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MTSU says ‘yookoso’ — ‘welcome’ — to Japanese speech contest April 4

MTSU students are confident they’ll be hearing “yoku wakarimasushita” at the eighth annual Tennessee Area Japanese Speech Contest set Saturday, April 4, on campus.

“Yoku wakarimasushita” means “I understand you perfectly” in English. The contest is conducted totally in Japanese to test the students’ skills at the beginner, intermediate and advanced levels.

Japanese Speech Contest logo webThe free public competition is slated to start at 11 a.m. April 4 in the State Farm Lecture Hall, Room BAS S102, of the Business and Aerospace Building.

Students from nine universities, including MTSU, will be assessed on their grammar, pronunciation, memorization and time management as they recite original speeches for the judges.

At the beginner level, students will give orations of between three and four minutes. At the intermediate and advanced levels, students will have four to five minutes to deliver their speeches and also will have to answer questions from the judges at the conclusion of the speeches.

“Typically, those who are able to handle their speech well and do well on the Q&A are those who are getting more points,” said Dr. Priya Ananth, an associate professor of Japanese.

The stakes are high. The grand prize is round-trip airfare for two to Japan, and other winners will receive dual-language electronic dictionaries, portable DVD players and multifunction centers.

Dr. Priya Ananth

Dr. Priya Ananth

Enrollment in Japanese language classes soared in the 1980s as the Japanese economy boomed and Japanese companies built plants in the United States.

Ananth said a different kind of boom is underway now, however, and the enrollment motivation comes from a generation familiar with Japan’s contributions to pop culture, including animation, fashion and video games.

“We’ve had students who have already been steeped in Japanese culture before they come to MTSU,” Ananth said.

The challenge for professors, she said, is to turn that passion for leisure pursuits into tangible skills for employers who need Japanese-speaking workers.

“Once they start doing the language, they realize that maybe they can convert that passion, that obsession, into something career-related,” Ananth said.

In addition to MTSU, participating institutions include East Tennessee State University, Maryville College, University of Memphis, Murray State University; the University of Tennessee’s Knoxville, Martin and Chattanooga campuses and Vanderbilt University.

The MTSU Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures collaborates with the Consulate General of Japan in Nashville, the Japan-America Society of Tennessee and the Tennessee Foreign Language Institute in presenting the contest.

Corporate sponsors include Mitsui USA Foundation, United Airlines, Middle Tennessee Japan Society, Bridgestone America, Mr. Japanese, Nissan North America, Brother International, Toshiba America Information Systems and the Japan Foundation.

For more information, contact Ananth at 615-898-5357 or priya.ananth@mtsu.edu.

— Gina K. Logue (gina.logue@mtsu.edu)

Don’t miss MTSU Dance Theatre’s Spring Dance Concert March 26-28

MTSU Dance Theatre is pleased to present the 2015 Spring Dance Concert March 26-28 at Tucker Theatre.

Click the image to purchase tickets.

Click the image to purchase tickets.

Performances are set at 7:30 each evening. General-admission tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for K-12 students and MTSU staff. MTSU students will be admitted free with a valid student ID. A searchable campus map with parking details is available at http://tinyurl.com/MTSUParkingMap13-14.

The concert brings together works by faculty, students and guests that address enduring and universal themes through the beauty, power and joy of dance.

This year’s concert features visiting guest artists Jessica Lindberg Coxe and Analia Alegre-Femenias and solo works by two members of the MTSU dance community. This year’s event also is part of MTSU’s National Women’s History Month Celebration.

Organizers say the concert performances will “honor history while looking forward, and they aspire to connect us to our lived and shared experiences with ourselves and the world around us.

“The Spring Dance Concert offers dances that are retrospective, contemplative, innovative and daring. The result is a virtuosic, beautiful, athletic and cutting-edge concert that revels in the pleasure and artistry of dance!”

Tickets can be purchased online at www.showclix.com/events/18277 or at the door. The Tucker Theatre Box Office will open one hour before each performance for ticket purchases.

For more information, call the Tucker Theatre Box Office at 615-494-8810.

MTSU LGBT+ conference invites attendees to ‘diversify your world’

Two women who overcame barriers to reach the heights of military achievement will headline MTSU’s second annual LGBT+ College Conference April 9-11.

The gathering, which carries the theme of “Diversify Your World,” is set at various locations on campus; a complete schedule is available at http://tinyurl.com/qa5nuf9. For a campus parking map, visit http://tinyurl.com/MTSUParking14-15.

Click on the poster above for more conference information.

Click on the poster above for more conference information.

Brig. Gen. Tammy S. Smith, deputy chief of staff in the U.S. Army Reserve, will speak at the conference awards dinner at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 11, in the Tennessee Room of the James Union Building.

Brig. Gen. Tammy Smith

Brig. Gen. Tammy Smith

Smith is the armed forces’ first active-duty, openly gay flag officer to publicly acknowledge her homosexuality since the repeal of the U.S. military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy in 2011.

The April 11 dinner will honor and recognize outstanding civic, corporate, community and academic leaders in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities and their allies in Tennessee. Registration is required, and tickets are $50 per person.

