Archive for December, 2016
By Vicki L. Kroll
Daniela Somaroo hopped in her car Dec. 18 in Detroit and drove down I-75 to visit friends in Toledo — and to make one special delivery.
First stop for the UT alumna: the home of Dr. Sammy Spann, assistant provost for international studies and programs.
She handed Spann a check for $4,000, a donation to the Center for International Studies and Programs.
“He immediately rejected it, which I expected was going to happen,” Somaroo recalled. “And I said, ‘No, this is something that I really need to do, and I’m not going to take it back because this could help somebody else.’”
“This was an unexpected blessing,” Spann said of the generous donation. “This will be used to help a young lady from Haiti who was getting ready to go home due to lack of funds. Now she can take classes next semester.”
Two years ago, Somaroo was that young lady lacking funds for school.
“During my last semester, the government body that administers currency exchange in my country wasn’t approving the release of dollars for me to be able to pay for school anymore,” the native of Caracas, Venezuela, said. “And, of course, if you don’t pay your last semester, you don’t get your diploma. That was my concern: If I didn’t have my diploma, I wouldn’t be able to submit my paperwork for a work visa.”
Somaroo was at the Center for International Studies and Programs and happened to see Spann.
“Like the awesome person Sammy is, he asked, ‘Hey, how are you doing? Were you able to pay for your semester?’ I wasn’t going to lie to him, and I told him I was still about $4,000 short, and I was graduating in four days,” Somaroo said. “I can walk in the ceremony, but I wouldn’t receive my diploma.
“So he talked to Cheryl Thomas, executive assistant in the Center for International Studies and Programs, who is also a great person, and he said, ‘Hey Cheryl, can you find $4,000 for Daniela’s account?’ And then he said, ‘Congratulations, you’ve graduated.’ That was just a shocker. Things like that don’t happen all the time. It was a life saver. I am forever indebted to him.”
It was December 2014, and Somaroo received a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering. Then she landed a job as a service engineer at Honeywell International Inc. and moved to Merrillville, Ind. For the past couple months, she’s been filling in at the company’s Detroit office.
“Sammy didn’t say it was a loan,” she said. “But I made myself a promise once he gave me that money to pay for the semester; I told myself I had to pay it back somehow someday. It took me two years, but I made it.”
Spann was moved to tears by the gift and posted about it on his Facebook page.
Comments poured in: “So awesome people like her still exist. Wow!” “She truly has a heart of gold.” “Thank you so much for showing love to our students.” “What an inspiration. I can’t wait to give back to the Center for International Studies and Programs!” “It is so amazing to see Rockets helping Rockets!” “Thank you for reaching back and investing in others!”
Somaroo was surprised by the post — and the comments.
“It was just extremely overwhelming. I didn’t expect anything. Sammy’s thank-you and knowing where that money is going to were more than enough, and I told him that,” she said. “The amount of comments and love I’ve received from that post — my heart is full.”
By Vicki L. Kroll
It’s a cool Yule outside iHeart’s WRVF station in downtown Toledo as more than 3,000 lights in the shape of a Christmas tree pulsate in time to 101.5 the River’s holiday music.
Last February, Alec Connolly was given the task of brightening up and adding joy to the sonic world this Christmas season. The UT junior majoring in electrical engineering is completing his co-op with iHeartMedia.
“My boss, Gary Fullhart [market director of engineering and information technology at iHeartMedia] came up with the idea, and we brainstormed and put the project together,” Connolly said. “He went up to Bronner’s in Frankenmuth, Mich., and he put this big bag of Christmas lights on my desk, and that’s when I knew it was actually going to happen.”
With a twinkle in his eye, Connolly began researching the project. By April, the UT engineering student had three units built for stations in Toledo, Lima and Napoleon.
“Most of the Christmas displays that you see are programmed to prerecorded songs; they pick 10 or 15 songs, and they program each individual light,” Connolly explained. “What we wanted to do is program it in real time. I can’t program every single light because on the radio, it’s random Christmas songs that play, so I wanted to do it in real time.”
