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).

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:

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.

UIndy Speech and Debate Team has Success Going Virtual

UIndy Speech & Debate team goes virtualThe University of Indianapolis Speech and Debate Team competed in their first tournament of the year and first virtual tournament ever in the 2020 T-Town Swing Tournament hosted by Tulsa Community College and Northeastern State University.

The team earned widespread accolades throughout the tournament, culminating in a second-place finish in individual events sweepstakes.

The UIndy Speech and Debate Team is a nationally ranked learning-centered community that competes in speaking events to enhance student’s communication, research, and public speaking skills. Stephanie Wideman, assistant professor of communication, is the team director.

“Learning during a pandemic presents challenges to all educators. However, this team’s resilience and dedication to the craft of public speaking means we can adapt and keep excelling during difficult times. It is essential we offer some sense of normalcy for our students, and competing, even virtually, offers that opportunity,” Wideman said.

Elise Paz ’23 (finance & Spanish) earned the title of tournament champion in communication analysis for her work exploring how obituaries have the rhetorical potential to shape public memory of these historic times. “Hispanics in the United States have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic due to their marginalized status and inability to access good healthcare and protective measures against COVID-19. In writing this speech, I was given the opportunity to shed light on this issue and give voice to those in need,” she said.

Team president, Craig Chigadza ’21 (psychology and international relations) speaks to his feelings about competing virtually: “As a collegiate competitor in speech and debate, the opportunity to be back on the circuit, competing even virtually, serves as reassurance that where there is a will there is a way. The feeling of being back with my university family is amazing,” Chigadza explained.

See a full list of team results below:

I.E. Sweeps: 2nd Place
Combined Sweeps: 3rd Place
Elize Paz ’23 (finance & spanish)-Tournament Champion (1st Place) in Communication Analysis
Landon Owens ’22 (sports management)-3rd in Programmed Oral Interpretation
Kathryn Leigh ’21 (biology)-3rd in Prose
Bhumibol Shakya ’23 (communication & psychology)-3rd in Impromptu Speaking & 5th in Informative Speaking
Collin Fausnaugh ’22 (supply chain management)-4th in Impromptu Speaking & 5th in Extemp Speaking

Faculty and students collaborate to bring “Castles of Athlin and Dunbayne” back to print

When Jennifer Camden, professor and associate chair of English, assigned “The Castles of Athlin and Dunbayne” to her class she didn’t realize the journey she was about to inadvertently embark on. “Students told me they couldn’t find the novel,” she said. “I had a copy of the last scholarly edition, from the 1990s, but it was now out of print.”

To her students’ credit, they found digitized copies of original editions of the novel from the 18th century, but according to Camden, those editions were poorly produced and often full of errors.

“In those cases, the students didn’t have any of the typical scholarly apparatus, like footnotes, to define archaic words or offer historical context,” she said.

Camden, who is also the Beverley J. Pitts Distinguished Professor of the Ron and Laura Strain Honors College, initially considered putting together a proposal for a new edition through a major publisher, but while presenting on the novel at a conference she met a scholar who told her such an update had already been unsuccessfully pitched to several publishers.

“I approached my colleagues in English who teach the Etchings courses at UIndy about whether we might consider publishing an edition through Etchings Press,” she said. “The advent of print-on-demand publishing meant that we could do so with relatively little seed money.”

Camden and her colleagues, including assistant professor Liz Whiteacre, Katherine Fries, and Randi Frye combined work from several of their classes to publish the novel. The process for publishing the novel was emblematic of the collaborative spirit of the University as it stretched across multiple courses across disciplines. 

Students learned how to produce a scholarly edition of the novel in ENGL 420: Critical Editions, taught by Camden. Students in ART 193: Beginning Illustration and ART 430: Advanced Illustration, taught by Randi Frye, illustrated key scenes from the novel. Assistant professor of English Liz Whiteacre’s ST 299: Book Publishing and Promotion course took files from the preceding courses to create the master design file of the book, completed its editing, and developed marketing materials to promote it. 

