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College of Engineering dedicates new Owens-Illinois Conference Room

The University of Toledo dedicated the new Owens-Illinois Conference Room in the College of Engineering last week to celebrate the new meeting space made possible by a gift from the glass manufacturing company to support UT’s engineering and business programs.

The conference room is located in Nitschke Hall Room 4020 and is part of the Mechanical, Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering Department.

Dr. Hassan HassabElnaby, interim dean of the College of Business and Innovation, left, and Dr. Michael Toole, dean of the College of Engineering, held the ribbon for Ludovic Valette, global vice president of research and development at Owens-Illinois Inc., left, and Adam Hafer, manager of the Innovation Center, Global Technologies EH&S, and Perrysburg Properties at Owens-Illinois, to cut Jan. 10 to mark the dedication of the new Owens-Illinois Conference Room in Nitschke Hall.

“The support of our corporate partners makes it possible for the College of Engineering to provide a first-rate experience to our students,” said Dr. Michael Toole, dean of the College of Engineering. “O-I has been a long-term partner with the College of Engineering, and their leadership support has impacted many of our students throughout the years.”

The new conference room is supported by a $250,000 commitment O-I made in 2015 to support the College of Engineering and the College of Business and Innovation. The new Owens-Illinois Finance Tutoring Lab opened last year in Stranahan Hall.

Following the ceremony, UT and O-I officials had lunch in the new space.

In addition to the facilities improvements, the gift from O-I provides financial support for key initiatives, including the Engineering Innovation Fund, O-I National Society of Black Engineers Scholarship Fund and O-I Society for Women Engineers Scholarship Fund in the College of Engineering and the O-I Corporate Finance Scholars Tutoring Program in the College of Business and Innovation.

“O-I has been a tremendous friend to the College of Business and Innovation in many ways, such as through their support of our annual student Pacemaker Awards and by providing the first-place prize for the college business plan competition,” said Dr. Hassan HassabElnaby, interim dean of the College of Business and Innovation. “We were pleased and honored to welcome the O-I executive team so that they could see and touch some of these things, and so that we could thank them in person.”

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist to deliver UT commencement address Dec. 17

Toledo native and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Michael D. Sallah will return to his alma mater Sunday, Dec. 17, to deliver the keynote address during The University of Toledo’s fall commencement ceremony.

The event will begin at 10 a.m. in Savage Arena.

Sallah

Sallah will address 2,067 candidates for degrees, including 118 doctoral, 523 master’s, 1,370 bachelor’s and 56 associate’s.

The ceremony is open to the public and can be viewed live at video.utoledo.edu.

Sallah’s investigative work as a reporter and editor with award-winning newspapers across the country has revealed public corruption, police abuses and government blunders, resulting in grand jury investigations, legislative reform, and the recovery of millions of taxpayer dollars.

He is a reporter on the national investigations team at USA Today/Gannett Network in Washington, D.C.

“This is where it all began for me,” Sallah said. “From the time I took my first journalism class in the fall of my freshman year, I fell in love with journalism, and UT is a big part of that. It’s part of my foundation — the professors, the values they conveyed to me about journalism, and why it’s so critical to our society, especially investigative work. I’m honored to be coming home to be the commencement speaker.”

“Journalists have an important role to inform the public about the issues that affect our lives, and Michael Sallah has embraced that responsibility uncovering many misdeeds through investigative reporting that resulted in positive change,” UT President Sharon L. Gaber said. “I look forward to him sharing with our graduates how he got his start here in Toledo and inspiring them to stay curious and serve their communities.”

Born in Toledo, Sallah is a 1977 alumnus of The University of Toledo, graduating cum laude with a bachelor of arts degree in journalism. He was named UT’s Outstanding Alumnus in the Social Sciences in 2004. Sallah also is a 1973 graduate of St. John’s Jesuit High School.

He was a reporter and national affairs writer at The Blade for more than a decade, and was the lead reporter on the 2003 project “Buried Secrets, Brutal Truths” that exposed the U.S. Army’s longest war crimes case of the Vietnam War. The series won numerous national awards, including the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting.

While investigations editor and reporter at the Miami Herald, Sallah led an inquiry into local corruption. His team’s 2006 “House of Lies” series exposed widespread fraud in Miami-Dade County public housing and earned the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for Local Reporting. He was named a 2012 Pulitzer Prize finalist for his series “Neglected to Death,” which uncovered deadly conditions in Florida assisted-living facilities, led to the closing of 13 facilities, and was the impetus for a gubernatorial task force to overhaul state law.

