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Opportunities, ‘sense of community’ draw students to Honors open house

One student flew from Colorado. Most of the high school students came from Tennessee. The rest came from surrounding states in the South and Midwest.

With sunny, mid-70 degree weather prevailing outdoors for Presidents’ Day when most were out of school for the holiday, nearly 640 people attended the MTSU Honors College open house Monday (Feb. 20).

Honors College Dean John Vile, right, greets prospective MTSU student Cameron Almonrode, who has questions about the program. (MTSU photos by Andy Heidt)

Honors College Dean John Vile, right, greets prospective MTSU student Cameron Almonrode, who has questions about the program. (MTSU photos by Andy Heidt)

For prospective students, the Honors College fosters the academic excellence and nurturing environment of a small, select, private liberal arts college within the setting of a major university. It also provides expert faculty, unique curricular and extracurricular experiences and “Collage,” an award-winning arts and literary magazine.

Attending a mock trial demonstration by MTSU students for the roomful of visitors and their parents, Cate Farone “loved it (courtroom atmosphere). If I come here, I’m definitely going to be on the mock trial team.”

Farone, 18, of Murfreesboro, is a Father Ryan High School senior. Monday marked her “first official college visit,” though she has literally grown up with parents — researchers and faculty members Tony and Mary Farone — who each have worked more than 20 years on campus.

Cate Farone has been awarded a Buchanan scholarship, the top award an MTSU undergraduate student can receive, by the Honors College.

“Coming today, I definitely want to come here,” added Cate Farone, who had an opportunity to talk with senior Connor McDonald, Student Government Association vice president and political science major — the field she wants to pursue. “He was very interesting and helpful. I want to be a lawyer and he told me about the law school process.”

Visiting with her mother Zeinab Ali, Antioch High School senior Sunaya Ali of Nashville said she “didn’t know what the Honors College had to offer and details regarding the thesis,” she said.

Ayuub Ali, an older brother, is a junior majoring in business in the Jennings A. Jones College of Business. Sunaya Ali, 18, said she is undecided on a major.

Making his first visit to campus and alone because his parents work schedule prevented them from coming, Juan Escobar, 17, another Antioch High senior from Nashville, has received a Provost Scholarship, but he’s “looking at a couple of options (with other schools),” he said.

Honors College logo“I met a friend (Natenael Belete) who used to go to my high school,” added Escobar. “He told me some good things about it (the university). The Honors College has smaller classrooms, giving you a sense of community.”

Farone said she liked “how diverse it is here,” referring to people from “different backgrounds and parts of the country and the world coming together at MTSU.”

Honors College Dean John Vile was more than pleased with the turnout.

“The Student Union ballroom was filled,” he said. “It’s been a great day.”

Admissions joined the Honors College in hosting the event. All of the university’s colleges, Housing and Residential Life and the MTSU Parent and Family Association shared information with the visitors.

The visit included tours (library, aerospace air traffic control, recording industry, Center for Innovation in Media, electronic media communication mobile production lab and more), “mad science” physics and mock trial demonstrations and option to attend the spring Honors Lecture Series (“Rhetoric in Contemporary Culture,” with Keel Hunt of The Strategy Group, who brought “Political Speech: How Candidates Win and Leaders Lead” to the classroom).

More than 200 people attended a separate Celebration of Scholars event Feb. 19 at the home of MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee and his wife, Liz.

— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)

MTSU physics and astronomy professor Eric Klumpe demonstrates a straight line wave to Honors College Presidents' Day Open House visitors during the the fun with physics "mad science" demonstration in the Student Union Parliamentary Room Feb. 20.

MTSU physics and astronomy professor Eric Klumpe demonstrates a straight line wave to Honors College Presidents’ Day Open House visitors during the the fun with physics “mad science” demonstration in the Student Union Parliamentary Room Feb. 20.

Country music’s Atkins learns about MTSU veterans center

When MTSU’s Keith M. Huber met country music entertainer Rodney Atkins for the first time Thursday (Feb. 16), they discovered they had much in common.

Keith M. Huber, left, senior adviser for veterans and leadership initiatives at MTSU, visits with country music signer Rodney Atkins following the entertainer's visit to campus Feb. 16 to learn more about and visit the Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center. Atkins, who has performed with the USO in Iraq and Afghanistan, to Huber Daniels had been his mentor since 2006. (MTSU photo by Pat Thomas)

Keith M. Huber, left, senior adviser for veterans and leadership initiatives at MTSU, visits with country music signer Rodney Atkins during the entertainer’s visit to campus Feb. 16 to learn more about the Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center and Daniels Transitioning Home office. Atkins, who has performed with the USO in Iraq and Afghanistan, has been mentored by Daniels since 2006. (MTSU photo by Pat Thomas)

Huber, senior adviser for veterans and leadership initiatives at MTSU, served nearly 40 years in the military, retiring as a lieutenant general. Atkins has entertained for troops with the USO in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Daniels Veterans Center logo webThey both know legendary entertainer Charlie Daniels: Huber through Daniels’ gifts totaling $125,000 for the Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center and Atkins through Daniels’ mentoring that began in 2006.

Atkins’ scheduled visit to meet Huber included a visit to the Daniels Veterans Center on the first floor of Keathley University Center and just-opened Daniels Center Transitioning Home office on the third floor of KUC. The Curb Records singer wound up staying two hours.

“He came here to see what we do for our veterans and is receptive to getting involved with our veterans,” Huber said of Atkins’ visit.

