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UToledo Health Professions Chapter Places Highly in International Competition

A group of Rockets in the health professions have launched themselves from competition in Ohio to recognition among their peers at the international level.

In June, students in The University of Toledo chapter of the Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) Future Health Professionals competed with state finalists from around the country during HOSA’s 2020 International Conference, held virtually for the first time in response to COVID-19.

More than 7,000 students from high schools and postsecondary institutions in the U.S., Canada and China participated in events testing their abilities in health science and leadership. The UToledo students had qualified to compete in the international conference during HOSA’s virtual statewide competition in April.

“Placing as a champion or becoming a finalist at a HOSA International Conference is
very significant, and each of these members deserves recognition for their dedication and hard work,” said Rupesh Boddapati, a bioengineering major and founder and president of UToledo’s chapter of HOSA Future Health Professionals. “I’m very thankful for their interest and dedication to the organization, to UToledo and to the community.”

HOSA Future Health Professionals, founded in 1975, is an international student organization with more than 245,000 members that helps to develop leadership and technical skills in health science education programs around the world.

UToledo students named 2020 HOSA International champions are:

• Rupesh Boddapati, third place in pathophysiology;

• Sharvari Brahme, second place in extemporaneous writing; and

• Maya Girn, third place in cultural diversities and disparities.

Several UToledo students also earned recognition as 2020 HOSA International finalists. They are Aditya Acharya in medical law and ethics; Samhitha Dasari in human growth and development; Megha Girn in nutrition; Drew Pariseau in nutrition; and Jessica Rinehart in medical math.

UToledo Transportation Systems Research Lab Leading New City, State Projects

Civil engineers in The University of Toledo Transportation Systems Research Lab are looking for undergraduate and graduate students to join their work on several projects critical to the future of driving on roads in Ohio.

The Ohio Department of Transportation awarded the lab $250,000 to study how to use artificial intelligence, deep learning and computer vision technologies to detect rumble strips on roads, evaluate roadway conditions for potholes, patches and cracks, and automatically count and classify passing vehicles for traffic management.

Pratik Shrestha, who is pursing a master’s degree in civil engineering, works in the Transportation Systems Research Lab.

“These technologies are similar to those employed by the autonomous driving industry for self-driving vehicles to navigate roads, and they are becoming very prevalent in our everyday life,” Dr. Eddie Chou, professor of civil engineering and director of the Transportation Systems Research Lab, said. “Our goal is to help agencies such as ODOT use these new technologies to maintain safer roads, collect roadway and traffic data, and reduce traffic congestions.”

The researchers also are working with the city of Columbus to implement state-of-the-art tools that will help Columbus become a digital, smart city that efficiently utilizes its resources to improve infrastructures and services, reduces traffic crashes and fatalities, and increases equity among all residents. This one-year, $49,500 pilot project started in April.

“We are very excited about the potential impact of these projects and hope to attract new students to participate in the research,” Chou said. “We are very fortunate to receive the external funding to perform this cutting-edge research, especially during this time when many funding agencies are facing enormous budget shortfalls.”

For this research, Chou’s lab acquired an AI/deep-learning machine equipped with two powerful graphical processing units that perform a large number of mathematic computations rapidly through parallel processing.

“This enormous computing power allows artificial intelligence and deep-learning models to be trained using large amount of data, efficient algorithms and fast-computing hardware,” Chou said.

Deep learning is machine learning — the most popular AI field — using “deep” neural network models, which means many layers of neurons within the artificial neural network models. The more layers of neurons, the more computations are involved.

UToledo, NASA Glenn to Host Virtual Technology Day

The University of Toledo and NASA’s Glenn Research Center are bringing together University faculty and students and technology businesses in northern Ohio with NASA leaders and technologists to discuss ways to collaborate.

Virtual Technical Day will be Thursday, Aug. 13, from 10 a.m. to 2:15 p.m. on WebEx. The event is free, but online registration is required.

