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- Volkswagen Group of America names UTC in ‘Partners in Education’
- University Honors student named Truman Scholar
- TSgt Sherry Burt receives the John L. Levitow Award
- Engineering students achieve
- First ROTC commissioned officer graduates
Volkswagen Group of America names UTC in ‘Partners in Education’
Dr. Will Sutton, Dean of the College of
Engineering and Computer Science Volkswagen Group of America, Chattanooga Operations, LLC, identified The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in the company’s five-year, $5.28 million philanthropic commitment designed to serve as a catalyst for educational enrichment in the state of Tennessee. During the next five years, the company’s “Partners in Education” program will provide $1 million for UTC.
Dr. Horst Neumann, member of the Board of Management Volkswagen AG for Human Resources and Organization; Frank Fischer, CEO and Chairman of Volkswagen Group of America, Chattanooga Operations; and Stefan Jacoby, President and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America, unveiled the philanthropic initiative. Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen and Congressman Zach Wamp were in attendance. The event took place at Calvin Donaldson Elementary School, part of the Hamilton County Public School system, one of the “Partners in Education” fund recipients.
“We are employers, but we are also neighbors. That means pitching in and doing our part to make life better for the entire community,” said Dr. Neumann. “Our corporate philosophy demands that it is not enough to merely have an interest in education. We have an obligation to turn interest into action. If we’re going to create first-rate minds, we have to create first-rate schools.”
“Our $5.28 million, five-year education program is a comprehensive project that will serve as a catalyst for improvement,” said Fischer. “Our program will benefit students from kindergarten through high school; college undergraduates and graduate students; and scholars and researchers at the state’s premier research institutions.”
The partnership between Volkswagen and UTC will support the new Volkswagen Competitive Challenge fund, giving financial support to students for team projects, as well as support for faculty research, travel, recruitment and outreach. Funding at UTC will focus particularly on engineering, international studies, and computer and environmental science.
“Our entire community has been energized by the announcement that Volkswagen is coming to Chattanooga, and we at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga are proud to have been involved in the recruitment effort,” said UTC Chancellor Roger Brown. “In the short time since the announcement, Volkswagen has shown a commitment to being a true corporate neighbor and partner in this community. The establishment of the Volkswagen Competitive Challenge Fund at UTC demonstrates Volkswagen’s belief in education, and we are very appreciative for this opportunity for our faculty and students.”
Stefan Jacoby, Governor Phil Bredesen, Chancellor Roger Brown
LaShunda Shecuna Hill, a UTC University Honors senior majoring in political science, sociology, and the humanities, is one of 60 students from 55 US colleges and universities and the only student from Tennessee to be selected as a 2009 Truman Scholar, according to Madeleine K. Albright, president of the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation. The students were elected by seventeen independent selection panels on the basis of leadership potential, intellectual ability, and likelihood of “making a difference.”
The 60 Scholars were selected from among 601 candidates nominated by 289 colleges and universities. Each Scholarship provides up to $30,000 for graduate study. Scholars also receive priority admission and supplemental financial aid at some premier graduate institutions, leadership training, career and graduate school counseling, and special internship opportunities within the federal government. Recipients must be US citizens, have outstanding leadership potential and communication skills, be in the top quarter of their class, and be committed to careers in government or the not-for-profit sector.
Hill is committed to improving the lives of youth in need. She is the co-founder of Higher Ed – Higher Goals, a program that encourages at-risk students to attend college. She has been active in student government, worked with Upward Bound, and interned for the Tennessee Legislature. She interned for Constituency for Africa, helping to promote sustainable development, and worked for her local Juvenile Court. In the spring of 2008, she volunteered with an NGO (Non Government Organization) working with street children while studying in Ghana. It is her belief that “one should pursue excellence not for self benefit, but to better the world around them.”
She plans to pursue both the JD and MPA degrees. Her career goals are rooted in International Studies, Public Policy and Administration.
Dr. Gregory O’Dea, Director of the UTC University Honors Program, notes that Hill is just the kind of change agent the Truman Foundation seeks. “She is bright, passionate, committed and among the most energetic young scholars I have known.”