During his two years at The Washington Post, Sallah received a Robert F. Kennedy Award for Excellence in Journalism for an investigation that exposed a predatory system of tax collection in the District of Columbia. 

He returned to the Miami Herald in 2014 and was named a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2016 for uncovering one of the nation’s most corrupt sting operations in a police unit that laundered $71.5 million for drug cartels, kept millions for brokering the deals, and failed to make a single significant arrest. 

Sallah is the author of the books “Tiger Force: A True Story of Men and War” and “Yankee Comandante: The Untold Story of Courage, Passion and One American’s Fight to Liberate Cuba.” He also was a consultant for the Public Broadcasting Service documentary “American Experience.”

UT’s fall commencement ceremony will recognize graduates from the colleges of Arts and Letters; Business and Innovation; Judith Herb College of Education; Engineering; Graduate Studies; Health and Human Services; Honors College; Natural Sciences and Mathematics; Nursing; and Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences; and University College.

For more information, visit utoledo.edu/commencement.

Engineering alumna begins full-time career with Microsoft

Courtney Greer wanted to be part of the computer revolution.

“Computers are all around us. Whether you know it or not, they impact our lives every single day,” she said. “I wanted to be a part of that impact and innovation.”

2017 UT graduate Courtney Greer has a lot to smile about; she started working at Microsoft in Chicago in July.

Greer graduated from The University of Toledo with a bachelor of science degree in computer science and engineering with a minor in business administration in May.

Shortly after graduation, she accepted a job offer from Microsoft, the sixth largest information technology company in the world by revenue.

“I actually didn’t know anything about computer science or engineering until my senior year of high school. Before that, I was in between interior design and psychology,” Greer said. “My mother convinced me to take a look at engineering because of my love for math. Math has always been my favorite subject, but I never really knew how to make a career out of it. Engineering was the perfect choice for me once I started to learn about it. I chose computer science engineering once I realized how much growth and opportunity there was in that field.”

Once she began her studies at UT, Greer became involved with several student organizations, sports and jobs. She said her four engineering co-ops, three of which are required by the College of Engineering before graduation, especially prepared her for her future working with tech.

“I did two [co-ops] with Lubrizol in Cleveland and two in San Francisco with Visa,” Greer said. “My internships helped me narrow down exactly what I was interested in my field and helped me network with people from all over.

Courtney Greer is congratulated by Bill McCreary, UT vice president and chief information and technology officer, for landing a job at Microsoft.

“My studies at UT taught me how to learn and how to love learning, which is going to be key stepping into such a fast-paced field,” she added. “I also wouldn’t be anywhere without my organization, the National Society of Black Engineers. I was a part of NSBE all five years on campus, and the professional workshops, resumé building, community service, engineering conventions and leadership opportunities I’ve had with my colleagues in the org had a huge impact on where I am today.”

Greer seems to have found her groove at Microsoft in Chicago, where she is a partner development manager, working with a team called One Commercial Partner.

“I quickly came to realize that an average day doesn’t exist in my role,” Greer explained. “My team is responsible for creating the growth of Microsoft’s cloud, Azure, in market. My sole responsibility is recruitment. I work within a team of about 20 individuals in different regions and areas of expertise to bring startups, small to medium businesses, and consumers to the cloud.

“Once we are able to get a consumer integrated into Azure, we become a partner with that brand, and, in turn, I become one of their brand champions on Microsoft’s behalf. We want our consumers to get all they can out of Azure; we want them to leverage new technologies relating to Big Data, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Internet of Things and more. It is so fascinating to see how our consumers are able to leverage our technologies to change the world.”

She helps contact more than 300 accounts in the Midwest region. These accounts vary from manufacturing, financial services, health care and more.

“I need to understand what their company produces and their mission, but also try my best to predict the business and technology needs of each business I interact with. This is why I say no day is average,” Greer said.

“Any day I could be talking to a CEO and CTO of a million-dollar manufacturing company or four college students hoping to create an app that helps hospitals manage patient data. I could be working from home, or I could be working downtown and showing clients one of the Microsoft Technology Centers. I could be traveling to Vegas to a conference to speak to up-and-coming startups about the capabilities of Azure.

“No day is set in stone, which is what I love the most. I love getting to speak to people who have created these wonderful technologies and assisting them to get to the next step.”

