University of Indianapolis announces Patrick Van Fleet as new dean of Shaheen College of Arts & Sciences

The University of Indianapolis announced today that Patrick Van Fleet, Ph.D., has been appointed as the next dean of the Shaheen College of Arts & Sciences effective July 26, 2021. His announcement follows an extensive national search.

Dr. Van Fleet most recently served as professor and chair for the Department of Mathematics at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota. He also served as director of the endowed Center for Applied Mathematics (CAM) at St. Thomas. During that time, Dr. Van Fleet was funded by the National Science Foundation on four projects totaling $1.3 million, wrote three books on wavelet theory, published several papers on wavelet theory and spline functions, and led numerous undergraduate research projects. He was a 2016 recipient of the John Ireland Presidential Award for Outstanding Achievement as a Teacher-Scholar at the University of St. Thomas.

Patrick Van Fleet, dean of the Shaheen College of Arts & Sciences
Patrick Van Fleet, dean of the Shaheen College of Arts & Sciences

“Dr. Van Fleet comes to UIndy at a crucial time for our University, as we emerge from the pandemic and find new ways to thrive and fulfill our mission to both our students and the community,” said Dr. Mary Beth Bagg, interim provost and vice president. “I am confident that Dr. Van Fleet will continue the tradition of innovation in the Shaheen College of Arts & Sciences by not only supporting opportunities for students to develop essential skills in their areas of study, but also by fostering successful transitions to their careers or further study at the graduate level.”

“I am excited and grateful to join the University of Indianapolis and the Shaheen College of Arts & Sciences. The College’s emphasis on helping faculty combine research and classroom work through the Shaheen grants aligns closely with my teaching and learning philosophy,” said Dr. Van Fleet. “I am eager for the opportunity to lead the College and the University in reaching new goals in interdisciplinary collaboration, community engagement, and regional workforce needs.” 

Dr. Van Fleet earned his Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics (education emphasis) from Western Illinois University and his Master of Science and PhD in mathematics from Southern Illinois University Carbondale. He worked at Sam Houston State University from 1992-1998, where he performed research in the emerging field of wavelet theory (funded in part by the National Science Foundation) and led a large project funded by a branch of the Department of Defense. In 1998, he became director of the endowed Center for Applied Mathematics at the University of St. Thomas and from 2011 served as chair of the Department of Mathematics. 

“The Shaheen College of Arts & Sciences is thrilled to welcome Dr. Van Fleet to our community,” said Dr. Mary Moore, interim dean of the Shaheen College. “His passion for undergraduate research and connecting students with industry mentors will enhance our robust programs and expand opportunities for students and faculty 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.

Exploring Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month with Leah Milne

The momentum generated by Commencement continues throughout the month of May with the University’s observance of Asian American & Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month. The observance pays tribute to the generations of Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans who have enriched our country’s history and who play a critical role in its future success. The University of Indianapolis Office of Inclusion & Equity is organizing the observance of AAPI Heritage Month at the University.

The observance was officially legislated first as Pacific/Asian American Heritage Week (taking place during the first ten days in May) in 1978 by President Jimmy Carter and extended to a month in the 1990s by President George H.W. Bush. The term “Asian American” itself came into use in the 1960’s, explains Leah Milne, assistant professor of English.

Leah Milne, associate professor of English

Leah Milne, assistant professor of English

“The term is meant to be a pan-ethnic term that encompasses many nationalities. At that time in the 1960’s, this was very strategic,” she said, pointing out the civil rights movements that were happening around that time. “It began with the impulse to drive attention to Americans who have been previously marginalized or historically underrepresented.”

The Asian American & Pacific Islander term encompasses Americans who hail from vast geographical areas, along with their diverse peoples, languages and cultures, including dozens of countries in Eastern Asia, South Central Asia, Southeastern Asia, Western Asia, and some 30,000 islands in the Pacific Ocean. Milne notes that the Pacific Islander aspect of AAPI, which includes native Hawaiians, “often gets marginalized within that group, and that some Asian groups also get marginalized among Asian Americans, so it’s important to recognize every part of that designation.” 

