Kim Blisniuk and Yue “Wilson” Yuan Receive Early Career Investigator Awards

Assistant Professor Kim Blisniuk from the Department of Geology in the College of Science and Assistant Professor Yue “Wilson” Yuan from the Department of Justice Studies in the College of Health and Human Sciences have been chosen to receive the SJSU Research Foundation Early Career Investigator Awards for calendar year 2019. The award recognizes tenure-track SJSU faculty members who have excelled in areas of research, scholarship and creative activity at an early or beginning point in their careers.

Kim Blisniuk

Kim Blisniuk

Geology Assistant Professor Kim Blisniuk. Photo: Robert Bain.

Kim Blisniuk’s research investigates and quantifies how landscapes evolve through time due to earthquakes and climate change. She is particularly interested in earthquakes that are preserved in the landscape along active faults because the rate at which a fault moves is proportional to the fault’s seismic hazard potential. The societal impact of her research is high because data she collects will help refine earthquake hazard models that forecast the potential of future earthquakes and their recurrence in California.

In 2019 Blisniuk received the National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Award, the organization’s most prestigious award in support of early-career faculty. This added to her remarkable track record of funded research grants and awards from organizations such as the U.S. Department of the Interior’s National Earthquake Hazard Reduction Program and the Southern California Earthquake Center. She has made presentations at the American Geophysical Union, the U.S. Geological Survey, Boston University, the California Institute of Technology, UCLA and Université Grenoble. Her publication record is equally impressive.In addition, she has been interviewed as a subject matter expert by Earth and Space Science News, National Geographic Magazine, the New York Times and major television networks.

Yue “Wilson” Yuan

Justice Studies Assistant Professor Yue “Wilson” Yuan

Justice Studies Assistant Professor Yue “Wilson” Yuan. Photo: Robert Bain.

Wilson Yuan’s research examines the origins of fear of crime and how individuals and communities react to criminal victimization, particularly in Asian and Latino immigrant communities. He explores whether an immigrant’s status is associated with victimization and how immigrants of different racial and ethnic groups mobilize formal and informal resources in response to crime.

Funded by a grant award from the National Institute of Justice, Yuan and six SJSU graduate students are launching an extensive mixed-methods city-level victimization study focused on the city of San José, California. A survey of local residents’ victimization experiences will be conducted, as will in-depth interviews with residents, police department officials, victim services providers and members of community organizations.

Since arriving at SJSU in 2016, Yuan has published eight peer-reviewed articles on criminal justice and criminology in high-impact journals. With one of his graduate students as lead author, he co-authored “Surveillance-Oriented Security Measures, School Climate, Student Fear of Crime, and Avoidance Behavior,” which appeared in Victims and Offenders. He regularly presents at criminology conferences and has made invited research presentations at law schools (Nankai University and Southwestern University of Finance and Economics) and at Harvard University.

Blisniuk and Yuan will be honored at the SJSU Celebration of Research on March 26, 2020 from 3 to 6 p.m. in the Diaz Compean Student Union Ballroom. A short video profiling their research will be shown at this festive event. A showcase of research posters developed by more than 100 SJSU undergraduate and graduate students also will be presented. The event is open to the entire SJSU campus community.

Read more about Blisniuk and Yuan’s research.

2019: A Spartan Year in Review

From breaking ground on San Jose State’s Interdisciplinary Science Building to the grand opening of the Spartan Recreation and Aquatic Center to the launch of Transformation 2030, SJSU’s strategic plan, 2019 was a year of growth at One Washington Square. The following 13 stories feature exciting interdisciplinary research, award-winning new facilities, important university rankings, campus initiatives, innovative projects and alumni giving.


Spartan Football Receives $1 Million Gift from Kevin and Sandy Swanson, January 2019

San Jose State alumnus Kevin Swanson and his wife Sandy Swanson committed to give $1 million to Spartan football.

Kevin and Sandy Swanson at the Spartan football All In campaign event in 2017. Photo: David Schmitz.


SJSU Student Engineers Launch Latest TechEd Satellite with NASA, March 2019

After a year of hard work, collaboration and many late nights subsisting on Costco pizzas, a group of SJSU students, faculty and alumni gathered with guests from NASA Ames Research Center to watch the deployment of a technology education satellite (TechEdSat) from the International Space Station (ISS) on March 5.

TechEdSat group in N-244 Lab 9 with mentors Mark Murbach (standing back left) and Ali Guarneros Luna (kneeling on right). Photo courtesy of NASA Ames Research Center.


SJSU Opens $130 Million Spartan Recreation and Aquatic Center, April 2019

SJSU hosted a grand opening ceremony for the new Spartan Recreation and Aquatic Center (SRAC), a facility that provides new modern recreation facilities and services for students and the entire university community.

Photo: David Schmitz


Forbes Names SJSU to 2019 Best Value College List, April 2019

Forbes named SJSU to its 2019 list of America’s Best Value Colleges. The university moved up from #55 on the list in 2018 to #40. SJSU was listed as #13 in California.

Graduates celebrate at Avaya Stadium during San Jose State University’s College of Social Sciences Graduation in 2018.
Photo: David Schmitz.


San Jose State University Celebrates Historic Groundbreaking on Interdisciplinary Science Building, April 2019

SJSU celebrated the historic groundbreaking for its new Interdisciplinary Science Building.

An artistic rendering shows what the Interdisciplinary Science Building will look like in 2021 when it is completed.


SJSU Community Invited to Spartan Food Pantry Open House, April 2019

The SJSU Cares Program and the SJSU Student Hunger Committee hosted a Spartan Food Pantry Opening Celebration.

Ben Falter, left, a senior student affairs case manager, helps a student at the Spartan Food Pantry. Photo: Brandon Chew


State of the University Address and Strategic Plan Announcement, April 2019

SJSU introduced Transformation 2030, its new strategic plan.

Photo: Javier Duarte


SJSU Celebrates the Class of 2019 at Commencement May 22-24, May 2019

SJSU honored more than 6,800 graduates during spring 2019 commencement with seven ceremonies.

College of Engineering students cheer during commencement in fall 2018. Photo courtesy of Best Grad.


On Fire, Washington Square spring/summer 2019

The only team of its kind in the United States, SJSU Associate Professor of Meteorology and Climate Science Craig Clements’ Fire Weather Research Laboratory studies and decodes wildfire behavior to improve fire management and prevention.

Photo courtesy of the Fire Weather Research Lab.


Where Research Leads, Washington Square spring/summer 2019

From engineers to medical doctors, four alumni reflect on how their SJSU experiences have helped them make an impact.

Noemi “Nicky” Espinosa, ’81 Chemical Engineering. Photo by David Schmitz.


Danielle Ishak: Robots for Seniors, Washington Square spring/summer 2019

Danielle Ishak, ’16 MS Human Factors and Ergonomics, is helping develop products to support the elderly.

