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At UM, Teen Girls See Engineering Isn’t Just For Boys

By Robert C. Jones Jr.
UM News

girl-engineering-day-2

Kelsey Kleinhans, a Ph.D. biomedical engineering student, explains her research to a group of high school girls attending UM’s Introduce A Girl to Engineering Day.

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (February 26, 2015) – For Dasia Gibson it was the banana that shattered into more than a dozen pieces after being dipped in liquid nitrogen. For Danica Forestal it was watching her uncle delete a virus from a PC. And for Saige Drecksler it was the memorial service she attended for the astronauts of the doomed Challenger and Columbia space shuttle missions.

While each high school girl had a different story to tell of what ignited their passion for engineering, it was the common goal of learning more about the field’s many academic and career opportunities that brought them together Thursday for Introduce A Girl to Engineering Day on the University of Miami campus.

More than 220 teenage girls from 18 Miami-Dade public and private high schools attended the daylong event, touring UM College of Engineering labs, learning about the research being conducted by some of UM’s female engineering students, and putting their problem-solving skills to the test in a series of brain-twisting exercises.

“Engineering is still a male-dominated field,” said UM biomedical engineering major Stacie Arechavala, who, as the high school outreach coordinator for the UM chapter of the Society of Women Engineers, organized Thursday’s event. “We’re helping these girls learn about a fascinating field that can positively affect lives and change the world.”

Arechavala, who became interested in biomedical engineering after two of her friends suffered traumatic brain injuries in high school, noted that the College of Engineering’s 28 percent female enrollment rate is far above the national average of 15 percent. But she would still like to see those numbers grow.

“Girls need role models,” she said.

The youngsters at UM’s Introduce A Girl to Engineering Day had plenty of role models on Thursday. Doctoral student Kelsey Kleinhans gave groups of high school girls a tour of her biomedical engineering lab, explaining how she is conducting experiments with pig tissue to learn more about the repair and prevention of injuries in humans.

Ann Zapala, a sophomore biomedical engineering major from Chicago, taught the girls about the efficiency of assembly line production, having them perform an experiment that showed they could produce more origami-style figurines by using the widely used manufacturing process as opposed to one worker assembling the figures alone.

The high school students also competed in a contest to see which team could build the longest and strongest bridge out of K’NEX construction toys.

Drecksler, a student at Coral Park Senior High School, came away from the event even more determined to achieve her dream of becoming an aerospace engineer. Said the high schooler: “My goal is to make space travel a reality for everyone.”

Introduce A Girl to Engineering Day was part of Engineers Week at the College of Engineering, with other events including a Simulation Boot Camp, concrete canoe demonstration, entrepreneurs forum, and more.

 

 

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UM Celebrates Lunar New Year with a Journey Down the Silk Road

UM News

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (February 24, 2015) — From a dynamic dragon dance to a dazzling display of kung fu and from fearless fire twirling acts to interactive booths boasting East Asian cuisine, Chinese calligraphy, crafts, and more, the University of Miami celebrated the Lunar New Year in style Monday with a “Journey Down the Silk Road.” Hundreds of students, faculty, staff, and visitors enjoyed the evening event, which was held in the University Center Lakeside Patio area and organized by the Chinese Students and Scholars Association and the Asian American Students Association. View the slideshow.

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UM Dedicates Patricia Louise Frost Music Studios, a Facility In Harmony with Its Musical Mission

By Robert C. Jones Jr.
UM News

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (February 20, 2015) – A soprano whose voice dazzled judges at a recent major metropolitan opera competition, Ana Collado has had her share of memorable rehearsals at the University of Miami’s Phillip and Patricia Frost School of Music, but none quite like the session she recently experienced.

“I felt free,” said the UM vocal performance major. “I could sing without feeling like I had to push to hear my sound come back.”

Credit the acoustics and soundproofing of the Frost School’s new state-of-the-art teaching studios for her freedom. With independent walls, floors, and ceilings, each studio is, according to Frost School Dean Shelton “Shelly” Berg, a “floating box within a box,” allowing students to practice and learn without having to hear the percussionist, brass, or string artist practicing next door.

On a cool South Florida Friday, hundreds of music lovers got a firsthand look at those high-tech rooms when UM dedicated its new Patricia Louise Frost Music Studios, a 41,089-square-foot twin-building complex that will unite the school’s 770 students and 125 faculty “like never before,” said Berg.

“There’s no question this is going to have a huge impact,” Berg said of the new facility. “A lot of our faculty were teaching in practice rooms instead of real teaching studios. Now, they have the best teaching studios in the country.”

Among the features: 77 chamber music and teaching studios, two oversized rehearsal halls, a reception and information center, and a furnished breezeway. Designed by award-winning architects Yann Weymouth and HOK and built by Skansa USA, the facility is touted as the first building project in Coral Gables designed to achieve LEED Platinum certification, with sustainable features such as energy-efficient windows, rooftop solar panels, and cisterns that reduce water and electricity usage.

The complex is part of UM’s Momentum2 campaign and is made possible by the benefactors, Phillip and Patricia Frost, whose landmark gift back in 2003 renamed UM’s music school in their honor. Featuring a new grand entrance into the school, the studios honor Patricia Frost’s lifelong commitment to music education as an elementary school principal and higher education advocate.

“[The Frosts] care deeply about producing and driving excellence wherever they go,” said UM Board of Trustees Chairman Stuart A. Miller.

“Today is indeed pitch perfect and beautifully orchestrated,” UM President Donna E. Shalala said at the dedication. “Our students now have the state-of-the-art studios they need to truly blossom as musicians.”