The contributions of immigrants from these diverse backgrounds have historically been overlooked or unacknowledged in the United States. Milne observed the example of Chinese immigrants, who were largely responsible for the construction of the first Transcontinental Railroad, nearly being written out of that history. The movement around the heritage month sought to rectify these intentional omissions, and also focused on the need to secure their rights as American citizens.

“They recognized that this was a way they would gain rights and recognition,” Milne said. “There’s this narrative of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders as being invisible and part of the goal of the month is to highlight their contributions and achievements.”

Milne is a first-generation American and first-generation college student whose parents immigrated from the Philippines to the U.S. in the early 1970s. Filipino-Americans are the third-largest subgroup in the U.S. AAPI population, according to the U.S. Census.

“I’m very proud of what my mom and dad did to be successful here. My father served in the Coast Guard for decades. He served his country and he’s very proud of that,” Milne said, noting that Filipino-Americans have been an influence in North America since the late 1500s.

She also pointed out the long and complex relationship between the United States and the Philippines.

“The United States colonized the Philippines. When we’re talking about the disparate stories of Asian Americans, one of the distinctions with Filipino-Americans is that they are living in the country that colonized their country of origin,” she said, adding that Filipinos were initially allowed to work in the United States – with many serving in the U.S. military in various capacities – without access to citizenship. That policy changed in the mid-1940s, and the legacy and culture of Filipino-Americans remain an influential force in the United States.

UIndy launches Race and Ethnic Studies Minor
AAPI Heritage Month and the University’s observance of Juneteenth the following month provide an opportune moment to explore the University of Indianapolis’s new Race and Ethnic Studies minor, which will be offered for the first time in Fall 2021. Organized by Leah Milne, the Race and Ethnic Studies minor equips students to address the impact of race and culture in shaping institutions, social relations, and identities. Students will examine the historical foundations of the social construction of race and how this construction continues to impact society today, and learn how to understand the implications of race and ethnicity in order to critique, better navigate, and help improve institutional and societal approaches to difference. 

“The pandemic has made it painfully clear how important it is to know the history of marginalized groups in this country,” Milne said. “It’s part of everything we do, whether we realize it or not. If we’re looking at any particular field, whether it’s nursing, law, sociology or history, there’s a way in which that story is different if we look at it through the lens of any one ethnic group. All students benefit from learning about this history, but especially students who have never seen themselves in a textbook before.”

About Leah Milne
Milne teaches courses on multiethnic literature in the Department of English. She recently received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) for a summer institute entitled Hurston on the Horizon. In addition to the financial support, the grant gives Milne the opportunity to participate in a summer institute in July on author Zora Neale Hurston. Her new book, “Novel Subjects: Authorship as Radical Self-Care in Multiethnic American Narratives” will be published in July 2021. The book, based on Milne’s dissertation, offers a new way to look at multicultural literature by focusing on scenes of writing in contemporary works by authors with marginalized identities. 

Learn more:
Census.gov: AAPI population in the United States

PBS documentary series: Asian Americans

Recommended reading:
“The Making of Asian America: A History” by Erika Lee

“Unfamiliar Fishes” by Sarah Vowell

“We Hereby Refuse: Japanese American Resistance to Wartime Incarceration” by Frank Abe and Tamiko Nimura

“Echoes of History: Chinese Poetry at the Angel Island Immigration Station” by Ying Diao (Smithsonian article)

“Welcome To Chindianapolis: One of the largest populations of Burmese Chin refugees in the world lives on the south side of Indianapolis” by Susan Salaz and Steve Raymer (Indianapolis Monthly article)

 

UIndy Speech and Debate Team wins an International Championship and High Marks at National Championship

UIndy Speech & Debate Team

UIndy Speech & Debate Team

The University of Indianapolis Speech and Debate Team earned high marks at two championship tournaments held virtually in March 2021. Craig-Anesu Chigadza ’21 (political science and psychology) brought home an international win, a first for the team, by winning the Informative Speaking division at the International 31st Annual International Forensics Association Speech and Debate Tournament. In addition, the team earned widespread accolades at the National Speech Championship culminating in an overall team ranking of 15th in the nation. 

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.