Some of the songs by the singer/songwriter, a native of Knoxville, Tennessee, include “If You’re Going Through Hell,” “It’s America,” “Watching You,” “Honesty” and more.

Including family members, MTSU has a student veteran population of about 1,000.

MTSU unveils ‘Science Corridor’ with renovated science buildings [+VIDEO]

MTSU geosciences students feel like they attend another university. Students in the nationally acclaimed Forensic Institute for Research and Education, physics and astronomy, and mechatronics engineering programs love their expanded laboratory and classroom spaces.

With a grand reopening Wednesday, Feb. 15, the university publicly unveiled Davis Science Building and Wiser-Patten Science Hall, which underwent renovations totaling $20 million to $25 million the past two years.

To accompany the $147 million Science Building that opened in fall 2014, MTSU now possesses some of the finest science facilities — being branded as the Science Corridor of Innovation — in the South and nation.

University leaders say the renovations of Wiser-Patten Science Hall, which opened in 1932, and Davis Science Building, which opened in 1968, will add to MTSU’s stature in research, help recruit students and faculty and boost entrepreneurial efforts and future job placement for undergraduate and graduate students.

“With these renovations, we now have what I consider some of the best science facilities in the country, offering students a wide variety of innovative programs, research spaces and learning environments,” said MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee.

Students and faculty have gained about 110,000 square feet of science space. Wiser-Patten maintained its historic look and has refurbished front steps, while planners and construction crews created additional natural lighting and kept much of the original wood floors.

The Strobel Connector and other areas will provide more collaborative space for students and faculty. Both have first-class labs, and many flat-screen televisions will add to the learning experience

McPhee said the two “magnificent structures, restored and improved to a state far beyond the condition they enjoyed in their former prime, join the jewel of our campus — the 250,000-square-foot Science Building that houses our biology and chemistry departments, as well as home to many of our key research laboratories.”

Noting that he’s extremely pleased with the work performed by Turner Construction Co., McPhee told the crowd that the company has agreed to sponsor the “Great Tennessee Eclipse Event” this summer that “will give students from area schools a chance to see these buildings up close, engage with our faculty and see a once-in-a-lifetime event. Vice president and general manager John Gromos represented Turner at the ceremony.

Dr. Robert “Bud” Fischer, College of Basic and Applied Sciences dean, said he’s ecstatic about the present and future.

“When you talk about the Science Innovation Corridor, I think of it as science, but science in a broader sense,” Fischer said, adding that the corridor includes James E. Walker Library, with all of its science holdings and Dean Bonnie Allen’s implementation of the new Makerspace area, and continues to the John Bragg Media and Entertainment Building, home to recording industry, “where music is an art, but there is also the science of music.”

Members of the Strobel family and MTSU staff and administrators watch as university President Sidney A. McPhee, left, joins Department of Physics and Astronomy chair Ron Henderson, College of Basic and Applied Sciences Dean Bud Fischer, Turner Construction Co. VP and general manager John Gromos and MTSU interim provost Mark Byrnes to cut the ribbon on the front steps of the newly renovated Wiser-Patten Science Hall Feb. 15. (MTSU photos by J. Intintoli)

Members of the Strobel family and MTSU staff and administrators watch as university President Sidney A. McPhee, left, joins Department of Physics and Astronomy chair Ron Henderson, College of Basic and Applied Sciences Dean Bud Fischer, Turner Construction Co. VP and general manager John Gromos and MTSU interim provost Mark Byrnes to cut the ribbon on the front steps of the newly renovated Wiser-Patten Science Hall Feb. 15. (MTSU photos by J. Intintoli)

Interim Provost Mark Byrnes said the “renovation of these historic buildings will enable them to continue to be centers of scientific learning.”

“As interim provost, I am excited about the learning that will happen in these newly refurbished spaces,” Byrnes added. “As an MTSU alumnus who took his required science courses there around 1980, I am excited about the buildings looking so good in 2017.”

Dr. Hugh Berryman, nationally recognized director of the Forensic Institute for Research and Education, said FIRE’s staff and students are very pleased to have space in Wiser-Patten.

“We are especially excited about our new forensic anthropology laboratory, which provides an area to consult with law enforcement and medical examiners on forensic skeletal cases,” he said. “It also provides the space to educate students in osteology and forensic anthropology techniques using our newly acquired skeletal collection.

Berryman noted that the space will facilitate student research projects by providing technical equipment, including an X-ray fluorescent analyzer, surgical microscope with digital photographic equipment and microscribe digitizer. The proximity of the research laboratory to the smart classroom will promote training of MTSU students as well as presentations to area middle and high school students, he said.

For Department of Geosciences chair Warner Cribb, the difference between their space in Kirksey Old Main to their new home in the renovated Davis Science Building is like night and day.

“Our students feel like they are going to school at a different university,” he said. “It gives them a sense of community.”

Physics and astronomy students and faculty adapted quickly to their space and the fact they are now in one building: Wiser-Patten.

The crowd attending the Feb. 15 grand reopening ceremony in the new Strobel Lobby for MTSU’s Davis Science Building and Wiser-Patten Science Hall listens as MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee discusses the completion of the work by Turner Construction Co.

The crowd attending the Feb. 15 grand reopening ceremony in the new Strobel Lobby for MTSU’s Davis Science Building and Wiser-Patten Science Hall listens as MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee discusses the completion of the work by Turner Construction Co.