The Truman Scholarship Foundation was established by Congress in 1975 as the federal memorial to our thirty-third President. The Foundation awards scholarships for college students to attend graduate school in preparation for careers in government or elsewhere in public service. The activities of the Foundation are supported by a special trust fund in the US Treasury. There have been 2670 Truman Scholars elected since the first awards were made in 1977.
Hill is the second UTC University Honors student to receive the Truman award. The first was Barbara (Elwood) Schalmo in 2002.
Music education alumna Technical Sergeant Sherry Burt recently became the recipient of the John L. Levitow Award, the highest honor given to the top graduate of every Air Force Leadership School. The Non-Commissioned Officer Academy at Maxwell AFB in Montgomery, Alabama, bestowed the award. The criteria for winning the distinguished Levitow Award is based on overall performance evaluations, academic scores, and peer and staff ratings.
Burt was surprised when her name was called but her classmates were not at all; they beamed up at her as she went to the stage to receive the award.
"I didn't go to NCOA seeking the big awards, I just wanted to do my best and help others to do their best," commented Burt, "and when I looked at my classmates smiling at me when my name was called it felt like I was part of something bigger and merely a representative for the entire flight and the NCOA."
The award Burt received is named for John Lee Levitow, an AC-47 gunship loadmaster, who became the lowest ranking Airman ever to receive the Medal of Honor for exceptional heroism during wartime. His heroic actions in Vietnam prompted President Richard Nixon to confer upon him the Medal of Honor in ceremonies at the White House on Armed Forces Day, May 14, 1970. Read more about Levitow’s amazing story here.
Burt earned a Bachelor of Science in Music Education at the University and focused on the flute, its literature, and to teaching.
“Though we have had many fine students in the department through the years, Sherry stands out in having it all at once: an outstanding performer devoted to her craft, an honors student with a great mind, a great teacher, and a leader. She was tops. She worked freelance in local high schools as a flute teacher but could rehearse a high school band, and often did. Her presence in a Department music class or in the band or orchestra was strongly felt. Tony D’Andrea, Professor Emeritus, said that she led the UTC concert band in attitude and musicality, in a positive way-- almost effortlessly, a natural leader,” said Dr. William Lee, who was Burt’s academic advisor, honors thesis director and classroom professor in teaching methods.
Burt has been a member of the USAF Heritage of America Band, Langley AFB, Virginia, since 1999. This band is one of the most prestigious US military bands, consisting of professional musicians. The band has many small specialty ensembles that perform around Washington and are sometimes assigned overseas.
She is NCOIC of Heritage Aire Celtic Ensemble, NCOIC of the Heritage of America Band's Music Library, and principal flutist. She was the unit's NCO of the Year in 2006 and 2007, the ACC Public Affairs Outstanding NCO of the year in 2006 and 2007, and the last winner of the USAF Outstanding Band Non-Commissioned Officer of the year.
"Everything she puts her mind to she does superbly well," said Lt. Col Douglas Monroe, Commander of the Heritage of America Band. "She is the best of the best and I am extremely happy for her and proud to know her. I am not at all surprised that she won the Levitow Award; she is a true leader."
Spring semester brought the UTC Racing Mocs a big, muddy success story while a group of electrical engineering students significantly improved the UTC Jones Observatory.
Racing Mocs succeed at 2009 Baja Society competition
UTC’s Racing Mocs beat Georgia Tech, UT Knoxville and the University of Alabama by placing 16th of 100 teams at the 2009 Baja Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Alabama competition at Auburn University. This year’s entry was an entirely new vehicle built and designed “from the ground up” according to Ben Klingler, Project Manager.
“The main unique design feature of this year’s car is the use of a hydrostatic transmission,” Klingler said. “In the past a belt driven continuously variable transmission has been used.”
Klingler said there are no gears and no belts in this type of vehicle—he compared it to an automatic transmission. Only three hydrostatic transmission vehicles were entered into the race. Klinger said by ranking 16th overall and 15th in the endurance race, the Racing Mocs gave the reputation of the hydrostatic transmission vehicle “a good leg up.”
