UIndy Engineering and Sociology Research Team Recognized as Best Paper Finalist at 2021 Engineering Education Conference

Dr. Megan Hammond, assistant professor in the R.B. Annis School of Engineering; Dr. Joan Martinez, assistant professor in the R.B. Annis School of Engineering; and Dr. Elizabeth Ziff, assistant professor of sociology, were recognized this July at the 128th Annual Conference of the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE). 

The work of Hammond, Martinez, and Ziff was selected as a best paper finalist in the 2021 Design in Engineering Education Division (DEED) at the July meeting of ASEE. DEED accepted and published over 70 papers this year, and as a best paper finalist, the paper submitted by Hammond, Martinez, and Ziff was recognized as one of the top five works by the DEED committee. The submitted paper, “An exploration of Social and Educational Influences on User-centered Design: Revisiting a Compatibility Questionnaire” focuses on how to introduce the concept of social, cultural, and educational design biases to first-year engineering students learning about user-centered design and the definition of a “good” design. 

“This aligns specifically with the Engineering Accreditation Commission’s desire for students to engineer global and societal solutions,” said Hammond. “Our work is supporting the conversation to allow unique insights of first-year engineering students to naturally identify the complexity and impact of the design process.”

Hammond, Martinez, and Ziff were extremely honored by the recognition of their work at the DEED session, and would like to recognize the outstanding contributions of their student researcher, Dominique Lewis ‘23 (sociology). The team is moving forward with their work and building upon their publication and recognition by DEED to continue to bring diversity, equity, and inclusivity into the engineering curriculum at the University of Indianapolis. 

“The announcement was a true validation that the work we are doing at UIndy is relevant and welcomed by our colleagues driving the improvement of engineering design education,” said Hammond. “The team is excited to see how our work will continue to impact our students and how they approach design problems.”

R.B. Annis School of Engineering receives NSF grant funding

The University of Indianapolis’ R.B. Annis School of Engineering recently received a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to connect high school students and teachers to the field of engineering. The funds are part of a larger $4 million grant distribution made to UIndy and partnering institutions including Arizona State University, Morgan State University, and the University of Maryland. 

During the next three years, the R.B. Annis School, the University of Indianapolis School of Education, and their partners will use the funds to broaden the impact of Engineering for US All (e4usa), an NSF-funded program that makes engineering more accessible to high school students and educators. e4usa provides an educational curriculum for students to learn and demonstrate engineering principles, skills and practices while training educators interested in teaching. The Annis School will receive approximately $300,000 to support this work and expand e4usa’s innovative curriculum to Indiana K-12 schools. 

“The e4usa program has already made a tremendous impact by creating opportunities for students and teachers to engage with engineering in new and exciting ways,” said Ken Reid, Associate Dean of the Annis School. “The R.B. Annis School of Engineering is thrilled to expand our community connections as we help to introduce students and eliminate barriers to instruction through an accessible curriculum and introduce more students and teachers to the fast-growing field of engineering.”

As an innovative high school engineering program, e4usa has already worked with 36 high schools and more than 2,000 students in 12 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The new NSF funding will help quickly extend e4usa’s reach to include approximately 5,000 students and 50 teachers nationwide, with plans to expand over the next few years. Students are recruited from public, independent and parochial schools in rural, suburban and urban settings. e4usa students explore engineering in society, develop professional skills, and engage in community-focused engineering design experiences, all aimed at helping them see themselves as engineers. 

Locally, UIndy is working with two new e4usa partner schools: Christel House Schools and Positive Supports Academy in Indianapolis. UIndy serves as a university partner for both schools, helping each to offer the e4usa curriculum for the first time.  

