Spartan Racing driver

Spartan Racing Scores First Place at National Meet

Spartan Racing at Formula SAE Lincoln, Nebraska (courtesy of Spartan Racing).

Spartan Racing at Formula SAE Lincoln, Nebraska (photo by Michael Favuzzi).

San Jose State’s Spartan Racing team took first place overall at the nation’s leading collegiate race car competition, held June 17-20 in Lincoln, Nebraska.

This is the first time in the contest’s 35-year history that a California crew topped the field. Ninety teams attended this year’s meeting.

Spartan Racing develops its cars in a workshop at the Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering. The group is the student chapter of SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) International.

Spartan Racing

Spartan Racing’s vehicle (photo by Michael Favuzzi).

Formula SAE encourages students to design and build race cars based on regulations and standards like those used by professional teams. The experience is considered excellent job training for work in the automotive industry.

What’s next for Spartan Racing? Europe! The group is making plans to attend the world’s most competitive meets, held in Austria and Germany.




SJSU, A’s, Chevron Share the Science of Sports

Gurdeep Soi, ’15 Electrical Engineering, helps a Richmond Little League baseball player with a hands-on exercise illuminating the science of sports (image courtesy of Chevron).

Gurdeep Soi, ’15 Electrical Engineering, helps a Richmond Little League baseball player with a hands-on exercise illuminating the science of sports (image courtesy of Chevron).

SJSU, the Oakland A’s and Chevron collaborated on a summer clinic June 30 designed to inspire Little League baseball players to take an interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

The SJSU students served as volunteer mentors, through the Jay Pinson STEM Education Program. The clinic featured Baseball Hall of Famer Tony La Russa, pitching great Vida Blue, and more than 100 Richmond Little League players at the Coliseum.

Spartans helped youngsters with hands-on activities and instruction in the Chevron STEM ZONE. The project is part of Chevron’s commitment to equipping youth with the critical skills they will need to succeed in jobs of the future.

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SJSU student volunteers, from left to right: Puyun Yen, ’17 Mechanical Engineering; Kennis Ko, ’16 Chemical Engineering; Baseball Hall of Famer Tony La Russa; Alex Zavala, ’17 Computer Engineering; AmeriCorps volunteer Philip Ye; and Gurdeep Soi, ’15 Electrical Engineering. Photo courtesy of the Jay Pinson STEM Education Program.

Photo: Neal Waters, ’07 Geography, ’15 MS Mass Communications

Spartan Superway May be the Ride of the Future

Photo: Neal Waters, ’07 Geography, ’15 MS Mass Communications

Photo: Neal Waters, ’07 Geography, ’15 MS Mass Communications

Inside an old, plain building in downtown San Jose, dozens of students are busy working on a futuristic transportation system.

“We are inventing, developing, and demonstrating a new paradigm in urban transportation, sustainable urban transportation since our system is going to be 100 percent solar powered and grid tied,” said Burford “Buff” Furman, a mechanical engineering professor in the Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering, and head of the Sustainable Mobility System for Silicon Valley project. The goal is to design a personal rapid transit system using renewable energy. Students call it Spartan Superway.

Four teams of students are designing and building a full-scale working model, a large tabletop model, and a mock-up of the interior cabin of one of the vehicles that will travel on the system. They’ll be displayed May 16-17 at the Maker Faire in San Mateo. The full-scale model includes a gondola-type pod that moves under the bottom of a 33-foot- long steel track suspended ten feet in the air. The pod rolls into a life-size transit station. Solar panels on top power the system, and excess energy is fed back to the electric grid.


Photo: Neal Waters, ’07 Geography, ’15 MS Mass Communications

Burford “Buff” Furman, mechanical engineering professor, and former engineering professor and team sponsor Ron Swenson with the 2014-2015 Spartan Superway team. (Photo: Neal Waters, ’07 Geography, ’15 MS Mass Communications)

The student team

There are mechanical engineering, civil engineering, computer science, industrial design and business students working on the Spartan Superway. Most are seniors. Natalie Granados, ’15 Mechanical Engineering, is on the propulsion team.  She’s interested in the transportation field so she decided to join the project. “I’ve learned how to design a propulsion system,” Granados said.  “I feel like that’s pretty valuable.”

Jack Irwin, ’15 Mechanical Engineering, lead on the full-scale team, has gained valuable skills too. “It’s given me a lot of project management experience, and learning what it takes to get a project done of this scale,” Irwin said.  “It’s a pretty big project that we’re trying to accomplish. We have deadlines and timeframes, funding, and we have to make sure we have money and a budget. It’s similar to working in a startup company.”

The project is made possible in part by SJSU former engineering professor Ron Swenson.  He mentors the students, and supports the project through his 501(c)(3) non-profit organization: the International Institute of Sustainable Transportation. His brother, local builder Barry Swenson, donated use of the 9,000-square-foot building for three years, and  friend Francis DeWinter provided most of the tools and a substantial part of the materials.


Photo: Neal Waters, ’07 Geography, ’15 MS Mass Communications

Jack Irwin, ’15 Mechanical Engineering, and Danny Ornellas, ’15 Mechanical Engineering, stretch a recently welded piece of metal to bring it up to specification. (Photo: Neal Waters, ’07 Geography, ’15 MS Mass Communications)

Building support

“The goal is to get vehicles separated from people.  To give the streets back to the people,” Ron Swenson said. “It’s amazing to see the work the students are able to accomplish.”

The project started three years ago, but doesn’t yet have all the funding necessary to take it to the next level of development. “Getting funding is difficult because agencies are interested in funding paper studies instead of steel and concrete, which demonstrates concepts,” Professor Furman said.

