Ambassador Highlight of the Week: Katrina Flynn

Internship to Future Career

By: Katrina Flynn
Hometown: Papillion, NE
Major: Information Technology
Year: Senior
Clubs: Student Government Board for Dining Sevices, UMKC Grievance Committee, Student Staff at UMKC Welcome Center
Favorite class: IT 350 – Object Oriented Programming
Favorite place to study: Miller Nichols Library
Why you chose UMKC: I wanted to move to a bigger city.

 

One of the biggest reasons that I decided to move from a small town in Nebraska to Kansas City was because I knew that I would have more job opportunities in a larger city—and UMKC has not let me down.

I am incredibly thankful for the amount of internship opportunities that have been presented to me by SCE. I received my first internship at the beginning of my sophomore year, and I was truly blessed. I worked as an analyst intern in the IT department at ConAgra Foods World Headquarters in Omaha, Nebraska during the summer before my junior year. This was a great experience and I learned a lot about what I liked and didn’t like, in preparation for my long-term career aspirations.

During my junior year, I received another internship with a company in Kansas City called Protiviti, an internal audit and technology consulting firm. I was curious to take my degree to another level and see what different paths I could take with my major. I even got to travel with this internship! Training took place in Orlando, Florida for the first couple of weeks, and I was able to go to Disney World for the first time. Overall, this was exactly what I was looking for with my major. It was a great work environment with awesome people in the city that I love. Needless to say, I was happy to receive a full-time offer after I graduate—which I humbly accepted.

Ambassador Highlight of the Week: Chelsea Pfaffly

The Importance of Undergraduate Research 
By: Chelsea Pfaffly

Hometown: Pleasant Valley, MO
Major: Civil Engineering
Year: Junior
Clubs: SWE, Undergrad Research
Favorite class: Strength of Materials
Favorite place to study: Study rooms by the CME faculty offices
Why you chose UMKC: The opportunities and small class sizes
 
Participating in undergraduate research has always been on my bucket list. It is one of the most influential experiences that a college student can have. This summer I applied for the Summer Undergraduate Research Opportunity (SUROP) grant. Even though I was only a sophomore in the engineering program and I still had much to learn, I knew I could apply the knowledge I had to real life applications.
 
When it came to choosing what topic I wanted to focus my research on Dr. Hart, a civil engineering professor, helped guide me. She told me about her research on environmental concrete and I was super intrigued! The research I did focused on trying to collect the heavy metals from pervious concrete. I was excited about this experiment because if I could prove that the metals could be extracted, pervious concrete could be used as an economical solution to clean up mining spills. Because of this experience, I was able to spend my summer in a lab expanding my knowledge outside of the classroom and diving deeper into my interest in geotechnical engineering.
 
The biggest benefit for me was learning to think on my feet. Since I was conducting my own research, I was in charge of coming up with the procedure for the experiment. Quick thinking and innovation are not skills that can be learned in the classroom. They are developed through hands-on experience. During my research, when things didn’t go as I had planned, I had to resolve the issue on my own and be creative.
 
I am so glad I was able to have this opportunity. When someone asks me what my most meaningful college experience was, I proudly say, “My summer of undergraduate research!”

Ambassador Highlight of the Week: Kyle Rainey

Value of Internships

By Kyle Rainey
Hometown: Columbia, MO
Major: Information Technology
Year: Senior
Favorite class: IT 222 – Multimedia Design
Favorite place to study: My apartment or the UMKC Library
Why you chose UMKC: Smaller class sizes

During the fall break of my sophomore year, I applied for an internship at Cerner, a healthcare information technology solutions company located in Kansas City.  I was hired for the Kansas City Information Technology (KCIT) Apprenticeship Program before the start of the summer of 2015.  This program is designed differently when compared to a normal internship.  The KCIT program allowed me to work twenty hours a week during the school year and  forty hours a week during the summer.  My internship has allowed me the opportunity to put the knowledge I gained as a UMKC student in information technology to work – literally!  Although, Cerner has also given me the opportunity to learn on the job.  They allowed me to work on real projects and sit in on many meetings, further developing my skills as a professional in the field. Being a UMKC student has allowed me to have this experience and since many big companies come to UMKC looking for students to become interns, the connection was made easy.

After I graduate this fall, I plan to continue working for Cerner on my current team! Being in the KCIT program gives you the ability to continue with what you are doing after you graduate, if you were successful and choose to do so.  Working at Cerner has taught me a lot in the last year and I continue to learn more every day. UMKC has prepared me to work full time right after graduation and I look forward to starting my career with Cerner as soon as that degree is in hand.