“(Through e4usa), I am able to share methods of learning with my students not usually available,” said Paula Huston, Tech Education, Engineering, and Robotics Teacher at Positive Supports Academy. “My school is the alternative school and my students are more likely to not graduate due to behaviors that put them at my school. That being said, e4USA’s programming allows me to show them possibilities and help them think like engineers when it comes to solving problems whether or not they are academically related. The whole process is helpful to students even if they don’t eventually become engineers. I am hoping that our connection will allow more of my students to see possibilities they might not have been exposed to had they not been a part of this program. I think the hands-on nature of this coursework added to the problem-solving methods are two more tools my students will have to obtain success.”

Leah Milne selected for NEH Summer Institute

Virtual institute connects scholars to explore, celebrate work of Zora Neale Hurston

This summer Leah Milne, assistant professor of English, was one of 25 scholars selected for an NEH Summer Institute for an educational research collaboration hosted by The Project on the History of Black Writing at the University of Kansas. Normally held in Lawrence, Kansas, the educators will connect virtually from across the country. This year’s institute drew nearly 100 applicants, the largest in HBW’s history.

Leah Milne
Leah Milne

The 25 selected scholars will work with top Zora Neale Hurston literary scholars from the U.S. and abroad, engaging with Hurston’s work by participating in synchronous discussions, observing asynchronous presentations, and collaborating on research and teaching projects. Leading Hurston scholars who have confirmed participation include Deborah Plant, Carla Kaplan, John Lowe, Claudine Raynaud and Carmaletta Williams. Additional experts in African American literature and culture include Kevin Quashie, Deborah McDowell and Glenda Carpio as well as KU faculty members Giselle Anatol, Nicole Hodges Persley, Darren Canady and Paul Outka.

The institute is organized by project director Ayesha Hardison, KU professor of English and women, gender & sexuality studies, and by Maryemma Graham, University Distinguished Professor and founder of the Project on the History of Black Writing.

“We are excited to collaborate with the scholars and faculty of the NEH Summer Institute for an intensive study of Hurston, from her most celebrated fiction and ethnographies to her lesser-known work in film and journalism,” Hardison said. “We hope the institute’s return to Hurston, who proves more complex and innovative whenever someone rereads or rediscovers her, will spark new conversations in teaching and research within Hurston studies. I look forward to not only the insights about Hurston we will gain together this summer but also engaging in what she valued most: community and culture.”

In addition to the virtual summer institute, there will be a series of webinars in the fall providing an opportunity to connect with contemporary writers. The group will also be invited to reconvene on-site at the 2022 Zora! Festival in Eatonville, Florida. The festival is a major event for the author’s hometown and sponsored by P.E.C., Preservation for the Eatonville Community, which serves as the institute’s partner organization. 

“Hurston on the Horizon: Past, Present and Future” will take place July 11-30.

For more details about the institute and events open to the public, visit https://hurston.ku.edu.

UIndy Students Take Home First Prize at National Robotics Competition

A team of students from the R.B. Annis School of Engineering at the University of Indianapolis won first place in the combat robot competition at the National Robotics Challenge World Championship. 

Over the past academic year, a team of seniors designed, fabricated, and tested the combat robot. These students include:

  • Jonathan Key, Mechanical Engineering
  • Tyler Cole, Industrial & Systems Engineering 
  • Laura Johnson, Mechanical Engineering 
  • Ryan Kallenberger, Mechanical Engineering

In April, the team’s robot design passed a stringent qualification round and were invited to participate in the finals that took place in Marion, OH, in May, where the R.B Annis School of Engineering team won first place (gold award) in the post-secondary division of the combat robot competition, and boasted an undefeated record throughout the tournament.  

Ryan Kallenberger was the game-day captain and driver of the robot at the event, and junior Mechanical Engineering major, Anthony WIlliamson, represented the team at the competition as well. 

The Staff and Faculty who traveled with the students to Marion, OH to support the team include:

  • James Emery who also significantly supported the student team in designing, testing, and fabricating the robot, and was also a competition advisor. 
  • Najmus Saqib Mechanical Engineering faculty support and competition advisor.
  • Cameron Wright a local engineering and external advisor.
  • Joseph B. Herzog, team advisor and senior design instructor and course coordinator. 