Former U.S. Marine Corps pilot Vernice “FlyGirl” Armour, who was MTSU’s 2014 Alumna of the Year, will return to campus to deliver the conference’s keynote address at 7 p.m. Friday, April 10, in the State Farm Lecture Hall of the Business and Aerospace Building.

Vernice "FlyGirl" Armour

Vernice “FlyGirl” Armour

Armour was the first black female combat pilot and first black female naval aviator in the Marine Corps. After her military career, she founded VAI Consulting and Training LLC, a motivational speaking service.

LGBT 2015 conference logo webHosted by the College of Behavioral and Health Sciences and the MT Lambda student organization, the conference is an opportunity for students, faculty and staff from colleges and universities across Tennessee to discuss subjects important to the LGBT+ communities.

Panel discussion topics include working with institutions, advice on transitioning for veterans, Greek life, religion and bringing one’s whole self to work.

Poster presentations of research related to LGBT+ issues will be on display from 11 a.m. to noon and from 3 to 4 p.m. Thursday, April 9, in the Sam Ingram Building, 2269 Middle Tennessee Blvd.

Attendees are invited to discuss their research with corporate and community sponsors, which include Deloitte Services LLC, a financial advisory firm, and Nissan North America.

Original one-minute films with LGBT+ themes will be screened from 6:45-8 p.m. April 9 in the Keathley University Center Theater. The winners will be determined by audience approval.

Ilona Turner, legal director of the San Francisco-based Transgender Law Center, will discuss “The Legal and Right Way to Inclusion” at 10:30 a.m. April 11 in Room 160 of the College of Education Building.

With the exception of the awards dinner, the entire conference is free and open to the public.

For more information, contact Dr. William Langston, psychology professor and faculty adviser to MT Lambda, at 615-898-5489 or william.langston@mtsu.edu.

— Gina K. Logue (gina.logue@mtsu.edu)

MTSU design students to exhibit interior ideas March 28 in LRC

Professional interior designers-in-training at MTSU are ready to display what they’ve learned about creating viable work and living spaces Saturday, March 28.

Click on the poster to see a larger version.

Click on the poster to see a larger version.

The 2015 Interior Design Student Showcase, presented by the MTSU student chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers, is slated for 6-8 p.m. March 28 in the McWherter Learning Resources Center.

The event is free and open to the public. For a campus parking map, visit http://tinyurl.com/MTSUParking14-15.

“The evening is going to be fabulous!” said Deborah Belcher, chair of MTSU’s Department of Human Sciences.

ASID MTSU student chapter logo web“I look forward to sharing the amazing projects created by our students in interior design.”

Projects will include creative and innovative use of textiles, light fixtures, furniture, space planning, construction drawings and computer-aided drawings.

“We will have several vendor sponsors,” said Koree Madewell, a senior interior design major from Murfreesboro and co-treasurer of the MTSU chapter of ASID.

“We want to get to know them professionally and network with them, but we also want to show our friends and family what we’ve been working on.”

Vendor sponsors include Sherwin-Williams, the national ASID, PPG Industries, Daltile and Designtex.

The students will show off their ideas in Rooms 108, 109 and 112 of the Learning Resources Center as well as the building’s corridor and south lobby.

Refreshments will be available. For more information, contact Belcher at 615-898-2302 or deborah.belcher@mtsu.edu.

— Gina K. Logue (gina.logue@mtsu.edu)

An array of textiles and other materials invites the viewer to examine the stylistic possibilities at a previous MTSU Student Chapter ASID/IIDA Interior Design Showcase. (Photo courtesy of MTSU Department of Human Sciences)

Grammy-winning pianist wraps up MTSU Jazz Artist Series Saturday

Grammy Award-winning pianist Bill Cunliffe will join the MTSU Jazz Ensemble I and MTSU jazz faculty to conclude the 2014-15 MTSU Jazz Artist Series Saturday, March 21, as part of the annual MTSU Jazz Festival.

Jazz pianist Bill Cunliffe will perform in concert with the MTSU Jazz Ensemble I and MTSU jazz faculty Saturday, March 21, in Hinton Hall inside MTSU’s Wright Music Building to conclude the 2014-15 MTSU Jazz Artist Series. (photo courtesy of BillCunliffe.com)

Jazz pianist Bill Cunliffe will perform in concert with the MTSU Jazz Ensemble I and MTSU jazz faculty Saturday, March 21, in Hinton Hall inside MTSU’s Wright Music Building to conclude the 2014-15 MTSU Jazz Artist Series. (photo courtesy of BillCunliffe.com)

Tickets for the March 21 concert, which begins at 7:30 p.m. in Hinton Hall inside MTSU’s Wright Music Building, are $10 for the public. You can find a printable campus map at http://tinyurl.com/MTSUParking14-15.

Admission is free for MTSU students, faculty and staff with a valid ID. Discounts for area music students and educators also are available.

Cunliffe also will present a free jazz clinic at 2:45 p.m. March 21 as part of the MTSU Jazz Festival. The annual educational event offers junior high and high school instrumental and vocal students an individual focus on the jazz style and the art of jazz improvisation.