Jordan Carter, ’15 Mechanical Engineering, and lead of the cabin team, thinks the project is a great way to end her senior year. “This is something bigger, something ongoing, that’s not going to be done at the end of the year when I graduate, and I think it’s been really rewarding just to contribute,” Carter said.

Spartan Superway may one day have an impact on transportation systems of the future.  For now, its giving students skills that will put them in the driver’s seat as they begin their careers.

San Jose Mercury News: Downtown College Prep Engineering Students Make Finals of Samsung Contest

Posted by the San Jose Mercury News March 14, 2015.

By Sal Pizarro

The Engineering Club at Downtown College Prep Alum Rock is leaving for a big adventure next week, and the school — which shares a campus with Independence High School in East San Jose — cheered them on at an assembly Friday.

The club is one of 15 national finalists in the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow STEM Competition and are leaving Tuesday for the finals in New York City, where they hope to be selected as one of five national winners that will receive a $120,000 technology grant (the public can vote online through March 25 for one of the winners). Luis Ruelas, the engineering and geometry teacher who advises the club, encouraged students they could succeed on the timely project, a household system to recycle water from washing machines and showers for use in toilets and garden irrigation.

He said it not a surprise to see high-achieving schools from high-income parts of the Bay Area succeed in contests like this one, which just makes the scrappy effort by the DCP team resound even more. The team of freshmen and sophomores is mostly Latino and includes several girls, both groups Ruelas says need more representation in engineering fields.

“It tells society that our students might have the talent but don’t necessarily have the resources,” said Ruelas, an engineer who graduated from Independence High and San Jose State.

Read the full story.

Engineering Hall of Fame Inducts Qayoumi

The buzz was all about energy—human energy, that is—at the Silicon Valley Engineering Council‘s 2015 Engineers Week Banquet on Feb. 19 at the Doubletree Hotel in San Jose.

“I believe that learning and imagination are the most potent forms of energy in the universe,” said President Mohammad Qayoumi in prepared remarks following his induction into the council’s Hall of Fame.

Clearly, engineering council members felt the same, devoting much of the event to mentoring the next generation of engineering talent.

Scholarship recipients

Scholarship recipients included three San Jose State students: Jose Alvarez, Biomedical Engineering; Linh Do, ’16 Chemical Engineering; and Giovanni Zecchini, ’16 Mechanical Engineering.

The council is an umbrella organization for engineering societies in the valley. Goals include promoting the career development of engineers and technical professionals.

Among the council’s founders was the late Jay Pinson, an SJSU engineering professor and dean widely recognized for corralling support for the first engineering college fundraising campaign in the 1970s.


SJSU continues to engender that sense of community beyond campus. Among the event’s attendees was San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, California State University Chancellor Timothy P. White and Tower Foundation Board Chair Amir Mashkoori.

Afghanistan’s president, Ashraf Ghani, congratulated Qayoumi with a video message. They were once college roommates. Campus community members in attendance included President Qayoumi’s wife, an excellent example of the power of human energy.

“I am grateful to the love of my life and wife of 36 years, Najia, who has supported my academic and related public policy pursuits while carving out her own niche as an accomplished clinical dietitian and Persian poet,” the president said.



Five Reasons to be a Proud Spartan

Kevin Jordan

Professor Kevin Jordan at a NASA event with Associate Administrator of NASA Robert Lightfoot and NASA Ames Director Pete Worden (photo courtesy of the Department of Psychology).

An SJSU professor who conducts research with graduate students and NASA scientists to make air travel safer has received a $20,000 Wang Family Excellence Award. Professor of Psychology Kevin Jordan will be honored Jan. 27 by the CSU Board of Trustees in Long Beach. Jordan has been a faculty member for more than 30 years, and has served as a committee chair for more than 80 completed master’s theses.

A student team is a finalist in Walt Disney Imagineering’s 24th Imaginations competition, culminating Jan. 31. Zaid Karajeh, ’16 Aerospace Engineering, Dondel Briones, ’16 Aerospace Engineering, Amanda Sharpe, ’15 Animation and Illustration, and Simone Getty, ’16 Mechanical Engineering, each received a five-day, all expenses paid trip to the company’s headquarters in Glendale, where they will present their entry and interview for internships.

Guna Selvaduray

Professor Guna Selvaduray with Daniel Khuc, ’15 Biomedical Engineering, and College of Engineering Dean Andrew Hsu (photo by Kyle Chesser).

Professor of Biomedical Engineering Guna Selvaduray received the 2015 Andreoli Faculty Service Award at the CSU Annual Biotechnology Symposium held Jan. 8-10 here in Silicon Valley. One CSU faculty member is selected annually for the honor, which recognizes outstanding contributions to biotech programs. Selvaduray led the development of new bioengineering programs at SJSU and the establishment of the Biomedical Engineering Society.

James Jones

James and Tamika Jones (courtesy of @LoveJones4Kids)

Everyone knows SJSU has sports champions. But do you know about our e-sports champion? Sophomore Loc Tran is a top player on SJSU’s video game team, according to The New York Times. “Video game competitions…have taken off on campuses across the country,” the paper said. “More than 10,000 students now play in the biggest college league.” Tran helped SJSU beat CSU Fullerton at a tournament last fall.

Oakland Raiders wide receiver James Jones, ’06 Sociology, and his wife Tamika Jones, ’05 Child and Adolescent Development, received the Drum Major Award at the 35th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Luncheon on presented Jan. 19 by the African American Community Service Agency. The couple founded the Love Jones 4 Kids Foundation, building on James’s start as a homeless child. Also honored at the luncheon with the Facing the Challenge Award was Congressman Mike Honda, ’68 Biological  Sciences and Spanish, ’74 MA Education.

