Thousands of Smiling Faces at Virginia Beach Graduation

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Chrysler Hall was packed to the rafters on June 22 as hundreds of ECPI University students finished their academic journeys and received their diplomas. Thousands of proud family members added to the occasion with many cheers. Congressman Rob Andrews, a longtime champion of career-focused private sector schools, provided great advice as commencement speaker.

Student speaker William “Burt” Evans, Jr. provided plenty of inspiration, saying “Life is all about second chances, sometimes third; the most important thing to remember is to take full advantage of every opportunity that is given to you.”  Evans should know. After graduating high school in 1980, he attended college for a couple of years, but decided to join the Navy to serve his country. He spent four years as a radioman in the Gulf War, taking college courses when he could.

After his first tour, he returned to civilian life and worked as an office supply company sales representative before missing the service and rejoining the Navy. His second tour ended abruptly when his wife passed away, leaving him with their two young children. He returned home, got a job as a radio frequency technician and later met his second wife, Donna. Evans then decided to enroll at ECPI University to advance his career in information technology. He also wanted to take advantage of the school’s accelerated degree format and class schedule flexibility to be able to work, go to school and raise a family.

“I realized that to succeed in life and have marketable skills I would have to return to school and finish what I’d started years before,” said Evans, a Chesapeake resident. “I should have listened to my mom long ago, but it’s never too late to start again.”

Evans, 51, is graduated with a 3.66 GPA in Computer Information Science with a concentration in Network Security. While attending ECPI University he found a job as an ITO Service Delivery Representative with Hewlett Packard at the Norfolk Naval Base. He plans to remain at Hewlett Packard after graduation and utilize his degree to further his career.

Marvin Hatchett: A Smart Person who Works with Dummies

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Marvin Hatchett spends his days surrounded by dummies. Yet, he enjoys every moment. That’s because this 1984 ECPI graduate is the Dummy Calibration Lab Manager at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Yes, Marvin Hatchett crashes cars for a living. He does so with a single goal in mind: to save as many lives as possible.

At his lab in Ruckersville, Virginia, he prepares crash dummies for a variety of collisions. It’s critically important that each dummy is calibrated to near perfection to ensure consistent results and reliable comparative data for other researchers doing similar work.

While his co-workers may be short on conversation, they tell him a great deal. Each one has up to 40 different sensors, and range in size from that of a six month-old infant to a fully-grown man. Data collected during each collision allows the IIHS to provide feedback to carmakers and warnings to consumers. At nearly $200,000 a piece, this information does not come cheap, but it is, nonetheless, invaluable.

“Knowing the impact that we have on the world, that we’re saving lives…it’s very rewarding,” says Marvin. “When we identify a problem, we always try to work directly with the automaker. Sure, we can issue a warning to consumers, but we also want to help the manufacturer make changes to improve a vehicle’s safety.

“On one occasion, we tested a minivan and the results were just terrible. It collapsed on the dummy and pinned it in, forcing us to pry it loose with hydraulic machinery. We immediately shared the results with the automaker, and the company made extensive changes. That mini-van went on to become a top safety pick. It’s hard to overstate the level of satisfaction you receive when something like that happens.”

Marvin has spent years developing his skills and has had a number of professional experiences prior to joining the Institute. Still, he says it all began at ECPI. “It was a great learning experience,” says Marvin. “It set the foundation to do what I enjoy doing, understanding electronics and how things work and helped prepare me to explore that world. The faculty was very concerned with the individual student. They really strived to reach out to meet the needs of each person. It was just a great atmosphere to be in and study in.”

Charleston Student Works with Advanced Radar Equipment

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Andrew Smith had hoped to get some real world experience during his externship with MALA Geoscience. He got all that…and then some. Over the course of 140 hours, the company – which manufactures ground-penetrating radar equipment – allowed him to participate in the repair of equipment as well as the design of a DC/DC step up power circuit.

“The machines that I helped repair are used to see different objects in the ground,” says Andrew. “Contractors use this equipment before they begin construction to see if there is anything under the surface like gas lines or electrical lines. They also check before they cut into concrete since tension cables may be present which can be very dangerous if they are severed unexpectedly.”

For Andrew, his time with MALA Geoscience helped reinforce what he has learned in the classroom. “These are the kind of hands-on experiences that make ECPI University what it is: a place where you can take what you learn and immediately transfer it to the workplace,” says Charleston Campus President James Weaver. “It also allows employers to meet the exceptional students we are privileged to educate.”

In the case of MALA Geoscience, they certainly liked what they saw. “Without question, Andrew was outstanding,” says MALA Geoscience President Matthew Wolf. “It was a pleasure to have a young person of Andrew’s character and technical knowledge working with our team. We look forward to additional opportunities to mentor students from ECPI University.”

Pharmaceutical Company Calls on ECPI University to Assist Workers

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Pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim recently announced it was shutting down one of its manufacturing lines in Petersburg, Virginia, leaving 70 people out of work. To assist the workers with the transition, the company turned to ECPI University. Business Development Specialist Paul Dockery put together a comprehensive job fair that included skills assessments, and training, as well as a resume and interviewing workshop. Fourteen companies attended the event.

EET Students Conduct Experiments at Highly-Regarded Research Facility

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Some Electronics Engineering Technology students engaged in some highly-advanced, hands-on learning at the Applied Research Center Consortium in Newport News, Virginia, one of the nation’s leading research facilities involved in a variety of fields, including free-electron lasers.

Dr. Ibrahim El-Kholy’s Material Science class visited laboratories used for Surface Engineering and Nanomaterial Research and participated in several sample experiments. They also observed the testing of different materials, including semiconductor samples and a human hair. Imagine seeing a single strand that looks like a six-inch pipe!

The class also witnessed transmission electron microscopy; a machine that exceeds the ability of optical microscopy and can image features as small as 1 Å (a unit equal to one ten-billionth of a meter) with magnification up to 2,000,000 times. One researcher was scanning Quantum dots (nanomaterial) for a new type of solar cell. Then, it was on to the tunneling microscope, and atomic force microscope.

From there, the class toured the Thin Film manufacturing labs that feature different types of coating machines like electron beam, and sputtering. One of the labs was used to develop oxide semiconductors, a method involved in microprocessor manufacturing.

They ended that day at the femtosecond laser lab where they observed three different experiments:

  • Pulsed laser deposition, a new technique used to fabricate different types of thin films
  • Time-resolved reflection high energy electron diffractions, an experiment used to probe the surface morphology for different materials
  • Electron stimulated desorption ion angular distributions, used to detect the oxide bonds on surface of semiconductor materials

“These are hot topics in manufacturing technology,” says Dr. El-Kholy. “And it’s these kind of experiences that help prepare students for the technology they will encounter upon graduation and beyond.”