KENNESAW STATE LAUNCHES NEW DEGREE PROGRAMS Kennesaw State has launched two new degree programs through the Southern Polytechnic College of Engineering and Engineering Technology: a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering and an online graduate degree in mechanical engineering. Computer engineering integrates several areas of electrical engineering and computer science to develop computer hardware, software, systems and applications. Kennesaw State’s program, which begins fall 2017, is designed to align with rampant technology changes, modern industry needs and the growing job market. The computer engineering curriculum includes embedded system development, controls and communications, electronics, sensors/actuators, the Internet of Things, software, and systems integration. This undergraduate program will prepare students with a diverse skillset to design and implement the “brains” of physical computer systems. The new Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering will offer coursework in advanced manufacturing, thermodynamics, solid and fluid mechanics, engineering design, dynamics and vibrations, and engineering heat transfer. The new degree will add to the college’s graduate offerings, which encompass master’s degrees in civil engineering, systems engineering and applied engineering. EXECUTIVE MBA RANKED AMONG BEST IN THE WORLD Kennesaw State University’s Executive MBA program has been ranked as the best in Georgia and ninth-best in the world by CEO Magazine in its 2017 Global Executive MBA Rankings. The Coles College of Business’ Executive MBA was recognized by the magazine as a Global Tier One EMBA program for the third year in a row. New to the CEO Magazine rankings this year is a numerical rating, which placed Kennesaw State’s EMBA among the top 10 in the world and No. 1 in the state. Only four universities in North America ranked ahead of Kennesaw State. Programs are classified as either Tier One or Tier Two based on factors including quality of faculty, international diversity, class size, accreditation, work experience, international exposure, professional development, gender parity and delivery methods. In addition to the Executive MBA ranking, the Coles College’s Doctor of Business Administration program was one of 20 named a “premier DBA provider” in CEO Magazine’s global listings. The rating is based on accreditation, quality of faculty, geography and international standing. ALUM EARNS NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION FELLOWSHIP A Kennesaw State alumnus has been named a recipient of the National Science Foundation’s prestigious Graduate Research Fellowship Program for 2017. Valerie Washington, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in systems and industrial engineering from the University’s Southern Polytechnic College of Engineering and Engineering Technology in May, was one of 2,000 fellowship awardees honored this year. The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program will provide financial support for Washington to further her graduate education. She plans to attend the University of Michigan’s Industrial and Operations Engineering program to pursue a doctorate. While at Kennesaw State, Washington was named Engineering Student of the Year by the Georgia Society of Professional Engineers in 2016. She published two research studies in collaboration with engineering faculty and presented at several academic conferences as an undergraduate. She won the University Honors Program’s Outstanding Honors Senior award for her scholarly accomplishments. Washington was selected for the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship program from a pool of more than 13,000 applicants from across the country. DANCE TO THE MUSIC New Dance Theater Opens on Marietta Campus Metro Atlanta’s first theater designed specifically for dance opened this spring on the Marietta Campus with the debut of “Metamorphosis,” a new work created by Ivan Pulinkala, founding director of the Department of Dance. Kennesaw State’s Dance Theater is the culmination of an intensive construction/renovation project to transform the existing theater into an ideal venue for dance. Located in the Joe Mack Wilson Student Center, the original multi-purpose theater was built in 1962. The 450-seat Kennesaw State Dance Theater, the performance home for the KSU Dance Company, is the latest jewel in the crown of Pulinkala’s Department of Dance, which only a few years ago completed the second phase of the Chastain Pointe Dance Facility on the Kennesaw Campus. “Our new Dance Theater helps fill a void for choreographers and local dance companies by providing an affordable performance venue fully equipped for the presentation of concert dance,” said College of the Arts Dean Patty Poulter. The Dance Theater is equipped with a permanently installed sprung Marley dance floor and state-of-the-art theatrical lighting and audio system. During the six-month construction process, crews added a new proscenium arch to bring the stage closer to the audience, extended the depth of the stage and installed a new LED lighting grid to support a dynamic dance-lighting system. A new HVAC system, comfortable seating and sound-absorbing wall treatments completed the almost $1 million transformation. The new facility, which hosts student organizations and University functions, also serves as a rental performance venue for dance under the care of a resident technical director. HISTORICAL NOTES Professor teaches Holocaust remembrance through music Laurence Sherr acknowledges that students often are puzzled that he teaches a class called Music in the Holocaust. “They know what the Holocaust is,” Sherr said, “and they wonder, ‘when there are concentration camps, genocide, persecution, why are we talking about music?’ How can there even be a connection?” But by the end of the course, he said, students realize the essential role music had during the Holocaust. Music offered a reprieve from life’s daily horrors in the deadliest genocide in history. For example, singing a song of their native country could remind prisoners of the identity that had been stripped from them. Or a soothing lullaby could be the only comfort to a child deprived of medicine. “In America, in our society of abundance, we often think of music as a form of entertainment,” Sherr said. “For people living amid filth and disease and death, music was something that still tied them to the world where there was some beauty. It provided people with some hope that they could go forward.” Along with being a professor of music at Kennesaw State University, Sherr composes Holocaust remembrance music and produces remembrance events and lectures on Holocaust music topics around the world. In 2015, Sherr launched the Music of Resistance and Survival Project, a combination of music and educational material to engage audiences in Holocaust remembrance. He has been awarded several grants to help fund his efforts around the world. “I don’t think of this in terms of being rewarding; I think of it as being necessary,” he said. “It’s my contribution to society to bring this to people so that we can counter the forces of hate and division and denial in our own culture, and we can continue to advocate for tolerance and mutual respect and understanding.” Sherr was well into his career before Holocaust remembrance music became his passion. About 25 years ago, Sherr was asked to compose a piece for a presentation at the Carter Presidential Center. Unconsciously drawing on Jewish influences, he wrote a cello solo in memory of his late brother. “It started to connect me with my own culture,” Sherr said. Other people started to perform his piece at Holocaust remembrance concerts. Sherr then was asked to speak about it at a concert in New York. “That concert led me to a life-changing realization, that if my music was going to be used for Holocaust remembrance, then I should set out and do that intentionally,” he said. Sherr was inspired to learn more about music during the Holocaust and the history of Jewish music, and about his own ancestry. “My work ties together all these facets of what I do with Holocaust music – as a concert producer, a composer, a researcher, a lecturer – and as someone who has a personal connection to the material as well,” Sherr said. “I think that gives me the ability to provide some unique perspective.” NATURE’S LAST STAND Biology professor Bill Ensign’s legacy I’m working on an exciting project, and it will be my legacy if I can pull it off,” says Bill Ensign, a Kennesaw State biology professor for the past 20 years. Outfitted in waders and wearing a backpack electroshocker, he led 16 undergraduate students from his Aquatic Methods class through the underbrush beside Campus Loop Road down to Kennesaw Creek in mid-April. The humid early morning air carries the fragrance of nearby honeysuckle. As the water in the creek bubbles over the rocks, novice biologists listen carefully to Ensign as he instructs them in a safe way to stun the fish. The lead from the electroshocker activates and an electric surge enters the water, temporarily stunning the fish in the creek so they can be netted, identified by species, measured and then tagged and placed back in their habitat. “A healthy creek has about 25 species,” says senior biology major Will Commins as he climbs up on the bank. “But this one only has about seven in it.” Urban runoff and silt are combining to threaten the creek’s viability, reducing the number of species that inhabit the creek down to a handful. “We have a couple of species of bream showing up in the nets,” says Ellery Harding, a senior biology major who’s measuring the fish, most of which the class had tagged earlier in the year. “The redbreast sunfish is pretty easy to identify. The largemouth bass easily stand out, too.” This morning’s field research is taking place across the street from the Austin Residence Complex on the southeast side of the Kennesaw Campus, but it’s similar to Ensign’s research in Raccoon Creek. It’s there, almost 20 miles due west of campus, where he hopes ensuring the survival of aquatic life like fish, turtles and mussels in a rural Paulding County waterway will be his legacy. From its beginnings in Paulding, Raccoon Creek flows north 21 miles to join the Etowah River in Bartow County. The creek contains some 45 species, about six times the number of species as Kennesaw Creek, but its future is threatened by development and encroaching urbanization. “Since 2007, my students and I have been sampling fish in the Raccoon Creek watershed there on the county’s northwest side,” Ensign says. “There are a couple of federally listed (endangered) fishes in the stream, and we’re working together with colleagues at the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Nature Conservancy.” As Ensign describes the creek and surrounding countryside, he paints a picture of how drastically different the landscape in the south used to look before widespread timber cutting, row-crop agriculture and the twin forces of urbanization and development overtook nature. Towering up to 200 feet tall and living 250-450 years, the montane longleaf pine used to be abundant across the Piedmont region of Georgia and Alabama. This species of the stately tree was largely decimated starting about 150 years ago due to over-exploitation of the species. There is a good stand of these majestic trees in the area surrounding Raccoon Creek, but there’s no mistaking the loss of their original habitat. The montane longleaf pine may be making its last stand in the area. “The county, the DNR and the Nature Conservancy in 2005 identified the area as holding a lot of significant biological diversity,” he