Winner of the 2009 Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Arrangement, Cunliffe began his jazz career as pianist and arranger with the Buddy Rich Big Band and went on to perform and record with artists as diverse as Frank Sinatra, Joe Henderson and Freddie Hubbard.

“We’re thrilled to have such a multitalented artist to perform for this special concert,” said Jamey Simmons, director of MTSU Jazz Studies and the Jazz Ensemble 1. “The concert will showcase Mr. Cunliffe’s abilities alongside our student and faculty artists.”

Cunliffe currently leads a trio, a big band, a Latin band called Imaginacion, and his classical-jazz chamber ensemble, Trimotif. His latest recording, “River Edge, New Jersey” by the Bill Cunliffe Trio, features bassist Martin Wind and drummer Tim Horner.

You can watch a video of Cunliffe and the Rio Honda Orchestra performing his Grammy-winning arrangement of Leonard Bernstein’s “West Side Story Medley” below.

http://youtu.be/ax1ZXaBod80

MTSU’s Jazz Ensemble I is the top performing large ensemble in the university’s jazz studies program. It features the most experienced student players and concentrates on cutting-edge literature and master works from the big band repertoire.

The ensemble regularly tours the region to recruit new student musicians and perform at collegiate festivals. At previous MTSU Jazz Festivals, the Jazz Ensemble I has performed with internationally acclaimed jazz artists Phil Woods, Rufus Reid, Benny Golson, Arturo Sandoval, Bobby Shew and more.

Tickets will be available at the door. Advance ticket information is available by contacting Simmons at 615-898-2724 or james.simmons@mtsu.edu.

For more information about MTSU’s Jazz Artist Series or any other events in the MTSU School of Music, please visit www.mtsumusic.com or call 615-898-2493.

— Gina E. Fann (gina.fann@mtsu.edu)

Registration remains open for MTSU Spring Preview Day March 21

Registration remains open for the first of two MTSU Spring Preview Days as MTSU admissions, enrollment and academic officials prepare for what will be one of the university’s largest preview days.

More than 1,000 people have preregistered and are expected to attend the 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, March 21, Spring Preview Day.

In this March 2014 file photo, MTSU senior professional chemistry major Phillip Pulley caught prospective students' attention when a chemical reaction between soap bubbles and fire created a colorful result in a Wiser-Patten Science Hall classroom during Spring Preview Day. This year’s preview day will be Saturday, March 21. (MTSU file photo by Andy Heidt)

In this March 2014 file photo, MTSU senior professional chemistry major Phillip Pulley caught prospective students’ attention when a chemical reaction between soap bubbles and fire created a colorful result in a Wiser-Patten Science Hall classroom during Spring Preview Day. This year’s preview day will be Saturday, March 21. (MTSU file photo by Andy Heidt)

Spring Preview Day is the university’s signature open house for prospective students and their families. This campus visit program includes department presentations, opportunities to meet faculty and staff from academic areas and student affairs, and take campus tours.

The preview day will begin in the Student Union. To find parking and campus buildings, view a printable campus map at http://tinyurl.com/MTSUParking14-15.

The Science Building, which opened in August 2014, will be one of the featured facilities. Others will include Business and Aerospace Building, College of Education Building, James E. Walker Library and more.

To register for the preview day or for more information, visit www.mtsu.edu/RSVP.

true blue spring preview day 2014 graphic croppedAttendees will be able to visit the Student Services and Admission Center and MT One Stop, which sits across from the Student Union on Blue Raider Drive. It houses admissions, tours and records on the first floor. The second-floor MT One Stop handles student concerns regarding financial aid, scholarships, bills, scheduling, transcripts and more.

The second MTSU Spring Preview Day will be held Saturday, June 6.

To contact admissions, call 615-898-2111 or email admissions@mtsu.edu. For questions about tours, call 615-898-5670 or email tours@mtsu.edu.

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

 

In this 2014 file photo, prospective students and their families file past the then- under construction MTSU Science Building during Spring Preview Day. Along with daily campus tours, the next admissions special event will be the Saturday, March 21, preview day. (MTSU file photo by Andy Heidt)

In this 2014 file photo, prospective students and their families file past the then- under construction MTSU Science Building during Spring Preview Day. Along with daily campus tours, the next admissions special event will be the Saturday, March 21, preview day. (MTSU file photo by Andy Heidt)

They did it! MTSU student relishes role in ‘Southern Fried Fuel’ trip (+VIDEO)

MTSU "Southern Fried Fuel" on the road

(Follow veteran MTSU News and Media Relations staffer Randy Weiler’s daily blog as he travels March 8-10 with alternative fuels researcher Dr. Cliff Ricketts and his team to finish their coast-to-coast trip using biodiesel from waste chicken fat.)

SEATTLE, Wash. — Ben Black could have spent spring break relaxing in Panama City Beach, Florida.

Instead, the Middle Tennessee State University senior criminal justice major chose to spend it bonding with five older men driving 1,850 miles halfway across the country on waste chicken fat and used cooking oil from university dining facilities.