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Students Compete in Innovation Challenge

Students present their ideas at the Silicon Valley Innovation Challenge Showcase Nov. 19 in the Student Union (Robert C. Bain photo).

Students present their ideas at the Silicon Valley Innovation Challenge Showcase Nov. 19 in the Student Union (Robert C. Bain photo).

Registering for classes at a university as large and complicated as San Jose State can be like solving a complex puzzle.

That’s where the college scheduling application Saryan comes in. What used to take a few hours now takes a few minutes for the app’s 900 unique users.

Created by student entrepreneurs Sargon Jacob, ’15 Business Administration, and Bryan Miller, ’17 Computer Science, the fledgling business won first place in the Best Overall Innovation category of the 2014 Silicon Valley Innovation Challenge.

Organized annually by the Lucas College and Graduate School of Business, SVIC promotes creativity and entrepreneurship by generating and showcasing innovative business ideas.

This year, the ideas ranged from the edible (FarmersAreHere tells you where to find farmers’ markets) to the technical (wireless charging for your electric cars).

The Silicon Valley Innovation Challenge is a great event for students from all across the university, plus our international partners, because it gives them the opportunity to develop ‘ideation’ skills in an area of interest,” said Bill Nance, SVIC director and professor of Management Information Systems.

This is exactly how it what happened for Jacob. He came up with the idea for his app based on a personal experience.

“I typically spent, in totality each semester, at least 10 to 14 hours scheduling my classes over a few days,” Jacob said. “I knew this was an issue.”

After conducting research, he learned many other students struggled to find the right classes at the right times. He reached out to Miller for technical assistance, and to his professors for overall support.

Sargon Jacob (center) received first  first place in the Best Overall Innovation category of the 2014 Silicon Valley Innovation Challenge (Robert C. Bain photo).

Sargon Jacob (center) with Dean David M. Steele and SVIC Director and Professor Bill Nance (Robert C. Bain photo).

“I have been extremely fortunate to be able to get access to professors in the MIS department,” Jacob said. “Richard Sessions was extremely influential early on. He introduced me to Bill Nance, who has been very supportive.

“Both professors literally opened their doors to me. Without them, Bryan and I would not have pursued this project with such intensity. At our peak, we each dedicated around 60 hours a week — with me, a full-time student, and Bryan, a part-time student with a day job.”

SVIC recruits more than twenty judges to evaluate all the ideas, provide feedback and select finalists as well as winners, many of whom drew their ideas from college life.

From Bike Commuters to Entrepreneurs

Four electrical engineering majors refined their plan to provide blinkers to bicyclists based on their commutes.

“Most of us bike from campus to our apartments after school, so we implemented things that we thought would be crucial for our safety,” said Vignesh Ramachandran, ’14 Electrical Engineering.

And so Night Square was born, with assistance from Professor of Electrical Engineering Ping Hsu.

Ramachandran and teammates Aaron Romero, Pratiek Pathak and Travis Johnson designed the flexible 15-by-15-inch LED display for bicyclists to wear on their backs, making the bikers more visible at night.

A student demonstrates Night Square during the Elevator Pitch Competition (Robert C. Bain photo).

Vignesh Ramachandran presents Night Square during the Elevator Pitch Competition (Robert C. Bain photo).

“Buttons on the bike’s handle bar will allow the Night Square to display right and left turn arrows and brake signals,” Ramachandran said. “Also, there are buzzers that will be placed conveniently near each ear so that the rider will know which turn signal is on, similar to the ticking from car turn signals.”

The Night Square prototype was an eye-catcher at the SVIC Showcase Nov. 19 in the Student Union Ballroom, and it received second place in the Best Overall Innovation category. The team has big dreams for Night Square.

Our plans for the future are to take this as far as possible,” Ramachandran said. “Our goal is to incorporate and sell this product to our target market.”

His thinking reflects the Silicon Valley Innovation Challenge’s goals.

“Students learn how to present their ideas to experienced innovators and entrepreneurs, who provides feedback they can use to enhance or extend their initial ideas,” Nance said.

“It’s fascinating to watch the students grow through the event, as they learn to refine their explanations and pitch their projects.”

Anne Lawrence today.

Faculty Notes: A Family Tradition of Excellence and Service

530 Lawrence

In 1998, Paul Lawrence received the Distinguished Contributor Award from the North American Case Research Association. At the same meeting, Anne (pictured with her father and mother, Martha) received an outstanding case award. Now a professor at SJSU, Anne has received the same award as her father, an honor bestowed just 15 times in 56 years (photo courtesy of the Lawrence family).

Professor of Design Alice Carter, founder of the Animation/Illustration Program, lectured on “The Illustrator and the Hero: Inventing a Mythology in Pictures” at the Haggin Museum in Stockton on Nov. 6. The presentation explored America’s fascination with superheroes, “very much an American invention,” Carter noted.

Music Lecturer and Director of Orchestra and Opera Theater Michael DiGiacinto is Winchester Orchestra of San Jose’s new music director, succeeding Henry Mollicone who held the post for more than 25 years. DiGiacinto made his debut with the orchestra at San Jose’s Trinity Episcopal Cathedral and Saratoga’s West Valley College in concerts featuring the works of Jean Sibelius, Wolfgang Mozart and Dmitri Shostakovich.

Anne Lawrence today.

Anne Lawrence today (photo by Jane Richey).

Professor of Management Anne Lawrence received the North American Case Research Association’s Distinguished Contributor Award in recognition of her leadership as the organization’s president, her two-time guest editorship of Case Research Journal, her case publications and mentorship. In addition, she founded and currently serves as chair of the Case Research Foundation, whose mission is to provide scholarships to young case writers and researchers. The Distinguished Contributor Award is NACRA’s highest honor and has been awarded only 15 times in the group’s 56-year history. Because her father received the award in 1998, the honor “was especially meaningful,” Lawrence said. “My father was my first case teacher.”

