Friday, February 03, 2017

[282] Creative opportunities abound as MTSU shows off its Makerspace equipment

The James E. Walker Library celebrated the success of its new “Makerspace” area with an official grand opening and dedication ceremony earlier this week in the second-floor Digital Media Studio.

The area provides equipment that enables students to design and work on projects, as well as write computer code or other specifications with which they can replicate those projects.

“The idea is that you don’t have to be a whiz coming in,” said Bonnie Allen, dean of the Walker Library. “You’re just going to be one leaving. We will show you. We will train you. This is way cool stuff, new toys, and it crosses every discipline on campus.”

Students and faculty crowded into the area at the Feb. 1 grand opening to watch student workers demonstrate three-dimensional, or 3D printers, a resin printer, a laser cutter/etcher, a vinyl cutter, virtual reality and kits full of parts that can be used to build just about anything one can imagine.

The kits contain plates, brackets, beams with holes in them for screws, sensors, joysticks, Wi-Fi modules, Bluetooth modules, temperature and humidity sensors, compasses, drive motors and belts.

Library student worker Michael Dailey, a computer science major from Lascassas, Tennessee, demonstrated a mechanical arm that manipulated a Sharpie. The arm was created with one of the Makerspace MakeBots kits.

They’re kind of little erector sets for adults,” Dailey said as the arm moved the Sharpie over a blank surface.

Dailey also demonstrated a Raspberry Pi, a $35 collection of sensors and electronic parts that can be used to build larger digital items. By speaking in the direction of the colored light-emitting diodes attached to the motherboard, Dailey could make the LEDs light up.

“It’s basically just a minicomputer that you can hook up all kinds … of peripherals to,” said Dailey.

Ben Becker, a computer technician with Linebaugh Public Library in Murfreesboro, said his employer might follow suit.

“We’re working on it,” said Becker. “We’ve got a couple of 3D printers in house now, and we’re hoping to open our new community technology center in the next year or year-and-a-half.”

Dr. Saeed Foroudastan, associate dean of the College of Basic and Applied Sciences, was impressed and said students definitely can use Makerspace for numerous class projects.

“They’re going to get more interested in this technology,” said Foroudastan. “If you can imagine something and come and make it, they will study more.”

Allen also put in an appeal for students to work in the Makerspace area to be trained to help students become accustomed to the equipment.

“It’s super cool,” said Spencer Butler, a biology major from Lebanon, Tennessee. “The university has gone above and beyond.”

For more information about Makerspace, contact Neal McClain, director of library technology, at 615-898-2572 or, or coordinator Valerie Hackworth at 615-904-8545 or

[281] MTSU Go Red for Women Day event raises awareness about women’s heart health

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — The normally True Blue MTSU campus added a dash of red to the color scheme Friday, Feb. 3, to celebrate National Wear Red Day.

The campus community attended MTSU Health Services and Health Promotions festivities for an annual event to raise awareness for the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women campaign. It was held in the Liz and Creighton Rhea Atrium in the Science Building at 9:30 a.m.

And, for this occasion, it was totally OK for the nearly 70 campus employees to wear red.

Those attending learned about risks and symptoms of heart disease in women and men, too. They also took part in games and activities, with an opportunity to win prizes.

Heart disease affects millions of Americans each year. Heart disease and stroke kill one in three women, but it is nearly 80 percent preventable.

Many on campus have been affected. One was Carolyn Hopper, now a retired professor in University Studies. She shared her personal story with the audience. It began with having difficulty to breathe as the fall 2014 semester ended and Christmas holidays approached.

Things escalated to the point where her body was in cardiac arrest as she reached the hospital emergency room. She was sent to Nashville to insert a stint in her heart, then returned to St. Thomas Rutherford for rehabilitation.

“It was scary,” Hopper said at the conclusion of the campus event. “It made me pay attention. I really watch what I eat and I go to SportsCom five to six days a week. The doctors, in following up, said that made a difference.”

Ellen Slicker, board president for the Rutherford County American Heart Association, provided a welcome for attendees.

For anyone unable to attend the event, Lisa Schrader, director of Health Promotion, said they can still GO RED:

Get your numbers: Ask your doctor to check your blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose.
Own your lifestyle: Stop smoking, lose weight, be physically active and eat healthy.
Raise your voice: Advocate for more women-related research and education.
Educate your family: Make healthy food choices for you and your family. Teach your children the importance of staying active.
Donate: Show your support with a donation of time or money.

To learn more about the national movement, visit

[280] Feb. 8 ticket deadline looms as MTSU Unity Luncheon to honor 11 unsung leaders

MURFREESBORO — Tickets are available through Wednesday, Feb. 8, for MTSU’s 21st annual Unity Luncheon.