“The strength and dedication of this team really shined this year as we were forced to compete virtually. Our students not only survived the change in competition, but they thrived by delivering stellar results at two high-level championships,” explained Wideman.

Craig Chigadza

Craig Chigadza

Of his international championship Chigadza says, “The opportunity to represent UIndy on an international level is the pinnacle of my time here as both a student and competitor.” His award-winning speech informed the audience about a burgeoning movement to acknowledge inequities in representation at museums across the world. “During a time when our country and world is struggling with racial injustices, the opportunity to advocate for racial equity on a global stage is a chance I was given by the university to be a part of the change.”

 

“Our success at the National Speech Championship (NSC) speaks to the quality and dedication of our coaching staff. We are comparatively a smaller team on the national level, but we keep our eyes on quality not quantity. At NSC we had several students break into quarter, semi, and national finals, placing them within the top echelon of speaking excellence,” explained Wideman.

UIndy Speech & Debate TeamThe team will graduate two members this year. Craig-Anesu Chigadza (political science and psychology) and Kathryn Leigh (biology). The seniors would like to dedicate their success to every member of the greyhound community that worked tirelessly during this pandemic to make sure their education continued. 

Full results below:

 

International Forensics Association Championship

Craig-Anesu Chigadza ’21 (political science and psychology)-International Champion 1st place Informative Speaking, 6th place in Impromptu Speaking

National Speech Championship

Overall Team Ranking 15th Nationally
Craig-Anesu Chigadza ’21 (political science and psychology) 3rd place Interviewing Speaking

Semi Finalists (Top 12 in Nation)

Craig-Anesu Chigadza Informative Speaking and Impromptu Speaking
Kathryn Leigh ’21 (biology) Interviewing Speaking

Quarter Finalists (Top 24 in Nation)

Kathryn Leigh Rhetorical Criticism
Elise Paz ’23 (business and Spanish) Informative Speaking
Landon Owens ’22 (sports management) Programmed Oral Interpretation
Landon Owens and Alexandra Nickerson ’21 (political science and communication) DUO Interpretation
Craig-Anesu Chigadza Extemporaneous Speaking

Spotlight: Seth Ward ’23

SethWardSeth Ward ’23 is a software engineering major at the R.B. Annis School of Engineering. A New Zealand citizen, he also is a Strain Honors College student with minors in mathematics and computer science.

 

What has your experience in the engineering program been like so far?

“So far I think I’ve set a good basis of knowledge from my courses. Having a lot of contact with my professors has helped me learn more than I think I would have in huge classes based upon how I learn. The DesignSpine is great for incorporating knowledge from multiple different disciplines and bringing it together on one project. This is great because it gives you a lot of experience on what jobs will be like after college.”

Could you talk about your experience as an international student and how the pandemic affected you?

“During the Fall semester of 2020 I stayed at home in New Zealand due to the nature of the pandemic in the United States. All of my professors were very understanding and many went out of their way to help me throughout the semester. Most of the time they would record their Zoom lectures to the rest of the class and upload the footage to the Google Drive where I would be able to view them at a time which better suited me; this is because due to the 16-hour time difference the live classes were between midnight and 7 a.m. for me, which wouldn’t have been possible to complete my studies. I also worked with my professors to organize times to take tests which were different than the class times so that it would work for me.”

Have any faculty members mentored you?

“I work a lot with Dr. [Steve] Spicklemire over a wide range of my courses. He’s my point faculty on our Engineering Design spine project. Also has taken me for SWEN and Physics classes, I have regular contact with him and he helps and advises on anything I need.”

Seth Ward

Seth Ward (UIndy Athletics file photo)

Are you involved in any extracurricular activities?

“I’m part of the men’s soccer team here for the university. It’s the reason I’m here at the university; as an international student I was scouted to come play for the school. I think getting to play at the collegiate level is a great experience. Mainly just getting to be around the boys on the team is great.”

What advice would you give to incoming freshmen at UIndy?

“Don’t specialise too early; explore what’s on offer to find what you enjoy.”

What’s your favorite thing about UIndy?

“The small class sizes. You’re able to specialize and get a lot more one on one time with your professors. You also are able to create better working relationships with them which in turn helps out throughout your courses.”