Environmental Studies Lecturer Pat Ferraro, whose expertise is water law, water policy and water resources management, is a member of the Santa Cruz Water Supply Advisory Committee’s review panel. His article about Santa Cruz’s “smart approach” to water conservation appeared in San Jose Inside last month.

After 35 years at SJSU, Jeanne Linsdell retired as General Engineering lecturer and director of the College of Engineering’s Technical Communication. “Life is full of new beginnings and new opportunities,” she said. “I’m looking forward to a new chapter.” An educator and consultant in American Samoa for more than 20 years and former Fulbright Senior Scholar in the Ukraine, Linsdell received Outstanding Lecturer awards from the university and the College of Engineering during her career at SJSU.

SJSU’s Collaborative for Reaching and Teaching the Whole Child, directed by Elementary Education Professor Nancy Markowitz, received a $100,000 Packard Foundation / Ashoka Changemaker Award in recognition of the collaborative’s efforts to build vibrant communities and equip young people to become leaders of change. The collaborative will use the award to develop a model for integrating social and emotional learning in K-12 schools and educator training.

Humanities Lecturer Victoria Rue delivered the Kappen Memorial lecture in Bengaluru, India, sponsored by Visthar, a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating women, children and other marginalized groups about their rights. Rue spoke on “Rehearsing Justice: Theatre, Sexuality and the Sacred,” a discourse on the cultural and religious taboos imposed on gender and sexuality.

Playwright and Associate Professor of Communication Studies Matthew Spangler’s stage adaptation of Khaled Hosseini’s novel “The Kite Runner” is currently on tour in the UK, co-produced by the Nottingham Playhouse and the Liverpool Playhouse. An earlier version of the play was performed on campus in 2007. “The book has a huge following and people who come to see the play are going to notice the changes,” Spangler acknowledged. “You have to be faithful to its essence, but you can’t put everything in. Fortunately, Khaled Hosseini is a very generous person.”

scott's cover

Scott Sublett’s “Screenwriting for Neurotics”

Professor  of Screenwriting and Film Studies Scott Sublett published “Screenwriting for Neurotics: A Beginner’s Guide to Writing a Feature-Length Screenplay from Start to Finish” (University of Iowa Press). (SJSU students previously made do with the dog-eared, photocopied course reader version of the book.) “It’s the only screenwriting text on the market that also addresses the psychology of the screenwriter,” said Sublett’s editor, Elisabeth Chretien. Sublett is also an independent filmmaker whose films include “Generic Thriller” and “Bye-Bye Bin Laden!,” which satirizes the build-up to the Iraqi War.

SJSU Research Foundation senior research scientist Grant Taylor, whose work supports the Aviation and Missile Research Development Center, received the 2014 Jerome H. Ely Human Factors Article Award at the annual meeting of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society in Chicago. His applied research focuses on the impact of new technologies on U.S. Army users, specifically the interfaces used to control unmanned aerial systems.

engineering students visit water resources

Cal Water Gift Funds Students Research

Civil engineering students on a field trip to field trip to Los Gatos Creek and Vasona Reservoir (courtesy of Juneseok Lee).

Civil engineering students visit Los Gatos Creek and Vasona Reservoir (courtesy of Juneseok Lee).

Media Contact:Pat Lopes Harris, 408-924-1748

SAN JOSE, CA – Scores of San Jose State engineering students will have the opportunity to conduct applied research on a critical natural resource, thanks to a five-year, $450,000 gift commitment from the California Water Service Company.

“This gift will allow students to apply theory-based knowledge to solve real-world problems facing California now and in the future,” said Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering Juneseok Lee, who has been named the California Water Service Company Chair.

Having this direct relationship with Cal Water is very exciting because our students will receive the opportunity to get their hands dirty in the field, working alongside the technical staff. I can’t think of anything more amazing than that.”

Juneseok Lee

Juneseok Lee

Professor Lee of the Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering created a list of 60 potential projects, and is in the process of selecting the top 10 for efforts that will begin later this fall.

Best and brightest

“This opportunity allows our industry professionals and academia to work together on real business issues facing the water industry,” said California Water Service Group President and CEO Martin A. Kropelnicki, ’85 ’92 Economics.

Having the best and brightest of Cal Water and the university working together on one team will create many opportunities, and I look forward to the enhancements in efficiency and service that will result from our collaborative approach.”

Each project was carefully designed to enable undergraduate and graduate students to conduct hands-on research with a focus on one or more vital themes at the intersection of civil engineering and water services in the West.

These themes include:

  • water infrastructure asset management
  • drinking water quality
  • drinking water infrastructure systems operations and performance
  • sustainability of water resources and infrastructure under climate change/ effective utility management
  • implementation of hydroinformatics
  • water economics and finances

Alumni network

The gift also exemplifies the power of SJSU’s network of alumni, a group that is over 200,000 strong in the Bay Area and supportive of its alma mater’s efforts to continue providing the theoretical and practical training that has been SJSU’s hallmark for generations.

Cal Water’s gift to SJSU was championed by retired Cal Water Vice President of Engineering, Water Quality and Operations Robert Guzzetta, ’77 ’84 Civil Engineering. Kropelnicki was named a Graduate of the Decade in 2002 and is one many Cal Water employees with SJSU degrees.

Cal Water is the largest subsidiary of California Water Service Group, which provides regulated and non-regulated water service to approximately two million people in more than 100 California, Washington, New Mexico and Hawaii communities.

