High School Students Learn to Develop Web Application through STEM Camp

The Youth Center of Hampton Roads hosted a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) camp at ECPI for 20 enthusiastic Hampton Roads teens. The five-day program in July introduced students to mobile technology and included an opportunity to learn and develop a web application (APP).

There is a national movement to encourage more students to pursue education and careers in STEM fields. The “Change the Equations” national initiative pledges to create literacy in science, technology, engineering and math as an investment in the nation. One of the goals of the initiative is to inspire student appreciation and excitement for STEM programs and careers to increase success and achievement in school and opportunities for a collegiate education.

ECPI Academic Technology Associate Dean, Gerry White, works with the kids to teach them APP development.

“We were really excited about introducing and reinforcing the STEM initiatives to participating youth,” said Paul Dockery, Business Development Specialist for ECPI University. “It was a great partnership to share with the youth the cool aspects of the technology field. These same areas are those that will allow the Hampton Roads community and beyond to remain the technological leader in the marketplace of the 21st century.”

The course, taught by Gerry White, covered beginning Mobile Web APP development. Students learned to design icons and buttons and facilitate the coding to launch their own Mobile Web APP. At the end of the program students created an individual APP to showcase their resume and writing samples with links to their social networks.

The program was through the Youth Career Center of Hampton Road operated by Opportunity Inc., which provides career guidance and workplace readiness skills training to Hampton Roads youth aged 14-21. Area businesses that supported the workshop included ECPI University, STIHL and We Are Titans.

Two workshop participants show off their custom built APPs.

Tracy Mitchell: The One-Hundred Eighty Degree Man of ECPI

People say that change is good. Some people fight change, and such was the case for Tracy Mitchell. While he knew that an education would be instrumental in improving his life, he was slow to embrace personal change that could (and ultimately would) impact his professional future. By personal change it is in reference to his appearance. Tracy likes to joke about the initial impression he made on faculty and staff at ECPI University in Charlotte, North Carolina as well as some of the companies he has interviewed. “I came in with long hair to my hips, tattoos, and leather,” tells Tracy. “I don’t think most people expected me to last too long.” But he did, and Tracy appreciates the good nature jesting he now has with faculty and fellow students. It came down to a job interview when Tracy was asked, “how attached are you to your hair?” He knew it may be time for a snip if he wanted to land his ideal job.

Tracy Mitchell Before

Before coming to EPCI University, Tracy was a dump truck driver, heavy equipment operator and mechanic. After being laid off, Tracy decided to finally obtain his GED. He passed in January 2009 and enrolled in ECPI the same month. His original pursuit was radiology but quickly learned he was not good with needles and turned to medical imaging. Upon graduation he was hired by Siemen Medical Solutions in Cary, North Carolina, as a tech support engineer. Siemens is a global powerhouse in electronics and electrical engineering, and operates in the industry, energy, and healthcare sectors. For more than 160 years, Siemens has built a reputation for leading-edge innovation and the quality of its products, services, and solutions.

Just goes to show you, you can’t judge a book by its cover, but a haircut may lead to a very bright future.

Tracy Mitchell After

Cutting-Edge Manufacturing Camp for Students

ECPI knows a thing or two about manufacturing, and that is why the university decided to be a sponsor of the Manufacturing Technology Summer Camp hosted by STIHL Inc. The camp ran July 13 through 16 in which more than 30 high school students from schools in North Carolina, Southeastern Virginia and District of Columbia participated. Designed to promote careers in modern manufacturing, the camp activities included classes on cutting-edge manufacturing technologies such as computer-controlled machining and robotics.

“This four-day, hands-on camp is designed to introduce students to modern manufacturing through tours, presentations, small projects, and a competitive manufacturing activity,” said Simon Nance, the director of the camp as well as manager of training and development for STIHL Inc.

With federal funding for vocational training and education at risk of being cut by 20 percent, business and education partnership programs like this are becoming increasingly important. The camp culminated with a two-hour competition on Saturday, July 16. Students were organized into five teams and collaborated to manufacture clocks. The teams were evaluated based on production efficiency, inventory management, quality standards, and innovative thinking. Each school with a winning team member won a First Technical Challenge startup kit from FIRST Robotics, and each student earned a $1,000 Virginia Industry Foundation scholarship for his or her future education.

