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 Releases Report 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 Releases 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.

 

Student Journalists to Stream Taco Eating Contest

Chacho’s World Taco Eating Championship

SJSU students are seeking to capture the excitement, with world-class competitors like last year’s event (photos by Adrian Trujillo and Sergio Estrada).

SJSU students are seeking to capture the excitement, with world-class competitors like last year’s event (photos by Adrian Trujillo and Sergio Estrada).

San Jose State University’s School of Journalism and Mass Communications will stream the second Chacho’s World Taco Eating Championship on Aug. 15 at St. James Park in downtown San Jose. The stream will be available on South Bay Pulse, an app built by students.

Co-anchors Jonathan Wold and Brenda Norrie will go live at 4:15 p.m. Expect behind-the-scenes videos and interviews with top-ranked competitive eaters Matthew Stonie and Miki Sudo. As contestants gobble up the tacos, commentator Abraham Rodriguez will follow the action.

All three students are journalism majors or recent graduates. More than a dozen Spartans are involved, in front of the camera, behind the camera, and online. They’re collaborating with the goal of producing a high-caliber program on a shoe-string budget thanks to the power of the Internet and their own ingenuity.

The project is an excellent example of the cutting edge efforts underway at SJSU’s journalism school. Students built the South Bay Pulse app (Apple iPad, Android, Kindle Fire) using the Adobe Digital Publishing Suite. Adobe provided mentors, straight from corporate headquarters just a few blocks from campus in the heart of Silicon Valley.

In fact, the entire project grew from a synergy that could only happen here. The students and the taco contest’s producer met at a business event. David Ocampo, ’89 BS Advertising, ’92 MA Mexican American Studies, is creative director at Milagro Marketing. The event was sponsored by Content magazine, which covers the innovative and creative culture of Silicon Valley.

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Alumnus Photographs Veterans

SJSU alumnus Tom Sanders, ’15 MFA Photography, is on a 24-city photographic journey. At each stop he takes photos of World War II veterans.

“The goal of this assignment is to create a greater appreciation for all veterans and soldiers,” Sanders said. “The veterans get the opportunity to tell their story and be honored before they pass away, to preserve their stories and images for future generations.”

Sanders got the idea for the veteran photo project after snapping photos of a World War II vet for a senior project at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. During the shoot, the vet told him a spine-chilling story that he says put his life into perspective.

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SJSU’s Accreditation Reaffirmed

WASC noted SJSU presented "a detailed and organized approach to describe assessment" of five core competencies, with a special focus on information literacy and writing (photo by Christina Olivas).

In a letter reaffirming the university’s accreditation, WASC noted SJSU presented a detailed and organized approach to describing assessment of five core competencies, with a special focus on information literacy and writing.

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

SAN JOSE, CA – The Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) has reaffirmed San Jose State University’s accreditation for seven years.

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California Teachers Summit

teachers at a professional development meeting

The Connie L. Lurie College of Education, which will host the San Jose site for the California Teachers Summit, is committed to teacher preparation (photo by Robert Bain).

Approximately 500 teachers and aspiring teachers, from preschool through high school, will meet on July 31 at San Jose State as part of an unprecedented effort to concurrently assemble 20,000 teachers at 33 locations statewide.

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CyberGirlz Find Friends at Facebook

Photo: David Schmitz

SJSU CyberGirlz program participants at Facebook (photos by David Schmitz).

Thirty-eight middle school girls from San Jose State University’s CyberGirlz program took part in a unique experience this summer that may ultimately be a life changing experience for them. They went to cybersecurity camp at Facebook. For months, students from SJSU’s Jay Pinson STEM Education program taught the girls basic coding and cybersecurity skills in after-school programs made possible through funding from Symantec, Intel, AT&T and Facebook.

At Facebook, the girls advanced those skills and learned more about malware, firewalls and cyber-ethics. They also heard from Facebook’s chief security officer, and a panel of female employees who shared their personal career stories and advice on getting into the cybersecurity field.

Schmitz

Facebook gave each girl a new laptop computer to make sure they continue to hone their cyber sleuthing skills.

Facebook, along with the Jay Pinson STEM Education program and several non-profit groups  are working together to get young girls interested in STEM fields, especially computer science.

They hope to pique their interest early on since some researchers believe girls loose interest in STEM subjects around 12 or 13 years of age. Facebook hopes to keep the interest going. They gave each girl a new laptop computer to make sure they continue to hone their cyber sleuthing skills.

The Jay Pinson STEM Education program is also gearing up for a new year of providing classroom instruction to elementary and middle school students in the San Jose area.

“We feel there’s a need to provide a safe space for girls to explore their curiosity and skills in cybersecurity, so in ten years we see a workforce that resembles our community with at least 50 percent men and 50 percent women participating,” said Virginia Lehmkuhl-Dakhwe, director of the Jay Pinson STEM Education program.

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.

 

 

Chevron STEM ZONE

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 O.co 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.

SJSU with Tony La Russa 530

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.

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President Obama Honors Professor

President Barack Obama meets with the 2013 winners of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM) in the Oval Office, June 17, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama meets with the 2013 winners of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring in the Oval Office, June 17, 2015. Professor Soto is on the far right (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza).

Professor of Biological Sciences Julio Soto met President Barack Obama at a White House reception on June 16 recognizing recipients of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring.

The award honors individuals who have made extraordinary efforts to engage students from communities that are underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. The National Science Foundation organized the event.

Soto served as the principal investigator on two groundbreaking grants at San Jose State. Under HHMI-SCRIBE, Soto and colleagues transformed the core curriculum for biology majors. With NSF-RUMBA, Soto coordinates summer research opportunities for under-represented students.

Together, the programs equip students with the academic and applied opportunities they need to excel in graduate school and beyond, reflecting the department’s emphasis on hands-on, inquiry-based learning activities at the bench and in the field.