Photo: David Schmitz


SJSU Ranks #6 Among West’s Top Public Universities and #5 Overall for the Region in Social Mobility in U.S. News and World Report College Lists, September 2019

U.S. News and World Report ranked SJSU #6 among the West’s top public universities offering bachelor’s and master’s degrees. The publication added a ranking for social mobility that compares how well universities and colleges do in graduating Pell grant-eligible students. SJSU ranked #3 among public universities in the West, and #5 overall for the region.

Graduates of the Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering celebrate at Spring 2019 commencement. SJSU ranked among the top public engineering programs on U.S. News and World Report’s 2020 college rankings. Photo: Josie Lepe, ’03 BFA Photography.


Jianna Salinas, ‘13 CHAD, Receives Special Message During Commencement, December 2019


It was an eventful year at San Jose State, full of student, faculty and alumni accomplishments. How would you describe your #SJSU2019YearInReview?

San Jose State University and County of Santa Clara Renew Multi-Year Agreement for Timpany Center

Interior shot of the Timpany Center therapeutic pool

Photo by David Schmitz/San Jose State University

SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF – San Jose State University’s Research Foundation (SJSURF) and The County of Santa Clara (SCC) have reached agreement on a new, multi-year partnership to continue operation of the Timpany Center.

The Timpany Center, a non-profit educational and therapeutic service center, has served community members for 10 years. The center offers a wide range of aquatic and land fitness and training programs, as well as therapeutic and safety courses for individuals of all ages and abilities. Its specialized services and facilities, including a warm water pool and spa, gymnasium, weight room and classroom, are operated by San Jose State University’s Department of Kinesiology in the College of Health and Human Sciences in conjunction with SCC.

“The Timpany Center is a critical health and wellness resource to County residents. I am pleased to confirm a renewed agreement between the County and San Jose State University to keep the Timpany Center open through 2024,” said County of Santa Clara Supervisor Susan Ellenberg. “Our County is always committed to exploring the best practices to expand these much-needed services.”

The new agreement, from Jan. 1, 2020 to Dec. 31, 2024, is meant to position the facility as an operationally and financially sound service-learning program for our students and an inclusive wellness resource for our community, well into the future, said Mohamed Abousalem, SJSU’s vice president for research and innovation and president of the board of directors at SJSURF.

“SJSU values the importance of the Timpany Center to our community and greatly appreciates the hard work of its employees,” said Abousalem. “We are grateful for the support and loyal patronage of our community members these past 10 years, and we have every reason to believe that the facility will continue to provide important services for years to come.”

“The County of Santa Clara and San Jose State University Research Foundation (SJSURF) worked together to reach an agreement that will keep resources from the Timpany Center such as the pool, gym and other services open for business,” added  Jeff Draper,  director of County of Santa Clara Facilities and Fleet Department. “We are appreciative of SJSURF for working with us and their dedication to assisting the community.”

Lurie College Hosts Inaugural Future of Learning Summit

Lurie College of Education Dean Heather Lattimer with speakers from the inaugural Future of Learning Summit: Shar Naidu, Vivian Vu, Kent McGuire, Valerie Lundy-Wagner, Laura Quintana, Irene Castillon, SJSU professor Ellen Middaugh, and Arun Ramanthan. Photo by Francisco Mendoza.

San Jose, Calif. — About 100 Silicon Valley thought leaders, policymakers and K-12 educators filled SJSU’s Diaz Compean Student Union Theater November 13 at the inaugural Future of Learning Summit, hosted by the Connie L. Lurie College of Education. The event included five keynote speakers and talks by five SJSU community members, all of whom addressed the question, “What is the future of learning?”

“We’re at a time of significant change in education and across society,” said Heather Lattimer, dean of the Lurie College. “We have changing job markets, demographic shifts and new understandings around what learning and cognition mean and look like. It’s a time of rapid change that can be really scary. But it’s also an opportunity for all of us to challenge the way that we think of education and schooling to find new ways to support stronger, more equitable and more relevant outcomes.” Lattimer described SJSU’s upcoming Future of Learning Initiative, a cross-disciplinary program to spur innovation on campus, serve as a hub for transforming education in the region, generate new knowledge that will elevate the importance of the scholarship of teaching and learning, and position SJSU as a thought leader in the field of educational innovation.

San Jose State President Mary Papazian introduced the event by reminding the audience that the university was founded in 1857 as Minns Normal School with the express purpose of educating teachers. Keynote speakers included Christopher Cabaldon, the Hazel Cramer Endowed Chair and professor of public policy and administration at Sacramento State University and mayor of West Sacramento; Valerie Lundy-Wagner, senior research analyst at California Competes; Kent McGuire, education program director at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation; Arun Ramanathan, CEO of Pivot Learning Partners; and Laura Quintana, vice president of Corporate Affairs at Cisco.

Speakers discussed how advances in technology, changing job markets, demographic shifts and new research have created unique opportunities to re-imagine learning.

“In the future, students will need to think like employees, and employees will have to think like students,” said Quintana, who shared how Cisco’s Networking Academy is helping current SJSU students gain hands-on experience in industrial technology and cybersecurity.

“What if we question the fundamentals of the education system before assessing a student with disabilities?” asked Ramanthan, who worked in special education in San Francisco Unified for many years. “What if we actually look to see whether they had been given the resources to succeed? What if we diagnose the school and the classroom, instead of diagnosing the child?”

Five SJSU community members also spoke throughout the evening: Irene Castillon, ’17 MA Education, assistant principal and history teacher at Cristo Rey San Jose Jesuit High School; SJSU Assistant Professor of Child and Adolescent Development Ellen Middaugh; Shar Naidu, ’21 MS Occupational Therapy; Vivian Vu, ’23 Business Administration; and Sabrina Dao, seventh grader at Ocala STEAM academy.

“Democracy requires more than heroes or role models,” said Middaugh, referring to Parkland High School survivor Emma Gonzalez as an example of the new generation of thought leaders ready to provoke conversation. “I see the next generation of leaders who are going to recreate this environment and create a better online public sphere. Our job as educators is to be very intentional in creating opportunities for them to experiment and practice.”

“Do I feel prepared for my future?” asked Dao, who shared how upset she was by hearing stereotypes of East Side families as being “poor” or “living in bad neighborhoods.” “Everyone at my school is motivating. We have so many role models and defy those bad opinions. So yes, I do feel prepared for my future.”

A number of SJSU students, teacher candidates and aspiring educators attended Wednesday’s event. Henry Fan, ’22 Computer Science, worked in hospitality and tech before discovering a passion for education in junior college. He said he walked away from the evening inspired and reflective.

“I not only learned a lot, but I realized just how beautifully diverse the people who are in this room are, and how much vulnerability they were willing to have about their own stories,” said Fan. “I can’t wait to work with our students to uncover some amazing stories.”

Learn more about the Future of Learning Institute.

Nobel Laureate Salutes San Jose State Alumnus Sidney Siegel

Vernon Smith speaking at the SEEL event. Photo by David Schmitz.