In what he calls the trip of a lifetime, Black, 21, said driving across the country was an awesome experience and it included driving a 100-mile portion after midnight March 9.

The “Southern Fried Fuel” expedition ended successfully March 10 when MTSU researcher Cliff Ricketts and his five-member team completed the 1,850-mile final leg that finished in Seattle.

https://youtu.be/xMyTUi31hVo

Ricketts’ research and objective was to show the fuels would be an alternative in the event foreign oil becomes scarce.

“The experience has been amazing,” said Black, who lives in Lascassas, Tennessee, will graduate in May and is already admitted to Belmont Law School in Nashville.

MTSU senior Ben Black, left, works with Paul Ricketts of Versailles,Kentucky, in adding waste chicken fat to the 1991 Dodge Ram diesel March 10 about 130 miles southwest of Seattle, Washington. Both are part of the "Southern Fried Fuel" expedition traveling 3,500 miles from Key West, Florida, to Seattle on chicken fat and used cooking oil from MTSU dining facilities.

MTSU senior Ben Black, left, works with Paul Ricketts of Versailles,Kentucky, in adding waste chicken fat to the 1991 Dodge Ram diesel March 10 about 130 miles southwest of Seattle, Washington. Both are part of the “Southern Fried Fuel” expedition traveling 3,500 miles from Key West, Florida, to Seattle on chicken fat and used cooking oil from MTSU dining facilities.

“It has really shown me that running a vehicle on animal fat is possible. I was a little skeptical at first, but now I know that it can be done.

“Don’t get me wrong. It has been a lot of hard work — long nights, breakdowns and setbacks, but it has been worth it to show people that this is a viable fuel and way of powering a vehicle,” he added.

With another alternative fuel achievement secured, MTSU professor Cliff Ricketts appreciates Black’s willingness to participate.

“I always like helping students discover their own country and the world,” he said. “There is more to college than books and studying. And Ben contributed to our success.”

It marks another career milestone for Ricketts, 66, who is in his 38th year as a member of the School of Agribusiness and Agriscience faculty.

“I feel relieved,” he said. “I feel content and happy because we achieved our goal, and satisfied we achieved our goal. Our backup plans were in place and they helped us achieve our goals.”

MTSU professor Cliff Ricketts, left, and "Southern Fried Fuel" team members Terry Young, Mike Sims, MTSU student Ben Black and Paul Ricketts celebrate the 3,500-mile completion of the journey. (MTSU photo by News and Media Relations)

MTSU professor Cliff Ricketts, left, and “Southern Fried Fuel” team members Terry Young, Mike Sims, MTSU student Ben Black and Paul Ricketts celebrate the 3,500-mile completion of the journey. (MTSU photo by News and Media Relations)

Backup plans included buying a second vehicle, a 1991 Dodge Ram diesel, in case the primary vehicle, a 1981 Volkswagen Rabbit diesel, went out of commission, and buying parts to repair the Rabbit if needed.

The VW Rabbit experienced a mechanical issue March 9 and necessitated the need to use the Dodge Ram for the remainder of the trip.

Black, who is earning a minor in general agriculture, admits he knew little about operation of the Rabbit, but he helped when opportunities presented themselves.

“I’m still able to help with some mechanical things, handling tools, find parts at parts stores and I’ve been assigned to do all the navigating and ‘googling’ things while on the trip,” he said. “I think my contribution has been in helping the group stay on course and doing various other jobs.”

Joining Ricketts and Black on the trip were Terry Young of Woodbury, Tennessee; Mike Sims of Jackson, Michigan; and Ricketts’ son, Paul, who is from Versailles, Kentucky.

The expedition began Nov. 8, 2014, in Key West, Florida. It ended Nov. 11 near Kansas City, Missouri, when a transmission issue halted the trip. It resumed March 8 in Grain Valley, Missouri.

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

MTSU professor Cliff Ricketts checks his rear-view mirror while driving on I-90 March 10. In the "Southern Fried Fuel" trip using waste chicken fat and used cooking oil from MTSU dining facilities, he and his team completed a successful 3,500-mile trip from Key West, Florida, to Seattle, Washington, March 10.

MTSU professor Cliff Ricketts checks his rear-view mirror while driving on I-90 March 10. In the “Southern Fried Fuel” trip using waste chicken fat and used cooking oil from MTSU dining facilities, he and his team completed a successful 3,500-mile trip from Key West, Florida, to Seattle, Washington, March 10.


 

Day 3: ‘Southern Fried Fuel’ carries MTSU research team to Seattle

March 9, 2015

BUTTE, Mont. — As the 594 miles from Wall, South Dakota, to Butte, Montana, on the “Southern Fried Fuel” expedition rolled by, Middle Tennessee State University researcher Cliff Ricketts realized a decision he made months ago was a wise one.

Randy Weiler and Dr. Cliff Ricketts

Randy Weiler and Dr. Cliff Ricketts

After a suggestion by an MTSU agriculture student, he bought a 1991 Dodge Ram diesel pickup as the backup for the 1981 Volkswagen Rabbit diesel.