University of Indianapolis R.B. Annis School of Engineering expands to innovative new space on Shelby St.

INDIANAPOLIS—The University of Indianapolis held a dedication ceremony Wednesday, March 24, 2021, to commemorate the state-of-the-art R.B. Annis Hall as the new home of the R.B. Annis School of Engineering. Located at 3750 South Shelby Street, R.B. Annis Hall will accommodate the University’s rapidly growing engineering program and allow the school’s DesignSpine component to expand beyond its original footprint and meet growing demand.

The R.B. Annis School of Engineering was established in 2017 through a transformative $5 million grant from the R.B. Annis Educational Foundation. Since its founding, the Annis School has set a regional standard as an innovative engineering school offering seven specialized areas of study in computer engineering, electrical engineering, software engineering, mechanical engineering, industrial & systems engineering, computer science, and general engineering. The R.B. Annis Hall expansion is the culmination of the University’s $25 million investment in its engineering programs.

“With the expansion of the R.B. Annis School of Engineering, the University of Indianapolis is further strengthening its impact on economic growth across the state, both as a net importer of talent to Indiana and as an institution that is creating engineers who can produce solutions to the most critical engineering questions of our time,” said University of Indianapolis President Robert L. Manuel.

With 19 full-time faculty and directors and an average class size of ten students, the Annis School offers students real-world industry experience through internships and collaborative projects with internal and external clients, as well as mentoring and soft skills development. The inaugural Class of 2020 had a job placement rate of 92% and an average starting salary of $65,000. The University has provided $1.6 million in engineering scholarships in the 2020-21 academic year alone.

Ken Reid, associate dean and director of the R.B. Annis School of Engineering, said in addition to providing the necessary space for programs, R.B. Annis Hall will support the school as it builds industry relationships in the community.

“We will be more visible to our engineering partners, which will lead to more projects and partnerships for our DesignSpine program. This means more real-world, hands-on experience for our students,” Reid said.

The larger space translates to more opportunities for creative and innovative designs from the Annis School’s student teams. Reid said students will have a greater opportunity to establish exceptional working relationships in larger maker spaces, shops and labs. Faculty will have the opportunity to more effectively work with and mentor teams, as well as to collaborate with each other and partners beyond campus.

Reid expects R.B. Annis Hall will pave the way for more innovative interdisciplinary projects which have been a hallmark of the Annis School. The recently launched Center for Collaborative Innovation, funded through an Elevate Nexus Higher Education Grant, will further promote the collaborative innovation framework. 

President Robert L. Manuel

President Robert L. Manuel

“In addition to providing our students with innovative, cutting-edge experiences, these developments ensure that UIndy continues to meet current and long-term accreditation requirements. They also play a vital role in helping us to accommodate the increasing enrollments in our programs,” said President Robert L. Manuel.

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.

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.

University of Indianapolis Etchings Press announces 2020 Whirling Prize recipients

Etchings Press, the University of Indianapolis student-run publisher, has announced the recipients of the 2020 Whirling Prize.

The Whirling Prize welcomes submissions of published books related to specific themes that change annually. The 2020 prize focused on the theme of horror.

Laurel Radzieski

Laurel Radzieski

Laurel Radzieski was awarded the 2020 Whirling Prize in Poetry for her collection “Red Mother” (NYQ Books).

Joseph P. Laycock was awarded the 2020 Whirling Prize in Prose

Joseph Laycock (photo: Dan Addison)

Joseph Laycock (photo: Dan Addison)

for his book, The Penguin Book of Exorcisms” (Penguin Classics).

Author and cover photos available for download here.

Student judges would like to honor the following finalists in the 2020 contest:

  • “Enantiodromia” by Mike X Welch
  • “Lake County Incidents” by Alec Cizak
  • “Homesick” by Nino Cipri

Students enrolled in ENGL 479 reviewed submissions and selected winners in the categories of prose and poetry.

“The student judges explored and engaged with Horror this fall and ended the competition with a greater appreciation of the nuances of the genre, after having the opportunity to read the contest entries. It was an excellent learning experience,” said Liz Whiteacre, advisor of the 2020 Whirling Prize.