When San Jose State University held a grand inauguration event in October celebrating the launch of the newly renovated Spartan Experimental Economics Lab (SEEL), Vernon Smith, the 2002 Nobel Laureate in Economics, one of the key dignitaries present on the occasion, talked about a certain Sidney Siegel, who was a pioneer in the early days of experimental economic research.

A social psychologist and San Jose State alumnus, Siegel is considered to be one of the founding fathers of experimental economics. Experimental economics is a branch of economics that studies human behavior in a controlled laboratory setting or out in the field, with appropriate controls to remove effects of external influences, rather than just using mathematical models.

According to Smith, Siegel was a master experimentalist, but much more. He also used theory and statistics with great skill in the design and analysis of experiments. “Few behavioral or experimental economists realize how much of their methodological tradition came from Sid Siegel.”

Smith’s reference to Siegel is important in many ways. Siegel and San Jose State go back a long way. In 1951, the master experimentalist graduated with a bachelor’s degree in vocational arts from San Jose State College, the precursor to SJSU.

Arguably, graduating from college was a defining moment in Siegel’s educational pursuits. The degree opened the path for many opportunities, one of which led him to Stanford where he completed his doctoral studies in psychology. It was there that Smith first met him.

“During the 1961-1962 academic year, I was a visiting associate professor at Stanford. At the beginning of the autumn quarter, I had the truly significant experience of meeting Sidney Siegel and discovering that we had both been doing experimental economics,” Smith recalled. 

That moment has stayed with the 92-year-old Nobel Laureate. Little did he know then that it would be a brief association. Siegel passed away at age 45 in 1961.

In his “Tribute to Sidney Siegel (1916-1961): A founder of Experimental Economics,” Smith writes about how Siegel survived the rigors of impoverished and diabolical teenage years in the dark alleys of New York. He did not finish high school until later. His only saving grace was when he signed up for the U.S. Army Signal Corps.

Smith published his first experimental article in 1962, two years after Siegel collaborated with Lawrence Fouraker, a professor of economics and later a dean of the Harvard Business School, to publish their first bargaining experiments, which they did in the 1950s.

In Smith’s tribute to Siegel, at a panel where others were speaking in his honor, Smith said that if Siegel had lived he would not only have been a deserving Nobel Laureate, but also that the timetable for the recognition of experimental economics would have been expedited, perhaps by several years.

As experimental methods become more prominent among firms in Silicon Valley, SEEL is focused on joint academic-industry projects, as well as collaborations among departments and researchers, that would help establish SJSU’s position at the forefront of experimental work.

“The use of experiments in industry, particularly within tech companies such as Uber and Facebook, is a growing trend, and the SEEL lab provides us with the ability to not only make SJSU students familiar with the use of experimental techniques, but also to have them run their own experiments,” said Justin Rietz, assistant professor of economics. 

“Research experimentalists in SJSU’s economics department did not have a lab, and as a result, they were either traveling to UC Santa Cruz or Chapman University to partner with faculty members and students as a standard protocol, and that has meant lost opportunities for SJSU students. But all that has changed now,” said Colleen Haight, interim associate dean, undergraduate education.

Today’s Tech Revolution Requires Some Humanity, Papazian Tells Sacramento Bee Readers in Opinion Piece

President Mary A. Papazain is a strong proponent of the value of the humanities, liberal arts and social sciences in higher education. Here, she served as a featured guest for the Frankenstein Bicentennial Monster Discussion Panel in 2018. Photo by David Schmitz.

An op-ed by San Jose State University President Mary A. Papazian published in the October 29 edition of the Sacramento Bee asserts that “the liberal arts must remain a vital part of higher education for the sake of the future of our students, our economy, and our society.”

Drawing largely on her academic background and expertise on the English Renaissance era, Papazian writes that “Just as the Renaissance opened mankind’s eyes to the reality that we do not sit at the center of the universe, today’s technology age has expanded our capabilities beyond the imaginations of only decades ago.” She goes on to note how Renaissance figures such as John Donne and Leonardo di Vinci exemplified many of the humanist principles lacking in today’s technology innovators.

Papazian said the messages conveyed in her op-ed piece are more vital than ever, particularly given the perils of technology and social media that have manifested in attacks on elections and the democratic process.

“It is vital that we understand the true impact of the technology-driven world in which we now live,” she said. “We need to be able to guard our global society against the dangers of this digital age. How we ensure that the next generation interacts more responsibility with technology than we have done this far is critical, and refocusing on the talents of humanists and liberal arts is an excellent place to start.”

In July, Papazian delivered a well-received speech at the Council of Graduate Schools Summer Workshop titled “Humanities for the 21st Century: Innovation and the Fourth Industrial Revolution.” There, she pointed out that “the hard skills learned from STEM programs are essential, but employers actually are desperate for candidates who have balanced their personal portfolios with both digital capabilities and human understanding.”

The partnering of STEM disciplines with the liberal arts, she asserted, can lead to true academic impact at both the graduate and undergraduate levels.

“Students will work in groups all their professional lives, and they must be able to collaborate effectively with people from a broad array of backgrounds and working styles,” said Papazian. “They must be able to communicate in a variety of ways, using digital tools that we know are evolving with stunning rapidity. And they will be required to be creative and confident.

“Where better to learn all of this than in our labs and studios on our campuses? Where better to learn the capacity for these things than in our classrooms and our community-based projects?” she asks.

Developing the tools and the ability to talk about ethics, unconscious bias and the complexity of emotions within individuals and cultures, Papazian said, can help students recognize the choices that lead to collaboration rather than conflict.

“The liberal arts need to be a vital part of the education spectrum if we are to have any hope of addressing the problems we are seeing and reading about on almost a daily basis,” she said.

“Our challenge—and our opportunity—is to seize the moment to influence and shape history meaningfully in this, our present Renaissance.”

 

SJSU and IBM Announce New Collaboration—First of its Kind on the West Coast

Preparing Students for high tech jobs of the future

Photo by Francisco Mendoza, ’21 Photography/San Jose State University

On October 18, 2019, San Jose State University and IBM announced a strategic collaboration designed to provide today’s students with advanced skills needed for high tech jobs of the future.

The use of emerging technologies such as the Internet of things, cloud computing, artificial intelligence (AI), data science, security, and blockchain are growing. AI is expected to contribute $15.7T to the global economy by 2030* as the U.S. skills gap widens. Over 11.5 million workers in the United States alone may need to be retrained or reskilled as a result of AI and intelligent automation alone in the next three years.**

“It makes perfect sense for Silicon Valley’s public university to collaborate with IBM, a giant in the tech world,” said San Jose State University President Mary A. Papazian. “Growing our research and scholarship is a priority of ours and ties directly to our student success goals. This collaboration will help San Jose State students gain the skills they need to compete in tomorrow’s workforce, and it will solidify SJSU as the top provider of talent to Silicon Valley companies.”    

The strategic skills-based collaboration, the first of its kind on the west coast, will feature three key components on campus: IBM Academic Initiative, SJSU Technology Office, and IBM Skills Academy.  