MTSU professor Cliff Ricketts, left, and mechanic/consultant Terry Young select tools to work on the cooling system for the 1981 Volkswagen Rabbit diesel. Mechanical problems sidelined the vehicle March 9 outside of Rapid City, South Dakota. (MTSU photos by Randy Weiler)

MTSU professor Cliff Ricketts, left, and mechanic/consultant Terry Young select tools to work on the cooling system for the 1981 Volkswagen Rabbit diesel. Mechanical problems sidelined the vehicle March 9 outside of Rapid City, South Dakota. (MTSU photos by Randy Weiler)

When the Rabbit continued to have water pump, radiator and overheating issues, Ricketts, in baseball terms, called on his ace reliever to earn the save of the day.

In reaching Billings, he drove 364 miles on one-half tank of biodiesel from chicken fat — and plenty left in the tank as the team moved forward in hopes of completing driving 3,500 miles from Key West, Florida, to Seattle, Washington, on the fuel, which has been perfect and had no part in the mechanical issues.

“It’s been great,” Ricketts said of the Dodge Ram coming through in the clutch. “We cashed in on the expectations of the backup vehicle. We’re getting excellent mileage — 20 miles per gallon or more.”

The group, which includes MTSU senior Ben Black of Lascassas, Tennessee, will attempt the final 600 miles to Seattle Tuesday, March 10. Other team members include Terry Young of Woodbury, Tennessee; Paul Ricketts of Versailles, Kentucky; and Mike Sims of Jackson, Michigan.

Knowing petroleum prices will rise again, Ricketts, an MTSU School of Agribusiness and Agriscience faculty member, wants his “research to show and test the viability of animal fat as a fuel, using it 100 percent and comparing it to the performance of biodiesel from vegetable oil.”

“More importantly, my research is to show and illustrate that there are other viable alternatives to petroleum oil from the agricultural industry,” he added. “This animal fat is another alternative fuel that could be used in time of a national emergency.”

Paul Ricketts, left, of Versailles, Kentucky, grimaces while tightening a bolt to install a new radiator for the 1981 Volkswagen Rabbit diesel used in the MTSU "Southern Fried Fuel" journey March 9 in Billings, Montana. Fellow mechanic Terry Young prepares to use another tool. Mechanical issues forced professor Cliff Ricketts to replace the rabbit with a 1991 Dodge Ram diesel, which also runs on biodiesel waste chicken fat.

Paul Ricketts, left, of Versailles, Kentucky, grimaces while tightening a bolt to install a new radiator for the 1981 Volkswagen Rabbit diesel used in the MTSU “Southern Fried Fuel” journey March 9 in Billings, Montana. Fellow mechanic Terry Young prepares to use another tool. Mechanical issues forced professor Cliff Ricketts to replace the rabbit with a 1991 Dodge Ram diesel, which also runs on biodiesel waste chicken fat.

Ricketts’ 38 years of research includes ethanol, methane from cow manure, biodiesel from soybean oil and other grain crops, solar electric, hydrogen from water and biodiesel from waste by-products and used vegetable oil.

The MTSU professor uses older vehicles to stay within his budget. His original ’81 Rabbit was destroyed in 2014 when a student working on the truck inadvertently blew the engine.

Butte temperatures dropped to 22 degrees by early morning March 10, causing concern for the team. They left the truck running overnight to keep the fuel from gelling.

For at least a nearly 100-mile stretch of Interstate 90 in Idaho, the team will use MTSU dining facilities’ used cooking oil.

The “Southern Fried Fuel” expedition will go through Spokane, Washington, then they will drive more than 250 miles to reach Seattle Tuesday to complete the 1,850-mile second leg of the trip.

Since March 8, they have driven through Missouri, Iowa and South Dakota.

The first segment of the Key West, Florida, to Seattle expedition ended Nov. 11 in Grain Valley, Missouri, near Kansas City. A transmission issue postponed the trip nearly four months.

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


 

Day 1/2: Group keeps on truckin’ to reach South Dakota

March 9, 2015

WALL, South Dakota — The day began with renewed promise and bright sunshine. Later, frustations grew because overheating issues reminded some team members of the problems they experienced in November.

By day’s end March 8 and into the early hours of Monday, March 9, Middle Tennessee State University professor Cliff Ricketts’ team successfully completed the first-day, 650-mile “Southern Fried Fuel” journey on biodiesel from waste chicken fat and used cooking oil from MTSU.

MTSU alumnus Terry Young of Woodbury, Tennessee, checks the fuel level for the biodiesel waste animal (chicken) fat being used in professor Cliff Ricketts' "Southern Fried Fuel" journey March 7 in Grain Valley, Missouri, outside Kansas City. Ricketts resumed his quest to drive 3,500 miless from Key West, Florida, to Seattle, Washington.March 8.(MTSU photos by News and Media Relations)

MTSU alumnus Terry Young of Woodbury, Tennessee, checks the fuel level for the biodiesel waste chicken fat being used in professor Cliff Ricketts’ “Southern Fried Fuel” journey March 7 in Grain Valley, Missouri, outside Kansas City. Ricketts resumed his quest March 8 to drive 3,500 miles from Key West, Florida, to Seattle, Washington. (MTSU photos by News and Media Relations)

Randy Weiler and Dr. Cliff Ricketts

Randy Weiler and Dr. Cliff Ricketts

Aware that gas prices will rise again, the MTSU School of Agribusiness and Agriscience faculty member says pure biodiesel is a nontoxic, biodegradable, sulfur-free renewable fuel, and using it could have a major impact on U.S. petroleum consumption.

