Monday, June 29, 2015

[513a] MTSU study-abroad group builds reef, relationships in Dominican Republic

Concrete industry students make, install components for artificial reef

The group of students, escorted by three CIM staff members, including department chair Dr. Heather Brown, visited the island for 10 days in late May and early June, according to Nicole Green, CIM marketing and recruiting coordinator.
Watch a video of the artificial reef placement at
Students flew into Santo Domingo and traveled by bus to the northern coastal town of SosĂșa to work. The northern coast is less traveled than the Caribbean side of the island, but a new cruise ship port in nearby Puerto Plata may soon change that, bringing tourists to add to the local economy.
Before leaving MTSU, students tested a mock form of the cube-shaped prisms in the CIM lab and created a template to help build the forms on the island.
“They put their communication and concrete skills to the test when they had to acquire construction materials, use the local materials to determine the right ratio for a successful mix, and mix the concrete by hand and with a drill mixer,” Green said.
Although mixing on the beach, students worked hard from breakfast to dinner, taking only a half-day off to visit local waterfalls, Green said. A total of 19 concrete prisms were made to place in the ocean just off the coast to help promote marine life.
During the trip, a top official with the nation’s ministry of marine ecology visited and was excited about the project, telling the group that the ministry would monitor the artificial reef’s success by transplanting sea fans and other species of marine life onto the newly placed concrete prisms to observe growth.
Green gave special thanks to the CIM Patron’s Group for funding part of the trip and to Northern Coast Diving in the Dominican Republic for assisting students in navigating the island, finding materials for the concrete, certifying a few students to scuba dive, and placing the concrete prisms in the ocean.

CIM hopes to return to build on the project next summer.

Friday, June 26, 2015

[513] Community invited to hit the water at Stones River for June 27 Boat Day

The event runs from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, with the headquarters located at the Manson Pike Greenway Trailhead
off Medical Center Parkway and Searcy Street. The City of Murfreesboro Parks & Recreation
Department and the Stones River Watershed Association are hosting the event.

The purpose of the event is to encourage citizens to get to know their river and learn how to be safe, while learning paddling techniques and trying different styles of boats. A variety of boats and personal floatation devices will be provided, and staff and volunteers will be on hand to assist and answer questions. 

Participants should wear clothes and shoes that can get wet and bring a towel. Children and youth under age 18 must be accompanied by parents or an adult.

Boat Day is an annual partner event to introduce safe paddling and recreational opportunities to local citizens, according to Cynthia Allen, environmental coordinator for MTSU Environmental Health & Safety’s Stormwater Program.

Since water quality is also important for healthy streams, booths will also be onsite to share educational information about the Stones River and the streams that flow into it. Educational materials will be provided to encourage citizens to help protect local streams and wildlife with easy-to-do actions to prevent pollution.

Each year, the last Saturday of June is reserved for Boat Day locally.

For more information about MTSU’s Stormwater Program, call Allen at 615-898-2660, email at or visit

[511] MTSU closes July 3 for Independence Day observance

MURFREESBORO — MTSU will be closed Friday, July 3, in observance of Independence Day. All business offices will be closed. No classes will be held that day and also Saturday, July 4.

Offices will reopen at 8 a.m. and all summer session classes will resume at their normal times Monday, July 6.

Fourth of July weekend hours of operation for specific MTSU buildings and venues include:

• Student Union: closed July 3-4 and open from noon to 6 p.m. Sunday, July 5. For Student Union, Keathley University Center and James Union Building hours, visit

• James E. Walker Library: closed July 3-4 and open from 2 to 10 p.m. Sunday, July 5. For the complete hours of operation, visit

• Campus Recreation Center: closed July 3-5; reopens at 6:30 a.m. July 6. For hours of operation, visit

• Student Health Services in the Student Health, Wellness and Recreation Center: closed July 3-5.

• Campus Pharmacy in the Student Health, Wellness and Recreation Center: closed July 3-5.