Eliot Motato, also supported and advised the team along with Herzog as a Faculty Team Committee member throughout the academic year. Plus, many other R.B. Annis School of Engineering faculty and staff helped support the team throughout the year to help make this happen. 

Annis School Hosts 3rd Annual Business Pitch Competition

corner_extensionThe R.B. Annis School of Engineering held its third annual Engineering Business Pitch Competition on April 20, 2021. The event had 65 participants comprising students, mentors, judges, faculty and guests. Four teams of engineering students presented their products and business models at the event. 

For the last nine months, students have worked with School of Engineering faculty and staff as well as industry mentors to develop competitive products and business models. The industry mentors included: Terry Moore (Huntington Bank); Richard Calvert and Payton Staman (Citizens Energy Group); Carl Boss (GTC Machining) and Zachary Holtgrewe (Allegion).

“Helping to instill an entrepreneurial spirit in students like the Business Pitch Competition does is not only beneficial to the industry, but I think it fosters a way for those students who are truly passionate about engineering to push themselves to their limits,” said Zachary Holtgrewe. “The School of Engineering has a great program and it’s been an honor working with my team.”

Students also worked with professor Rhonda Wolverton and her students from the Department of Art and Design. In addition, professor Marcos Hashimoto from the School of Business presented a seminar on business financial planning while Charles P. Schmal, a patent attorney from Woodard, Emhardt, Henry, Reeves & Wagner, LLP, presented a seminar on intellectual property protection to the engineering students. 

“The collaboration and innovation between many different people and departments really make this competition unique,” said Ken Reid, associate dean and director of the R.B. Annis School of Engineering. “Our students take these projects from business case to execution, taking a hands-on approach—a hallmark of our curriculum in the School of Engineering—every step of the way.”

According to Dr. David Olawale, assistant professor of engineering, the engineering students’ exposure to expertise and training from other disciplines is critical for innovation and for creating outstanding solutions that meet the needs of the customers in today’s globally competitive marketplace. “Collaboration is critical for successful innovation,” he said. “Our students are equipped with not just technical skills, but also the entrepreneurial mindset to focus on the customers’ needs and how to create value competitively.”

Richard Calvert, one of the industry mentors from Citizens Energy Group, says he is always impressed with how polished and professional the UIndy students are in their presentations. “I really do enjoy seeing the development of the products from the idea stage, to surveys for better understanding the needs of their potential customers, and lastly to the building and testing of a prototype for their product,” he added.

The competition ended with Team 9 (Spacious) coming in first place. The team designed an extendable desk that wowed the judges. Students on the team included Meredith Magee (project manager), Damla Silahyurekli (assistant project manager), Alex Ruble, Anthony Williamson, Nate Comely and Mark Sciutto.

“I was able to apply the knowledge I’ve learned in the classroom to solve a real world problem,” said Sciutto. “Working in the new engineering building gave us the resources and space necessary to complete it.”

“We also had some issues along the way, and using what I learned in other classes was crucial to solving them. So winning the business pitch competition was very gratifying,” Sciutto added.


The runner-up position went to Team 7 First Responder: Dalton Lowry (project manager) and Dylan Beach (assistant project manager). The team designed a storage system for first responders. 

Third place went to Team 6 who designed a touchless high flow rate liquid dispenser to curb the spreading of germs. The fourth position went to Team 8 who developed a system for tracking drivers’ behavior with the goal of saving fuel cost and reducing crashes.

The Elevate Nexus Higher Education grant provided funding support for the program as well as the R.B. Annis School of Engineering Center for Collaborative Innovation (CCI).