Greer is also passionate about encouraging young women and other minorities to pursue their interests in engineering. According to the Congressional Joint Economic Committee, only 14 percent of engineers are women.

“Don’t let failures stop you,” Greer advised. “I’ve read a lot of studies about how insecurities in minorities and women tend to be their downfall. They believe they have to be the best when surrounded by the majority either in school, work or in social interactions ‘or else they’ll think we’re all dumb,’ ‘or else they’ll think I don’t belong.’ It’s called the stereotype threat, and it can be very hurtful to both women and minorities in their studies.

“Don’t fall into that trap. Look at failures as opportunities for learning, no matter where or who you are. We all make mistakes. I learned this insight from a book I read titled ‘Mindset’ by Carol Dweck. I recommend anyone beginning a new phase in her or his life read that book as it is very impactful.”

UT grad to pitch invention on ABC’s ‘Shark Tank’

A graduate of both The University of Toledo and its LaunchPad Incubation program got the opportunity to pitch his invention to celebrity investors on ABC’s Emmy Award-winning reality TV show “Shark Tank.”

Tom Burden, who graduated in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering technology, introduced his solution to mechanics frustrated by their tools sliding off aircraft while they work — the Grypmat. The flexible, non-slip tool mat is made of a unique polymer-silicone blend that helps grip tools and keep them in place at extreme angles of up to 70 degrees.

UT alumnus Tom Burden talked about his invention, the Grypmat, on “Shark Tank,” which will air Sunday, Nov. 12, at 9 p.m. on ABC.

“It was pretty nerve-wracking to pitch this idea that I created up in my basement in front of billionaires,” Burden said. “I’m standing there on set next to a jet getting the opportunity to tell them all about how my invention helps mechanics like me keep their tools in place while they work.”

So what did the sharks think? You have to tune in at 9 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 12, to find out. The episode Burden participated in included guest shark Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Group, in addition to investors Mark Cuban, Daymond John, Lori Greiner and Robert Herjavec.

Burden came to “Shark Tank” with experience successfully pitching his idea. He won the University’s Pitch & Pour competition while a student at UT and is returning next week to serve as a judge for the sixth annual entrepreneurial business pitch competition. Five teams will pitch their ideas at the local startup pitch event sponsored by the UT LaunchPad Incubation program Thursday, Nov. 16, at 5:30 p.m. in the Nitschke Technology Commercialization Complex.

“We are incredibly proud of what Tom has accomplished with the Grypmat,” said Jessica Sattler, director of economic engagement and business development programs at UT. “Tom was one of our first clients here at LaunchPad, and we knew he had potential as an entrepreneur from the start.  His work ethic, coachability, and willingness to utilize and leverage all the resources at his disposal convinced us of his path to success early on.”

An F-16 mechanic in the U.S. Air Force, Burden knew firsthand the frustration of not having his tools within reach. He was inspired by a nonslip mat for the car dashboard to come up with a similar solution geared toward mechanics.

The CAD training skills he learned in the UT classroom helped him design his product. The resources at the UT Launchpad Incubation helped him put the Grypmat in the market.

“The University helped me take this idea and turn it into a real product that is now available for sale not just to aircraft mechanics, but those who work on cars or boats or any number of projects where it is important to keep your tools organized,” Burden said.

For more information about Grypmat, visit grypmat.com. To learn more about the UT Launchpad Incubation program, visit utoledo.edu/incubator.

UT Engineering Fall Career Expo to take place Sept. 27

The University of Toledo Engineering Career Development Center will host the Fall 2017 Engineering Career Expo Wednesday, Sept. 27.

Representatives from more than 160 companies will be available to talk to students and alumni of the UT College of Engineering.

Employer participants will include American Electric Power, Cooper Tire & Rubber Co., DTE Energy, DePuy Synthes/Johnson & Johnson Co., Honda, Marathon Petroleum Corp., Owens Corning, Owens-Illinois Inc., Toledo Refining Co. and Zimmer Biomet.

“The current job outlook for engineering students in The University of Toledo Engineering College is certainly bright as evidenced by the number of employers registered to attend the college’s fall expo,” said Dr. Vickie Kuntz, director of the Engineering Career Development Center. “This reflects very positively on the quality of both our programs and our students. It also demonstrates our dynamic and mutually beneficial partnership we have with our industry participants.”

This event is held to connect students with companies seeking talent needed for success.

“The college hosts semiannual career expos in order to afford our students the opportunity to network with potential employers. It also allows our employers to meet our students to determine if they would be a good fit into their organizations,” Kuntz said.