• For ARAMARK/MT Dining options during the holiday, visit

[510] MTSU solar boat team claims second place, eight national awards

MURFREESBORO — MTSU’s solar boat team sailed confidently against a strong field competing in a recent national competition in Dayton, Ohio.

The team’s confidence with the solar boat they nicknamed “True Blue” lived up to their expectations in the 2015 Solar Splash, an American Society of Mechanical Engineers-sponsored event.

With its highest finish ever, MTSU placed second to host Cedarville University in the 16-team event held on Lake George Wyth.
Solar Splash, officially named the International Intercollegiate Solar/Electric Boat Regatta, is the world championship of intercollegiate solar/electric boating. Teams come from across the country to compete.

“I’m extremely proud of the team’s effort and showing,” said Saeed Foroudastan, adviser and director of the university’s Experimental Vehicles Program. “The forethought, dedication and engineering improvements that were necessary to bring this year’s entry to fruition earned eight awards, the greatest number of honors to date at the Solar Splash competition.”

The eight awards include:

• Outstanding Design Achievement Award, presented by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Power Electronics Society.

• First place in Solar Slalom.

• Second place in qualifying, presented by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers Solar Energy division. To receive this award, the boat must have the best overall design to qualify for the race.

• Second place in the sprint competition (MTSU had the second-fastest boat).

• Outstanding Workmanship and Sportsmanship awards.

• Third-place award for visual display.

• Second place overall.

Rising senior Lindsey Blankenship of Lexington, Tennessee, and junior David Sprouls of Danville, Illinois, piloted the boat as the respective endurance and speed event drivers.

“It went well with new batteries, but not as well as we would’ve liked, but all in all, it was good,” Blankenship said. “I’m very happy and proud (of finishing second). I was nervous during the race because there had been a few collisions.”

“We achieved 24 miles per hour. That’s the fastest we’ve gone,” Sprouls said. “We did not have a single problem. … The other boat (Cedarville) was really fast. We sharpened the edge of the propeller. It made us a little faster, but we were still behind them.”

Even with the best lead-acid batteries that MTSU can buy, the top speed lasts only about one minute, Sprouls, a mechatronics engineering major, added.

Blankenship, a double major in physics and math, will also be a member of the 2015-16 team, to be captained by Sprouls, designing a new boat.

“We’ll start with a blank slate,” Sprouls said. “Hopefully, it will be as nice as this one.”

This year’s MTSU entry was a modified version of the boat that competed in 2014.

Other team members included Matthew Ham, Michael Raymond, Melissa Sanders, Brian Reyes, Rizwan Syed, Robert Johnson and Zach Hunter. Rick Taylor and graduate students Cary Woodson and Jeremy Posey served as advisers.

The MTSU Experimental Vehicles Program is housed in the Department of Engineering Technology, one of 11 departments in the College of Basic and Applied Sciences.

For more information about the program, call 615-494-8786 or email Foroudastan at

Thursday, June 25, 2015

[509] Statement from MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee on Forrest Hall name

“Debate about the name of Forrest Hall has surfaced periodically through the years,” McPhee said. “In light of the horrific killings in Charleston, and the national discussion that has ensued in the aftermath, it is right and appropriate to revisit this matter with the university community, our alumni and supporters, and state officials, who by law must approve any change.”

Forrest Hall was built in 1954 to house the ROTC program, but wasn't dedicated until 1958, when the name Nathan Bedford Forrest Hall became official. It was chosen because of Forrest's notoriety as a military tactical genius for the Confederate Army and because of his ties to Middle Tennessee, including being born in the region.

Debate about the university's ties to Forrest rose periodically through the civil rights era and beyond, with the university removing a 600-pound bronze medallion of Forrest from the Keathley University Center in 1989. Opposition to the name of Forrest Hall didn't reach its height until 2006-07 when a number of students petitioned to have the name removed because of Forrest's ties to the Ku Klux Klan.

Others supported keeping the name. A series of public forums were held to discuss the issue, with the university deciding to keep the name after the Student Government Association rescinded an earlier request to consider a name change and African-American student groups informed university leaders that such a name change was not a priority for them at that time.