  • IBM Academic Initiative. IBM will provide a unique, customized portal for SJSU students, staff, and faculty to access IBM Academic Initiatives resources for teaching and research purposes. The Academic Initiative also provides faculty and researchers with IBM’s cloud technology and software in fast-growing fields such as AI, blockchain, cybersecurity, data science, high-performance computing, and quantum computing. 
  • SJSU Technology Office. IBM will help SJSU establish a technology office to support faculty research, student growth, and campus-wide innovation through regular workshops and training. A cybersecurity training center will also be developed and located on the SJSU campus in the future.
  • IBM Skills Academy. This Skills Academy will offer practical curriculum, learning tools, and labs created by IBM subject experts. Courses will cover a variety of advanced skills, and SJSU’s Information Technology department will evaluate pilot programs in data science, AI, data engineering and cybersecurity. IBM’s new AI tools and related education initiatives are drawn from methods and technologies IBM developed in-house to drive its own workforce transformation. The IBM Skills Academy transforms how cultures and people will operate with digital technology including ethics and human bias in coding.

“Skills are the most important issue of our time and we need to fully equip students with the right skills to participate in the digital economy,” said Naguib Attia, vice president, IBM Global University Programs. “Through this new collaboration, we will work closely with San Jose State University to ensure curricula aligns with industry needs and trends so both students and faculty can earn digital badges and develop the skills they need today, for the jobs of tomorrow.”

The collaboration between San Jose State University and IBM takes effect immediately.

**PwC’s Global Artificial Intelligence Study: Exploiting the AI Revolution

**IBM Institute of Business Value, “The Enterprise Guide to Closing the Skills Gap”, September 2019.

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CSU Shares Profile of SJSU’s Fritz Yambrach, Professor and Inventor

San Jose State University’s Professor Fritz Yambrach brings the same innovative and practical approach to his work, whether rebuilding the packaging program in the College of Health and Human Sciences’ Department of Nutrition, Food Science, and Packaging, creating internships for students with industry partners or developing a new way for people to carry water in developing countries.

When he was hired in 2006, the packaging program had five students enrolled and four courses. He has since developed 10 courses that include packaging for medical devices, pharmaceuticals and food processing, and built the program to an enrollment of 70 students.

Fritz Yambrach, a professor in Nutrition, Food Science, and Packaging helped to develop a way to package water to transport to disaster areas or areas where water is not readily available. (Photo: James Tensuan, '15 Journalism)

Fritz Yambrach, a professor in Nutrition, Food Science, and Packaging helped to develop a way to package water to transport to disaster areas or areas where water is not readily available. (Photo: James Tensuan, ’15 Journalism)

“I created course content I believed was useful to a working professional in the field,” Yambrach says. “Packaging is simply problem solving. I’ll give [students] relationships between items and then see how they put it together and make creative extensions.”

Yambrach is the latest San Jose State University faculty member to be featured in the CSU Spotlight with a new profile and video about his teaching philosophy and his research. He is the inventor of a water vest that is being tested in Haiti, Burundi and Ethiopia as an ergonomic, hygienic alternative to carrying water in buckets over long distances.

Fritz, who received the 2017 DuPont Diamond Packaging Innovation Award, said those who have tested the vest since 2006 found an unexpected benefit: “Young girls in Ethiopia were typically tasked with collecting water and it often meant they couldn’t go to school,” he explained. “The vest is allowing more girls to attend school since it makes transporting water much easier.”

Read more about Yambrach’s teaching and research in the CSU Profile, an SJSU Academic Spotlight story and an SJSU Washington Square profile.

SJSU Presents 2018 Outstanding Seniors and Thesis Awards

Media contacts:
Pat Harris, SJSU Media Relations, 408-924-1748, pat.harris@sjsu.edu

SAN JOSE, CA – San Jose State University President Mary A. Papazian will recognize this year’s top graduates at commencement ceremonies to be held May 23-25 at the SJSU Event Center and Avaya Stadium. Nardos Darkera and Sierra Peace will each receive the 2018 Outstanding Graduating Senior Award for academic achievements, leadership roles, contributions to the community and personal achievements. Emily Moffitt is the recipient of the 2018 Outstanding Thesis Award in recognition of the quality of her research.

Nardos Darkera

Nardos Darkera (all photos courtesy of the students)

Nardos Darkera, ’18 Public Health, has given back to the Spartan community while maintaining a 3.85 GPA. She has represented San Jose State as a United Nations Foundation Global Health Fellow, served as a peer teaching assistant, worked as a lead peer advisor in the College of Applied Sciences and Arts Success Center, and interned with Planned Parenthood Mar Monte. Darkera is a recipient of the Louie Barozzi Scholarship for academic excellence and community service, the Dean’s International Scholarship to study abroad in Puerto Rico, and the Health Science Scholarship to attend the American Public Health Association Meeting in Atlanta. She will continue on to the University of California, San Francisco, to pursue a master’s degree in global health. Health Science Professor Kathleen Roe predicts that Darkera “will be a leader of thought, social action, professions — and maybe even politics.”

Sierra Peace

Sierra Peace

Sierra Peace, ’18 Psychology, arrived at San Jose State as a 16-year-old freshman with her sights set on medical school. A member of SJSU’s International Neuroeconomics Institute research lab since 2015, Peace has presented two posters at the Western Psychological Association Conference. She juggled four jobs while volunteering with the Third Street Community Center, the Associated Students of SJSU community garden and the Regional Medical Center of San Jose. Her 3.97 GPA qualified her for Educational Opportunity Program Honors for four years. She was also a 2016 and 2017 Dean’s Scholar, a 2017 Hoover-Langdon Scholar and a 2018 President’s Scholar. Psychology Professor Cheryl Chancellor-Freeland describes Peace as “the most exceptional student I have encountered in my 23 years of teaching.”

Emily Moffitt

Emily Moffitt

Emily Moffitt, ’17 Environmental Studies, collected feathers from 169 birds at San Jose’s Coyote Creek Field Station, and then analyzed the feathers for stable isotopes to reveal where birds spent their breeding season. Her thesis “Using Stable Isotope Analysis to Infer Breeding Latitude and Migratory Timing of Juvenile Pacific-Slope Flycatchers (Empidonax difficilis)” revealed the species’ migratory patterns, critical information for preserving habitats the birds need to survive. She partnered with the University of California, Davis, Stable Isotope Facility to develop statistical programs and used ArcGIS to portray probable breeding origins, and support her research using isotope reference and Breeding Bird Survey data.


About San Jose State University

The founding campus of the 23-campus California State University system, San Jose State provides a comprehensive university education, granting bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in 250 areas of study – offered through its eight colleges.

With more than 35,000 students and nearly 4,370 employees, San Jose State University continues to be an essential partner in the economic, cultural and social development of Silicon Valley and the state, annually contributing 10,000 graduates to the workforce.

The university is immensely proud of the accomplishments of its more than 260,000 alumni, 60 percent of whom live and work in the Bay Area. 