“Our undergraduate mandatory co-op program is one of only eight mandatory engineering co-op programs in the country. Many students indicate our co-op program is the reason they attend the College of Engineering at The University of Toledo. Our program requires our students to graduate with one full year of professional engineering experience. Our students feel confident seeking full-time employment upon graduation. Co-op employers are able to work with these students and are able to determine how the student fits within their organizations. It’s a win-win situation for our students and the employers who hire them.”

More than 600 students are expected to attend the fall expo, she added.

The expo is open to University of Toledo College of Engineering students who are enrolled in the mandatory co-op program. Additionally, alumni of the UT College of Engineering and students searching for full-time opportunities are welcome.

The UT Engineering Fall 2017 Career Expo will be held at the College of Engineering from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. Attendees can pre-register the morning of the event from 9 to 11 a.m. or register just prior to the event starting at 12:15 p.m. in North Engineering Building Room 1022.

NSF awards UT $1.8 million grant to engage high school students with cybersecurity

The University of Toledo will teach more than 2,000 local high school students and teachers how to use mathematics and computational thinking to solve cybersecurity problems in smart vehicles as part of a new $1.8 million grant from the National Science Foundation.

The three-year federal grant for the INITIATE program, which is officially titled Understanding How Integrated Computational Thinking, Engineering Design, and Mathematics Can Help Students Solve Scientific and Technical Problems in Career Technical Education, funds the partnership between UT, NSF and Toledo Public Schools.

Oluoch

At the end of each year, students compete in a “modern pinewood derby” where each team races a smart vehicle through an obstacle course without another team hacking the vehicle to crash or disable it.

“This grant is a great step toward preparing a workforce in the United States that focuses on cybersecurity and smart vehicle technology,” said Dr. Jared Oluoch, UT assistant professor of computer science and engineering technology, and principal investigator of the project. “The concept of smart vehicles is appealing to high school students because it is a new, intriguing idea. Our goal is to improve algebra and geometry standards among the students and prepare them to pursue STEM disciplines in college.”

The program engages local high school students in how to design secure technologies and helps science teachers in grades nine through 12 integrate computational thinking into their curriculum. The project also investigates whether focusing on a specific problem is an effective way to make mathematics more engaging and relevant to students.

The program includes a two-week summer institute for 12 teachers and ongoing academic year meetings designed to assist those teachers in implementing the project into their classrooms with 2,217 students.

Oluoch oversaw the development of the INITIATE program along with Dr. Charlene Czerniak, professor emeritus of science education and research professor in the UT College of Engineering, and Dr. Ahmad Javaid, assistant professor of computer science in the UT College of Engineering.

Nearly $2.4 million federal grant awarded to help UT researcher turn algae into fuel source

The U.S. Department of Energy awarded The University of Toledo a nearly $2.4 million grant to find a faster, cleaner process to produce fuel using algae without needing to add concentrated carbon dioxide.

Dr. Sridhar Viamajala, UT associate professor of chemical engineering, said this three-year project to help algal fuels replace fossil fuels is a continuation of his previous work in partnership with Montana State University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Arizona State University.

Viamajala

“We are trying to speed up the growth of algae by providing a very high pH environment that allows algae to take up carbon dioxide gas from the atmosphere more efficiently and prevent unwanted contamination,” Viamajala said. “Since it grows in water, algae doesn’t have as much carbon dioxide available. We are trying to improve the cleaner fuel potential.”

The project to create a comprehensive strategy for stable, high-productivity cultivation of microalgae with controllable biomass composition also includes genetic testing.

“This funding puts northwest Ohio at the forefront of a national effort to create new technologies and methods for biofuels,” said Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur. “These types of programs can lead to breakthroughs that will create American jobs and enhance our energy security, which is why I remain committed to renewable energy and advanced research from my role overseeing Department of Energy funding on the Appropriations Committee. Congratulations to the researchers at The University of Toledo for receiving this award.”

The research is funded through the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and Office of Bioenergy Technology.

UT’s grant is part of about $8.8 million recently announced by the U.S. Department of Energy for projects that will deliver high-impact tools and techniques for increasing the productivity of algae organisms in order to reduce the costs of producing algal biofuels and bioproducts. 

Ribbon cutting Sept. 5 to celebrate new Drinking Water Research Lab

A new Drinking Water Research Laboratory at The University of Toledo will allow local municipalities to quickly and easily test the safety of the public water supply.