Panel discussions will focus on opportunities for University students and researchers, small businesses and other industry partners to participate in government-sponsored research and development efforts supporting NASA’s missions.

Speakers will include:

• Jim Bridenstine, NASA administrator;

• James Reuter, NASA associate administrator for the Space Technology Mission Directorate;

Pérez-Davis

• Marla Pérez-Davis, NASA Glenn Research Center director, who holds a master of science degree from UToledo; and

• Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur.

“UToledo’s engagement with the NASA Glenn Research Center is very special, and we are proud of this opportunity to foster even stronger connections,” Dr. Karen Bjorkman, UToledo provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, said. “We started offering engineering degrees at NASA Glenn over 50 years ago and to this day have UToledo employees working on site in Cleveland to support NASA’s exciting science and engineering missions.”

For more information, including an agenda and speaker bios, visit the College of Engineering website.

Following the event, 10 tech startups from Ohio, including one from UToledo, will “fast pitch” their innovations to an audience and panel of judges during NASA’s iTech Ignite the Night OHIO from 3 to 5 p.m. at livestream.com/nasaitech.

The UToledo team led by Dr. Abbas Semnani, assistant professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, will present its low-power handheld plasma unit for medical and disinfection applications, such as personal decontamination and healing wounds.

NASA iTech identifies and searches for cutting-edge technologies that solve problems on Earth, but also have the potential to address the challenges of exploring the Moon and Mars.

UToledo a National Leader in Online Quality Matters Certified Courses

The University of Toledo continues to be a leader among U.S. institutions of higher education for the number of online and hybrid courses that have been awarded Quality Matters certification through the rigorous QM peer review process.

UToledo currently has 108 courses certified by the nonprofit organization, the seventh most out of 344 U.S. institutions with QM-certified courses. Eleven UToledo courses have been certified so far in 2020, with additional certifications pending.

“The University of Toledo has placed a significant emphasis on developing online and blended course offerings that meet the highest educational standards,” said Dr. Karen Bjorkman, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. “Our faculty and instructional designers deserve a lot of credit for the work they’ve done to ensure our students receive a top-tier education.”

Quality Matters is the gold standard for benchmarking quality of online and hybrid courses. The organization’s nationally recognized, faculty-driven peer-review process examines a course’s overall design, learning objectives, instructional materials, and student interaction and support.

Dr. Colleen Quinlan, associate professor in the College of Nursing and one of UToledo’s QM-certified peer reviewers, said the certification is an important way to show a course’s added value.

“It’s not enough to say, ‘this is a quality course,’” Quinlan said. “What is the evidence to support this claim? QM certification is the distinction that sets the course apart in a marketplace where students have lots of choices.”

Another benefit of QM certification is that it helps to foster a predictable structure across courses, reducing anxiety about how to participate and interact with the online materials.

“Certified courses should look familiar to students no matter what the subject matter, providing them a sense of security so they can concentrate on learning and achievement,” Quinlan said.

Dr. Barbara Kopp Miller, dean of University College, said getting more faculty familiar with the Quality Matters standards and more courses QM certified has been a consistent priority for UToledo — and has become even more important recently.

“We’ve really ramped up our training for faculty since the pandemic hit. When we were forced to move all instruction online this spring, we were doing the best we could to meet our student’s expectations, but not every course is created with online components in mind,” Kopp Miller said. “These QM-certified courses are specifically designed to follow nationally recognized standards that provide a quality experience for our students.”

Dr. Carmen Cioc, associate professor in the College of Engineering who teaches a pair of QM-certified courses, said she has found the program to improve not only the experience for students, but for instructors as well.

“The benefits for students include the accessibility of online learning while maintaining the same student-centered focus on content they’ve come to expect from in-person education,” Cioc said. “Experience with QM-certified courses has been extremely positive for both me and my students, especially during the required online-learning transition as a result of the ongoing crisis.”