The winners will receive a $500 honorarium and broadsides celebrating their book designed by a Hullabaloo Press artist. They will each join student judges in conversation on episodes of the UIndy Potluck Podcast. For updates, follow @uindyetchings on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

About “Red Mother”
In “Red Mother,” Laurel Radzieski weaves a love story told from the perspective of a parasite. This series of short poems explores the intimacy, desire and devotion we all experience by following the sometimes tender, often distressing relationship that emerges between a parasite and its host. Radzieski’s poetry is playful, though often with sinister undertones. Far from romanticizing either role, “Red Mother” takes readers on a tour of their own innards, exposing the hooks and claws of all involved. Following the parasite’s life cycle, the book blurs the line between science and poetic license to create a fantastical romp not for the squeamish. Although parasites are not known as conversationalists, Radzieski’s guest has a lot to say.

About The Penguin Book of Exorcisms”
Believe it or not, fifty-seven percent of Americans believe in demonic possession. Spirit possession has been documented for thousands of years and across religions and cultures, even into our time. “The Penguin Book of Exorcisms,” edited by religious studies scholar Joseph P. Laycock, showcases a range of stories, beliefs and practices surrounding exorcism from across time, cultures and religions. Laycock’s exhaustive research incorporates scientific papers, letters and diary entries by the clergy, treatises by physicians and theologians, reports from missionaries and colonial officers, legal proceedings, and poetry and popular legends. The result is informative and entertaining, and proves that truth can indeed be scarier than fiction.

Call for 2021 entries
Student judges welcome recently published books of prose and poetry in response to the theme of nature published since January 2019. Students are employing a broad interpretation of these criteria in their reading and judging. The deadline for submissions is September 3, 2021. Details may be found on the Etchings website.

R.B. Annis School of Engineering moving to expanded space on Shelby St.

Starting this month, the R.B. Annis School of Engineering will begin moving into the newly renovated R.B. Annis Hall located at 3750 Shelby St. Since its founding, the school has rapidly grown into an innovative engineering school offering seven specialized areas of study in computer engineering, electrical engineering, software engineering, mechanical engineering, industrial & systems engineering, computer science, and general engineering. 

The larger facility on Shelby St. will accommodate these programs and address their space-related needs. The new space also allows the school’s DesignSpine component to expand beyond its original footprint and meet growing demand.

Ken Reid, associate dean and director of the R.B. Annis School of Engineering, said in addition to providing the necessary space for programs, R.B. Annis Hall will support the school as it builds an identity on campus and in the community.

“We will be more visible to our engineering partners, which should lead to more projects and partnerships for our DesignSpine program. This means more real-world, hands-on experience for our students,” Reid said.

  • The newly renovated R.B. Annis Hall at 3750 S. Shelby St. will be the new home of the R.B. Annis School of Engineering starting in the Spring 2021 semester.
    The newly renovated R.B. Annis Hall at 3750 S. Shelby St. will be the new home of the R.B. Annis School of Engineering starting in the Spring 2021 semester.

The larger space translates to more opportunities for creative and innovative designs from the Annis School’s student teams. Reid said students will have a greater opportunity to establish exceptional working relationships in larger maker spaces, shops and labs. Faculty will have the opportunity to more effectively work with and mentor teams, as well as to collaborate with each other and other partners beyond campus.

“One aspect which I look most forward to is the creation of new space,” Reid added. “When student design teams meet with their industry customers, we’ll have a professional space in which to meet. The space itself will build a sense of community within students, and expand student opportunity.” 

Reid hopes R.B. Annis Hall will pave the way for more innovative interdisciplinary projects which have been a hallmark of the Annis School. The recently launched Center for Collaborative Innovation, funded through an Elevate Nexus Higher Education Grant, will further promote the collaborative innovation framework. 

“In addition to providing our students with innovative, cutting-edge experiences, these developments ensure that UIndy continues to meet current and long-term accreditation requirements. They also play a critical role in helping us to accommodate the increasing enrollments in our programs,” said President Robert L. Manuel.