“Our space nearly doubled,” said Dr. Ron Henderson, chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy. “Our teaching labs and faculty research labs are in one building.

“We are happy with all the dedicated student study areas. … About 40 giant windows were unbricked, bringing in natural light. This completely changed what the building feels like.”

Advising space for the College of Basic and Applied Sciences also increased immensely, officials said. Fermentation science, a new School of Agribusiness and Agriscience program, has featured space.

With a gift from presenting sponsor Turner Construction, MTSU and the Department of Physics and Astronomy will host the Great Tennessee Eclipse Event Monday, Aug. 21. Thousands of pairs of safety glasses with the Turner logo will be given to every student in Rutherford and surrounding counties.

The solar eclipse will offer a rare view of nearly 100 percent across the Midstate, including Nashville and Murfreesboro. Schools from the region will be invited to campus to view the eclipse and visit the science buildings.

Tours of the Davis and Wiser-Patten facilities and the College of Basic and Applied Sciences advising office followed the program, which included recognizing the family of Dr. Eugene Strobel, former associate professor in biology. Professor Emerita Katherine Strobel and their daughters Amy, Jane and Mary Ann Strobel attended the event in the Strobel Lobby.

— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)

Holding special eclipse glasses, MTSU Department of Physics and Astronomy chair Ron Henderson explains the university’s planned Aug. 21 ”Great Tennessee Eclipse Event” to the audience attending the Feb. 15 grand reopening ceremony for the Davis Science Building and Wiser-Patten Science Hall.

Holding special eclipse glasses, MTSU Department of Physics and Astronomy chair Ron Henderson explains the university’s planned Aug. 21 ”Great Tennessee Eclipse Event” to the audience attending the Feb. 15 grand reopening ceremony for the Davis Science Building and Wiser-Patten Science Hall.

John Gromos, vice president and general manager of Turner Construction Co., discusses the construction partnership with MTSU and the company's sponsorship of the university's "solar eclipse event" Aug. 21. His company built the Science Building and completed the renovations for Davis Science Building and Wiser-Patten Science Hall.

John Gromos, vice president and general manager of Turner Construction Co., discusses the construction partnership with MTSU and the company’s sponsorship of the university’s “solar eclipse event” Aug. 21. His company built the Science Building and completed the renovations for Davis Science Building and Wiser-Patten Science Hall.

Daniels Center’s Transitioning Home will link student vets, jobs [+VIDEO]

Expanding the Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center will further help veterans — on campus and in the community — in making the transition from the military to civilian life.

MTSU held a ribbon-cutting for the Daniels Center Veterans Transitioning Home Tuesday, Feb. 14, in Keathley University Center Room 316, thanks to repurposed office space donated by MTSU’s Division of Student Affairs. Activities during the event also took place in KUC Theater and the Daniels Center in KUC 124.

The nearly 600-square-foot Veterans Transitioning Home facility will allow Shane Smith, interim employer search agent, and recent MTSU graduate and transition manager Sean Martin to match veterans and other MTSU students with prospective employers. Smith and Martin also are veterans.

If student veterans’ matches don’t fit, they will collaborate with the MTSU Career Development Center to help land jobs for other MTSU students.

The new addition ties in to the center’s “E” mission — enroll student veterans and family members, encourage them while at MTSU, assist with employment, educate the university community and expand the veteran-education knowledge base, officials said.

“The annex we open today is the next logical step in that philosophy of proactive service for our student veterans,” university President Sidney A. McPhee said.

MTSU officials cut the ribbon Feb. 14 for the Daniels Center Transitioning Home office to assist student veterans and others. Celebrating the expansion are, from left, center director Dr. Hilary Miller; MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee; The Journey Home Project co-founder David Corlew; Tennessee Higher Education Commission Executive Director Mike Krause; Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs Director Many-Bears Grinder; Keith Huber, MTSU senior adviser for veterans and leadership initiatives; and Ed Hardy with The Journey Home Project. (MTSU photos by Andy Heidt)

MTSU officials cut the ribbon Feb. 14 for the Daniels Center Transitioning Home office to assist student veterans and others. Celebrating the expansion are, from left, center director Dr. Hilary Miller; MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee; The Journey Home Project co-founder David Corlew; Tennessee Higher Education Commission Executive Director Mike Krause; Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs Director Many-Bears Grinder; Keith Huber, MTSU senior adviser for veterans and leadership initiatives; and Ed Hardy with The Journey Home Project. (MTSU photos by Andy Heidt)

“Through the generosity of Mr. (Charlie) Daniels and The Journey Home Project, and a grant given to MTSU by Gov. (Bill) Haslam and Mike Krause, this additional space will be the bridge between our student veterans and businesses who want to hire graduates with strong academic credentials and proven leadership abilities,” McPhee added.

Krause, executive director of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission and a veteran himself as a member of the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division, has made a number of visits to MTSU since Haslam named him to lead THEC in 2016.

“Today’s dedication of the Daniels Veterans Transitioning Home is another tangible step by MTSU to support our veterans and military connected students,” Krause said. “As we continue to find ways to serve those who have served the country, MTSU’s efforts are an example to the rest of the nation.”

Dr. Hilary Miller, director of the Daniels Center, said the new office area is courtesy of Dr. .Deb Sells, vice president of student affairs and vice provost for enrollment and academic services.

The additional space “is a wonderful gift from Dr. Sells,” said Miller, referring to the room formerly used by College of Basic and Applied Sciences advisers.

