes, an architecture major, placed first in novice program oral interpretation as well as fourth in program oral interpretation. Senior Toby Pope, a technical communication major, placed second in program oral interpretation and received the Award of Excellence for impromptu speaking.

At a competition at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Ala. on Oct. 15, sophomore Tyler Maran, a mechanical engineering major, placed first in the novice poetry category. 

The team regularly competes against much larger institutions, such as Florida State University and the University of Alabama, and most teams are made up of speech majors. Congratulations to all SPSU speech competitors!



October 2011

SPSU welcomes second Gates Millennium Scholar
SPSU freshman Erick Rodriguez was recently awarded the prestigious Gates Millennium Scholarship (GMS), which was awarded to just 1,000 of the 24,000 applicants this year. Rodriguez joins Jasmine Copeland, a fifth-year student in the architecture program, as SPSU’s only recipients.

Rodriguez came to SPSU this fall from Lithia Springs High School in Douglas County, where he won four other scholarships during his senior year.

Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the GMS Program is designed to assist outstanding African-American, American-Indian/Alaska-Native, Asian-Pacific Islander American and Hispanic-American students throughout their undergraduate college education at any university in any field of study. The program also provides students with mentoring services, internship opportunities and possible funding for post-graduate studies. Recipients must have a high school GPA of 3.3, demonstrated leadership abilities, participation in community service and federal Pell Grant eligibility

The GPA was no problem for Rodriguez, who graduated high school with a 3.96 GPA. After earning a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and advanced degrees, he hopes to work for NASA.

Rodriguez said winning the scholarship meant the world to him. “I felt relieved and proud that the four years I dedicated to studying with a purpose in high school paid off.”


October 2011

SPSU students collect awards at PSLSAMP National Research Conference
Several members of the SPSU Peach State Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (PSLSAMP) returned home from the 6th Annual PSLSAMP National Symposium and Research Conference in October with awards for the work they presented.

The National Science Foundation-funded Peach State Alliance is a collaborative effort sustained by several higher education institutions: SPSU, Fort Valley State University, Georgia Perimeter College, Georgia Tech, Kennesaw State, Savannah State University and the University of Georgia. The alliance’s goal is to increase statewide the number of underrepresented minority students completing undergraduate degrees and pursuing graduate degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Savannah State hosted this year’s conference on Oct. 14-15 that attracted approximately 300 students from Georgia, Connecticut, Florida and New York. More than 40 SPSU students and faculty and staff members attended; 14 SPSU students presented research.

• Joshua Gober, a senior chemistry major, took home second place for his oral presentation in the Chemistry Section.

• Nekeshia Griffin, a senior biology major, won first place for her oral presentation in the Environmental Biology/Microbiology/ Mathematics/Physics Section.

• Sonia Vanegas, a senior mechanical engineering technology (MET) major, and Davis Hsu, a junior mechanical engineering major, came in second in the Technology and Engineering oral presentations.

• Ukaku Kalu, a junior in Electrical Engineering Technology, and Eddie Pulliam, a junior in Mechatronics Engineering, took third place in the Technology and Engineering oral presentations.

The students’ research mentors were: Dr. Peter Sakaris, assistant professor of biology; Dr. Mir Atiquallah, associate professor of MET; Dr. Kai Qian, professor of computer science; and Dr. Vincent P. Conticello of Emory University.


September 2011

Architecture workshop in Turkey leads to campus exhibition

Over the summer, Dr. Mine H. Hashas-Degertekin, an assistant professor, took SPSU senior architecture students to Istanbul, Turkey, for an urban design workshop called “Merging Scales-Merging Boundaries” that also included students from the Department of Architecture at Bahcesehir University in Istanbul.

The SPSU students – Catherine Lozano, Neil Patel, Sudha Somayajula and Kellen Spafford – spent two weeks exploring the culture and working on a proposed urban-design project.

Through various excursions and lectures, the students gained a better understanding of the city, as well as the project site and its requirements. They developed conceptual design proposals, built models and exhibited their work at Bahcesehir University.

In mid-September, Dr. Hashas and the four SPSU students held a similar exhibition on the SPSU campus, displaying their completed projects, sketch books, booklets created for the workshop, along with photographs of the team working together and of Istanbul.

The exhibit’s opening reception was attended by the Turkish Honorary Consul General for Georgia Mona Diamond.



July 2011

Professor, students involved in energy research at EPA
Dr. Deidra Hodges, an assistant professor in the Electrical Engineering Department, and two students spent part of their summer at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Office of Radiation and Indoor Air in Washington, D.C., as participants in the EPA’s Faculty and Student Teams (FaST) research program.

For the student portion of the SPSU team, Dr. Hodges chose Electrical Engineering major Toussaint Moseley based on his classroom performance and Electrical and Computer Engineering Technology major Aaron Love based on his letters of recommendation. Both students expect to graduate in December 2012.

Dr. Hodges, Moseley and Love spent several weeks performing research related to solar and nuclear energy at the EPA and wrapped up their stay in the nation’s capitol by presenting their findings to the agency’s radiation protection division.