SJSU Hosts Celebration of Life for Charlie Whitcomb

Dr. Charlie Whitcomb

Dr. Charlie Whitcomb

Dr. Charles (Charlie) Whitcomb, a beloved member of the SJSU community for more than four decades, passed away July 15. He earned two degrees from San Jose State, and then served as a faculty member, department chair and academic leader.

At his request, a celebration of life will be held on campus in the Music Concert Hall on July 25, at 11 a.m., with a reception to follow immediately (directions to campus and parking).

In lieu of flowers, friends can donate to the Charlie Whitcomb Scholarship Fund. Gifts can be made online or by mail (Tower Foundation of SJSU, One Washington Square, San Jose, Calif., 95192-0183).

Statesman

His impact is readily apparent from the many personal reflections and expressions of affection for Whitcomb received since his family shared news of his passing.

“He was the kindest person you ever met,” said Jessica Larsen, who worked with him in the Provost’s Office. “He was always positive, cheerful and never said anything bad about anybody. He always took bad situations and found the goodness in it.”

Larsen noted that he was an advocate for SJSU students from less fortunate backgrounds, who didn’t have as many opportunities.

“I will always remember his smile,” she said. “That is how I remember him.”

Devoted to diversity

Whitcomb was especially devoted to diversity and his passion is reflected in his many speaking engagements during his tenure as a faculty member and chair. He presented on issues related to diversity and athletics at multiple National Collegiate Athletic Association events and served as SJSU’s NCAA faculty representative for 20 years. In 1991, Whitcomb was appointed the first chair of the NCAA’s Minority Opportunities and Interests Committee. The group was, by any measure, incredibly impactful during his 10-year tenure.

In addition, he served on dozens of college and university-wide committees, including the University Commencement Committee, the Accommodations Review Board, the University Campus Climate Committee, Academic Senate and multiple search committees, among others.

He started his distinguished career at SJSU in 1971 as a faculty member in the Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies (now part of Health Science and Recreation), serving as a department chair from 1988 to 2002. He was appointed executive assistant to the provost in 2003, eventually serving as vice provost of academic administration and personnel through his retirement in 2012.

He earned two degrees from SJSU: a bachelor’s in Justice Studies with a minor in Psychology in 1971 and a master’s in Recreation Management in 1975, before going on to earn his doctorate in higher education from the University of Northern Colorado.

Positive and hopeful spirit

Those who knew him best describe Whitcomb as bringing a positive and hopeful spirit to every situation, with an infectious laugh and smile, and an unwavering dedication to our students.

“He took with him his fun, playful spirit, his undeniable dedication to SJSU for over 44 years, his belief in dignity and justice across all people, his love of students, athletes, faculty, staff and friends, regardless of race,” said colleague Dr. Kate Sullivan, a hospitality management professor. “He listened AND he heard. So many considered him a friend on this campus! I will always see his smile and hear his laughter and remember all the things he taught me as my dear mentor over the last 28 years.”

Before joining SJSU as a tenure-track faculty member in 1972, he worked as a counselor for Santa Clara County Juvenile Probation Department Children’s Shelter for six years. He was involved with many community organizations as well. He served on the board of directors for the National Park and Recreation Association from 1978 to 1981 and as a board director with Community Kids to Camp from 1985 to 1988,

 

Students Organize Biomedical Device Conference

Photo: Neal Waters, ’07 Geography, ’16 MS Mass Communications

Photo: Neal Waters, ’07 Geography, ’16 MS Mass Communications

The San Jose State Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES) ushered in its Seventh Annual Bay Area Biomedical Device Conference March 30 with discussion topics ranging from unmet medical device needs in developing countries to nanotechnology and entrepreneurial guidance.

The conference, which has been student-organized by the SJSU BMES since its inception in 2010, was created to give students the opportunity to exchange ideas and network with medical device industry professionals and academics.

“As our biomedical program continues to expand, collaboration with industry partners becomes increasingly important,” said Provost Andy Feinstein. “Today’s conference is one of many ways we can work together in preparing San Jose State students to work in this growing field.”

Hanmin Lee, surgeon-in-chief of UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, said the more than 300 students, staff and industry professionals who filled the Student Union Ballroom all share a common interest as part of the biomedical realm — making the world a healthier place.

Photo: Neal Waters, ’07 Geography, ’16 MS Mass Communications

Olubunmi Ode (Photo: Neal Waters, ’07 Geography, ’16 MS Mass Communications).

Photo: Neal Waters, ’07 Geography, ’16 MS Mass Communications

Shanelle Swamy, ’18 Biomedical Engineering (Photo: Neal Waters, ’07 Geography, ’16 MS Mass Communications).

Photo: Neal Waters, ’07 Geography, ’16 MS Mass Communications

Photo: Neal Waters, ’07 Geography, ’16 MS Mass Communications

Photo: Neal Waters, ’07 Geography, ’16 MS Mass Communications

Photo: Neal Waters, ’07 Geography, ’16 MS Mass Communications

“Helping your fellow man is the most important thing we can do and we’re all interconnected,” Lee said. “To be able to help somebody else not only helps them but it helps you. It’s just the biggest privilege that we can all have.”

Olubunmi Ode strives to do just that, by aiding unmet biomedical needs of young children in Nigeria, a country that she says is plagued by power outages and a lack of proper medical devices.

Ode, a pediatric intensivist based in Abuja, Nigeria, has focused her life’s work on taking care of children in intensive care units through Hospitals for Humanity, a nonprofit organization that is mostly volunteer based.

“We do the surgeries and take care of the kids, but also train people on the ground so they know how to do this so we can set up the pipelines,” Ode said. “The kids do well. They survive, they go home and then come back to visit and they’re doing great.”

Shanelle Swamy, ’18 Biomedical Engineering, said she was inspired by Ode’s tales of working in inadequate medical conditions in an effort to improve Nigeria’s high child mortality rate.

“I come form the Fiji Islands and I’ve lost a lot of family members to inadequate medical conditions, hospitals that don’t have devices or just not having enough surgical rooms,” Swamy said. “Hearing about the medical needs in these developing countries is essentially what I want to work on after I graduate to really implement what we have here in the U.S. and bring it to these countries.”

Swamy, who was also a conference volunteer from SJSU BMES, said listening to the successes and difficulties of Ode and other industry professionals helped her narrow her goals as an emerging biomedical engineer.

In addition to the talk sessions, 28 student groups presented various research projects to industry professionals on posters during the networking reception portion of the conference.

Jung Han Kim, ’16 MS Biomedical Engineering, presented his research on using nanoparticles to deliver drugs that can precondition the heart to future heart attacks.

The drug delivers “small heart attacks” so that “when the real heart attack occurs, the heart is preconditioned so it can withstand the longer heart attacks,” Han Kim said.

Han Kim’s research was born from his advisor Folarin Erogbogbo, assistant professor of biomedical engineering, who is an expert in nanotechnology. Erogbogbo presented his student-collaborated findings as part of his afternoon session titled, “Nanotechnology for Biomedical Theranostics.”