“We also want retirees to know they, too, can come here and we will help them transition to civilian life … even if they are not an MTSU student.”

Keith M. Huber, senior adviser for veterans and leadership initiatives, and David Corlew with The Journey Home Project also spoke at the event.

“Once they achieve their degree, what do they do in their next chapter?” Huber said. “This will assist veterans in their transition. It serves the community and businesses.”

Musician Charlie Daniels is chairman of the Journey Home board. Through the veterans’ endeavor, he and his wife, Hazel, have donated $125,000 to the MTSU veterans center.

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee, shown at far left, is among the front-row dignitaries listening to a speaker during the Daniels Center Veterans Transitioning Home event in the Keathley University Center Theater Feb. 14.

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee, shown at far left, is among the front-row dignitaries listening to a speaker during the Daniels Center Veterans Transitioning Home event in the Keathley University Center Theater Feb. 14.

“This is a wonderful experience,” Corlew said. “It’s Valentine’s Day and there’s a room full of love and compassion. The music was unbelievable. … This is the final piece, to take a veteran, help them, be there and let them know somebody cared. This is the journey. We want them to continue the journey.”

Operation Song co-founder Bob Regan and Cory Fischer performed veteran-inspired music, and MTSU senior Mary Vaughan sang the national anthem.

Representing Quilts of Valor, Jill Shaver, Janice Lewis and presenter Ginger Fondren gave handmade quilts to MTSU alumnus Terry “Max” Haston, adjutant general for the Tennessee National Guard; Jennifer Vedral-Baron, director of the Tennessee Valley Healthcare System in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs; and Krause.

Attendees also included Many-Bears Grinder, Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs commissioner, and numerous VA officials.

Daniels Veterans Center logo webTwo offices, a conference room and a reception room with two computers for students are part of the room’s configuration.

The 2,600-square-foot Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center opened on the first floor of the KUC in November 2015. It is a one-stop shop for MTSU’s approximately 1,000 student veterans and family members.

MTSU has the largest dedicated space for veterans on a Tennessee campus. Staff members assist student veterans with the transition into college, academic plans, career goals, G.I. Bill benefits and counseling needs.

To learn more about the center, its services and resources, visit www.mtsu.edu/military or call 615-904-8347.

— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)

Speaker Mike Krause, executive director of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, gestures while making a point as he addresses the audience while attending the MTSU Daniels Center Transitioning Home event Feb. 14 in the KUC Theater.

Speaker Mike Krause, executive director of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, gestures while providing remarks at the MTSU Daniels Center Transitioning Home event Feb. 14 in the KUC Theater.

Shane Smith, left, swaps business cards with visitors from the corporate world attending the ribbon-cutting for the Daniels Center Veterans Transitioning Home Feb. 14 in KUC Room 316. Smith is interim employer search agent.

Shane Smith, left, swaps business cards with visitors attending the ribbon-cutting for the Daniels Center Veterans Transitioning Home Feb. 14 in KUC Room 316. Smith is the Daniels Center’s interim employer search agent.

Honors lectures on ‘rhetoric in contemporary culture’ open to the public

The general public is once again welcome to join an MTSU Honors College class for the spring 2017 Honors Lecture Series each week for topics on “Rhetoric in Contemporary Culture.”

Honors Lecture Series poster

Click on the poster to see a larger PDF version.

The series continues at 3 p.m. Monday, Feb. 20, when MTSU alumnus Keel Hunt, a public affairs consultant, author and former journalist, will discuss “Political Speech: How Candidates Win and Leaders Lead.”

Honors College logoThe spring lecture series takes place from 3 to 3:55 p.m. every Monday with the exception of March 6, when MTSU students and faculty will begin spring break.

The lecture series ends April 10.

MTSU’s Honors Lecture Series, which is always free and open to the public, has been a staple in the fall and spring semesters for two decades. It features focused topics and presenters from multiple disciplines on and off campus and is a required course for upper-division Honors College students.

Lectures are held in the Simmons Amphitheatre, Room 106, in the Paul W. Martin Sr. Honors Building. A searchable campus map is available at http://tinyurl.com/MTSUParkingMap. Off-campus visitors attending the lectures can obtain a special one-day parking permit at www.mtsu.edu/parking/visit.php.

Dr. Kaylene Gebert

Dr. Kaylene Gebert

Politics, social issues, climate change are among the upcoming lectures. To view the full schedule, visit http://mtsu.edu/honors/lecture-series/2017-spring.php.

“Rhetoric in Contemporary Culture” explores arguments that people use for various contemporary — and often controversial — topics, said Dr. Kaylene Gebert, an Honors College faculty member and a former university provost.

“While rhetoric is an ancient art, rhetoric or persuasion is clearly evident in our daily world, including a newer form: social media,” said Gebert, who collaborated with Associate Honors Dean Philip Phillips to develop the theme and to schedule presenters.

“The series provides a diverse, yet powerful, set of exemplars, pictures, arguments and studies that pervade our culture and attempt to persuade us,” Gebert said. “The goal of the series is to promote informed reflection and constructive dialogue on rhetoric and the pervasive role it plays in how we perceive the world around us.”

For more information about the Honors Lecture Series or MTSU’s University Honors College, call 615-898-2152.

— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)

Wednesday, Feb. 15, is deadline to apply for transfer student scholarships

Wednesday, Feb. 15, is the final deadline for students planning to transfer to Middle Tennessee State University to apply for two significant scholarships: the Guaranteed Transfer Promise Scholarship and the Honors Transfer Fellowship.