The newly available space in Martin Hall created by the R.B. Annis School of Engineering move will be used to meet a variety of needs across campus including additional space for the Department of Music. As part of these improvements, physical plant operations have moved to 3802 Shelby St. and their vacated building will be renovated to allow for the expansion of the Department of Art & Design.

Plans are underway for a safe celebration of the Annis School’s expansion. Details will be shared once those plans are finalized.

R.B. Annis School of Engineering rises to Top Dog Challenge with custom-built trebuchets

Marking the start of a new University of Indianapolis tradition, Homecoming 2020 brought together the ingenuity of the R.B. Annis School of Engineering (RBASOE) with the University’s philanthropic mission. 

Part of the Top Dog Challenge, a competition with Truman State University to see which institution could raise the most funds in support of local non-profit groups during Homecoming 2020, RBASOE built trebuchets for Catapult for a Cause and launched baseballs and pumpkins across the football field at Key Stadium for a fun-filled day.

“This was a great opportunity to apply engineering to make something fun,” said Paul Talaga, associate professor of engineering.

The project presented a real-world opportunity for students and faculty to collaborate and problem-solve during a tight time frame. James Emery, who manages mechanical systems and labs, said the team had about three weeks to design and build two steel trebuchets—an astonishing feat.  

  • Faculty and students in the R.B. Annis School of Engineering had three weeks to deliver the trebuchets.
    Faculty and students in the R.B. Annis School of Engineering had three weeks to deliver the trebuchets.

“The biggest challenges were time, access to weights and access to a location to test. The other big issue is the weight of the trebuchets alone. They weigh roughly 600 pounds each,” Emery explained.

Talaga coordinated the project and liaised with numerous university departments in the process. Faculty and students overcame several obstacles as the deadline loomed.

“We had a lot of challenges with the release angle. Without consistent access to a testing field and the effort involved with moving the trebuchets, we did not have enough time to test and fine-tune the configuration,” Talaga explained. “The student practice evening was rained out and the students didn’t have much time to experiment with the trebuchets before the competition.” 

Through trial and error, the team found settings that worked well for baseballs. 

“Luckily the same settings worked for the pumpkins!” Talaga said.

For students like Jared Hilt ’21 (mechanical engineering and physics major, mathematics minor), it was a chance to work on a one-of-a-kind project while putting his skills into action. He calibrated settings on the release angle, arm length, sling length and weight. He also reloaded the trebuchet and made sure it was safe to be around before firing.

“Being able to work on the project was fantastic. It provides valuable experience working with others and optimizing designs,” Hilt said.

Chijioke Ezeani ’22 (software engineering major, mathematics minor) appreciated the chance to work with engineers from different fields of expertise.

“I worked on pre-testing and assembling the trebuchet. My teammates and I were also responsible for changing the counterweight and length of the sling in order to optimize trebuchet launch and projectile,” Ezeani said.

Sam Schoonveld ’22 (mechanical engineering major, mathematics minor) assisted with transportation, set-up and testing of the trebuchet.

“I thoroughly enjoyed the chance to work on this project, and I think that being able to have hands-on experience in fabricating a complex system like a catapult can help translate the various courses we have to take as engineers. My teamwork skills improved due to having to work with multiple classmates and faculty throughout the project.”

Steve Spicklemire, director of engineering instruction and associate professor of physics, noted how the trebuchet project aligned with the R.B. Annis School of Engineering’s DesignSpine curriculum, which allows students to develop technical and professional skills along with an entrepreneurial perspective. 

“Learning how to produce a working prototype on very short notice is exciting!” he said. “This was a great project for engineering students and faculty working together to build something that actually works very quickly.” 

“It was also gratifying to know that there was a dimension of charity with this project that provided a great mission and purpose for all this effort beyond the joy of engineering and competition for its own sake,” Spicklemire added.

Engineering faculty say the trebuchets will be useful in many future engineering courses as experiments and optimization.

“These types of projects are great examples of real-world projects. Trebuchet dynamics have been well-studied but matching the simulator’s results to real-experimentation is important,” Talaga said.

The Top Dog Challenge raised more than $8,000 for Indianapolis Animal Care Services, Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana and the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

 

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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