One of the students who worked on the project was Ali Viewegh ‘23 (English major, Professional Writing minor, Ron and Laura Strain Honors College), her role was to read the novel, identify passages that needed further explanation, research and then create footnotes for those pages. “I really enjoyed working with my class with this project, it required a lot of teamwork,” she said. “This project required all of us to work together, ask questions, and explore early English, Scottish, and sometimes even Swiss culture.”

Katherine Fries, associate professor of Art & Design and director of Hullabaloo Press, is working with the National Library Bindery Company of Indiana to provide an opportunity in the near future for students to hand-bind a limited, commemorative art edition of the novel and learn more about bookmaking.

This student-friendly edition of Ann Radcliffe’s first novel, now available for purchase on Amazon, includes illustrations and footnotes produced by students at University of Indianapolis, as well as an introduction by Dr. JoEllen DeLucia (Central Michigan University), who guides readers through this early Gothic novel. Set in medieval Scotland, “The Castles of Athlin and Dunbayne” explores revenge and features warring clans, imprisoned heroes and heroines, a shipwrecked Count, stolen inheritances and many of the hallmarks of Radcliffe’s later Gothic fiction.

Book cover photo available here.

The novel was published through Etchings Press at the University of Indianapolis. “Before work on this project began, we’d been having discussions on how to expand the work that students are doing with Etchings and continue our collaboration with Hullabaloo Press,” Camden said. “Those two goals were able to serendipitously come together in this project!”

“We think this illustrated and annotated novel is one that English course instructors and literature lovers alike will enjoy,” said Whiteacre.

Viewegh added that working on a project like this helped her and her classmates hone their researching skills. “I think this project was important because it allowed the other students and I to work through researching dated and hard to find topics,” she said. “It allowed us to improve our research and comprehension skills, which was especially helpful with reading such a dated text like Ann Radcliffe’s first novel.”

“I am super happy that I was able to be a part of the class that researched and created the footnotes, and I’m proud of all of the other classes that worked so hard on the project, also!”





Choral Department hitting the right notes this fall

IMG_0675“There’s a place for everyone to sing at UIndy,” is the motto of UIndy Choirs according to Webb Parker, director of choral activities. That’s true even during this fall semester when many programs are in a state of flux due to the coronavirus.

Students have been issued special personal protective equipment including a face shield and cloth cowl that they are wearing during singing activities, and the rehearsal space is very large in order to accommodate physical distancing of 10-12 feet between singers. Participants, as well as all others on campus, are also being asked to complete the campus health check on MyUIndy before coming to campus.

Parker estimates there are 60 students involved in UIndy Choirs today, and his goal is to double that number in three years or less. “I know there are tons of people on campus who love to sing,” he said, “It’s my goal to make sure they know there is a place on this campus for them to do that.”

“All choirs are open to all students,” he said. Auditions are held in the fall and spring before classes start for the semester, but he doesn’t want the word “audition” to scare anyone off. “Students who want to sing, can sing,” he said. “The ‘audition’ is really just a time for myself and the other choir directors to hear each singer’s voice to know which choir is best for them.”

UIndy Choirs are not only for students who are interested in class credit or have a major in the music department. In fact, there are Choral Fellowships specially reserved for non-majors who can receive grants just for singing in a choir.

Parker isn’t interested in limiting who can participate in choral activities at UIndy. “Harnessing the talent on this campus is my goal,” he said. “Getting the word out about UIndy choirs, on campus and to our community, is paramount for me.”

There are currently four choirs on campus: Concert Choir, Schola, Treble, and Crimson Express. Concert Choir is UIndy’s large, mixed voice choir, that sings a wide variety of songs from pre-Bach to modern day. Schola is a 16-20 voice mixed ensemble which focuses on a capella music from the Renaissance to the modern day. The Treble Choir focuses on music composed for the treble, or higher, voice. Their music selections range from the 17th century to modern pop music that you might hear on the radio today. Finally, Crimson Express is the university’s jazz/pop choir, consisting of 12-16 singers focusing on popular music in the vocal jazz and pop-a capella tradition. In addition to the Treble Choir, Parker hopes to bring a Bass, or low voice, choir to campus as well.

All choirs usually perform at least two concerts a semester and often the Spring semester features a collaboration with UIndy bands, local churches, or Indianapolis area community music-making organizations. “In the coming years, I hope to begin a tradition of travel, both domestically and internationally with Concert Choir and Schola,” Parker said.