Transfer students visiting MTSU listen as Emilie Hendren, second from left, a public relations major, informs them about the James E. Walker Library's many features. (MTSU photos by Eric Sutton)

Transfer students visiting MTSU listen as Emilie Hendren, second from left, a public relations major, informs them about the James E. Walker Library’s many features. (MTSU photos by Eric Sutton)

Applications, fees, transcripts and other requirements for both scholarships must be completed online — or mailed applications postmarked — by Feb. 15.

To receive the Guaranteed Transfer Promise Scholarship, a $3,000 award per year for two years with a maximum of four semesters, first-time students must have a minimum 3.0 GPA and 45 to 105 credit hours and must meet the Feb. 15 application deadline.

For more information, visit www.mtsu.edu/financial-aid/scholarships/incoming-transfer.php. Questions about the Guaranteed Transfer Promise Scholarship also can be directed to the MT One Stop in person in Room 210 of the Student Services and Admissions Center, 1860 Blue Raider Drive, or by calling 615-898-2111.

Dr. Laurie Witherow

Dr. Laurie Witherow

To receive the University Honors College’s Honors Transfer Fellowship, an award of $7,000 per year or $3,500 per semester, qualified students should have completed 60 hours of college or university coursework with a 3.5 GPA or better by fall 2017.

To apply for theHonors Transfer Fellowship, visit http://mtsu.edu/honors/transfer.php. For more information, contact the University Honors College at 615-898-2152.

“We have to have everything by Feb. 15 in order for transfer students to qualify for the guaranteed scholarships,” said Dr. Laurie Witherow, associate vice provost in the Division of Student Affairs.

Admissions personnel need the following from prospective transfers:

  • Admission application.
  • Paid application fee.
  • Official college transcripts through the fall 2016 semester, reflecting the required earned hours and cumulative GPA requirement.
  • Official high school transcript, if applicable.

Student applicants also must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.

— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)

Fellow MTSU tour guide Peyton Tracy, left, and prospective transfer students and their parents listen as Meaghan Hill shares about Peck Hall during the Feb. 10 campus tour. Eligible transfers need to apply by Feb. 15 to be considered for guaranteed and Honors scholarships.

Fellow MTSU tour guide Peyton Tracy, left, and prospective transfer students and their parents listen as Meaghan Hill discusses Peck Hall during a Feb. 10 campus tour. Eligible transfers need to apply by Feb. 15 to be considered for guaranteed and honors scholarships.

Feb. 20 Honors open house targets high-ability prospective students

Most public and private secondary schools are closed for the Presidents’ Day Holiday. MTSU happens to be open.

That’s why the University Honors College and the Office of Admissions host public, private and homeschool students for the annual Presidents’ Day Open House.

John Vile, standing right, the Honors College dean, visits with incoming Buchanan Fellows and their families during the Honors College Presidents' Day Open House in this February 2016 file photo. (MTSU file photo by Andy Heidt)

John Vile, standing right, the Honors College dean, visits with incoming Buchanan Fellows and their families during the Honors College Presidents’ Day Open House in this February 2016 file photo. (MTSU file photos by Andy Heidt)

More than 500 prospective students and their parents will be attending the open house from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Feb. 20, all across the MTSU campus.

For more information about the open house, including the full schedule, visit http://www.mtsu.edu/honors/open-house.php. To register, visit http://www.mtsu.edu/schedule-a-visit/special-events.php. Parking is available in the Rutherford Lot (http://tinyurl.com/MTSUParkingMap), where visitors will be shuttled to campus.

The Honors College offers personalized teaching, smaller classes and a competitive edge in a more interactive learning environment for high-ability scholars. Take advantage of this opportunity to meet people who can answer questions and show you the campus and academic departments, including honors students, financial aid and scholarship staff and academic advisers.

“This has been one of our most popular events during the past few years,” said Honors College Dean John Vile.

Vile said the open house comes early enough for “high school sophomores and juniors to get an idea of MTSU before they begin applying for colleges and universities and late enough for seniors who are trying to decide which of the colleges or universities that have accepted them are the best fit.”

Honors College logoFor Vile, who is a political scientist and presidential historian, the open house provides the opportunity “to give my famous Presidents’ Day Quiz,” he added.

Optional events for attendees include a demonstration by the MTSU Mock Trial team, a “mad science” demonstration by physics and astronomy professor Eric Klumpe and tours of campus housing, recording industry, the Center for Innovation in Media, the Mobile Production Lab, Walker Library and aerospace’s air traffic control lab.

Attendees also are welcome to take in the 3 p.m. Honors Lecture Series led by Nashville’s Keel Hunt with The Strategy Group.

For more information, call 615-898-2152.

— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)

Dr. Eric Klumpe performs a physics demonstration for an audience attending the Honors College Presidents’ Day Open House in this February 2016 file photo.

Dr. Eric Klumpe performs a physics demonstration for an audience attending the Honors College Presidents’ Day Open House in this February 2016 file photo.

Feb. 28 is deadline for MTSU Scholars Week abstract proposals

MTSU students and their faculty mentors who are preparing for the 11th annual Scholars Week 2017 must submit their abstract proposals by noon Tuesday, Feb. 28, according to Dr. Andrienne Friedli, Scholars Week Committee chair.