“I’m part of [Erogbogbo’s] group and there are many students that are working under his advisory, so it was good for me to see where my project actually plays a role in that research.” Han Kim said. “I know that my research can also help play a big role, maybe in some ways that I don’t even know right now, in nanotechnology development.”

Erogbogbo said conferences like these are important for students to not only showcase their research, but to also engage with professionals.

“[Han Kim’s] been an excellent student, learned to solve problems and worked on a whole variety of nanoparticle synthesis techniques so it’s always great working with students like that,” Erogbogbo said. “It’s extremely important to engage in this kind of communal activity and the impression that a lot of people leave with is, ‘wow the SJSU students are really organized and impressive,’ so it’s also building our reputation here.”

Student Hackathon Explores Internet of Things

San Jose State undergraduate and graduate computer science majors whip out their laptops and begin downloading Python and JavaScript software (Photo: Lauren Hernandez, ’15 Journalism).

San Jose State undergraduate and graduate computer science majors whip out their laptops and begin downloading Python and JavaScript software (Photo: Lauren Hernandez, ’15 Journalism).

Thirty San Jose State undergraduate and graduate computer science majors spent a recent Saturday hunched over hardware chips and sensors as part of a two-week Internet of Things Workshop that kicked off on March 19.

The workshop, born from collaboration between the SJSU Department of Computer Science and Aeris, a Santa Clara-based cellular network operator, offers students not only an introduction to various scripting languages but also the opportunity to create their own applications.

“I am thinking about a smart parking garage, so you have an app that says ‘this car is leaving this spot right now,’ then you can direct the people looking for spots to that spot,” said Dennis Hsu, ’16 MS Computer Science.

But even a simple idea requires sophisticated tech tools and collaborating with experts. This is where Aeris comes in.

Aeris senior software engineer Maanasa Madiraju gives thirty San Jose State computer software engineering majors an introduction to downloading software needed for the workshop (Photo: Lauren Hernandez, ’15 Journalism).

Aeris senior software engineer Maanasa Madiraju gives thirty San Jose State computer software engineering majors an introduction to downloading software needed for the workshop (Photo: Lauren Hernandez, ’15 Journalism).

Meredith Ku, VMware intern, and Robinson Raju, MS Computer Science ’16, review the accounts they’ve just set up on Aeris’ cloud management system (Photo: Lauren Hernandez, ’15 Journalism).

Meredith Ku, VMware intern, and Robinson Raju, MS Computer Science ’16, review the accounts they’ve just set up on Aeris’ cloud management system (Photo: Lauren Hernandez, ’15 Journalism).

Meredith Ku, VMware intern, takes a closer look at a blinking Tessel Board as it connects to her laptop (Photo: Lauren Hernandez, ’15 Journalism).

Meredith Ku, VMware intern, takes a closer look at a blinking Tessel Board as it connects to her laptop (Photo: Lauren Hernandez, ’15 Journalism).

“One of the original goals of this was a basic hackathon but at a much higher level, so most of the work is going to be with JavaScript, Python, the Tessel platform and the types of sensors that feed data into the Internet of Things,” said Harry Plant, vice president of social sector at Aeris. “More importantly, I would like [students] to take away a sense of working at a Silicon Valley company.”

The thirty students are divided into ten groups of three, where they are tasked to work collaboratively to build an application over the course of two weeks to solve a real world problem or an application that has commercial value.

Groups were armed with a box of components to kick-start their product development stage, which included AeroCloud credentials to access the company’s Cloud system, a Tessel board hardware platform, connecting cable, climate or RFID (radio-frequency identification) modules, and Python and JavaScript software for coding.

Maanasa Madiraju, Aeris senior software engineer, guided participants in connecting Tessel boards to their laptops and navigating the company’s data management system.

“Our basic objective is to help students learn new languages so they can use them for the mainstream jobs,” Madiraju said.

Hsu, who envisioned the parking garage app, said prior to attending the workshop kick-off, the idea of the Internet of Things was an abstract concept as it relates to the broader connected world.

“I like that we got hands-on experience with the devices and actually doing the programming with professionals who give us their feedback and their ideas,” Hsu said.

Paired with Vihneshwari Chandrasekaran, ’17 MS Computer Science, Hsu said most of their early conceptual application ideas were born from various examples provided in short information sessions proctored by Aeris software engineers.

Aeris engineers suggested exploring applications that improve society in some capacity like water filter sensors for water crises, refrigerator sensors to prevent food spoiling and mobile payment applications.

Over the next two weeks, participants will have the opportunity to visit Aeris offices to attend “office hour” sessions, where they can de-bug ideas and gain feedback from Aeris engineers on how to improve their applications.

Students will present their final applications to Aeris on April 2, in a judging process that takes into consideration originality of the idea, technical achievement and execution, and real world value or commercial viability.

“There are two end goals,” Plant said. In addition to completing an app, the firm wants to “bring more students into Silicon Valley workplace and to expose them to the Internet of Things, and have them think from a design perspective,”

 

Student Uses Wearable Tech to Track Stress

Photo: Lauren Hernandez, ’15 Journalism

Photo: Lauren Hernandez, ’15 Journalism

Exactly how much stress do you feel on the job?

Kelli Sum, ’16 Industrial and Systems Engineering, and Assistant Professor Dan Nathan-Roberts are tackling this question as part of their work in the SJSU Undergraduate Research Grants Program.

The program, which gives student-faculty teams the opportunity to collaborate, provided the pair a $1,000 grant toward their project regarding quantifying workload with wearable technology.

“I was always interested in fitness trackers and how it let me understand how much I moved that day,” Sum said. “I brought up that idea to Dr. Nathan-Roberts and was talking about my research interests and we were able to find a way to use this human factors application as research.”

Sum’s initial idea was founded on how fitness trackers can be used as motivation to improve a person’s health, but she realized upon consulting her professor how the same technology could lend itself to tracking and managing the workload of nurses, athletes and even soldiers.

“My goal is to hopefully solidify that foundation and use these [trackers] for many different people to quantify how hard they’re working,” Sum said.

Sum is conducting preliminary research with the help of her colleagues in the USERlab (User Systems Engineering Research Laboratory), a group of undergraduate and graduate students collaborating on research projects under the guidance of Professor Nathan-Roberts.

Photo: Lauren Hernandez, ’15 Journalism

Photo: Lauren Hernandez, ’15 Journalism

Armed with Basis Peak fitness trackers for a week at a time, Sum’s colleagues have tracked their heart rate, skin temperature, Galvanic skin response (the skin’s electric activity), number of calories burned and number of steps taken.

After a week of tracking, Sum downloads the device’s collected data, drops it into an Excel worksheet and analyzes the information.

“What it will have is minute-by-minute reporting,” Sum said. “I basically have a line graph looking at the heart rate and other factors over time and we try putting all this information into a graph so we can understand the trends.”

The peaks in the graph indicate when a person is working hardest, and perhaps experiencing the most stress. That knowledge may one day help nurses, soldiers and others moderate their activities so they are more effective over the long run.

For now, Sum is testing the concept on fellow students.