“We had a slow start with overheating issues with the truck again,” Ricketts said of the sluggish beginning of the trip from Kansas City, Missouri, to Wall, South Dakota, home to Wall Drug and the nearby Badlands National Park.

“The issues are pretty much resolved. We didn’t waste more than an hour total. So, overall, it was a good day. Very successful.”

Ricketts, who has spent 38 years at MTSU — researching alternative fuels most of that time — said the weather “thankfully, is working in our favor” with spring-like daytime temperatures reaching into the upper 50s and lower 60s.

The journey began off Interstate 70 in Grain Valley, Missouri, near Independence. The team’s Sunday drive also included western Iowa before crossing into South Dakota.

The March 9 leg of the trip includes driving through a northeast portion of Wyoming on I-90 and on into Montana, eventually arriving in Missoula.

Ricketts and his team will cover 1,850 miles on the second leg, which is scheduled to end Tuesday, March 10, in Seattle, Washington.

The first segment of the expedition from Key West, Florida, to Seattle ended Nov. 11 in Grain Valley. A transmission issue postponed the trip for nearly four months.

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

MTSU senior Ben Black, 21, of Lascassas, Tennessee, prepares to add coolant to the radiatior at a stopover in Council Bluffs, Iowa, on the first day of professor Cliff Ricketts'  "Southern Fried Fuel" expeditiom March 8. Ricketts is trying to complete the final 1,850 miles of the journey using biodiesel from waste animal fat.

MTSU senior Ben Black, 21, of Lascassas, Tennessee, prepares to add coolant to the radiator at a March 8 stopover in Council Bluffs, Iowa, on the first day of professor Cliff Ricketts’ “Southern Fried Fuel” expedition. Ricketts is trying to complete the final 1,850 miles of the journey using biodiesel from waste animal fat.


MTSU researcher resumes quest to drive cross-country on biodiesel

March 7, 2015

Middle Tennessee State University professor Cliff Ricketts is not accustomed to failure. It is not a part of his vocabulary.

MTSU professor Cliff Ricketts holds a plastic bottle containing pure biodiesel made from chicken fat that he will use as a fuel source to finish a roughly 3,550-mile, coast-to-coast trip from Key West, Florida, to Seattle, Washington, between March 8 and 14. (MTSU file photo by News and Media Relations)

MTSU professor Cliff Ricketts holds a plastic bottle containing pure biodiesel made from chicken fat that he will use as a fuel source to finish a roughly 3,550-mile, coast-to-coast trip from Key West, Florida, to Seattle, Washington, between March 8 and 10. (MTSU file photos by News and Media Relations)

So when the 38-year-veteran MTSU alternative fuels researcher had his 2014 “Southern Fried Fuel” expedition aborted by a transmission problem near Kansas City last November, he was extremely frustrated, but he also remained firmly optimistic.

“Attempting to drive from Key West to Seattle has been an adventure,” he said then of the journey, in which he intended to drive from the tip of the Florida Keys to near the Pacific coast in Washington. “We’ll postpone it to a later date.”

The “later date” for completing the 1,850-mile drive comes Sunday through Tuesday, March 8-10, during spring break for MTSU students and faculty members.

To fuel his journey, Ricketts is using biodiesel from waste chicken fat obtained from an Arkansas processing plant and used vegetable oil from MTSU dining facilities.

Aware that gas prices will rise again, the School of Agribusiness and Agriscience faculty member said he knows pure biodiesel is a nontoxic, biodegradable, sulfur-free, renewable fuel, and using it could have a major impact on U.S. petroleum consumption.

“My goal and passion is to keep the United States from using foreign oil. I’m optimistic we can finish the expedition and reach Seattle,” said Ricketts, who will be driving a 1981 Volkswagen Rabbit diesel using the two biodiesel fuels.

“We got the vehicle fixed. It’s better than it was before,” he continued. “Plus, we’ve got a backup vehicle in case we have any issues.”

MTSU professor Cliff Ricketts stands next to the 1981 Volkswagen Rabbit diesel pickup truck he is driving from Key West, Fla., to Seattle, Washington. His journey will resume March 8, near Kansas City. He drove the truck from Key West to near Independence, Missouri, last November before a transmission problem halted the trip.

MTSU professor Cliff Ricketts stands next to the 1981 Volkswagen Rabbit diesel pickup truck he is driving from Key West, Fla., to Seattle, Washington.

The backup is a 1991 Dodge Ram diesel.

The professor said he and his team are “even more confident than the last time” and are “better prepared for any cold weather we might encounter,” thanks to heating systems they’ve added to keep the fuel warm.

With a five-member team — including MTSU senior Ben Black of Lascassas, Tennessee — accompanying him, Ricketts will resume the trip about 20 miles east of Kansas City.