Senior horse science major Emily Ann Carrol Smith, left, of Cosby, Tennessee, discusses her research with Kalab Fulton, a junior animal science major and biology minor from Shelbyville, Tennessee, during MTSU’s 2016 Scholars Week in this March 2016 file photo. Students and faculty preparing abstracts for this year's Scholars Week face a Feb. 28 deadline. (MTSU file photos by Andy Heidt)

Senior horse science major Emily Ann Carrol Smith, left, of Cosby, Tennessee, discusses her research with Kalab Fulton, a junior animal science major and biology minor from Shelbyville, Tennessee, during MTSU’s 2016 Scholars Week in this March 2016 file photo. Students and faculty preparing abstracts for this year’s Scholars Week face a Feb. 28 deadline. (MTSU file photos by Andy Heidt)

Abstracts should be submitted online through www.mtsu.edu/research/scholarsWeek/index.php.

Dr. Andrienne Friedli

Dr. Andrienne Friedli

Friedli said that each online abstract submission should include a project title and 150- to 300-word summary of the research project. Only submissions with undergraduate and graduate students as first authors will be eligible for judging and prizes.

Applicants will be notified by March 6 if their abstracts have been accepted.

Scholars Week 2017, set March 27-31, will include department and college activities in discipline-specific venues to allow undergraduate, graduate and faculty scholars to make their presentations. Each college has separate submission processes and deadlines for proposals.

Planned activities will include talks, readings, performances, posters and multimedia presentations, said Friedli, a chemistry professor who’s led the Scholars Week Committee for a decade. She also serves as director of special projects for MTSU’s Office of Research Services and director of the university’s Undergraduate Research Experience and Creative Activity, or URECA, grants.

Scholars Week will culminate in a universitywide showcase of posters and multimedia from 12:40 to 3 p.m. Friday, March 31, and performances from 11:30 to 12:30 p.m. and 2:15 to 2:45 p.m. March 31 in the Student Union Ballroom.

Judges will select the winners from each of the colleges. The awards ceremony begins at 3 p.m.

The Scholars Week Committee includes representatives from all of MTSU’s nine colleges, who help arrange each college’s Scholars Day during the weeklong event.

— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)

Click on the graphic for more details on Scholars Week 2017 at MTSU.

Click on the graphic for more details on Scholars Week 2017 at MTSU.

MTSU physics major Ghayath Dukkouri, left, of Damascus, Syria, records audio production major Hunter Marlowe of Newnan, Georgia, as Marlowe plays a tune during the finale event for MTSU Scholars Week in this 2016 file photo.

MTSU physics major Ghayath Dukkouri, left, of Damascus, Syria, records audio production major Hunter Marlowe of Newnan, Georgia, as Marlowe plays a tune during the finale event for MTSU Scholars Week in this 2016 file photo.

With extra help, techie MTSU students sweep Hack-MT [+VIDEO]

It didn’t take Belmont University freshman computer science major Tito Ebiwonjumi long to feel right at home at MTSU.

Ebiwonjumi, 17, who is from Lagos, Nigeria, participated in the Department of Computer Science’s second Hack-MT that ended Sunday, Feb. 5, in the Science Building. He pitched an idea on Day 1, but not enough people worked with him. Then he decided to “forget the idea and go work with other people and get the experience.”

The international student joined nine other MTSU student team members to create “VR-Maze.com,” a virtual reality maze game. The group captured first place in the event that brings software developers, visual designers, programmers, computer science and computer information systems students together with industry mentors to create programs and projects in 36 hours. Here’s a recap:

“It took us 26 hours to get it done,” Ebiwonjumi said after the excited team received the first-place award. “We actually created three maps for up to 100 players on one map, but my map did not function. The other two maps functioned well.”

Ebiwomjumi called his first hackathon “a huge learning experience. … I learned to work with people I had never met.” He also carried a MacBook laptop back to Belmont. He won it Sunday morning in a drawing.

MTSU received first-, second- and third-place honors, plus earned the Hackers Choice Award voted on by the competitors.

Runner-up “ParkMT” created a program to help solve the campus’s parking challenges. The team was composed of physics, mathematics (two) and computer science majors.

Yuxin Zhang, 22, a senior computer science major from Lanzhou, China, said she “learned new ways to interpret data and the exchange of ideas with each other.”

As sophomore computer science major Sam Remedios of Nolensville, Tennessee, told onlookers about their creation, upper classman physics and math student Ryan Florida of Nashville said their team benefited from being a mix of majors.

“We just had somebody (an industry mentor) come by and say our project could apply to first responders and to active shooter situations,” Florida said.

Three University of Alabama computer science juniors — Joey Murphy, Scott Carl and Chipper Atkins — collaborated for a Web-related project called “Intellichef” for preparing meals.

MTSU sophomore Samuel Remedios, a computer science major, explains his team's project, "Park MT," to people attending the second Hack-MT event Feb. 5 in the Science Building's Liz and Creighton Rhea Atrium. Teammate Kirolos Shahat, right, a University of Tennessee-Knoxville student, listens.

MTSU sophomore Samuel Remedios, a computer science major, explains his team’s project, “Park MT,” to people attending the second Hack-MT event Feb. 5 in the Science Building’s Liz and Creighton Rhea Atrium. Teammate Kirolos Shahat, right, a University of Tennessee-Knoxville student, listens.

“This was our first experience with a back end Web server, so it was learn as we go,” Murphy said. “We all like to cook. Whether you use an app or look online, you can spend a lot of time scrolling back and forth. What we did is combine the two, where it’s all integrated.”