A $500,000 grant from the state of Ohio Community Capital Program provided the state-of-the-art technology and renovations for the laboratory in the UT College of Engineering.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held Tuesday, Sept. 5, at 10 a.m. in North Engineering Building Room 1600 with UT researchers joined by elected officials and community partners.

The lab’s new liquid chromatography mass spectrometer system and new flow cytometer will be used to detect various cyanotoxins, such as microcystin from the toxic algal blooms in Lake Erie, and assimilable organic carbon, which is used by harmful microorganisms, to ensure the contaminants are not present in drinking water.

The dedicated lab focused exclusively on drinking water research eliminates concerns of cross contamination from other samples to allow very low detection limits for improved testing accuracy.

“Water treatment plants in Ohio face new challenges from a host of emerging algal toxins, as well as contaminants from other emerging micropollutants, such as pharmaceutical products or microplastics, in their source waters,” said Dr. Youngwoo Seo, associate professor in UT’s Civil and Environmental Engineering and Chemical Engineering departments. “By engaging with the lab, the municipalities can get early warning signs of new and emerging algal toxins, as well as quantification of existing toxins during cases of concern.”

“Many water utilities have difficulties in continuously analyzing samples due to high costs and limited time. They will now have access to the lab on a regular basis for monitoring contaminants in treated water, as well as samples from different points in the treatment process,” said Dr. Joseph G. Lawrence, UT research professor and director of the Center for Materials and Sensor Characterization. “A water utility could, for example, send water samples every week during the algal bloom to track the concentration of toxins in source water and treated water so that they can make informed decisions on the type of treatment.”

Water quality is a major research focus at UT. With $12.5 million in active grants underway, UT experts are studying algal blooms, invasive species such as Asian carp, and pollutants. Researchers are looking for pathways to restore our greatest natural resource for future generations to ensure communities continue to have access to safe drinking water.

NSF awards UT nearly $1 million grant to continue early childhood science education program

The National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded The University of Toledo a nearly $1 million federal grant to continue, expand and further evaluate its successful, innovative program that engages teachers and parents in supporting a young child’s natural curiosity through interactive, inquiry-based science lessons.

The University’s NURTURES Early Childhood Science program, which aims to improve the science readiness scores of preschool through third-grade students in the Toledo area, was originally supported with a $10 million, five-year NSF grant. The new $991,081 grant is part of a total of $2.25 million in federal funding for the second phase of the program that extends it through 2021.

NURTURES, which stands for Networking Urban Resources with Teachers and University to enRich Early Childhood Science, is a professional development program and collaboration between UT, local daycare centers and nursery schools, Toledo Public Schools, informal science centers and other community resources to create a complementary, integrated system of science education.

Project participants in the second phase of the project will include 120 teachers, 2,400 preschool through third-grade children, and more than 7,200 family members in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan.

“We are pleased to receive additional funding from the National Science Foundation for the NURTURES program,” said Dr. Charlene Czerniak, professor emeritus of science education and research professor in the UT College of Engineering. “Building on our previous success, we will simultaneously target early childhood teachers, families and children to create a broad support system for powerful and effective science teaching and learning. This program will help close the gaps in science, mathematics, reading and literacy for young children.”

During the first phase of the NURTURES program, 330 teachers of preschool through third grade and administrators participated in a total of 544 hours of professional development in the teaching of science inquiry and engineering design for early childhood classrooms.

According to research published recently in the Journal of Research in Science Teaching, every year that a student has a NURTURES program teacher adds on average 8.6 points to a student’s early literacy standardized test score compared to control students, 17 points to a student’s mathematics score, and 41.4 points to a student’s reading score.

The program includes five primary components:

• A two-week summer institute for preschool through third-grade teachers in which they have access to both scientists and instructional coaches;

• Academic year professional development, including monthly professional learning community meetings and one-on-one coaching;

• Family science activity packets sent home from school four times a year that each include a newsletter with directions for the investigation, necessary materials for the activity, and a journal sheet for children to record data or visually represent understanding;

• Family community science events, such as engineering challenge simulations, and observations and demonstrations at a park, zoo, science center, library or farm; and

• Public service broadcasts on television that promote family science activities.

According to the National Science Foundation, an important facet of this follow-up project is the research effort to understand how each component impacts student learning. Project leaders plan to use control groups and standardized tests to measure the effect of teacher professional development compared to family engagement activities.