The plan is to drive through Iowa, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho and across Washington before finishing March 10 in Seattle.

The group will leave from Murfreesboro Saturday morning en route to Kansas City. Team members include MTSU alumnus mechanic Terry Young of Woodbury, Tennessee; retired engineer Mike Sims of Jackson, Michigan; and Ricketts’ son, Paul, who lives in Lexington, Kentucky.

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

Angelou inspires MTSU Women’s History Month; Ling visits March 26

A month of interactive and entertaining National Women’s History Month activities at MTSU will begin with an event honoring the late Dr. Maya Angelou.

The opening ceremony is slated for 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, March 3, in the atrium of the James E. Walker Library. The MTSU Gospel Choir and MTSU Jazz Ensemble will perform and students will deliver a spoken-word tribute.

Click on the poster to see a larger version.

Click on the poster to see a larger version.

Dr. Maya Angelou

Dr. Maya Angelou

Angelou, a poet, educator, dramatist and civil rights activist, died in May 2014.

Her legacy includes authorship of 36 books, including “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” and “Gather Together in My Name.” Her honors include three Grammy Awards, the National Medal of the Arts and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Under the monthlong theme of “Weaving the Stories of Women’s Lives,” Lisa Ling, executive producer and host of “This Is Life” on CNN, will deliver the keynote address at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, March 26, in the Student Union Ballroom.

This event is free and open to the public.

Ling is a journalist who has co-hosted ABC’s “The View” and hosted “National Geographic Explorer” on the National Geographic Channel and “Our America with Lisa Ling” on the Oprah Winfrey Network.

Another major highlight of the month is the 11th biennial Women’s and Gender Studies Conference, which is scheduled for March 26-28.

Titled “Global Discourses in Women’s and Gender Studies,” the gathering will feature top experts from around the world sharing their research into women’s and gender issues. For more information on registration and specific conference activities, go to www.mtsu.edu/womenstu/conference.

Other National Women’s History Month events include:

  • “Moving Eastward and Upward: Adjusting ‘Plans’ to Accommodate Cool Research and Leadership Opportunities,” a Wednesday, March 4, Women in Chemistry Invited Lecture featuring Dr. Jennifer McKenzie, Vanderbilt University, incoming chair of the Nashville section of the American Chemical Society, 7 p.m., Room 145, College of Education Building.
  • “Notes to My College Self: Advice for Navigating Your Path to Success,” a Thursday, March 19, panel discussion with MTSU and community women and audience engagement, 5 p.m., Room 101, Ingram Building.
  • “The Vagina Monologues,” a Tuesday, March 24, theatrical event exploring topics related to women and feminism, presented by student organization I AM ME, 6 p.m., Keathley University Center Theater, $3 with student ID or $5 general admission.
  • Dr. Dagmar Herzog, distinguished professor of history at the Graduate Center, City University of New York, who’ll lecture Tuesday, March 31, on “Nazi Anti-Semitism and the Christian Churches” at 4 p.m. in the Hazlewood Dining Room, James Union Building.

Sponsors of National Women’s History Month events at MTSU include the James E. Walker Library, the June Anderson Center for Women and Nontraditional Students, the Holocaust Studies Program, the American Association of University Women in Murfreesboro, the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, the Women’s and Gender Studies Program, the Distinguished Lecture Committee and the National Women’s History Month Committee.

For more information on these and other events, contact Barbara Scales, director of the June Anderson Center and chair of the National Women’s History Month Committee, at 615-898-2193 or barbara.scales@mtsu.edu.

— Gina K. Logue (gina.logue@mtsu.edu)

MTSU welcomes TSSAA, notes parking, traffic changes March 11-14

TSSAA basketball tournaments are as reliable as daffodils popping up each March in Tennessee, and so are the traffic changes they make necessary around MTSU.

The TSSAA Boys’ High School Basketball Tournament, set Wednesday through Saturday, March 11-14 — will cause changes in parking and traffic patterns on the campus of Middle Tennessee State University, which is again hosting the event.

As a result, area motorists should be aware of several factors affecting roads and parking around MTSU.

  • MTSU’s East Main Street and Rutherford Boulevard entrances will be the most convenient campus entry points during the tournaments, university officials said.
  • Team buses again will park on the east side of Middle Tennessee Boulevard in what is usually the right northbound lane, creating a single lane of traffic from the Presidents’ House to Faulkinberry Drive.
  • The Greenland Drive parking lot will be reserved for TSSAA ticketholders during both tournaments, and vehicles must pay $5 to park there. Students and faculty who use the Greenland Drive lot should prepare now to find alternative parking on campus, including the Tennessee Livestock Pavilion lot off Greenland Drive and the Rutherford Boulevard parking lots.
  • The university will reserve parking during the tournaments in the Middle Tennessee Boulevard, Cason-Kennedy Nursing Building and Smith Field lots for vehicles displaying appropriate campus permits. Visitors with appropriate permits also will be allowed to park in those lots.
  • Faulkinberry Drive will be closed at the Middle Tennessee Boulevard entrance and at Normal Way March 11-14.