Seniors Design App for Microsoft’s New HaloLens

By Alex Maurer

Every semester at UMKC’s School of Computing and Engineering (SCE), students apply their skills and knowledge to their hands-on Capstone Senior Design Project.  For computer science seniors Eric Lytle, Zach Wolf, Jarren Back, Cameron Knight, Eric Wilson, and Alex Mammele, this capstone project afforded them the opportunity to work with the innovative technology of the HoloLens.  Teaming up with the School of Computing and Engineering’s Recruitment staff, these seniors designed an app that can be used in high school and middle school classrooms throughout the Kansas City area to showcase the exciting and cutting-edge work of SCE students.

Through the use of the programming language Unity, a language that will be introduced into computer science classes in SCE this spring, they developed an app that provides a mixed reality for users that combines augmented and virtual realities.  With this app, users can spatially map the environment they are standing in and incorporate holograms that interact with their actual environment.  In this case, UMKC’s mascot, Kasey the Kangaroo, will chase after objects that the user can “throw” into their environment.  This gives the user a fun interactive experience with the environment they live in (augmented reality) and the objects created within the app (virtual reality).

Due to the recent release of the HoloLens, these students were presented with the unique challenge of not only programming the app, but researching and discovering how to create successful programming and code through a trial-and-error process.  While this process proved tedious, Eric Lytle noted that the “exploratory programming” of this app was one of their favorite experiences with this project as it allowed them to develop new skills and knowledge, and be at the forefront of technology.  Not only did this exploratory programming provide a unique experience for this group of students, it also stands to create new opportunities for future SCE students who seek to further develop the app and create new uses for the HoloLens.

Learn more about the HaloLens at: https://www.microsoft.com/microsoft-hololens/en-us

View the HaloLens in action at SCE: https://www.facebook.com/pg/UMKCSCE/videos/?ref=page_internal

Q+A With Alum: Cody Hill

Cody Hill
Manager, Energy Storage Systems, LS Power
BSECE, Class of 2010
Current City: Mountain View, CA (San Francisco Bay Area)
Hometown: San Francisco, CA and Kansas City, MO
Follow me on twitter: @Cody_A_Hill

What activities were you involved in at UMKC?

I was a recording engineer for Bob Beck at the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance for five years which was an awesome gig! I also did audio work for the Marr Sound Archives with Chuck Haddix and KCUR’s New Letters on the Air radio program with Angela Elam.  The Communications Studies department let me teach a few workshops on audio editing, too.

I was active in IEEE, worked alongside Dr. Deep Medhi on a National Science Foundation funded research grant, and volunteered with Debbie Dilks (CSEE’s second mother to all) teaching science to children.

What drew you to Electrical Engineering (EE)?

I got into EE from being a musician (note: a poor one). My interest lead me to recording studios and concerts, where I began working as an audio engineer after high school.  When I first enrolled at UMKC, I was focused on media production in the Communications Studies department, but the more work I did with microphones and audio editing equipment, the more I wanted to master the technical side – pure EE and signal processing. You have to follow your passion if you are lucky enough to find it!

Did you take any technical classes in High School?

Quite the opposite, I was more of an art student.  Looking back, I wish I had done both.

How did you decide what area you wanted to work in?

As I got further into my EE studies I became really passionate about renewable energy and decided to make a shift from media to power.  Professor Mike Kelley was an extremely influential person at this time in my life.  He was so excited about power and energy and it really rubbed off on me.  After my undergraduate degree was complete, I went to the University of Texas at Austin to pursue a PhD with Professor Mack Grady. While there, I started working for an energy storage startup and that experience was transformative.  Energy Storage is a key in enabling technology for the future of our energy systems in a high-tech/low-carbon world.  And everybody everywhere needs cheap clean energy. I got my Masters Degree and put the PhD program on hold to work in the field full time. Today, I’m part of a private equity group that builds power plants and energy infrastructure in the U.S. with really outstanding management and coworkers.

How do you keep up with the rapidly changing field of technology?

I read obsessively, often for multiple hours a day. My RSS feed for general and industry news is something that I have been tweaking for years and I probably scan 100-200 article titles every day. With unlimited information at our fingertips, it seems like the key is setting up the right system of filters so that you find the good stuff fast, but are still challenged by people with different perspectives from your own.

Q+A With Alum: David E. Hawes

David E. Hawes
Senior Project Manager, Blot Engineering, Inc.
Bachelors of Science in Civil Engineering, Class of 1986
Current City: Kansas City, MO Hometown: Leavenworth, KS

What inspired you to choose UMKC’s School of Computing and Engineering? I was looking for a program that allowed me to continue my career while getting a degree. The evening classes available at the SCE made this possible.