says. One of those Ensign is working with is Jason Wisniewski, an aquatic zoologist with DNR in the Nongame Conservation Wildlife Resources Division. “This area of Paulding County is very rich in rare aquatic organisms,” according to Wisniewski. “However, it historically had an even greater richness but development and threats from the past completely destroyed many rare aquatic species from the Etowah River Basin during the past 100-150 years.” For the past two years, Ensign has enlisted the aid of Marc Pedersen’s Paulding County High School advanced science students. A little more than 100 students in the biotechnology pathway of the school’s magnet program are conducting research in the creek that flows near their school. They have been collecting water samples to filter for environmental DNA. “So far the students have targeted two mussel species,” Pedersen says. “They have also participated in seine netting to examine fish species in Pegamore Creek, a nearby tributary.” The importance of studying the mussels offers a window into what is happening to the streams over time. “Generally speaking, freshwater mussels of most species occur only in high quality habitats with good water quality and good substrate,” says the DNR’s Wisniewski. “They are often compared to the ‘canary in the mineshaft’ and mussel declines are forewarning us of additional bad things on the horizon whether it be water pollution or increased development without appropriate conservation measures to protect streams.” The hands-on research in the creek has made the students and many in the community more appreciative of their environment. “They are unaware of the biodiversity of the watershed and the fact that so many threatened, endemic, and extirpated species exist or once existed in this waterway.” Pedersen says. “They have an opportunity to educate the public on the significance of Raccoon Creek and the surrounding land.” Ensign said Georgia historically had many diverse mussels, but the removal of millions during the past two centuries, along with destruction of their habitat and encroaching urbanization, changed all that. “We are working hard to try to get an environmental research facility started at Raccoon Creek where we can do scientific and educational outreach,” Ensign says. “We’re trying to get the word out, especially to the people who have lived in this area for generations and want to preserve what’s left for their children and their children’s children.” IN THE NEWS... Kennesaw State faculty experts are frequently tapped by the news media for commentary on current issues. INNOVATIVE TEACHING METHODS Today, aerospace educators are innovating technically and pedagogically in ways that their 20th-century predecessors would likely applaud. Adeel Khalid, associate professor of systems engineering, told Aerospace America that the learning experience for students has shifted from a traditional classwork setting to a hands-on learning approach to engineering. “It takes students a week or two to adjust, but then a lot of them really enjoy it,” said Khalid. “I’ve noticed that their understanding, maturity and learning has increased substantially in the flipped classroom environment.” A DRIVE TO STAY GREEN A decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate pact drew outrage from environmental groups, but some business experts say that the move would likely have little effect locally. Roger Tutterow, a professor of economics, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about what pulling out of the accords would mean to Georgia. “We don’t want to overstate what getting out of the Paris accords would mean,” said Tutterow. He said some industries that would get the most relief from the policy reversal – coal mining and oil products – are bit players in Georgia. DWINDLING PEACHES In a story about smaller peach crops in Georgia, William Thomas Okie, a history professor, told The New York Times about the differences in peaches outside of Georgia. And like many Southerners, he’d rather not eat peaches at all than eat one from California during a southern summer. “I feel like California peaches are just symbols of peaches,” he said. “They’re just the idea of a peach. I feel the same way about winter tomatoes.” SCRAMBLING FOR VOTES As the race for the open House seat in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District heated up, the Democrats were working to increase the vote count. Kerwin Swint, chairman of the political science department, told The New York Times about the Democrats’ strategy. “Right now, they need every Democrat or independent they can find,” said Swint. “That includes minorities, young people, people interested in social justice, those sorts of things.” PRIORITIES IN EDUCATION U.S. public schools have been on a six-decade staffing surge, a new analysis finds—but the hiring money isn’t going to teachers. Ben Scafidi, professor of economics and author of the study, told Education Week about how to approach the issue. “Are our priorities where they should be?” Scafidi asked. “Perhaps it’s time for a national conversation about what we say we want versus where we’ve historically been spending our education dollars, and families and teachers should be at the head of the table.” DRUG EFFECTS ON THE BRAIN Amid Georgia’s opioid problem, a new drug has entered the market. “Gray death,” a cocktail of several opioids, has claimed victims in the state. Lisa Ganser, a professor of biology, talked about the problem with WABE-FM. “With opiate drugs now, we have an artificial triggering of the rewards system” of the brain, Ganser said. “And the reward drive is so strong, it can override many things. And in the lab, when we do tests of addiction with our lab animals, it overrides the sense of danger for the drive to get at the drug.”
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