San Jose State — Silicon Valley’s largest institution of higher learning with 30,000 students and 3,740 employees — is part of the California State University system. SJSU’s 154-acre downtown campus anchors the nation’s 10th largest city.

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Faculty Notes: Securing Scholarships

Professor Thalia Anagnos

Professor Thalia Anagnos (photo by Christina Olivas)

Professor Thalia Anagnos, Department of General Engineering, has been awarded a second five-year grant from the National Science Foundation to fund the Engineering Leadership Pathway Scholars Program. ELPS2, building on the success of the original ELPS, will provide approximately 86 annual scholarships to academically talented undergraduate engineering students in financial need.

World Languages and Literatures Professor Anne Fountain’s new book, “José Martí, the United States, and Race” (University Press of Florida), examines the evolution of Martí’s thinking about race and delves into how his time in the United States, with its legacy of slavery, deeply influenced Cuba’s national hero.

Essential reading for those who increasingly appreciate the enormous importance of Martí as one of the nineteenth century’s most influential and most original thinkers,” praised John Kirk, coeditor of Redefining Cuban Foreign Policy.

Associate Professor Colleen Haight, Department of Economics, appeared on the podcast series “Research on Religion” to discuss her work on the Oracle of Delphi, a shrine in ancient Greece where the wealthy and powerful congregated to have their questions about war, trade and the future answered by virgin priestesses. Haight and her colleagues applied the tools of economic analysis and game theory to explain the seemingly irrational behavior of relying on an oracle’s supernatural judgment in matters of life and death.

Professor Emeritus Gus Lease, Department of Music, currently president of SJSU’s Phi Kappa Phi chapter, attended the honor society’s 43rd Biennial Convention in St. Louis, Mo., in August as a voting delegate. Since its founding in 1897 at the University of Maine, Phi Kappa Phi has inducted more than a million students, faculty and professional staff as members.

Gus Lease (photo by Bob Bain)

Professor Emeritus Gus Lease (photo by Bob Bain)

School of Information Professors Lili Luo and Michael Stephens collaborated with Loyola Marymount University scholars to develop the Institute for Research Design in Librarianship (IRDL). Created to help academic and research librarians become skilled researchers, the program is funded by a three-year grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The first institute was held at LMU Library in Los Angeles in June.

President Mohammad Qayoumi contributed an article titled “A Checklist for a New Afghanistan” to Foreign Policy, a journal founded to “question commonplace views” and “give voice to alternative views about American foreign policy.” In February 2002, Qayoumi returned to Afghanistan for the first time in 26 years. Despite the challenges facing the new government of his native country, he foresees opportunities for economic growth and progress.

The end of the fall 2014 semester marks the retirement of current World Languages and Literatures Professor Carmen Sigler, whose distinguished career at SJSU has included serving as provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, dean of the College of Humanities & the Arts and chair of the Department of World Languages and Literature. After retiring as provost in 2009, Sigler returned to teaching in the Spanish program, whose media center bears her name. 

Every role Carmen has had, she has handled so well. She’s just outstanding, ” former President Don W. Kassing told the overflow crowd of well wishers at the center’s dedication ceremony in 2011.

School of Information Professor Judith Weedman, whose research explores the growth of knowledge in the sciences and humanities, retired this past summer after a 19-year career at SJSU. Her work with the core class LIBR 202 Information Retrieval System Design remains a highly regarded contribution to the iSchool’s curriculum. “Doing original research is one way of learning new things and teaching is another. Our students are wonderful, intelligent, highly motivated people, and I have learned both from them and from preparing classes for them,” Weedman said. Her retirement plans? Traveling the West, riding her horse and hiking.

dan and jaime

Alumni Association Celebrates Scholarship Recipients

Cuong Truong

Cuong Truong, ’14 Nursing, plans to work toward ensuring all elderly patients receive quality care. She is a recipient of a San Jose Woman’s Club Scholarship (photo by Brandon Chew).

Aspiring professionals preparing to contribute to every part of our community and economy are recipients of 2014-15 SJSU Alumni Association Scholarships.

“These students truly define the Spartan spirit,” said Brian Bates, associate vice president for alumni relations. “They are achievers, innovators, dreamers and leaders in their classrooms, communities and even the world.”

The more than 30 recipients were invited to gather for a reception Sept. 16  in the Student Union ballroom. The group includes a future art professor, nurse and business owner as well as multiple engineers, accountants, lawyers, doctors, teachers, social workers and fine artists.

Supporting Inspiring Students

Student recipients apply each spring through the SJSU Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships. The specific criteria and amount for each scholarship varies. But the overall objective is the same: to provide alumni with the opportunity to give back by supporting current students.

Onette Morales-Alcazar

Onette Morales-Alcazar, ’13 English, is seeking a teaching credential so she can support students learning English as a second language. Named a Connie L. Lurie College of Education Dean’s Scholar, she received the Pat Porter Memorial Scholarship (photo by Brandon Chew).

An excellent example is Angelina Loyola, ’10 Sociology, ’15 Mexican American Studies. Recipient of a College of  Social Sciences Dean’s Scholarship, she plans to teach at the high school or community college level so that she may empower her students to advance not just themselves but the entire community.

I hold steadfast to the words of the late Maya Angelou, ‘When you get, give. When you learn, teach,’” Loyola said.  “Thank you for acknowledging me as a scholar, and an individual that will take with her into this world the teachings from some of the greatest teachers I’ve encountered.”

Joshua Cruz, ’16 Computer Engineering, has taken advantage of the many leadership opportunities available to students at SJSU. A recipient of a Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering Dean’s Scholarship, he has served as a resident assistant, orientation leader, student instructional assistant and Spartan Marching Band member.