Motorists also should keep in mind the traffic congestion around campus and allow extra time to reach their destinations. They also can use the university’s perimeter parking lots, including the Tennessee Livestock Pavilion and Rutherford lots, during the tournaments.

The university also served as host for the 2015 Girls’ High School Basketball Tournaments March 4-8. Inclement weather delayed the March 5 games and forced rescheduling of the finals to March 8 instead of March 7. The weather also closed MTSU March 5 and 6.

MTSU is on spring break March 9-14, during the second TSSAA tournament, and no classes are being held. University offices will be open regular hours, but the Raider Xpress shuttle service will not run while the university is on spring break.

All other events scheduled on campus during the tournaments will be allowed first-come, first-served parking in any of MTSU’s free lots, based on availability.

A searchable campus map with parking and travel notes is available at http://tinyurl.com/MTSUParking14-15. For more information about the TSSAA state tournaments, visit www.tssaa.org or call 615-889-6740.

Young scientists’ effort shows at MTSU Science Olympiad (+VIDEO)

While T-shirts of various school colors promoted other Science Olympiad teams, the white lab coats worn by Central Magnet School students stood out.

They looked collegial, professional and dapper.

Central Magnet students were among 14 high school teams and 10 middle school teams competing for berths in next month’s State Science Olympiad during the 20th annual Regional Science Olympiad at MTSU Saturday (Feb. 28) primarily in the first-year Science Building.

http://youtu.be/OHaKTNiltlE

Central Magnet earned first place in the high school division, with Rossview High in Clarksville, Tennessee, Spring Hill and Clarksville Northeast finishing second through fourth, respectively, and advancing to the Tennessee Science Olympiad Saturday, April 11, in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Murfreesboro’s St. Rose of Lima finished first in the middle school division. Also advancing were Dayspring Academy of Greenbrier, Tennessee, Rockvale and Smyrna Middle. All four advance to the state tournament at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.

More than 300 students and nearly 100 volunteers descended upon MTSU for the event that highlights STEM or science, technology, engineering and mathematics. There are 46 events altogether, with 23 in Division B (middle school) and 23 in Division C (high school).

As Regional Science Olympiad at MTSU volunteer Bobby Nichols, left, times the event, Smyrna Middle School seventh-grader Addison Schenk watches as teammate and sixth-grader Varic Norath uses remote control to maneuver his robot in the "Robo-Cross." Nichols is a physics professor at Cumberland University in Lebanon, Tennessee. (MTSU photos by News and Media Relations)

As Regional Science Olympiad at MTSU volunteer Bobby Nichols, left, times the event, Smyrna Middle School seventh-grader Addison Schenk watches as teammate and sixth-grader Varic Norath uses remote control to maneuver his robot in the “Robo-Cross.” Nichols is a physics professor at Cumberland University in Lebanon, Tennessee. (MTSU photos by News and Media Relations)

“This is gigantic,” said regional Director Pat Patterson, an MTSU chemistry professor. “It’s exciting to have this in the Science Building. You see the (students’) excitement and the frustrations. … Students (now) appreciate science more. They look forward to doing this in the classroom.”

Yes, things can go well. And they can go south, too. The participants are at the mercy of how they have prepared their bottle rockets, robotics, wheeled vehicles and more. And they also must adhere to the Science Olympiad rules.

“This has been a really awesome experience,” said Khalin Freeman, a Blackman High School junior, who participated with sophomore Andrew Carden.

“This has been a really fun learning experience,” added Carden.

During the time leading up to the regional, Freeman and Carden said their Science Olympiad partner was always there to help.

Smyrna Middle School seventh-graders Addison Wilson and Aliyah Weaver competed in the “Crave the Wave” event that involves sound waves.

“It was nerve-wracking at first,” Wilson said of the experience. “Then we got used to it. It was not as bad as we thought. We just didn’t know what to expect. There was the mystery element.”

For Weaver, the process proved to be “terrifying, but we knew we had good knowledge, so we felt confident anyway.”

MTSU faculty, staff, student teachers and students contributed to the volunteer effort. Cumberland University physics faculty member Bobby Nichols, who helped oversee the “Scrambler” event, also assisted.

 

The Department of Chemistry and Colleges of Basic and Applied Sciences and Graduate Studies are the Regional Science Olympiad’s primary sponsors.

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

Blackman High School junior Khalin Freeman, left, and sophomore Andrew Carden inspect their wheeled vehicle they entered in the "Scrambler" event Saturday (Feb. 28) in the Regional Science Olympiad at MTSU.

Blackman High School junior Khalin Freeman, left, and sophomore Andrew Carden inspect their wheeled vehicle they entered in the “Scrambler” event Saturday (Feb. 28) in the Regional Science Olympiad at MTSU.

Sixth-grader Tyler Bounds of La Vergne Middle School makes an adjustment to his entry in the 20th annual Regional Science Olympiad at MTSU Saturday (Feb. 28).

Sixth-grader Tyler Bounds of La Vergne Middle School makes an adjustment to his entry in the 20th annual Regional Science Olympiad at MTSU Saturday (Feb. 28).