UIndy MBA students explore service-learning opportunities with Goodwill Commercial Services

MBA students at Goodwill Commercial Services

MBA students at Goodwill Commercial Services

At the University of Indianapolis, “Education through Service” is much more than a motto.  It’s at the core of what we do.  Service-learning gives students an opportunity to put their course learning objectives into practice while also making a positive impact on the community.  A recent example of this involves students enrolled in MBA 660 Operations and Supply Chain Management.  This course prepares students to set up and manage factories.

With labor accounting for 15-30% of total factory cost, human resource management is a key part of business planning.  Two groups that are too often overlooked in these plans are those with disabilities or previously incarcerated.  According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2020 only 17.9% of persons with a disability were employed. This is nearly 3.5x lower than employment among those without a disability.  According to the Center for American Progress, formerly incarcerated people in the U.S.face a 27% unemployment rate—nearly five times higher than the unemployment rate of the general public.

As part of their operations coursework, MBA students have an opportunity to meet with the management team and shop floor associates at Goodwill Commercial Services located on the west side of Indianapolis.  The 100,000-square-foot facility is an ISO-certified contract manufacturer staffed with associates, 85% of whom are either disabled or previously incarcerated.

“Goodwill Commercial Services provides contract manufacturing and assembly services to business customers. We were very pleased to host Dr. Craig Seidelson and the MBA students to see our Tremont plant. As future business leaders, the students will be in a position to affect change through their communities and we were proud to introduce them to some of our employees,” said Jim Humphrey, vice president, Goodwill Commercial Services.

Time spent at Goodwill Commercial Services teaches University of Indianapolis students challenges that these groups face in the workforce and what can be accomplished when business leaders provide opportunities.  One student, Alice Whitaker ’22(MBA, concentration in organizational leadership), commented:

“It is so encouraging to see that a place that hires people often overlooked by hiring managers is not only in business but is thriving.  It was wonderful to get to speak to their employees and hear their stories and how their lives were touched by Goodwill.  As a future leader, I want to be someone who has a people-first business strategy and I appreciated getting to tour Goodwill which proves that this goal is possible,” said Whitaker.

Another student, Bailey Dodson ’23 (marketing) ’24 (MBA global supply chain), commented:

“It was interesting to see some of the concepts we talk about in class being put into action in terms quality, labor, and efficiency. One major aspect of the visit that really touched me was hearing some of the worker’s experiences,” Dodson said.

R.B. Annis School of Engineering expands impact with global project

Students at the R.B. Annis School of Engineering at the University of Indianapolis had the chance to apply their skills to solve a real-world problem with a far-reaching impact. The Annis School partnered with the Indianapolis-based Institute for Affordable Transport (IAT), which connects communities in developing countries with basic transportation and vehicles that feature robust and simple designs.

The idea got off the ground when David Olawale, assistant professor of engineering, contacted IAT to explore an industry-based project for the Manufacturing Processes course taken by senior mechanical engineering (ME) students. The goal was to give students the opportunity to apply the knowledge and skills from the course on a real-life project. In addition, the project had a service component in which the UIndy engineering students were able to apply their knowledge to help in making a product more affordable and accessible to many in developing nations. 

“The challenges [the students] faced in working with their team, clients and different stakeholders are critical experiences they get to share during job and internship interviews, thereby setting them apart from other graduates,” Olawale said.

The project was a perfect fit with the Annis School’s mission to use interdisciplinary education to develop modern engineering leaders who create outstanding solutions, he added. The Annis School focuses on providing unique experiential learning opportunities for students through real world open-ended, industry-based projects.

“The complexity of such problems and the exposure of students to such problems help them in developing effective problem-solving, teamwork, and communication capacity that are not readily possible with textbook-based problem-solving. Such exposure helps students to understand the needs of the industry and how to solve problems for the industry,” Olawale explained.