Add a Raspberry Pi — a computer about the size of a credit card — running the free software LightShow Pi and it’s the most wonderful time of the year.
“The Raspberry Pi actually listens to the audio and converts it to the lights, which is what you see on the tree,” Connolly said. “Playing along to the music, the tree looks absolutely fantastic.”
“This is an interesting work that Alec has done,” Dr. Mansoor Alam, professor and chair of electrical engineering and computer science, said. “This shows that electrical engineering is not just hard work, but is also fun.”
“I visited Alec’s employer, iHeart Media, and talked to him about this project earlier this year,” Karen J. Gauthier, associate co-op director for electrical and computer science engineering, said. “His enthusiasm and willingness to go the extra mile to complete a project was evident.”
Synchronizing holiday songs and the lights proved inspirational for Connolly: “I’m planning to get the materials and make a unit again so that my house next year will have a display set up that’s synced to the River as well.”
The Sylvania resident wrote about the project for Radio World; read his article here.
And see the project in action in this video. Or dash down by the station at 125 S. Superior St.
“Folks can park by the Spaghetti Warehouse and sit in their cars and listen to Christmas on the River and watch,” Connolly said.
by Megan Cunningham
A longtime leader in the College of Engineering will serve as interim dean of the college, Provost Andrew Hsu announced Dec 8.
Dr. Steven LeBlanc, professor and executive associate dean for fiscal affairs, will lead the college starting Jan. 9 to fill the vacancy created by longtime dean Dr. Nagi Naganathan, who has accepted the presidency of Oregon Institute of Technology in Klamath Falls, Ore.
“Dr. Naganathan provided great leadership to the College of Engineering for many years, and we wish him well in his new opportunity as president of Oregon Tech,” Hsu said. “Steve has proven himself to be a strong leader, and I appreciate his willingness to again step into the role of interim dean to continue to advance the college.”
Hsu said the University will conduct a national search for a permanent dean for the College of Engineering with the goal to have that person in place for fall 2017.
“I appreciate the opportunity to serve in this role to support our faculty and students and continue the positive momentum of our college,” LeBlanc said. “The College of Engineering has a strong team dedicated to the success of our students, and I am honored to be asked to lead them during this transition. The College of Engineering will miss Dean Naganathan, and we wish him every success as the new president of Oregon Tech.”
LeBlanc joined the College of Engineering in 1980 and led the Department of Chemical Engineering from 1993 to 2003 when he joined the dean’s office to oversee academic affairs. Prior to coming to UT, he spent three years as a chemical engineer at Toledo Edison.
He is co-author of two textbooks, “Strategies for Creative Problem Solving,” which received the American Society of Engineering Education Meriam/Wiley Distinguished Author Award, and “Process Systems Analysis and Control,” a chemical engineering textbook from McGraw-Hill.
LeBlanc, who was named an American Institute of Chemical Engineers Fellow in 2010, has received the UT Outstanding Teacher Award and the American Society for Engineering Education North Central Section Outstanding Teaching Award.
He is a graduate of UT with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering. He earned his master’s and doctoral degrees in chemical engineering from the University of Michigan and is a registered professional engineer in the state of Ohio.
A bike plan for the UT campus, a food truck tracker, a redesign of Carter Hall, a mechanical arm for a youth, and a plan for urban greening in the Vistula Neighborhood are a few of the projects that will be on display at The University of Toledo College of Engineering’s Fall 2016 Undergraduate Research and Senior Design Project Exposition.
The public is invited to take a look at more than 60 student projects at the Undergraduate Research and Senior Design Engineering Project Exposition from noon to 3 p.m. Friday, December 9th in Nitschke Hall.
The College of Engineering sponsors the event to showcase design projects created by graduating seniors from the departments of Bioengineering, Chemical Engineering, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Engineering Technology, and Mechanical, Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering.
As part of the required senior design capstone project, students create business-consulting units to develop a solution for a client’s technical or business challenge. Businesses, industries and federal agencies sponsor these projects.
For more information about the free, public exposition, call 419.530.8014 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
All project descriptions can be found at: http://www.utoledo.edu/engineering/docs/2016SeniorDesignProjects.pdf