The Black History Month event, which honors unsung community heroes, is slated for 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 16, in the Student Union Ballroom. Tennessee Board of Investigation Director and MTSU alumnus Mark Gwyn will be the keynote speaker.

Each year the luncheon honors unsung leaders who have made outstanding contributions in the areas of education, community service, civility advocacy, sports and black arts.

This year’s honorees and areas of recognition include:

·      Bichaka Fayissa, a native of Ethiopia, Department of Economics and Finance professor, MTSU — education;
·      Navita Gunter of Guthry, Kentucky, founder, Cervical Cancer Coalition of Tennessee — community service;
·      Jacqueline Jackson of Lexington, Kentucky, retired Department of English professor, MTSU — education;
·      Evelyn James of Murfreesboro, retired nursery school teacher, member of Ardent Workers of First Baptist Church, Murfreesboro — education.
·      Carl Marable of Murfreesboro, director, Second Chance Outreach Ministries — community service;
·      Ernest Newsom of Murfreesboro, clarinetist and psychologist — contribution to black arts;
·      Albert Richardson Jr. of Murfreesboro, community volunteer and humanitarian — community service;
·      Revonda J. Rucker of Murfreesboro, registered nurse and funeral director — community service;
·      James Douglas Watkins of Murfreesboro, former community school director and athletic mentor in Flint, Michigan — excellence in sports;
·      Martha Womack of Murfreesboro, community volunteer and humanitarian — community service;
·      Vernal Young of Smyrna, Tennessee, retired law enforcement officer, Smyrna Police Department — civility advocacy.

Individual tickets are $25 for adults and $15 for students. A table of 10 is $250. To purchase tickets, go to

“Empowering Future Leaders: Moving Forward while Reaching Back” is the theme of the 2017 Black History Month events at MTSU. With the exception of the Unity Luncheon, all events are free and open to the public. For a complete list of events, go to

A printable campus parking map is available at Off-campus visitors attending the daytime events should obtain a special one-day permit from MTSU’s Office of Parking and Transportation at

For more information, contact the MTSU Office of Intercultural and Diversity Affairs at 615-898-5812 or

[279] Blackman students listen, learn, produce during MTSU visit

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — Working in pairs of two, 10 Blackman High School students tackled an assignment from William McDowell, professor and chairholder of the Wright Chair of Entrepreneurship in the Jennings A. Jones College of Business at MTSU.

McDowell gave the students, part of a group of nearly 70 Blackman Collegiate Academy sophomores on campus Thursday, Feb. 2, a limited time to “come up with an amazing new product.”

The students completed their task, and one pair — Landon Fowler and Sarah Oppmann — stood out with their design of a hallway crossing guard that potentially could be implemented at their school.

The MTSU-Blackman partnership is one of several arranged each semester during the academic year. It allows freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors opportunities to spend time on the college campus, meeting MTSU students, faculty and administrators and learning about many of the university’s 140-plus programs.

Fowler, 16, said it was “really interesting to learn how entrepreneurship works … to make designs and make it happen.”

Oppmann, 15, found it “nice to learn about all the different jobs,” she said. “I never had been interested (in entrepreneurship), but now I am.”

McDowell said the Blackman students did a great job of developing an idea, creating a rapid-prototype, and presenting to the others in the session. It was exciting to see their enthusiasm and innovation at work, he said.

“The time constraint sort of stressed them out, but they did come up with clever ideas,” Blackman geometry teach Ginna Hamby said of the entrepreneurship session.

Other business classes included the insurance profession with Dave Wood and a Web development demonstration with Charles Apigian.

The Blackman students gained insight into all of MTSU’s colleges within the university. They honed in on programs and potential careers in the fields of geosciences with Melissa Lobegeier and Henrique Momm; hands-on science with engineering trechnology’s Walter Boles and Saeed Foroudastan, and physics and astronomy’s Ron Henderson and more.

“We have good luck with the Blackman kids. They’re focused,” said Heather Brown, director of the School of Concrete and Construction Management.

While on campus, among the nearly 20 activities during their four hours, the Blackman students:

• Heard about a typical day in the life of a college student from MTSU Student Ambassadors.
• Learned about paths to success in communications, news and marketing from Jimmy Hart, director in News and Media Relations, and Kara Hooper, director in Creative and Visual Services.
• Took a recording industry tour with Stacy Merida and John Merchant and Center for Innovation in Media tour with Whitney Matheson.
  Discovered the Model U.N. at MTSU, a realistic simulation of the actual United Nations, with Virginia Lefler.
• Research opportunities for biology majors with Lynn Boyd, the department chair.