What project have you worked on since graduation of which you are most proud? While supporting an industrial client, there were challenges to complete a process and storm water treatment tank foundation and associated pipe rack during the winter months. The foundation required 185 concrete trucks and took over 20 hours to complete! The pipe rack involved structural steel design and auger cast pile foundations with pile caps. It was one of my most challenging projects but gave me the opportunity to use a lot of the skills I developed while at the SCE.

What drew you to engineering? I already had a background in construction, so engineering seemed like a natural next step. I had worked as a carpenter’s apprentice and then later became a journeyman bricklayer. Engineering was an opportunity to move forward in my career while still respecting my construction roots.

What do you love most about the engineering community Kansas City? I really love how many friends I have made. The engineers working for my own company, companies we partner with, and others I have meet through professional organizations have become a second family. These friendships have provided connections that have advanced my career in many ways.

Q + A with Civil Engineering Student Terry Bondy

Current City: Kansas City, MO  Hometown: Calgary, AB, Canada

Why did you choose UMKC:
I chose UMKC because I went to High School in South Kansas City, and UMKC was close to home. I also wanted to go to university in a city that was large enough to feel metropolitan, without being too large. UMKC also offered lots of scholarships.

What are you studying and why did you choose this:
I am studying civil engineering, with an emphasis in structures. I chose this field because I like to work with large projects, and I wanted a career that would allow me to work in different regions of the country. Since people will always need safe structures to live in, I figured it was a pretty safe career to get into. I also want to work with different industries. I like that structural engineers can build schools, hospitals, conference centers, office buildings, and lots of other things.

What do you love the most about UMKC:
My favorite thing about UMKC is how many opportunities there are to be involved. There are so many campus jobs, volunteer opportunities, and research projects available to work on.

What is your favorite class:
That’s a difficult question. It’s probably either CE 321: Structural Analysis, or CE 323: Steel Design. Until I took these classes, I wasn’t sure if I even wanted to be a civil engineer. After taking these two classes, I learned how interesting designing structures can be.

Are you involved in any organizations or honor societies? Why did you decide to join:
Yes, I’m the Secretary for the Missouri Delta Chapter of Tau Beta Pi, the national engineering honor society. I am also a member of the Student Activity Fee Committee, as well as the Steel Bridge Design Team. I also work as a student ambassador for SCE, a teaching assistant, and a math/physics tutor. At first, I joined some of these organizations so I would have something to talk about during job interviews! But looking back, the extra-curricular things I’ve been involved in at UMKC have been just as rewarding as the classes I’ve enjoyed

A New Center For Nanotechnology

Recent NSF Grant awarded to Masud Chowdhury, Ahmed Hassan and Mostafizur Rahman will be used to establish a new center for nanotechnology.

Remember when cell phones looks like bricks and had about enough computing power to make a call and send a text… and that was it?! Sure – by the time most of you reading this were born, Nokia offered snake and…for a very hefty price tag…you might get a very slow internet connection, but mostly phones were clunky and did very little.

So how did cell phones get smaller AND more powerful? Nanotechnology. Researchers across the globe are rushing to discover new and innovative ways to cram more computing power into smaller and more efficient devices, and it’s not just the phones you use. Nanoelectronics research supports wearable technology, circuitry and systems for your laptops and desktops, materials that are stronger and lighter than materials we use today, and applications in energy efficiency and biomedical advances that are shaping our futures.

All of this is why at UMKC’s School of Computing and Engineering (SCE) we are proud to have top researchers in nanoelectronics committed to engaging our graduate and undergraduate students in this growing field. Dr. Masud Chowdhury, Dr. Ahmed Hassan and Dr. Mostafizur Rahman have recently received a grant for $771,000 from National Science Foundation to develop a nanotechnology research facility.

This new center is named Center for Interdisciplinary Nano Technology Research (CINTR). This new center will be comprised of an equipment laboratory that will allow researchers and students for experimentation and fabrication of nanoscale devices and circuits, and a high-powered computer simulation to perform in-depth analysis and validation of nanoscale designs and applications. Additional goals for the team include ramping up K-12 STEM outreach around nanotechnology themes and welcoming high school students to utilize the facility for learning

“The types of research we are doing now are focused on the theoretical. With this new facility and centralized focus on nanotechnology, we can bring our research to next level,” shared Dr. Chowdhury. The research laboratory is already under development and we look forward to bringing you updates from the lab this Spring 2017.

