Studying Wildfires, Saving Lives

SJSU’s resident wildfire weather expert hit the road recently, driving all the way to Texas to learn more about the super dynamic atmospheric conditions inside and around blazes so we can better predict wildfire behavior, saving lives and property. Craig Clements, an associate professor with the Department of Meteorology and Climate Science, and his graduate students tested their mobile atmospheric profiling system, a truck pulling a compact trailer loaded with the latest tech tools including lidar and sodar, which use light and sound waves to track winds. Clements’ and his team led a group of over 50 scientists in an experiment called FireFlux II, which included airborne imagery from a helicopter that flew over the 150-acre controlled burn ignited by the Texas A&M Forest Service. Clements’ groundbreaking research is funded in part by a $900,000 grant from The Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program, the National Science Foundation’s most prestigious award in support of junior faculty members nationwide. In 2011, Professor Clements received the SJSU Research Foundation‘s Early Career Investigator Award, which recognizes tenure-track faculty members who excel in research, scholarship and creative activity, and have secured funds for research early in their careers. View a related television news report.

Animation/Illustration Winners

The SJSU Animation/Illustration program continues to win prizes at regional, state and national competitions. Originally conceived to give locals a chance to compete for careers in the screen arts, the program now attracts students nationally and internationally.

Recent graduate Michelle Ikemoto and a production team composed of classmates won awards for Best Film Under 30 Minutes and Best Student Film for their animated short film, “Tule Lake.” Tule Lake is a tribute to the director’s late grandmother and the risks she took to preserve normalcy for her family during their exile in the Tule Lake internment camp during World War II. The awards were sponsored by CreaTV San Jose, a non-profit that seeks to inspire, educate and connect San Jose communities using media to foster civic engagement. The ceremony was held Jan. 5 at San Jose’s historic California Theater. Previous wins for Tule Lake include first place for Animation and a tie for Best In Show in the CSU Media Arts festival in November 2012.

Two films won awards at the AsiansOnFilm Festival. “Couch & Potatoes,” a stop-motion film produced and directed by May 2012 graduate Chris Lam and senior Eunsoo Jeong, was the winner in the Short Animation category. “A Knock On My Door,” directed by Associate Professor David Chai and produced by his 2012 Advanced Animation class, took Honorable Mention in the same category. The festival, which is sponsored by AsiansonFilm.com, will be held Feb. 15-17 at J.E.T. Studios in North Hollywood.

Chai and team also won the gold medal in the Moving Image Category at the New York Society of Illustrators 55th Annual Exhibition for their animated short film, “A Knock on My Door.” The film has a two-fold San Jose State connection as it documents the life of David Chai’s father, SJSU Professor Emeritus of Electrical Engineering Hi Dong Chai. The awards ceremony was held Jan. 4 in New York City. The Society of Illustrators Annual Exhibition is open to artists worldwide, and each year a jury of top professionals considers thousands of entries before selecting the best for inclusion in their exhibition at the society’s gallery in New York. Professor Chai’s accomplishment marks the first time that SJSU has received a gold medal at this prestigious venue.

Five illustrations by SJSU A/I Lecturer Inga Poslitur were accepted into the Society of Illustrators of Los Angeles Illustration West 51Competition. Her illustration “Eve Redeemed” received the gold medal. The Society of Illustrators of Los Angeles was founded in 1953 to promote the professional status of illustration art as well as to foster both philanthropic and educational projects. From this small beginning, SILA has grown into a productive membership whose work is seen locally and nationally by millions in printed media, television, films, online and at gallery exhibitions. Today, SILA is firmly established as a major professional art entity on the West Coast.

Students Learn #ItCanWait

Did you know…

  • taking your eyes off the interstate to read a text is like driving blind for the length of a football field?
  • driving while texting is like piloting a 3,000-pound metal missile with your eyes closed?
  • more than 100,000 crashes annually involve drivers who are texting?
  • drivers who text are almost 25 times more likely to crash?

Speakers shared these facts and more at a “Txtng & Drivng… It Can Wait” news conference Jan. 25 in the SJSU Event Center. Vice President for Student Affairs William Nance opened the event by recalling his response when AT&T offered to help: “I said, ‘Absolutely, we’ll figure out how and when to do it.’” AT&T Regional Vice President for External Affairs Marc Blakeman announced an Apple version of DriveMode is in the works. This Android and Blackberry app sends auto-replies to people who text, email and call while you’re on the road so you can keep your hands on the wheel. University Police Department Chief of Police Peter Decena, San Jose Police Department Commander of Traffic Enforcement Jason Ta and SJPD Officer Jim Hagen (all SJSU alumni!) noted police will hold 23 texting and driving enforcement events this year.  Associated Students of SJSU President Calvin Worsnup was the first of many to take a spin on AT&T’s texting and driving simulator, which looks alot like an arcade driving game equipped with a cell phone for texting. Some students were super cautious, both most crashed within minutes. KGO Bay Area News, the San Jose Mercury News, Spartan Daily and Update News covered the event to help spread the word. To learn more, check out the “Txtng & Drivng… It Can Wait” website, where you can watch videos and take the pledge “to never txt and drive.”

Afghan Journalism Professors in San Jose

What better way to gain media skills and knowledge than hands-on learning? What better way to find out about another culture than immersing yourself in it?