This scholarship…is a true validation that my involvements inside and outside of the classroom have an impact on my campus community,” Cruz said. “I will take the inspiration coming from those who have supported me through this scholarship to reach my scholastic goals.”

Tristan Pulliam

Tristan Pulliam plans to go to medical school. The recipient of a College of Science Dean’s Scholarship, he said, “I hope to one day reciprocate this investment by investing in the lives of future SJSU students” (photo by Brandon Chew).

Daniel Fenstermacher, ’16 Fine Arts, expresses his aspirations and sense of community through photography. The recipient of the Hoover Langdon Scholarship has his own business, currently specializing in aerial photography, including remarkable images of downtown San Jose captured using a drone.

Receiving the Hoover Langdon Scholarship gave me a great feeling of accomplishment and pride as a member of the SJSU community,” Fenstermacher said. “I feel fortunate to be rewarded with this recognition and this scholarship motivates me to keep improving every day both in school and in life.”

The generous support of alumni and friends makes these scholarships possible. Learn more about supporting the Alumni Association scholarship program.


Remembering Jason Dahl

Honoring Alumnus and United Airlines Captain Jason Dahl

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Below a flag signed by his family and a plaque bearing his likeness, students, faculty and staff remember Jason Dahl, alumnus and captain of UA 93 (Department of Aviation and Technology photo).

At 10:14 a.m. Sept. 11, as they have done for the past 13 years, the students, faculty and staff of San Jose State’s aviation program paused for a moment of silence in memory of Jason Dahl, ’80 Aeronautics Operations.

Dahl portrait

Capt. Jason Dahl

Dahl was the captain of United Airlines Flight 93, which terrorists crashed into the Pennsylvania countryside at 10:14 a.m. Sept. 11, 2001. He began taking flying lessons before he was old enough to drive, and was the first in his family to graduate from college.

“His entire life was about milestones…He was really proud to be a Spartan,” said Dahl’s brother-in-law, Bill Heindrich, who attended the event, held in the Industrial Sciences building, home to the Department of Aviation and Technology.

This year, in Shanksville, Pa., a Congressional Gold Medal was awarded to the 40 passengers and crew members who died aboard UA 93. Meanwhile, at SJSU, Dahl’s legacy lives on. The Captain Jason Dahl Scholarship Fund makes a gift to one San Jose State student annually.

As intimate and solemn as ever, this year’s event remembered Dahl with a traditional toast for pilots who lose their lives in the line of duty.

“In honor of all those innocents who had ‘gone west’ during that horrific day 13 years ago, including our very own Jason Dahl,” said Professor and Aviation Advisor Dan Neal, “let us stand towards the West, raise our glasses and toast ‘to all those who have gone West.’”

Reduced Gravity Education Flight Program

Five Reasons to be a Proud Spartan

Five engineering students experienced 15 minutes of zero gravity flight in Houston this summer. The SJSU team’s research proposal, selected by NASA from more than 60 proposals, gave the students the opportunity to design, build, fly and test their experiments aboard an aircraft dubbed the “Weightless Wonder.” And the experience? “Phenomenal, exhilarating, amazing!” students report.

Paul Clerkin

Willing to travel thousands of miles out to sea, graduate student Paul Clerkin discovered eight shark species (Save Our Seas Foundation image).

Featured on the Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week”: a new species of shark and the Moss Landing Marine Labs master’s degree candidate Paul Clerkin who discovered the animal during a research trip to the Indian Ocean. Included in the program are glimpses of the as-yet-named shark, the size of a watermelon with purple fins and a “venomous, barbed spine.”

How many inspire a Hollywood film? Bob Ladouceur, ’77 Criminal Justice, former head football coach at De La Salle High School, has spent the last several months walking red carpets, being interviewed by “Entertainment Tonight” and attending premieres of When the Game Stands Tall, a film about Coach Ladouceur and De La Salle’s historic 151-game winning streak. Actor Jim Caviezel portrays Ladouceur in the film. 

To become a performer, the late comic genius Robin Williams had to overcome a crippling case of shyness. First step: joining his high school drama club. For his 1997 film Flubber, Williams came to San Jose. Sharp-eyed Spartans will recognize several city and campus locations that made the film’s final cut.

Spartan football alums David Quessenberry (Houston Texans), ’12 History, and James Jones (Oakland Raiders) aren’t acquainted with the word “quit.” Jones, a sociology major who recently returned to the San Jose homeless shelter where he and his mother lived for several months, shared the story of his own escape from poverty with residents. “You’re here, but this isn’t the end,” he assured them. Battling non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, the 6-foot-five, 307-pound Quessenberry is inspired by the support of teammates and fans. “I wake up every day knowing that I have an army behind me,” he said. “It motivates me to fight even harder.”



Silicon Valley Business Journal: SJSU’s Answer to Gender Disparity

Posted by the Silicon Valley Business Journal April 8, 2014.

By Jon Xavier

The solution to the tech industry’s gender problem must start with schools. After all, it’s hard to hire more women for tech jobs if there aren’t enough female applicants entering the job market. But faculty and administrators are fighting a hard battle. They have to smash stereotypes that prevent women from applying to science and engineering schools to begin with.

Melanie McNeil is a chemical engineering professor at San Jose State University and the head of the College of Engineering’s Women in Engineering program, which seeks to provide mentorship, outreach and events to bring more women into engineering majors and increase their leadership opportunities.

In this interview, McNeil outlines what schools are doing to close the gender gap.

Read the full story.