Working alongside David Olawale and Mechanical Systems Laboratory Manager James Emery, three mechanical engineering students—TJ LeSeure ’20, Payton Staman ’20, and Jake Braumbaugh ’20—were tasked with designing a power platform fixture for the IAT’s Basic Utility Vehicle (BUV). The BUVs are used in some developing nations as a multifunctional vehicle for transporting people, animals, water, food and construction materials. It can be a game changer for many communities in developing nations in terms of economic growth, access to clean water, food security and medical supply transportation.

In order to simplify the assembly process of the vehicles, IAT asked that UIndy’s team design a fixture for the assembly of the motor deck. The motor deck holds two components, the motor and the transmission. The student team was asked to design the fixture for the motor deck by incorporating their knowledge of jig and fixtures, design for manufacturing and additive manufacturing. Working with lab manager James Emery, the students learned how to work with production experts to successfully translate a design into a manufacturable product.

LeSeure said, “My favorite part of the project was being able to apply the things I learned in the classroom to a project that would help improve people’s lives. It was truly a rewarding experience that helped me tap into the passionate side of engineering.”

Students learned to work in a team environment as they communicated effectively with the client through site visits, video conferencing and emails to gain a good understanding of the client’s requirements and needs. New knowledge from the manufacturing processes course was applied in the design of the fixture for the automotive component. Students also developed their resilience and resourcefulness in creating a viable solution for an industry-client even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and its challenges.

Industry client Will Austin was impressed with the results. “We have completed over 50 engineering projects with 20 different universities during the last 20 years. Sometimes we learn a more simple or more cost-effective solution. Sometimes we merely learn what not to do. In the case of UIndy, we are using their fixtures in BUV production, and we are very pleased with the performance of the fixtures,” Austin said.

Austin placed an order for four more fixtures to be fabricated by the Annis School’s technical staff to be delivered to the client’s customers in Africa, the first of which are in northern Benin, West Africa.

“I really enjoyed working with the UIndy students. They were very prepared for the calls and kept me updated on developments. The engineers made good progress on the project despite COVID setbacks,” Austin added. “The end result was an excellent fixture that will be used with our next factory partners.”

The R.B. Annis School of Engineering will continue to work with IAT through the DesignSpine curriculum.

University of Indianapolis Music Department announces technology upgrades to broadcast equipment and multi-disciplinary learning opportunities for students

The University of Indianapolis Department of Music announced today extensive upgrades to video and broadcast production equipment, allowing for multi-disciplinary learning for music students as well as improving the concert-going experience, in the age of COVID and beyond.

UIndy music students get hands-on experience with the new technology.

UIndy music students get hands-on experience with the new technology.

“This expansion offers an incredible opportunity for our music technology students to both work on the audio side of live video broadcast productions and on the video side itself, on equipment found in many concert halls, churches, and venues,” said Brett Leonard, assistant professor and director of the Music Technology program at the University. “This cross-training puts our students in a great position to enter a variety of roles within our increasingly multi-medium industry.”

Upgrades to the production system at the University of Indianapolis, which hosts dozens of concerts, lectures and events every year, include:

Panasonic 4K cameras
Switching and recording equipment from Blackmagic Designs
Remote-operated PTZ (pan, tilt, zoom) cameras

Live streaming technology at the UIndy Department of MusicThe upgrades will work together to allow for 4K streaming to multiple websites and viewing platforms, which is especially important while audience attendance is limited or prohibited due to COVID restrictions. The new system will also allow for simultaneous multi-camera recording for large-scale recording projects like the annual Christmas from Campus concert.

Not only focused on the livestream experience, the upgrades will provide real-time feeds of multi-camera content to the lobby for patrons waiting to be seated—and offers the opportunity to provide an overflow area for oversold events.

Livestreamed concerts have a viewership that approaches that of typical concert attendance, according to Leonard, so it is important for the University to maintain high broadcast quality. Now, these entirely student-run 4K multi-camera broadcasts—complete with multi-track audio and isolated camera recordings—will provide concert streamers a performance experience as close to being “in the house” as possible. For students and performers with friends and family all across the country this is an important step for helping the Department of Music adapt to new COVID norms.