Three professors from Afghanistan completed such an opportunity during Fall 2012: an 11-week stay in San Jose while studying at one of the top journalism schools in the United States. Their classrooms went beyond four walls, including media tours of NBC Bay Area, San Jose Mercury News and KLIV 1590 with Vanita Cillo, a senior account manager with LAMAR Transit Advertising.

The whole Bay Area experience was something that Professors Yahya Alazin, Hamid Safwat and Ahmad Zia Ferozpur can literally take home with them – and pass on to their own students.

With two $1 million U.S. State Department grants, SJSU is leading efforts to enhance college-level journalism education in the Afghan provinces of Balkh and Herat. Diane Guerrazzi, an associate professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communications, organizes journalism academies in the Middle East.

During the 2012-2013 academic year, Afghan journalism professors, including a new group arriving this spring semester, learn closely from SJSU professors, who prepared detailed lesson plans focused in areas such as beginning reporting, information gathering and media law. SJSU professors meet with the Afghan professors regularly to go over the lessons in hour-long sessions. Using Cisco’s WebEx video conferencing program, these sessions are recorded and the videos are made available for other professors in Afghanistan.

Beyond academics, visiting professors have a social life with their assigned Bay Area ambassadors consisting of local professors, university students and members of the Rotary Club. This initial trio also met and interacted with President Qayoumi and his wife Najia Karim, both Afghan natives.

“The community has really rolled out the red carpet,” Guerrazzi said. “President Qayoumi has been supportive.”

Reflecting upon the past 11 weeks, Ferozpur wrote in a personal essay, “Education is the most important key to change! I believe in learning, hope, compassion and forgiveness. My last word is that education is one of the most important elements that can bring peace, security, development and stability in a country like Afghanistan.”

UPD’s 21st Toy Drive Success

Once again, the University Police Department distributed toys in December to more than 1,000 children and their families living in neighborhoods near campus. UPD officers, staff and volunteers drove a sleigh up and down the streets south of SJSU to hand deliver gifts, donated and wrapped by staff members and students. This year marks the 21st anniversary of the UPD Holiday Toy Drive, coordinated with donations and assistance from the entire university community.

Governor Helps Launch SJSU Plus

Top elected and higher education officials joined Silicon Valley’s leading entrepreneurs at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library on Jan. 15 for the advent of a groundbreaking partnership aimed at bridging public higher education with a promising Silicon Valley startup.

Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. spoke at the event about the long-term potential for San Jose State Plus before SJSU President Mohammad Qayoumi and Udacity Inc. CEO and Co-Founder Sebastian Thrun signed the official agreement.

In his first public appearance at SJSU, recently appointed California State University Chancellor Timothy P. White provided a systemwide perspective on the announcement and online education. Silicon Valley entrepreneur Marc Andreessen attended to lend his support.

SJSU community members joined the media and officials to participate in a rigorous question and answer session including Brown, Qayoumi, Thrun, White and SJSU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Ellen Junn.

Read the full news release about today’s announcement. View a recording of the news conference and join the conversation about #SJSUPlus on Twitter.

 

 

 

BFA Graphic Design Exhibition

This week marks a pivotal moment for 22 students graduating this fall from SJSU’s bachelor of fine arts in graphic design program. Their senior design show opened Dec. 7 at Works/San Jose, and will remain on display through Dec. 14. Their goal? To show how “graphic design is an experience that seeks to influence audiences through visual communication. It accomplishes this by utilizing the creative process to fuse form and content.” Students and faculty members are also inviting employers that need graphic design talent to meet these soon-to-be-alumni at professional nights 6-9 p.m. Dec. 12 and 13. Read more about MAKESHIFT.

 

 

Isabel Allende Day

Isabel Allende Day began November 27 with a tour of animation/illustration sketches inspired by her first novel for young adults, “City of Beasts,” and then continued with a stage adaption of her short story “Tosca.” But it wasn’t until after Allende and her husband William C. Gordon settled into arm chairs on stage at Morris Dailey Auditorium that people really got to hear from the world-renowned author.

She shared a few frightening details from the death of her 26-year-old daughter, a moment she said “broke my heart and changed my life.” And she recalled how it felt after a military dictatorship drove her and her children from their Chilean home:

“As an immigrant, you are nobody. You have to stand on your own strength.”

Yet the conversation was filled with lighter moments and clear affection between the the couple, who claimed to have contrasting approaches to everything from writing to walking the dog, though they clearly share a love of writing and living together in their Marin County home. Their connection to San Jose State? They met through a Spanish professor, who gave Allende one of Gordon’s books 35 years ago.

The day also included a short awards ceremony, when Allende was named a Fulbright Global Citizen for marrying art and activism in literature that resonates worldwide. She first won international acclaim in 1982 after the publication of her novel, The House of Spirits. Since then, she has published 19 books translated into more than 30 languages.

Isabel Allende Day was presented by SJSU, Circulo Hispanico, the Center for Literary Arts and the Department of World Languages and Literatures.

SJSU Choir Accompanies Bocelli

During the summer, SJSU Concert Choir Director Jeffrey Benson received a telephone call asking if his students would consider providing back up vocals for the superstar tenor. The result? A night to remember at HP Pavilion Nov. 23.

We caught up with the students during rehearsal a few hours before the show. The 60-voice choir later performed eight numbers with Bocelli, plus a ninth on their own.

If you’re on Facebook, you can also watch a video posted by a fan. Hear more SJSU choir music on the program’s YouTube channel.