Due to COVID-19 the concert schedule looks a bit different this year. There won’t be any concerts with a live audience, however Parker said the department is putting together a digital concert for release at the end of October, as well as a concert of Christmas music that will be carried on UIndy’s radio station 88.7 WICR. 

“We’re very excited about this opportunity with WICR and hope to make it a UIndy tradition,” Parker said. “We’re also excited about some new live-streaming technology that is going into the Ruth Lilly Performance Hall which will hopefully be put to use in the spring.”

Parker loves what he does, and tries to make sure that is reflected in his role as the director of choral activities. “I get to go to work to lead people in music-making, it’s the best job ever,” he said. “I keep rehearsals fast-paced, upbeat and fun. Laughter is a large part of what we do together in UIndy Choirs.”

Poetry collection by Kevin McKelvey selected for Indiana Authors Awards shortlist

A poetry collection written by Kevin McKelvey, professor of English at the University of Indianapolis, was shortlisted for top honors for The 2020 Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana Authors Awards. Thirty-seven books written by Indiana authors and published in 2018 and 2019 in seven categories of literature have been shortlisted foDream Wilderness Poems by Kevin McKelveyr the awards, which will be announced on Sept. 1, 2020.

McKelvey’s collection, Dream Wilderness Poems, draws from Indiana’s environmental history, particularly the Charles C. Deam Wilderness Area on Lake Monroe near Bloomington.

“I’m humbled and honored to be a finalist for the Indiana Author Awards in poetry. Finalists in all of the genres have inspired me and UIndy students, including those finalists who have visited for the Kellogg Writers Series,” McKelvey said. “Many thanks to Indiana Humanities for their stewardship of these awards and for their programs and work across the state.”

Book winners will be announced on Sept. 1 at 11 a.m. via a Facebook Live Premiere Event, and on Instagram and Twitter and via an email to subscribers at 11:10 a.m. Follow @INAuthorsAwards and sign up at to receive the announcement.

Each category winner will receive a $5,000 cash prize, a hand-crafted limestone award and the opportunity to make a $500 donation to an Indiana library of their choice.

For more information on the Indiana Authors Awards, visit

Andrew Armour ’12 creates app to monitor screentime

Andrew Armour ‘12 (Business Management & Administration, minor in Information Systems) is an incredible example of using his education for service. He always dreamed of owning a business, and four years ago, his dreams started becoming reality.  After spending a weekend with family, he noticed that the kids didn’t want to play outside and enjoy the weather. They were content to be sitting inside on their devices. 

Armour said, “The idea for Activate Fitness didn’t strike me right then, but it was something later that night that popped into my head as I was attempting to sleep. I woke up instantly after coming up with the idea around 2-3 AM and started researching to see if anyone else offers this service and if not, how can I get it developed and out to the public for use.”

CNBC story

Once he had a solid framework of what he wanted, he outsourced to a company in Pakistan after meeting their CEO. He credits this company as the reason he has a product today. According to the product website, “Activate Fitness is a patented technology that regulates screen time based on daily activity levels. Activate Fitness grants or denies screen time depending on the amount of daily activity that was performed by the device owner. Daily activity levels are generated through the use of Apple Health, Google Fit or a wearable fitness tracker like a Fitbit. Through the use of wearable fitness trackers we can regulate the amount of time spent on our mobile device and push individuals & families towards a more healthy and active lifestyle.”

Since current events have caused a large number of Americans to be home much more than they are used to, it follows that many more kids are also spending more time on devices. Armour believes that his app is the perfect solution to this problem. Instead of parents working from home having to stop their work to monitor their child’s screen time, they can simply install his free app to do the monitoring for them.

Armour’s time spent at UIndy was spent playing baseball from 2009-2011, and basketball in 2012. He still keeps in touch with many of his old teammates and friends. His advice to students centers around connections like these.

“Create connections, work on your people skills and get to know others on a personal level. You never know when you will need to reconnect to that person for assistance in the future,” he said. “Connecting to people isn’t a course you get a grade on at UIndy and it doesn’t cost you a dime in tuition. It just takes a little courage and outgoingness to potentially positively impact your future.” 

1 2 3 7