The value of high-quality online learning is becoming increasingly important as new modalities of education are explored amid the pandemic. UToledo also was recently included among the top colleges in the state by Educate to Career in its list of the Best Colleges for Career Planning Curriculum, which used robust software and systems to support distance learning and faculty experience with teaching online among its criteria.

In addition to the 108 courses that have been formally QM certified, UToledo has had 85 additional courses informally meet QM standards through internal review that have not been officially evaluated for certification.

College of Engineering Faculty Member, Student Earn Statewide Recognition

The University of Toledo’s reputation as a hotbed for engineering leaders and problem solvers just got a boost from industry peers around the state.

A faculty member and student from the College of Engineering have been honored by the Ohio Society of Professional Engineers (OSPE) and were formally acknowledged during the organization’s virtual All-Ohio Engineering Conference June 11-13.

Kissoff

Dr. Nick Kissoff received the 2019 Outstanding Engineering Educator Award. Kissoff retired following the spring 2020 semester after 20 years as an associate professor in UToledo’s Engineering Technology Department. He is also a three-time graduate of the University, earning a bachelor of science in civil engineering in 1980; a master of science in civil engineering in 1983; and a doctorate in engineering systems in 1988.

“Since this was my last year in teaching, the award is a great culmination to my career. I’ve received so many letters of thanks from graduates that it has now given me pause to see how valuable my interaction with students has been over the last two decades,” said Kissoff.

“I worked following the motto that, ‘You’re either all in, or you aren’t in at all.’ I committed to be the best I could at teaching.”

Abney

Jennifer Abney received the OSPE’s Outstanding Engineering Student Award for 2019. Abney, a fourth-year student expecting to graduate in fall 2020 with a bachelor of science in electrical engineering technology, sees a range of career opportunities in the field.

“Personally, this award is meaningful because it feels like another piece of proof for myself that I can do this. As I’ve gone through the program and a couple of co-ops, I’ve enjoyed pretty much everything I’ve learned,” said Abney. “Ultimately, wherever I work, I hope that I learn as much as possible and that I can be a valuable employee.”

The Toledo Society of Professional Engineers, where Abney is president of UToledo’s student chapter, also won the OSPE award for having the best Engineers Week celebration in 2019. Events including Introduce a Girl to Engineering, led by the Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Community Engagement at the College of Engineering, played a key role in the award.

“We’re very proud of Nick, Jennifer and our programs at the college,” said Michael Toole, dean of UToledo’s College of Engineering. “This recognition from the OSPE is a celebration of how we continue to lay the foundation for the future of our profession.”

UToledo Alumna With NASA to Speak During Imagination Station Facebook Event July 17

Ashlie Flegel, an aerospace engineer at NASA’s Glenn Research Center, will be featured in an online talk hosted by Imagination Station Friday, July 17.

The Facebook Live event will take place at 10 a.m.

Flegel

Imagination Station Chief Scientist Carl Nelson will host the discussion on the nonprofit, hands-on science museum’s Facebook page.

Flegel graduated from The University of Toledo in 2007 with a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering.

For more than a decade, she has worked in the turbomachinery field. She is researching the icing phenomenon in turbofan engines simulated in the NASA Propulsion Systems Laboratory.

University of Toledo Music Alumnus’ Band Inks Contract

A University of Toledo music alumnus’ band, Inner Circle Avenue, has signed a partnership contract with Sony Music and AMG.

The band is composed of Logan Alexander, who earned a master of music in performance degree this past spring, and his siblings, Allison and Eric Alexander, who are UToledo students. Eric is a junior majoring in electrical engineering tech, and Allison is a senior who will graduate with a nursing degree in December.

Inner Circle Avenue is composed of siblings, from left, Allison, Logan and Eric Alexander.

Logan credits his time at the University as playing a significant role in his success. His undergraduate degree was in electrical engineering. He wanted to understand the fundamentals and technology behind recorded music. For his master’s degree, he chose a music degree, which also included a concentration in music technology.

