STEM students get a strong start

Nine incoming first-year students honed their academic skills before officially starting their college courses. Now in its fourth year, the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) program began at Penn State Greater Allegheny on July 29 and ran through Aug. 20.

?The program is designed to give students a heads up on what they will face when classes start in the fall,? said Assistant Director of Academic Affairs Kris Sciulli. ?Sometimes entering college can be intimidating. STEM shows students what to expect, so that they feel better prepared to embark on their academic careers at Penn State.?

Students were admitted to the program by submitting essays about their academic and career goals and describing how participation in the program will benefit them. During the four-week session, students stayed on campus to experience firsthand the academic and social aspects of a Penn State Greater Allegheny education.

Students took classes in English, math, engineering design and general science. Academic survival skills programming also was available to STEM students, with tutoring and discussion topics such as study skills, time management and test anxiety.

For a hands-on components, the participants were given an assignment by Bob Walters, professor emeritus of engineering. They created a circuit board that picked up their heartbeats with a sensor. The sensors was then wired to LED lights which flashed to the heart beat. Projects included a wristband, a headband and necklace, glasses, a T-shirt with an emblem and a THON T-shirt.

They enjoyed educational field trips to HERL Human Engineering Research Laboratories, US Steel and Smith Micro. During the field trips, arranged by Erica Clarke, Career Services Coordinator, students toured the sites, explored technologies, and discussed educational paths needed to pursue a career at these types of companies. The students also traveled to University Park for a Student Leadership Event Aug. 1, where Donna O. Johnson, a motivational speaker and author, gave a speech on the ?Guaranteed 4.0 System??a system to help students achieve a 4.0 GPA. The students also met with upper class engineering students and toured the working nuclear reactor on campus.

Fun-time activities also were planned. The students took trips to local shopping areas and restaurants, Kennywood Amusement Park and a Pittsburgh Pirates game.