Michael Cataldo, ’17 Industrial and Systems Engineering, said his one-week pilot with the tracker was telling of the technology’s benefits.

“I’m getting more and more into fitness, so it can tell me if I need to push myself further or ‘hey your heart beat is too high, you need to slow down,’” Cataldo said.

Cataldo said his involvement in Sum’s research and collaboration with Professor Nathan-Roberts has cultivated a culture of sharing ideas.

“I think that I’m lucky to get to work with a number of students that have a lot of passion in the same area that I do, which is improving health and health care,” Nathan-Roberts said. “It’s aligning our research interests together and finding places where my expertise could help identify what is missing in the research or if there are opportunities for us to further study.”

As Sum nears the end of the preliminary data collection period, she hopes to collaborate with the SJSU Valley Foundation School of Nursing to pair nursing students with trackers in an attempt to understand how the body works in various environments.

 

Provost Feinstein’s Message on Why Students Leave SJSU

Editor’s note: This message was emailed to all students, faculty and staff on Dec. 11, 2015.

Dear campus community,

As we work toward increasing graduation and retention rates at San Jose State, we have a new report that offers some insights into why some students leave before completing their degrees. The report, “Why Do Students Leave? A Study of Student Departure from San Jose State University,” was conducted during summer and fall 2015 by Dr. Michael Cheers, Dr. Rona Halualani, Dr. Lisa Oliver and Dr. Marcos Pizzaro.

I would like to thank these four professors for their work on this valuable report, the first of its kind on our campus.  The goal of this study was to learn more about the experiences of SJSU first-time freshmen who have either stopped out (meaning they left SJSU with the intention of returning in the future), dropped out or are persisting at a different institution.

The percentage of first-generation students, underrepresented minorities in particular, who left SJSU after attending for just one year was significantly higher than the overall population.  Using telephone and online surveys, and online focus groups, the researchers discovered four recurring factors that influenced students when they made the decision to leave. These factors include:

  • Difficulty in attaining classes
  • Precipitating event or crisis point in a student’s life, and a perceived lack of assistance from staff, faculty or advisors
  • Feeling no connection to the campus
  • Difficult encounters with advisors

The full report are available online. I encourage you to review the data now and attend forums in the spring when the team will further discuss the results of the study.

I invite you to work with us as Academic Affairs continues to collaborate with the campus community to develop a student success strategic plan. The information from this study and your input will be integral in addressing the needs of all of our students.

Sincerely,

Andy Feinstein
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

Provost Feinstein’s Message on Graduation Rate Report

Editor’s note: This message was emailed to all students, faculty and staff on Nov. 20, 2015.

Dear campus community,

I am pleased to announce that graduation rates of SJSU undergraduates continue to improve. As you will see, we have both good news and challenges to address. Your input will be important as we move forward.

Six-year and four-year graduation rates

The six-year baccalaureate rate reached 56.8 percent for our fall 2009 freshmen cohort, up five percentage points over last year’s rate.

As with other campuses in the CSU system, graduation within four years remains the exception rather than the norm. Only 10 percent of the freshmen who started in fall 2011 graduated within four years. Few students enter college ready or, for a variety of reasons, cannot take the course load required to graduate within four years. Going forward, summer programming will allow more students to start the fall semester on an even footing with their college-ready peers. In addition, the campus has plans to support all undergraduates by allowing students to increase their average unit load so they can take courses needed to complete their degree.

Transfer graduation rates

At the same time, the three-year rate for transfers from California Community Colleges rose to 58.4 percent this year from 56.9 percent last year, while the four-year rate for transfers held steady at 69.6 percent. Among both freshmen and transfers, SJSU is well on its way toward surpassing the 2025 graduation goals set forth for the campus by the CSU Chancellor’s Office earlier this year.

Underrepresented minority (URM) graduation rates

While we continue to improve graduation rates for underrepresented minority (URM) students (specifically African-American, Hispanic and Native American) with rates up nearly 2 percent from last year, the new data tells us we still have significant work ahead. Although both URM and non-URM graduation rates improved, the rate of improvement was much higher among non-URM students, increasing the graduation difference for URM students from 12 percent last year to 17 percent this year.

Student Success Task Forces

The news about our growing underrepresented minority achievement gap is disheartening. We must work together to reverse this. As a start, the African American Student Success Task Force and Chicano/Latino Student Success Task Force have introduced a number of community-building events and academic activities, including group study sessions with opportunities to meet with an academic advisor, graduate school workshops, and resiliency workshops. This semester, Student Academic Success Services has expanded its early alert system to all underrepresented students to identify and assist those who are struggling in their classes.

Also happening this year, members of the task forces and other researchers at SJSU are studying factors that influence persistence of URM students to better understand why some leave. This in-depth research will help to inform the actions SJSU must take to retain and graduate our underrepresented minority students.

Moving forward

We need to do much more. As a start, we are developing a strategic plan to support student success broadly across the campus. All of the colleges have also developed ambitious graduation rate goals, including enhancements in URM degree attainment rates. The deputy provost has inventoried our existing student support programs, with the inventory available on a Graduation Rate Strategic Plan website, and completed a preliminary degree completion needs assessment. In the spring, we will be presenting findings broadly and will be soliciting feedback through a variety of venues from students, staff and faculty to inform our strategic plan for student success.

As we develop our strategic plan, I welcome your engagement and feedback through the website, where you can share input and review up-to-date information on our progress. We each have an essential role to play in fostering a sense of belonging and empowering our students to succeed. I look forward to our continued work together.

Sincerely,

​Andy Feinstein
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

“The Blue & the Beyond” Captures Film Festival Audiences

A film produced by Animation/Illustration students–on their own time outside the classroom–has succeeded in capturing the attention of film festivals across the United States and Canada.

Youri Dekker, ’15 Animation/Illustration, originally proposed “The Blue & the Beyond” as a capstone class project for his bachelor’s of fine arts program.

When his instructors took a different route, Dekker hunkered down in an empty classroom with nine classmates, re-worked the story, and began sketching.

“There was a level of excitement because this project was so big and no one in our program had ever done anything like this before, to this scale, and with so many characters,” Dekker said.

Help from 117 classmates

Photo: Courtesy of Youri Dekker

Photo: Courtesy of Youri Dekker

Part way through, Dekker went back to his instructors for advice on the story, production process and managing everyone coming on board, including a good portion of the Shrunkenheadman club.

One year and one day later, in August 2015, they completed the 9.5-minute animated short, with help from 117 classmates total, inspired by Dekker’s vision.

Described as “the story of a young, imaginative man named Charlie, who is searching to find someone like him in a world where he is different in every way,” the film was shown at the Barrie Film Festival Oct. 17 in Ontario and SPARK Animation 2015 Oct. 25 in Vancouver.

Bay Area audiences will get their chance at the Pictoclik film festival and Bay Area Women in Film & Media 2015 Shorts Showcase this November in San Francisco.