“My professors were Wade Paul, Dr. [David] Jex and Dr. [Lee] Heritage. They always made the classes exciting and encouraged students to actively participate in unique ways. I really found that teaching style enjoyable and helpful,” Logan said, adding his classes directly impacted his music. “I really loved music theory and the classical music influence. It really helped improve my music writing skills in every way.”

As a graduate assistant, Logan also had the chance to teach, an experience he thoroughly enjoyed. “I loved the whole process of teaching and working with students. I really liked being able to help other people learn. I think I made it fun. I didn’t just drone on and on.”

Inner Circle Avenue’s sibling members hail from Blissfield, Mich. They have been performing together for the past five years, playing many local and regional clubs, including Frankie’s, the Ottawa Tavern and the Distillery. Two years ago, they won the Next2Rock local Battle of the Bands through Cumulus Media and Bar 145.

The group also has been heavily self-promoting their music on Spotify and many other social media outlets. Their efforts and the quality of their work caught the attention of AMG Executive Vice President Michael Usry.

Logan said, “We got a call out of the blue late last December. Michael from AMG said, ‘We really love your music and want to work with you.’”

The partnership was to include promotion and distribution of the group’s music, as well as a college concert tour and a tour in Asia.

“We knew this was really something big. We decided to sign with them because we wanted to maintain the rights to our music and this contract lets us do that,” Logan said.

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has delayed the band’s plans for touring, but the siblings remain determined to record and distribute their music.

Logan noted that an important dynamic of Inner Circle Avenue is the band members’ commitment to hard work and their stout refusal to give up. “I have seen so many bands that showed such great promise, genius even, on the brink of success and give up because of a setback or two. We’re not like that. We’re going to push through and make it happen.”

Visit Inner Circle Avenue’s website to learn more and listen to their music on Spotify.

UToledo Students Examine Human Consumption in International Biodesign Challenge Summit 2020

Four University of Toledo students have teamed up to critically investigate the behaviors of human consumption. Their project is competing in the international Biodesign Challenge Summit 2020, held virtually this year due to the COVID-19 crisis.

The competition is being held online June 15-19, but the video presentations are available for view anytime. Winners will be announced June 19 on the Biodesign Challenge Summit website.

The UToledo project, “Wastr: Reassessing Our Trash,” was the brainchild of students Jarrett Cunningham, who graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in film and video in May; Madalyn Jones, a senior majoring in environmental science; Michael Miller, a bioengineering major with an economics minor; and Mohamed Nawras, who received a bachelor of science degree in biology in 2018 and is a doctor of medicine candidate for fall 2020.

The team developed a presentation highlighting the paradox of creating an eco-friendly product that adds to consumptive behaviors. The ultimate goal is to get people to become more aware of the amount of waste they personally generate.

A video presentation of the project states, “Landfills are reaching capacity at alarming rates, impacting the environment tremendously while also contributing to a culture of consumption.”

Students from UToledo prepare for the competition every year through a class offered in the Department of Art. The spring 2020 Biodesign Challenge course brought together students from multiple disciplines into the Department of Art under the direction of faculty members Brian Carpenter and Eric Zeigler. Students worked in interdisciplinary teams to research real-world problems and then sought to solve those problems with biotechnology and/or biomaterials. This year’s groups addressed potential eutrophication solutions, antimicrobial structures, innovative health testing devices, and consumption.

The Biodesign Challenge course asks students to stretch their known capabilities by making meaningful connections between disciplines and designing unique solutions to complex problems in a normal year. As the COVID-19 pandemic struck and the course moved to virtual learning, the teams continued to work extensively on their projects.

“We are truly amazed at the tenacity of our students, and the outcomes from remote research they were able to accomplish in such a difficult time,” Carpenter, assistant professor of art and gallery director, said.

“We are proud of the work every student has done, and we are excited to compete internationally again,” Zeigler, associate lecturer of art, said.