Student Research Competition

35th Annual Student Research Competition

Student Research Competition

William Slocumb, ’14 Materials Engineering, collaborated with Andrea Kramer, an orthotic resident at Hanger Clinic, on research they presented at a recent conference (photo courtesy of William Slocumb).

Seven Spartans will advance to the 28th Annual California State University Student Research Competition May 2 and 3 at California State University, East Bay.

All seven students and their faculty mentors will be honored at the 35th Annual SJSU Student Research Forum beginning at noon April 10 in Engineering 285/287.

Student constructs prosthetic using tools.

Slocumb sections down materials for testing (photo courtesy of William Slocumb).

The Graduate Studies and Research Committee selects San Jose State’s finalists from a pool of nominees sent forward by SJSU’s seven colleges.

It’s important to note the competition is open to all students, including those majoring in the creative arts and design fields.

Each college has its own robust reviewing committee, so we ultimately see the best of the best,” said Cheryl Cowan, Graduate Studies and Research Administrative Support Coordinator.

Among this year’s winners are William Slocumb, ’14 Materials Engineering. His research, “Design of Bamboo Fiber Reinforced Composites for Use in Orthotics and Prosthetics,” focuses on making cost-effective prosthetics from sustainable materials.

Bamboo Prosthetics

Being selected to represent SJSU “is validating to me is [because this] shows that people are responding to what I’m doing and that this technology is doable, relevant and helpful,” he said.

Slocumb was inspired by a Chinese man who spent eight years building his own bionic hands after a fishing accident.

For people in developing countries, this research not only impacts their ability to thrive but also their survival and well being,” Slocumb said.

Pinto self portrait

A self portrait by Mark Pinto, ’14 MFA Photography.

Mentor and Professor Guna Selvaduray encouraged Slocumb to enter the competition because of his student’s “passion, productivity and capability to take complete ownership of the project.”

“Very few people are able to see the benefits of doing research that combines different traditional fields, and how the results can be used productively in a particular application,” Selvaduray said.

Connecting With Veterans

Mark Pinto ’14 MFA Photography, is one of two art students advancing to the systemwide research competition.

Representing “San Jose State and [showing] key people how great the art and graduate departments are–that is exciting to me,” he said.

Pinto’s entry, a collection of photography entitled “The War Veteran’s Voice,” provides insight into the extended costs of war.  A Marine veteran, Pinto learned a lot about himself while creating his entry.

It’s very personal, and each time I do it, I realize how connected I am to the veteran community, the suffering of the survivors, and those who did not make it as well,” he said.

Soldiers, represented by action figures, mourn the loss of a comrade, with gravestones in the background.

“Suicide Joe” by Mark Pinto.

Alumni Connect Students to Employers

Hundreds of job seekers stood in line outside the SJSU Event Center March 5 for a shot at landing an employment opportunity at the Expo ’14 Job and Internship Fair.

Among the hopefuls waiting was Sameera Pappu, ’14 Electrical Engineering, who shared her desire to network with a few companies that match her special telecommunication skill set.

“It’s better you do your own research and target two or three employers, instead of waiting in the long lines” at the fair, Pappu said.

Many students like Pappu prepared by logging into the SJSU Career Center website, researching companies on SpartaJobs, and completing the online Job Success Webinar, which gained them early-bird access.

Alumni connections

Also working hard to prepare for the fair were SJSU alumni volunteers, identifiable by blue spirit ribbons. They showed their Spartan pride by serving as connecting points between students and employers.

Marie Norman, ’93 Journalism, and director of talent acquisition and HR business partner for Financial Engines, has volunteered at the career fair for more than a decade.

She says that SJSU job fairs have gotten more competitive over the years and it takes longer for students to find opportunities that fit their interests and goals.

But her favorite part of her job is playing an instrumental role in people’s lives and matching opportunities with individuals. In the end, Norman says it’s about knowing and understanding what an employee wants and that goes beyond technical and functional skills.

It’s that the company’s philosophy aligns with a person’s core values and allows them to thrive,” she said.

Submitting resumes

Across the Event Center, Mercedes Hernandez, ’11 Business Administration, and a Symantic HR campus representative, resourced contact information for prospective employees via an electronic tablet provided by the SJSU Career Center.

In a week, students such as Trevor Uyeda, ’15 Computer Science, who’s not worried about the competition because of his experience in graphic user interface, will receive an invitation to upload their updated resumes to Symantec’s database and see recruiting deadlines.

This will give us a good feel for what they need and what we have to offer,” said Hernandez.

The SJSU Career Center works with over 20,000 hiring representatives and businesses both locally and globally and connected students with over 33,000 jobs and internship opportunities through SpartaJobs last semester.

Connecting With the Biomedical Industry

Connecting With the Biomedical Industry

Connecting With the Biomedical Industry

Biomedical Engineering Society President Daniel Khuc presents Dr. Deborah Kilpatrick an award of appreciation at a previous conference (Robert Bain photo).

When Harjot Hans, ’14 biomedical engineering, graduates in June, he hopes to have the connections he needs to find work in his chosen field, thanks in part to his role helping organize the 2014 Bay Area Biomedical Device Conference.

The event will be held 8 a.m.-5:30 p.m. March 26 at San Jose State. This is an opportunity not just for Hans and his fellow Biomedical Engineering Society members, who organize the conference, but for all students campuswide. All majors are welcome to attend.

Plenary session speakers include Brad Vale, head of Johnson & Johnson Development Corporation, and Michael Harrison, University of California, San Francisco, professor emeritus of Surgery, Pediatrics, and Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences.

Parallel sessions will focus on topics such as applications of nanotechnologies in medicine, novel biomedical technologies, and prosthetics/bionics. For Hans, it’s valuable to learn about what’s trending in the industry.