MSNBC’s Chris Matthews was also among those who spoke at the dedication ceremony, which included several musical performances by students.

The new chamber music and teaching studios are a significant upgrade over the Bertha Foster Memorial Music Building’s old 8-foot x 10-foot rooms, many of which were not being used for practice sessions at all but for private teaching lessons, forcing students to compete for scarce rehearsal space.

Students began taking lessons and practicing in the new facility last week, giving it a musical christening in advance of Friday’s dedication ceremony.

Bassoonist Julia Paine, a Stamps Distinguished Ensemble Scholar and member of the Stamps Woodwind Quintet, had her first lesson in one of the studios last Thursday and was impressed with the improved quality of sound and the larger space. “The previous studio I worked in was carpeted, and the sound was absorbed by the floor,” she explained. “These new studios are all wood floored and provide enough space so if you are running through a piece with a pianist, you can make eye contact or simply see the other person’s body movement. This is huge because it makes rehearsal much more efficient, as you can rely on your eyes and ears.”

Stamps Music Scholar Sarah Huesman, who started playing the cello when she was 6, explored the Frost Studios complex before she even had a chance to practice there. The UM freshman is thrilled about its opening “because I have the next four years ahead of me to improve my musical skills in this beautiful new building,” she said.

Huesman and other students who have years of Frost School of Music instruction ahead of them are among the first to be immersed in the school’s new experiential music curriculum built around chamber music.

“Rather than sitting in large lectures talking about the various things they’ll need to be able to do as a musicians—composing, arranging, improvising—they’re placed in small groups that are essentially little laboratories for doing all of those things,” said Berg, adding that the Frost School’s new curriculum will be “fully realized” now that the Frost Music Studios have opened.

“I’m going to walk though this building for the rest of my time as dean and see students in the space they deserve,” said Berg.

All of the UM music school’s faculty have moved into their teaching studios inside the new buildings, making it the first time they have all been under one roof. In past years, they were scattered as far away as the Pentland House on Dickenson Drive and in another building on Brescia Avenue. They are now admittedly ecstatic about being together in one place—a situation they believe will foster greater collaboration.

“I enjoyed my office in Pentland, but it was isolated,” said Dorothy Hindman, assistant professor of theory and composition. “I am now surrounded by my colleagues, and seeing them casually is a huge boost to my sense of collegiality. I have an energizing space where I can teach my students and see them similarly energized. The space is large enough that I can teach small seminars of up to six students, which is hugely beneficial to the graduate student courses I teach.”

Rafael M. Padron, who teaches classical guitar, a delicate instrument, said his students will benefit immensely from the studios’ acoustics and ability to minimize external noise.

Associate Professor Trudy Kane teaches another delicate instrument—flute—that requires her students not be affected by surrounding noise during practice sessions. She called the new studios’ acoustics and soundproofing “fabulous.”

“The sounds that are produced are more realistic,” she said. “I no longer hear all the music, however wonderful it may have been, being produced in the neighboring studios. Now, I can give my full attention to my students.”

Film and concert music composer Carlos Rivera, who teaches in the Creative American Music Program, did not even have an office before the Frost Music Studios opened. He used one of the on-campus Starbucks to meet with his students. Now, he is in the Skanska USA Classroom that doubles as an office and teaching studio with rehearsal space and recording and mixing capabilities. He admits that he welled up the first time he walked into his new digs.

“I really did get emotional,” he said. “It hit me that this was going to be my space to work in, and it’s a big one, and we’ll be able to have real classes…and not have to worry about sound from another room bleeding into our studio.”

Steven Moore, the Frost School’s associate dean for undergraduate studies, may have said it best: “Now, the music school of the future will have a building of the future that is in harmony with its mission.”

University Communications intern Renee Reneau contributed to this story.

 

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Touting Increased Student Involvement, SG President Delivers State of the U Address

By Renee Reneau
UM News

Alessandria San Roman

SG President Alessandria San Roman delivers her State of the U address.

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (February 13, 2015) – Praising students’ increased involvement in community service projects and social activism, University of Miami Student Government President Alessandria San Roman delivered her State of the U address last Wednesday at the UC Rock, signifying the culmination of her administration’s work now that new SG elections are scheduled for this week.

In an interview with UM News, San Roman touted her administration’s accomplishments, noting that Sebastian’s Closet, which will allow students to rent business attire through the Toppel Career Center, will be implemented in the coming weeks. Also coming soon: Free shuttle rides for students from the Coral Gables campus to Miami’s Wynwood district and metro passes for undergraduate students who take some of their classes on the Miller School of Medicine campus.

When asked if she had any advice for the next SG president, San Roman said, “Be patient and stay passionate. I promised when I was elected that I would never lose that passion.”

 

 

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UM Honors Its Scholarship Recipients and the Donors Who Make Their Dreams Possible

By Robert C. Jones Jr.
UM News

Scholarship.Luncheon2

Hammond Scholarship recipient Briana Scott, who is majoring in accounting and visual journalism, takes the pledge to support UM scholarships in the future.

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (February 11, 2015) – Briana Scott had been praying for a miracle. Then one day, the answer to her prayers came via a phone call. On the other end of the line was a representative from the University of Miami’s Office of Academic Enhancement who had telephoned the Port St. Lucie high school senior with the news she so desperately wanted to hear: the Ronald A. Hammond scholarship Scott had applied for was hers.

First a scream, then tears of joy. Scott, whose family had been adversely affected by the economic downturn, would no longer have to agonize over the dilemma of how she would pay for a substantial portion of her college education. Read the full story

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