Gratitude

Photo: Courtesy of Youri Dekker

Photo: Courtesy of Youri Dekker

Kimberly Mucha and Samia Khalaf, who also graduated with BFAs in Animation/Illustration this past May, served as producers.

A Netherlands native raised near Fresno, Dekker plans to pursue a career in animation. He interned with Pixar on “The Good Dinosaur.”

But for now, this recent graduate’s just feeling grateful for this dream come true, made possible by his friends at San Jose State.

“I told our crew, ‘We’re making this for an audience,’” Dekker said. “‘We’re making this so not only we can enjoy the film, but so other people can enjoy what we created and made.’”

 

SJSU Students to Receive Full-Tuition Scholarships funded by $1 Million Samsung Gift

Photo: Orbie Pullen

Samsung CEO Oh-Hyun Kwon, SJSU President Susan Martin and San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo (photo: Orbie Pullen).

Samsung presented San Jose State University Interim President Susan Martin and San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo with a $50,000 gift on Sept. 24, making SJSU the first recipient of $1 million in scholarships to be awarded to California’s public universities.

“San Jose State wishes to thank Samsung for supporting our efforts to prepare students for careers in the tech industry,” Interim President Susan Martin said. “SJSU sends more graduates to work in Silicon Valley companies than any other university, and this gift is an excellent example of SJSU’s collaboration with area employers.”

The company made the gift to the Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering, with the intention of covering tuition and living expenses for two students this year. Details on the selection process are in the works.

The announcement came as Samsung celebrated the grand-opening of its 1.1-million-square foot headquarters in North San Jose for its U.S. semiconductor operations.

Read the Samsung news release.

Top Technologists Speak at SJSU

Michael Schroepfer (photo courtesy of Facebook)

Facebook Chief Technology Officer Michael Schroepfer will visit campus for the Silicon Valley Leaders Symposium (courtesy of Facebook).

SJSU Media Relations contacts:
Pat Harris, 408-924-1748, pat.harris@sjsu.edu
Robin McElhatton, 408-924-1749, robin.mcelhatton@sjsu.edu

Ten of the world’s leading tech experts are coming to San Jose State this fall for the 13th annual Silicon Valley Leaders Symposium, beginning Sept. 10.

Google Director of Research Peter Norvig

Google Director of Research Peter Norvig

The speakers include Facebook Chief Technology Officer Michael Schroepfer and Google Director of Research Peter Norvig, who are “exploring completely new things that will change the way we live,” according to The New York Times.

Schroepfer is connected to many Facebook innovations including, most recently, solar powered drones beaming Internet access. Norvig literally wrote the book on artificial intelligence.

The Silicon Valley Leaders Symposium takes place every Thursday from noon to 1 p.m. in ENG 189. Also on the agenda are executives from LinkedIn, Intel, Qool Therapeutics, Splunk, NetApp, Greentech, and Twitter.

The Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering has been hosting the series since 2002. The symposium brings industry and government leaders to campus to discuss business, technology, the competitive global economy and hiring trends.

Associate Dean of Graduate Studies Ahmed Hambaba conceived the series and has been its champion since its inception.

“It’s more than just a lecture series—it’s a networking and relationship-building partnership with organizations that will hopefully hire our graduates down the road,” he said.

About San Jose State

The founding campus of the 23-campus California State University system, San Jose State provides a comprehensive university education, granting bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in 134 areas of study with 110 concentrations – offered through its eight colleges.

With more than 33,000 students and nearly 4,370 employees, San Jose State continues to be an essential partner in the economic, cultural and social development of Silicon Valley and the state, annually contributing more than 7,000 graduates to the workforce.

The university is immensely proud of the accomplishments of its more than 220,000 alumni, 60 percent of whom live and work in the Bay Area.

Los Angeles Times: Uber’s Driver Screening Practices Fuel Political Debate on Rider Safety

Posted by the Los Angeles Times on Aug. 20, 2015.

By Laura J. Nelson and Emily Alpert Reyes

The ride-hailing revolution holds the potential to radically change the way people get around. But the political battle over Uber and Lyft in California has focused on something more obscure: fingerprints.

Uber is facing some of the fiercest challenges to its business practices from an array of California officials who claim the Silicon Valley-based company does not adequately screen its rapidly expanding pool of tens of thousands of drivers…

A number of other issues such as insurance coverage and liability have swirled around the rise of Uber and similar services. But for both elected officials and their constituents, questions of criminal histories are “a much more immediate concern if you’re deciding whether to use one of these services rather than a traditional taxi,” said Melinda Jackson, an associate professor of political science at San Jose State University.

Read the full story.

Inspiring Student Receives Top CSU Honor

Photo courtesy of CSU Chancellor's Office

Photo courtesy of CSU Chancellor’s Office

SJSU Media Relations contacts:
Pat Harris, 408-924-1748, pat.harris@sjsu.edu
Robin McElhatton, 408-924-1789, robin.mcelhatton@sjsu.edu

SAN JOSE, CA – Melissa Ortiz, ’17 Computer Engineering, has faced more adversity in her young life than most people do in a lifetime. After her father died, she became homeless, lived in extreme poverty, and dealt with physical and mental abuse.

Overcoming Odds

But Ortiz managed to overcome those obstacles. She started her own company and secured an internship at Intel to support herself so she could go to college. She is the first in her family to do so.

That’s why Ortiz has been named a recipient of the 2015 CSU Trustees’ Awards for Outstanding Achievement. The awards are given to 23 students who overcome adversity and demonstrate superior academic performance, personal accomplishments, community service and financial need. She will fly to the Chancellor’s Office in Long Beach on Sept. 8 to pick up her award.

Love of Engineering

Ortiz is majoring in computer engineering with an emphasis on embedded systems. She maintains a 3.3 GPA. She’s also a member of several campus organizations, but it’s computer engineering that intrigues her the most.

 “Engineering brings out the kid in me, I feel like a kid in a candy store every time I work on a project,” Ortiz says.

 

Photo courtesy of CSU Chancellor's Office

Photo courtesy of CSU Chancellor’s Office

After completing her undergraduate degree, Ortiz plans to earn a master’s degree in computer science and business administration, with the hopes of one day, running her own engineering firm. She also wants to inspire young women to be independent and take an interest in STEM fields.

Ortiz was named the William Hauck scholar. The Hauck endowment will provide $6,000 to this year’s CSU Trustee Award recipient. The late William Hauck, ’63 Social Studies, served as deputy chief of staff to Governor Pete Wilson and chief of staff to Assembly speakers Bob Morretti and Willie L. Brown, Jr.

About San Jose State

The founding campus of the 23-campus California State University system, San Jose State provides a comprehensive university education, granting bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in 134 areas of study with 110 concentrations – offered through its eight colleges.

With more than 33,000 students and nearly 4,370 employees, San Jose State continues to be an essential partner in the economic, cultural and social development of Silicon Valley and the state, annually contributing more than 7,000 graduates to the workforce.

The university is immensely proud of the accomplishments of its more than 220,000 alumni, 60 percent of whom live and work in the Bay Area.