Yolanda Greene of Murfreesboro, Rutherford County marketing president for premier sponsor First Tennessee Bank, said her biggest takeaway was “how the kids connect to inspire them to create, identify and connect to a greater need in the community.”

“I don’t know the behind-the-scenes work, but I know it was a lot of work,” she said. “I’m hoping to meet some of these guys on the next level (when they seek employment after graduation).”

Greene’s children — Madison, 9, Dwayne Jr., 5, and Selene, 3 — joined their mom for Sunday’s finale, which included judging and awards.

More than 200 students completed 22 projects.

“Every cubby (hole) throughout the whole building was utilized,” said Chrisila Pettey, computer science chair and event director. “And they were all really excited.”

Third-place MTSU “Game of Code” featured 32 team members. “Furby MT,” a personal assistant that talked, earned the Hackers Choice Award. It was a spinoff of the electronic robotic toy released in 1998.

Hack-MT is a way to gather students from MTSU and other universities together with industry partners and alumni to gain experience that might lead to future employment.

Other sponsors include Bondware Inc., Cat Financial, Ingram Book Company, Decision Source Inc., LeanKit and SERVPRO.

— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)

The crowd attending the second Hack-MT hackathon event at MTSU gathers in the Science Building's Liz and Creighton Rhea Atrium during the judging portion of the event.

The crowd attending the second Hack-MT hackathon event at MTSU gathers in the Science Building’s Liz and Creighton Rhea Atrium during the judging portion of the event.

"Furby MT," a project an MTSU team in the Hack-MT event completed, earned the Hackers Choice Award. The second MTSU computer science hackathon event was held Feb. 3-5 in the MTSU Science Building.

“Furby MT,” a project an MTSU team in the Hack-MT event completed, earned the Hackers Choice Award. The second MTSU computer science hackathon event was held Feb. 3-5 in the MTSU Science Building.

The "VR-Maze.com" team earned first-place honors in the Hack-MT in MTSU's Science Building Feb. 5. Michael Schmidt, a MTSU junior computer science major, holds the plaque. Alumnus Sina Serrati, second from right, joined them. The team created a virtual reality maze game.

The “VR-Maze.com” team earned first-place honors in the Hack-MT in MTSU’s Science Building Feb. 5. Michael Schmidt, a MTSU junior computer science major, holds the plaque. Alumnus Sina Serrati, second from right, joined them. The team created a virtual reality maze game.

Attendees try out the first-place winner "VR-Maze.com," a virtual reality maze game for up to 100 players per map, during the Feb. 5 MTSU computer science Hack-MT in the Science Building's Liz and Creighton Rhea Atrium. (MTSU photos by Kimi Conro)

Attendees try out the first-place winner, “VR-Maze.com,” a virtual reality maze game for up to 100 players per map, during the Feb. 5 MTSU computer science Hack-MT in the Science Building’s Liz and Creighton Rhea Atrium. (MTSU photos by Kimi Conro)


Tech-driven college students brainstorm at second Hack-MT

At least a dozen universities and more than 300 tech-savvy collegiate minds will descend on the MTSU campus this weekend for the second Hack-MT.

For 36 hours Friday through Sunday, Feb. 3-5, in the MTSU Science Building, Hack-MT will gather software developers, visual designers, programmers, computer science and computer information systems students from area universities, including MTSU, to form teams to invent new web platforms, mobile apps and electronic gadgets.

Vanderbilt University doctoral candidate Kate Brady, left, of Durham, N.C., explains to Katie St. Francis of Hendersonville, Tenn., about the "Translation Practice" project she worked on during the first Hack-MT in the MTSU Science Building in this January 2016 file photo. St. Francis is director of product strategy for LeanKit, last year’s title sponsor. (MTSU file photo by Randy Weiler)

Vanderbilt University doctoral candidate Kate Brady, left, of Durham, N.C., explains to Katie St. Francis of Hendersonville, Tenn., about the “Translation Practice” project she worked on during the first Hack-MT in the MTSU Science Building in this January 2016 file photo. St. Francis is director of product strategy for LeanKit, last year’s title sponsor. (MTSU file photo by Randy Weiler)

Year 1 was a rousing success for competitors, organizers and sponsors alike, becoming one of the College of Basic and Applied Sciences top events for 2015-16.

“How do you define success?” Dr. Chrisila Pettey, MTSU Department of Computer Science chair, asked rhetorically.

“Based on the follow-up survey results, the attendees really enjoyed it and the students learned a lot, developed more confidence and were excited about what they developed. Students and industry professionals alike wanted us to do another one.”

MTSU students, while slow to gravitate to this new idea for a hacking event a year ago, quickly swung the pendulum. They endured a lack of sleep and kept coffee and energy drinks flowing through their system, leaving ready for another Hack-MT.

“I expect Hack-MT to be great this year,” said Steven Sheffey, 21, an MTSU senior computer science major and mathematics minor from Lebanon, Tennessee.

“We’ve done a lot of campaigning to bring fresh faces into this year’s hack-athon, and I’m hoping the diversity results in some really cool projects.”

Some MTSU students have participated in hack-athons at Purdue University in Indiana, the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, Vanderbilt and George Washington University in Washington, D.C. MTSU students even earned an industry-sponsored prize at the BoilerMake IV interplanetary hack-athon at Purdue.

“I’m a hack-athon veteran, so I’m fairly prepared,” Sheffey said. “I always come into a hack-athon with an idea for a project, so I can start working as soon as the event starts. As for my team, they’re ready to roll as well.”