Winning team members of the Stihl competition.

The winning team members were:

Christopher Benedetto, Kellam High School, Virginia Beach, VA, Brad Holmes, Landstown High School, Virginia Beach, VA, Sinh Ly, Landstown High School, Virginia Beach, VA, Joseph Frandsen, Granby High School, Norfolk, VA, Sharissa Marshall, Grassfield High School, Chesapeake, VA

The competition was judged by academic, corporate and community leaders including Norfolk councilwoman Angelia Williams and Ron Villanueva, delegate of the 21st district of Virginia. Other judges included Dee Tomczak from Virginia FIRST Robotics and Paul Dockery from ECPI University. “It was great seeing the youth go from not knowing much about manufacturing to putting together an entire production plan for the competition,” said Paul. “It was a great example why ECPI likes to be involved in STEM (science, technology, electronics, and math) activities in the community that are building our future workforce.”

Training Wounded Warriors for the Future

ECPI University conducts an Information Assurance training program at NAS Oceana in Virginia Beach. The six month program covers A+, Network+ and Security+. Currently there are five wounded warriors who are taking part of the program using their G.I. Bill benefits or the Tuition Assistance Program which is for active duty personnel wishing to further their education.

The Wounded Warrior class at Oceana.

Michael Kidd is a marine who was hit by two IEDs in 2005. He looked at the class as his next step as he transitions out of the military later this year. As an assistant trainer for his unit, he has been responsible for the managing all of the training information, which led to his interest in database administration.

Michael Kidd is a marine enrolled in the computer class.

The marine of 8.5 years worked with representatives from the Veteran’s Individual Training Assistance Link (VITAL). “We come up with the battle plan by identifying my interests, what education would be needed and what companies I should be speaking to,” said Michael.

Logan McEwen signed up for the course as a result of the disability transition assistance program. He too worked with VITAL to discuss his future outside the military. In the navy Logan installed collection equipment on the ships, essentially the instruments to pull radio communications. It was his work there that lead him to look at computers, “I’d like to work up to a Network Engineer, take a CC+A course, and ultimately earn a business management degree,” shared Logan.

Logan McEwen is using the course as a stepping stone to obtain his bachelors.

After passing the course attendees are better equipped to earn a job with the military or government agencies.

Business. Economics. Volunteerism. Working with kids through Junior Achievement

ECPI University has been supporting Junior Achievement of Greater Hampton Roads for a number of years. Greg Casey, ECPI’s Chief Financial Officer, serves on the board of directors, and this past March 27, volunteers including faculty and staff taught economics to children at Bayside Elementary School’s second, third, fourth and fifth grades. Together ECPI volunteers reached almost 300 students.

Junior Achievement of Greater Hampton Roads was established in the area in 1966. Business professionals, parents, retirees and college students enter schools to teach Junior Achievement programs. Volunteers use their personal experiences to make the curricula practical and realistic, and provide children with positive adult role models, who illustrate ways to build self-confidence, develop skills and find avenues of success in our free enterprise system.

Junior Achievement provides the materials for the lessons that are generally under an hour with volunteers completing in four to five lessons. Carrie Griffith, Criminal Justice instructor at ECPI, volunteered to be a teacher and had a great experience.  She commented, “The kids are fun and enjoy having someone new teach them. The first week we were talking about zones and when we were discussing the industrial zone, every word out of their mouth had to do with pollution and how the industrial area is where all the pollution comes from. It’s funny to see how different students are now than when I was in school.”

“Not only does ECPI serve as mentors to Bayside Elementary School students, but its fundraising efforts allow us to provide students with educational programs that share valuable lessons about the world of work, the importance of saving money, and the relationship between learning and earning,” said Lauren Franza, Education Director and Operations Manager for Junior Achievement of Greater Hampton Roads. “ECPI’s fundraising efforts will be used to support both in-school and after-school programs that teach children how to be successful in the ’real world.’”

In March, two teams representing Admissions and Financial Aid squared off in competition in the annual bowl-a-thon to raise funds for the non-profit. Students representing Business Cents, the business club, and MCI also worked to raise funds. In total over $2,000 was raised to benefit Junior Achievement.