The Baja SAE Alabama event was one of three regional competitions where engineering students must design and build an off-road vehicle. They are also responsible for planning and manufacturing some parts of their entry.
Students participated in four short dynamic events: Acceleration; Traction (the former “Log Pull”); Maneuverability and Suspension (the former “Suspension and Traction”). An endurance event, the Guardrail Jump and a bumpy ride on “Skid Road” finished the competition.
Saying this was “one of the best Baja teams ever at UTC,” Klingler was proud that everyone got along well and worked together for a great finish.
The hallmark of the SAE Baja Society competition is a friendly give and take between teams, and team members said this year everyone was very helpful. The Racing Mocs enjoyed assisting other teams and in turn receiving assistance from others when needed. “We got suggestions from other teams right on the spot, helping us decide what works,” said team member Matt Brooks.
This year DENSO North America Corporation provided the UTC team with a $7000 grant. Dr. Rob Goulet, who has served as faculty advisor for the UTC Mini Baja participants, received the grant approval from DENSO. DENSO Manufacturing Tennessee, Inc. is a global company located in Maryville. It is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of advanced technology, components and systems for all major automakers.
Additional sponsors include Hydrogear and Alstom.
Faculty who attended and supported the team at the competition included Dean Will Sutton and Drs.Gary McDonald, Charles Knight and Ron Goulet.
The 2009 UTC team includes:
Ben Klingler – Project Manager
Larry Ardry – Team Captain
Roger LeMond – Fabrication Manager
Megan Miller – Reporting Manager
Matt Brooks – Cost Reporting Manager
Senior electrical engineering project benefits Jones Observatory
UTC Jones Observatory has been opening its dome for star gazers since 1936. It was in desperate need of rehab, as the doors to the dome were operated manually. Budget constraints have delayed upgrades at the observatory, but this semester Dr. Michel E. Holder’s electrical engineering students stepped in with their senior class project.
“The students have automated opening and closing the doors of the dome,” Holder said. “They also performed a fine adjustment of the observatory’s telescope. This is Chattanooga’s only high-powered telescope.”
Intricate work performed by the students may not be understood by the public, but the results are obvious to the appreciative observatory staff, housed in the UTC Department of Physics, Geology and Astronomy.
“They helped bring the observatory into the 21st century,” said Jack Pitkin, Operations Manager of the UTC Jones Observatory. “The dome was built in 1936 with appropriate materials and technology of the time. To open the dome with a series of cables hasn’t gotten any easier over the years. It was working, but just barely.”
Pitkin said the student engineers installed an elegant system that can be activated with the flick of a switch.
“They considered power failure, how to automatically stop the process manually and even an emergency shut down procedure,” Pitkin said.
Work began on the project in mid-spring semester, according to student Christy Snyder. Both Snyder and Walter Hooper said the project taught them about circuit board fabrication and electrical code for wiring.
Pitkin said he hopes this senior project will be the cornerstone for other electrical improvements at the observatory. Holder would like to see a future senior electrical engineering project synchronize the observatory’s telescope with the dome, taking into account the rotation of the earth.
Given the military conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, some people might be surprised to find college graduates choosing military careers. Scott Finks’ decision to join the U.S. Army became a historical moment in the University’s history when he became the first ROTC commissioned officer to graduate from the Mocs Battalion.
Major Ben Smith, commander of the Mocs Battalion, conducted Finks’ commissioning ceremony at Point Park on Lookout Mountain. Finks graduated with an economics degree on Sunday, May 3rd.
The Mocs Battalion was established in 2007. In 1997, the Reserve Officer Training Corps was closed by the U.S. Army after being on the UTC campus for 27 years.
Finks asked his father, Roger Finks of Delaware, Ohio and his grandmother, Jean Manning of Ooltewah to participate in the ceremony by pinning his lieutenant’s bars to his uniform. He will receive a proclamation from the President of the United States appointing him as a second lieutenant. It will be signed by the Secretary of the Army.