“The pandemic pushed us all into new roles within the industry,” Leonard added. “Giving our students more opportunities to learn new skills will leave them better prepared for entering an industry that has seen rapid change during the pandemic.”

About the University of Indianapolis Department of Music
Music students at the University of Indianapolis have the chance to engage with first-rate faculty, experience performances in a world-class concert venue, and connect in a close-knit educational environment, all within minutes of downtown Indianapolis. The music technology program provides hands-on experience within the recording and broadcast facilities in the Ruth Lilly Performance Hall, an exquisite, Viennese-style concert hall, as well as dedicated recording facilities in the Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center to engage in learning across a wide variety of specialties within the field of music technology. Close proximity to the downtown area and the Fountain Square district provides a vibrant setting for internship possibilities as well as culturally engaging opportunities for Indianapolis residents and University students alike.

About the University of Indianapolis
The University of Indianapolis, founded in 1902, is a private university located just a few minutes from downtown Indianapolis. The University is ranked among the top National Universities by U.S. News and World Report, with a diverse enrollment of nearly 5,600 undergraduate, graduate and continuing education students. The University offers a wide variety of study areas, including 100+ undergraduate degrees, more than 40 master’s degree programs and five doctoral programs. More occupational therapists, physical therapists and clinical psychologists graduate from the University each year than any other state institution. With strong programs in engineering, business, and education, the University of Indianapolis impacts its community by living its motto, “Education for Service.” Learn more: uindy.edu.

MSDA students receive first place in data challenge

Three graduate students in the data analytics program, along with Alli Snyder, assistant professor of data analytics, received first place in a virtual data challenge conference. The students are Claudia Alocer, Angie Zhang, and Lawrence Bukenya, who will be graduating in May 2021.

The group focused on a county-level program to combat health disparities and presented the results to major stakeholders of Indiana last month. The students also received $1,000.

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb has set an ambitious goal to greatly reduce the state’s infant mortality rate and achieve the lowest rate among Midwestern states by 2024. To support these eAlli Snyder, PhDfforts, the HIMSS Indiana Chapter in coordination with Indiana FSSA, the Indiana Department of Health, Indiana Management Performance Hub, the Regenstrief Institute, KSM Consulting, Parkview Health, and BioCrossroads conducted a virtual data challenge. By convening students, researchers, policymakers, health care professionals, and entrepreneurs from across the state, the challenge will propel the exploration and analysis of Indiana’s data to deliver powerful insights and innovative solutions that result in better health outcomes for Hoosier moms and babies.


Department of Biology adapts to pandemic with biology kits for students

A student dissects a worm using a biology kit.

A student dissects a worm using a biology kit.

When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, all University of Indianapolis academic departments were forced to rethink their course delivery approach to accommodate face-to-face restrictions. For the Department of Biology, that meant determining that students still had access to hands-on learning experiences in the laboratory.

With CARES Act funds, the department adopted the use of lab kits which were supplied to students at no expense to them. The kits contain all the materials that students need to complete lab activities at home.

A Biology 165 kit.

A Biology 165 kit

“We also wanted to make sure that even though the students were technically taking online classes, they could still come for help, use our facilities and feel part of the campus,” explained Sandy Davis, chair and professor of biology. “It has worked out really well.”

To give maximum flexibility, students taking classes that are using kits can take their kits home and do everything there. If students feel uncomfortable coming to campus, are in a high-risk health group or are under quarantine, they can still complete the activities and not fall behind. Residential students may store their kits in the lab.

Students work on the biology kits in a lab room at Lilly Science Hall.

Students work on the biology kits in a lab room at Lilly Science Hall.

Accompanying this approach is a system of open labs in which students from any class (whether they are using a kit or not) can check in at Lilly Science Hall. Students may pick up their kit, if they have one, and are then directed to an open lab where they can work on their own or collaborate with other students in the class.

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