Dr. Chrisila Pettey

Dr. Chrisila Pettey

Pettey said it’s good for students to attend other hack events.

“They’re learning their craft,” she said. “The more they do, the better they will be at it.”

Sheffey said the most important thing he has learned from the hack-athon experiences is the need “to allocate your team’s resources well.”

As for Year 2, Pettey’s hopes and expectations are that “more of our students would come, and whoever comes would have a good learning experience and have fun. Based on input we’ve been given, we’ve tweaked a few things and, hopefully, it will be a good event.”

Registration begins at 5 p.m. Feb. 3, followed by dinner at 6 and opening ceremonies at 7 p.m. in the Liz and Creighton Rhea Atrium. The public is invited to the opening and closing ceremonies; the closing event is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Feb. 5.

To find parking and the Science Building, a printable campus map is available at http://tinyurl.com/MTSUParkingMap.

First Tennessee is the premier sponsor. Other sponsors include Bondware Inc., Cat Financial, Ingram Book Company, Decision Source Inc., LeanKit and SERVPRO.

— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)

HackMT cover72


Feb. 3-5 Hack-MT product development event eyes entries

Organizers planning the second Hack-MT computer event at MTSU are seeking additional groups of tech-savvy college and university entrants for the Feb. 3-5 event as the Jan. 27 deadline approaches.

So far, Belmont, Fisk, Regent and Union universities have joined MTSU in registering for the 36-hour event that brings software developers, visual designers, programmers and computer science students to the university Science Building.

In this January 2016 file photo, MTSU Hack-MT participating students share the results of their projects with judges and others attending the three-day, 36-hour event in the Science Building. (MTSU file photo by Randy Weiler)

In this January 2016 file photo, MTSU Hack-MT participating students share the results of their projects with judges and others attending the three-day, 36-hour event in the Science Building. (MTSU file photo by Randy Weiler)

To register, visit http://tinyurl.com/zjjppyc.

In the inaugural Hack-MT last year, 270 people registered and more than 200 participated during the weekend. In all, 16 products were developed by teams. Two of those were funded by MTSU College of Basic and Applied Sciences Dean Bud Fischer and the teams completed them.

MTSU’s Department of Computer Science is holding the event in collaboration with Hack Tennessee and the TN STEM Innovation Network.

First Tennessee Bank is this year’s presenting sponsor. Other sponsors include LeanKit, Decision Source Inc., Servpro Industries Inc., Bondware, Caterpillar Financial and Ingram Book Company.

For more information, call Chrisila Pettey at 615-898-2397. Pettey is chair of the computer science department.

— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)

MTSU ‘Go Red Day’ raises awareness about women’s heart health

The normally True Blue MTSU campus added a dash of red to the color scheme Friday, Feb. 3, to celebrate National Wear Red Day.

The campus community attended MTSU Student Health Services and MTSU Health Promotion festivities for an annual event to raise awareness for the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women campaign in the Liz and Creighton Rhea Atrium in the Science Building.

Nearly 70 people from the campus community attended National Wear Red Day in the Liz and Creighton Rhea Atrium in the Science Building Feb. 3. The American Heart Association event promotes awareness for women's heart health. (MTSU photos by J. Intintoli)

Nearly 70 people from the campus community attended National Wear Red Day in the Liz and Creighton Rhea Atrium in the Science Building Feb. 3. The American Heart Association event promotes awareness for women’s heart health. (MTSU photos by J. Intintoli)

Go Red for Wome small logo72For this occasion, it was totally OK for the nearly 70 campus employees to wear red.

Ellen Slicker, board president for the Rutherford County American Heart Association, welcomed attendees, who learned about risks and symptoms of heart disease in women and men, too. They also took part in games and activities with an opportunity to win prizes.

Heart disease affects millions of Americans each year, organizers said. Heart disease and stroke kill one in three women, but they said those deaths are nearly 80 percent preventable.

Many on campus have been affected by heart disease, including Carolyn Hopper, now a retired University Studies professor.

Hopper told the audience that her heart story began as she developed breathing difficulties as the fall 2014 semester ended and Christmas holidays approached.

Her condition worsened, and she was in cardiac arrest as she reached the local emergency room. She was sent to Nashville, where doctors inserted a stent in her heart to open the narrowed arteries, then she returned to St. Thomas Rutherford for rehabilitation.

“It was scary,” Hopper recalled at the campus event. “It made me pay attention. I really watch what I eat, and I go to SportsCom five to six days a week. The doctors, in following up, said that made a difference.”

Lisa Schrader, director of health promotion, said those unable to attend the event can still “Go Red”:

  • Get your numbers — Ask your doctor to check your blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose.
  • Own your lifestyle — Stop smoking, lose weight, be physically active and eat healthy.
  • Raise your voice — Advocate for more women-related research and education.
  • Educate your family — Make healthy food choices for you and your family. Teach your children the importance of staying active.
  • Donate — Show your support with a donation of time or money.

To learn more about the national “Go Red” heart health movement, visit www.goredforwomen.org/wearredday.

— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)

As part of the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women campaign, National Wear Red Day members of the campus community created and photographed a red heart in support of women’s heart health in the lobby of the Science building. Carolyn Hopper, Faculty retired.

Retired MTSU professor Carolyn Hopper discusses her own heart-related health scare and her follow-up actions during “National Wear Red Day” festivities Feb. 3 in the Science Building’s Liz and Creighton Rhea Atrium.

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