About the NSF CISE Research Infrastructure Program Grant:

Grant Title: Experimental Characterization and CAD Development Testbed for Nanoscale Integrated Circuits

Agency: National Science Foundation

Approved Budget: $771,000

Project Summary: The aim of this NSF CRI-II-NEW project is to develop a testbed for computer aided design (CAD) simulations, experimental metrology, and software and hardware calibrations to support cross-layer evaluation of novel nanoscale 3D heterogeneous integration of CMOS and post-CMOS technologies. Proposed tools and equipment acquisitions and sustainment will allow bottom-up evaluations from materials, fundamental physics, and experimental metrology to device and circuits to large-scale systems. The proposed infrastructure is unique and will enable thorough evaluation of new 3D heterogeneous integration concepts with accuracy only parallel to full-scale experimental prototyping. It will directly impact the nano-electromagnetics, nano-device, circuits, 3D IC and manufacturing research directions, and will also have significant impact on the big data analytics, renewable energy, smart-city, RF and electromagnetics research initiatives in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering (CSEE) department at University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC). The testbed will not only facilitate transformative research, but will also allow broad ranging educational and outreach activities such as new undergraduate and graduate curriculum development with lab modules, training and mentoring of research students, research dissemination thorough forums and seminars, development of online repositories and online labs, and nanotechnology awareness for K-12 students through summer workshops. The boarder impact of this project is that the proposed infrastructure will provide unique opportunities for research, education and community outreach in the fields of nanomaterials, nanodevice, nanocircuit, biosensing, heterogonous integration, and nanomanufacturing.

Q+A With Alum: DeJ’on Slaughter

Bachelors of Science in Civil Engineering , Class of 2013
Community and Citizenship Director, Turner Construction Company
Current City: Kansas City, MO  Hometown: Kansas City, MO

What initially attracted you to UMKC?

What set UMKC apart from other colleges I visited was the campus, the staff, and the endless opportunities. Kansas City is home to many of the world’s most prestigious construction firms, and UMKC has the relationships and networks to connect their students with these firms. The close proximity to such impressive companies allows for valuable internships throughout the school year resulting in, at least in my case, excellent job offers.

What activities were you involved in at UMKC?

I was involved in the UMKC Chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) and served as Vice President in 2012, and President in 2013. While assuming leadership positions in NSBE, I gained tremendous professional experience through community engagement and involvement, as well as industry relations. Alongside a solid team of dedicated NSBE students, we were able to have an impact in the lives of the collegiate students in our chapter, as well as many local high school students who were involved in the NSBE Jr programing and yearly events. It was also imperative that we had the support of Dean Truman and Chancellor Morton for NSBE initiatives.

How did UMKC prepare you for your career?

UMKC challenged me to become a problem solver. By tasking me with real world examples and hands-on education, I was also equipped with the essential skills necessary to navigate through the corporate world.

What do you love about the Engineering Community in Kansas City?

I love the competitiveness of the Kansas City market. Even as one of the world’s largest builders, we’re challenged to stay prepared, focused and bring our “A-game” in order to compete with the other construction firms in town. In result, the landscape of our city continues to be populated with many outstanding buildings and structures.

What advice do you have for students entering the field?

Make sure you have a passion for this field and never give up.

Q+A With Alum: James Lammers

Bachelors in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering, Class of 1987
CEO, President for Trinity Animation
Current City: Lee’s Summit, MO  Hometown: Kansas City, MO

Tell me about an average day at your job:
The animation studio is like many other consulting services businesses: there are busy and slow times, there are deadlines and there are a variety of client styles and needs. As CEO, when things are busy I make sure employees have what they need to do their job while focusing on marketing efforts and longer term planning. When things are slow I get very busy finding productive tasks for all the staff to work on, and try to close the deal on any pending projects. And of course every day includes technical and HR problem solving, accounting and other details of running a small business.

How did UMKC prepare you for your career?
UMKC provided serious intellectual challenges and demanding courses that helped me learn to persevere and get better at general problem solving.

What is something that you wish was available to you as a student that current students at UMKC have access to?
The internet. A massive compendium of information, instantly searchable and viewable.

Did you take any computer science or programming classes in High School?
No, but I did build a Sinclair ZX-81 microcomputer in Junior High, with my father’s sponsorship and encouragement. On this, I learned Z80 assembly language and BASIC programming. During my junior year I attended the Rose Hulman Polytechnic Institute and learned the obscure language APL; as well as getting a good taste of what attending a private college in another state might be like.

What societies and groups are you a part of and how do you feel that they have helped you professionally?
I helped start a 3D user group for Kansas City in 1993 that has been a wonderful source of new friends and information over the years. I stepped back from it a few years ago but the KC Autodesk Users Group carries on in the same vein and I enjoy going to this group’s meetings.

What excites you about the future for your field?
It is an overwhelmingly exciting and expanding field, with application in almost every sector of the economy. Right now I see augmented reality as something that will eventually upend and radically change many areas of communication, learning and entertainment. We intend to be part of this.

What advice do you have for students entering the field?
Plan to keep learning, changing and adapting for your whole career.
Always live below your means and avoid debt.
Try to adopt a “consultant” mindset at your jobs and simply contribute generously and positively to whatever project they are working on.