“What a tremendous opportunity for the young children, their families and teachers in our region to participate in a project that will enhance their understanding of science and the natural world around them,” said Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur. “It is so important for the project team at The University of Toledo to continue to study the impact that family engagement has on a young child’s education. We know that spending time reading to a child exposes them to 1.8 million words a year. What other things could families be exposing to their children to set them on a pathway for success in life? The NURTURES project at The University of Toledo aims to find that out.”

The additional grant award comes one week after the American Association of State Colleges and Universities honored UT with its Christa McAuliffe Award for Excellence in Teacher Education in recognition of the NURTURES program.

Czerniak oversaw the development of the NURTURES program along with Dr. Joan Kaderavek, professor of early childhood, physical and special education in the UT Judith Herb College of Education; Dr. Susanna Hapgood, associate professor in the UT Department of Curriculum and Instruction in the Judith Herb College of Education; and Dr. Scott Molitor, associate professor in the UT Department of Bioengineering in the College of Engineering.

UT wins national teacher education award for excellence and innovation

The American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) honored The University of Toledo with its Christa McAuliffe Award for Excellence in Teacher Education in recognition of a successful program that engages teachers and parents in supporting a young child’s natural curiosity through interactive, inquiry-based science lessons.

The national association of nearly 420 public colleges, universities and systems selected UT for the competitive award that recognizes one institution each year for excellence and innovation because of the University’s NURTURES Early Childhood Science program, which aims to improve the science readiness scores of preschool through third grade students in the Toledo area.

In a letter to UT President Sharon L. Gaber, AASCU President Muriel A. Howard calls the program “an exemplary one that can serve as a model for other institutions and help to advance practices in the field.”

NURTURES, which stands for Networking Urban Resources with Teachers and University to enRich Early Childhood Science, is a professional development program and collaboration between UT, local daycare centers and nursery schools, Toledo Public Schools, informal science centers, and other community resources to create a complementary, integrated system of science education. The program was supported with a $10 million grant from the National Science Foundation.

“We are honored to receive this award and hope that the NURTURES program will serve as an exciting model for teaching science to young children,” said Dr. Charlene Czerniak, professor emeritus of science education and research professor in the UT College of Engineering. “By engaging young children in high-quality science experiences, teachers can also impact reading, literacy and mathematics in statistically significant ways.”

According to research published recently in the Journal of Research in Science Teaching, every year that a student has a NURTURES program teacher adds on average 8.6 points to a student’s early literacy standardized test score compared to control students, 17 points to a student’s mathematics score, and 41.4 points to a student’s reading score.

“Our innovation comes in through the multifaceted way the program engages teachers, parents and the community in science for young children,” Czerniak said. “Science focused on preschool through third grade is not the norm. And by engaging children in school-based, at-home-based and informal-community-based science, we build a model for helping young children learn science and improve in reading, literacy and mathematics as well.”

The NURTURES program enhances teacher understanding of science content to improve classroom practices and offers classroom extension activities and family learning opportunities in the Toledo area.

It includes five primary components, including:

• A two-week summer institute for preschool through third grade teachers in which they have access to both scientists and instructional coaches;

• Academic year professional development, including monthly professional learning community meetings and one-on-one coaching;

• Family science activity take-home packs that each include a newsletter with directions for the investigation, necessary materials for the activity, and a journal sheet for children to record data or visually represent understanding;

• Family community science events, such as engineering challenge simulations, and observations and demonstrations at a park, zoo, science center, library or farm; and

• Public service broadcasts on television that promote family science activities.

Czerniak oversaw the development of the NURTURES program along with Dr. Joan Kaderavek, professor of early childhood, physical and special education in the UT Judith Herb College of Education; Dr. Susanna Hapgood, associate professor in the UT Department of Curriculum and Instruction in the Judith Herb College of Education; and Dr. Scott Molitor, associate professor in the UT Department of Bioengineering in the College of Engineering.

The award for teacher education will be presented to UT Sunday, Oct. 22, during the American Association of State Colleges and Universities’ annual meeting in California. Awards also will be presented to institutions in six other categories: civic learning and community engagement; international education; leadership development and diversity; regional and economic development; student success and college completion; and sustainability and sustainable development.

“Innovation at America’s state colleges and universities is focused on advancing the quality of the educational experience for their students and the distinction of their institutions in service to their communities,” Howard said. “The programs for which these universities are being honored will inspire not only their AASCU colleagues, but all of higher education.”