Biomedical engineering is such a broad field,” Hans said. “Speakers tell us what’s going on now.”

The day closes with a CEO panel and student poster session. Registration rates start at $10 for Biomedical Engineering Society members.


woman pushing stroller and carrying baby while walking out of King Library

Inspired by His Sister, Spartan Designs App


Designed by SJSU students, the Bloom app minimizes risk by providing daily goals that adapt to the changing needs of an expectant mother over the course of her pregnancy (image courtesy of Jarad Bell and Cherie Yamaguchi).

It all began with a Spartan’s sister, who needed a good way to track data that would help keep her and her baby healthy through a difficult pregnancy.

That simple observation, by graduate student Jarad Bell, ’15 Human Factors, inspired plans for a new app recently accepted to the second round of a prestigious international design competition.

“The competition received 65 submissions from around the world and their manuscript was selected as one of the top 12,” wrote Assistant Professor Jeremiah Still of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Graduate Program.

Competing Internationally

The SJSU team will travel in April to Toronto, Canada, to present their work at the ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, the premier international conference on human-computer interaction.

“It is clear by the academic participation and industry sponsors, including Google, Microsoft, Bloomberg and Autodesk, that this is the place to shine,” Still said.

Five students collaborated on “Bloom: Fostering Healthy and Peaceful Pregnancies with Personal Analytics”: Bell, graduate students Cherie Yamaguchi, ’14 Human Factors, Max Wenger, ’14 Human Factors, and Peter McEvoy, ’15 Human Factors, and undergraduate Auriana Shokrpour, ’14 Psychology.

This year’s challenge was “to design an object, interface, system or service intended to help us to develop and share self-awareness, understanding or appreciation for our body data,” according to organizers.

Developing the App

The SJSU team set out to develop an app that would foster healthy and peaceful pregnancies by motivating expectant mothers to sustain beneficial habits and behaviors.

Within the Psychology of Design Lab, the team worked hard to develop and complete an iterative research and design process that explored how persuasive design characteristics could be employed to encourage self-monitoring and motivationally sustain healthy behavior in expectant mothers. 

Bloom minimizes risk by providing daily goals that adapt to the changing needs of an expectant mother over the course of her pregnancy.

In addition, the app maximizes peace of mind by offering tools that augment self-awareness and facilitate enriched communication between the medical community and expectant mothers.

Sister’s Feedback

“I have shared the project with my sister,” Bell said. “She felt that the app is the perfect way for pregnant women to take control of their health and be proactive about any complications or issues that may arise.”

Building Roller Coasters, Becoming Engineers

Building Roller Coasters, Becoming Engineers

Building Roller Coasters, Becoming Engineers

At the Science Extravaganza, SJSU students and industry professionals will help students build foam tube roller coasters to learn principles of physics (photo from a previous year courtesy of the Engineering Student Success Programs).

Media contact: Pat Lopes Harris, SJSU Media Relations, 408-924-1748

SAN JOSE, Calif., – On Saturday, Feb. 8, approximately 500 Bay Area middle school students will be on the San Jose State University campus for the annual all-day Science Extravaganza event, hosted by SJSU’s Society of Latino Engineers and Scientists (SOLES) in partnership with the Bay Area Chapter of Latinos in Science and Engineering (MAES) and the Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering.

Led by SJSU students and local industry professionals, middle school students will participate in a variety of hands-on academic enrichment activities to help them get excited about college and potential STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) careers.

Examples of student team activities include the following:

  • Building foam tube roller coasters to learn the principles of physics such as friction, centripetal forces and acceleration.
  • “Think Like a Robot,” led by Cisco, where students will create code to make a robot perform a specific task.
  • “Electromagnetic Motors,” where students will build their own motors while learning about magnetism.
  • Some students will also participate in an event on the principles of aviation.

Seeing the Potential in STEM

“Science Extravaganza is a fantastic opportunity for young students to see the potential and opportunity in STEM fields,” said Jared Tuberty, executive director, Engineering Student Success Programs.

“With projected shortages in U.S. STEM workers, it’s a critical challenge for educators to get young people excited about science to help meet this shortfall. In surveys of prior participants, 80 percent said Science Extravaganza influenced their decision to go to college and consider STEM careers.”

More than 100 SJSU student volunteers will serve as leaders and mentors during the event and more than 24 MAES technology professionals and industry representatives will serve as workshop facilitators to promote STEM and the value of higher education among participants. Twenty-one Santa Clara County schools have been invited to participate in this year’s event.

Corporate Support

A number of local companies are supporting Science Extravaganza, including AMD (Advanced Micro Devices), Santa Clara Valley Water District, Cisco, Blach, Engineers Without Borders, The Society of Women Engineers, and The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

Chronicle of Higher Education: San Jose State U. Adopts More edX Content for Outsourcing Trial

Posted by the Chronicle of Higher Education Jan. 30, 2014.

By Steve Kolowich

San Jose State University’s experiment with online video lectures featuring professors at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology—by way of edX, the nonprofit provider of massive open online courses—produced some promising early results. In the fall of 2012, students in two traditional sections of an introductory electrical-engineering course earned passing grades at rates of 57 percent and 74 percent, respectively. In an experimental third section, which was “flipped” to incorporate the MIT videos, the pass rate was 95 percent.

So what’s happened since? San Jose State has remained in the spotlight, but interest in the outcomes of a second and a third trial has taken a back seat to big-picture battles over the role of outside content providers in technology-intensive classrooms.

The university has not released data from last year’s experiments with the MIT content. But slides from a presentation that edX’s president, Anant Agarwal, gave to edX members at a private conference in November showed the outcome of the second trial, which happened in the spring of 2013, edX said.

Read the full story.