UToledo Students Earn Recognition in Statewide Health Professions Competition

Tomorrow’s doctors, nurses and other health professionals aren’t waiting for a diploma to contribute to their fields. Several Rockets set themselves apart in a recent statewide competition among health science and biomedical programs in events testing their medical knowledge, presentation skills and analytical abilities.

The UToledo chapter of the Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) Future Health Professionals competed remotely for the first time in the organization’s annual State Leadership Conference against chapters from other Ohio colleges and universities. More than 1,000 teams from high schools and postsecondary institutions participated in the competition.

Because of their placing performances, the UToledo students qualified to compete in the HOSA International Leadership Conference, which will be held virtually Wednesday through Saturday, June 24-27.

“Despite the challenges faced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, our members continued to showcase dedication and pride,” said Rupesh Boddapati, a bioengineering major as well as founder and president of UToledo’s chapter of HOSA Future Health Professionals. “We cannot thank them enough for their participation as well as their involvement in the UToledo chapter.”

Members of the UToledo chapter of the Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) Future Health Professionals posed for a photo after preparing food during a CommunityCare Clinic service event before the pandemic.

HOSA Future Health Professionals, founded in 1975, is an international student organization with more than 245,000 members that helps to develop leadership and technical skills in health science education programs around the world.

Qualifying students were:

• Aditya Acharya, first place in medical law and ethics;

• Amarjot Bhangu, first place in job-seeking skills;

• Rupesh Boddapati, first place in pathophysiology;

• Sharvari Brahme, third place in prepared speaking;

• Samhitha Dasari, second place in human growth and development;

• Maya Girn, second place in cultural diversities and disparities;

• Megha Girn, second place in nutrition;

• Jeremy Mathews, second place in medical math;

• Drew Pariseau, first place in nutrition;

• Jessica Rinehart, third place in medical math; and

• Calvin Sunny, third place in medical law and ethics.

UToledo Resumes Research on Campus Prioritizing Health, Safety

Robust research is a vital element of The University of Toledo’s mission to discover life-changing solutions to problems and drive economic development.

Three months after noncritical research was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, scientific laboratories reactivated on campus this week with the health and safety of faculty, staff and students as a top priority.

Gabriel Otto, left, and Abdel Hakim Abou Yassine, worked in the lab of Dr. Hossein Sojoudi, assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical, Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering. Otto is an undergraduate student, and Yassine is a graduate student.

“Researchers started coming back to campus Monday, June 8, with research operation plans in place to mitigate transmission of COVID-19,” said Dr. Constance Schall, associate vice president for research and professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering. “Our researchers continue to show their creativity, resilience and support to our students and to strengthening our research enterprise.”

The safety protocols implemented University-wide to restart research on campus include measures to curtail the spread of the virus, such as maintaining a social distance of six feet, wearing face masks or face shields and personal protective equipment, disinfecting shared spaces, practicing good personal hygiene, and self-screening for fever and COVID-19 symptoms at home before coming to campus.

Faculty or staff who are sick should not report to work and contact their primary care provider.

“We are very excited to get students, faculty and staff back on campus and re-engaged in research,” Dr. Patricia Relue, associate dean for research and graduate studies in the College of Engineering and professor in the Department of Bioengineering, said. “Our faculty and graduate students have been extremely creative in finding ways to keep research moving forward during the shutdown, but COVID-19 has definitely slowed progress, especially for our experimentalists.”

Though a limited number of critical research projects continued on campus during the last three months, the majority of projects were paused. Even so, many UToledo researchers have continued work remotely while planning for the full return to their laboratories.

“A group of more than 20 faculty and staff from across the University started work in April on developing a blueprint for resumption of research activities while protecting and maintaining the health and safety of our researchers and University community,” Schall said. “We developed our process to phase in research activities on campus and off-campus field studies.”

If there is an increase in community infections, it may be necessary to restrict research operations again.

Read more about the full Rocket Restart plan as UToledo puts measures in place to safely return to on-campus operations. Additional details will be released in early July.