Engineering Research Project Fuels Scientific Innovations

by Acadia Otlowski 

A student stands ankle-deep in snow outside of the engineering building, a propane torch in her hand. In her other gloved hand, she holds a metal cylinder, heating it to remove residue from the last set of tests.

This cylinder is a just a piece of the mold that the team of four engineering students are using to create solid fuel for their research in biofuel testing.

Inside, team leader Huy Nguyen breaks off pieces of beeswax and places them on a scale, then measures out a smaller amount of aluminum powder to mix in. The fuel that the students were creating was 10 percent aluminum and 90 percent beeswax, following the specifications laid out by the professor leading the research.

The students then place the ingredients in a giant melting pot, after which it is a waiting game. The ingredients take about an hour to fully melt. The molten mix is then poured into molds, where it will harden into the cylinder shape that is used for testing.

The students are part of a larger research endeavor headed by engineering professor, Viatcheslav Naoumov.

Naoumov taught aerospace engineering for 15 years in Russia before moving to the United States to teach at the University of Tennessee. He was there for seven years before coming to Central Connecticut.

In 2009, Naoumov said that he was approached by a couple of students who asked him to help with their research. It took the original team about a half a semester to even complete the drawings of the tester engine, said Naoumov, because they needed to be incredibly specific with the dimensions.

Then it took some time for the team to gather all the parts they needed. Some were fabricated by the university, while others had to be made elsewhere. Many of the parts were built with the help of sponsors or donations from local companies.

The team also had to come up with a method of recording the results, which took some time. It wasn’t until mid-2010 that the team actually started to get results.

It took the most money for the initial setup, according to Naoumov, but the project still isn’t cheap to run, costing about  $3,000 to $4,000 every year.

The research costs so much because not only do the students need money for the fuel materials, but also because the thermal couplers need replacing every couple of tests, which adds up fairly quickly over time.

The current team is working with mostly beeswax, while the previous team last semester focused mainly on paraffin. The team has found that the flame is a lot bigger with beeswax, but there are some issues that they are trying to resolve.

Not only has the team had issues with the fuel cracking, they also had issues with “sputtering,” which essentially means that the beeswax is melting before it combusts, impacting the accuracy of the results. Since the melted beeswax isn’t actually combusting, it affects the calculations of other variables, including thrust.

Additionally, the thermal couplers were too low. The team will have to redo the tests because of these issues.

Adam Mocarski hopes to present the teams’s research at the annual SciTech conference hosted by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, in Kissimmee, FL . Over the years, research has resulted in the publishing of seven papers. The first paper was published in 2011, said Naoumov, who also added that the team had to wait to get consistent results before attempting to publish a paper.

But the benefits of this research go beyond the research itself. Naoumov said that the program attracts the best and brightest students, which not only helps the research, but helps the students, as evidenced by the two female students on the team, Elvira del Carre Patallo and Beatriz Alcalde Santiago. These same students are often the ones that are going back to school for their master’s degrees and Ph.D’s.

One of the exchange students, del Carre Patallo, is looking to go to graduate school in the United States, but wants to go for her master’s in a program like business. According to Naoumov, most of those on the team end up at other universities, as CCSU doesn’t offer graduate degrees in engineering.

There are five photos of the previous teams hanging on the walls of Naoumov’s office, representing the five different teams that have worked on the research over the last five semesters.

“I like it because I can look at their faces and, of course, remember their names,” said Naoumov about the photos, which contain the signatures of each of the students who worked on the  project.

Naoumov said he feels that the experience the students get is just as important as the research itself.  He hopes that these students will help lead the way in the future.

“We need more researchers and more scientists,” said Naoumov. “And that’s exactly what I try to do.”

Yale Professor Speaks on Importance of Hispanic Heritage

By Jesmarie Disdiel

Dr. Rolena Adorno, Department Chair and Sterling Professor of Spanish at Yale University, visited Central Connecticut Wednesday to speak on Hispanic heritage and its importance today, posing the question of what does Columbus Day mean now?

“Hispanic Heritage Month offers us a chance to reflect exactly on these matters,” said Adorno as she explained the challenges young people of diverse immigrant families face today.

Opportunities for Hispanics in the past were scarce.  Now, because of the efforts pushed by powerful individuals such as President Lyndon B. Johnson (who fist declared the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Week, which President Ronald Reagan eventually made Hispanic Heritage Month) opportunities are now presented everywhere.

Adorno explained Spanish colonialism while exploring what it means for us today.

“What I am going to share with you is the account written by an individual who was born after the Spanish conquest of the Incan Empire,” said Adorno.

Adorno introduced Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala, a Peruvian noble man who “has left for us one of the greatest eyewitness accounts of life under colonialism, in this case Spanish colonialism, that we have today.”

The manuscript, written by Guaman, is a historical account of the Spanish conquest of the Incas and gives a harsh critique of Spanish colonial rule and the deep problems that arose as a result.

The importance of this piece of history is to explain “what is meant at the time, and what meanings we can derive from it now,” said Adorno. “So in my view what Columbus Day is now, nationally, in this country is language and communication, and how it involves education.”

Adorno puts a strong emphasis on the importance of education and how important it was to visit CCSU for Hispanic Heritage Month. Her husband, who has faced challenges as a Hispanic, attended and graduated from CCSU.

“Central was the beginning of it all. Central offered an open door and they made his college education possible. It’s for this reason it is such a pleasure to be with you here today, this makes me emotional,” said Adorno. “To honor the opportunity it provided my husband and to recognize the opportunities that Central provides to all of you as students and all faculty members today.”

The Student Center: Providing Career Opportunities For 50 Years

By Ruth Bruno

After 50 years, the CCSU Student Center continues to provide a place for students to gather together to grab some lunch or do homework. But for others, the Student Center provides a job and many opportunities leading to future careers.

Tiffany Moffo-Simpson, Assistant Director of the Student Center, has worked there for almost 10 years. She began as an intern while she was a grad student at CCSU. Over the years, says Simpson, the Student Center has changed in order to meet the demands of the students.

“We’ve expanded in the sense that we now have many more clubs. The main difference over the years is our students. Our student body changes, so we try hard to keep up with those needs and what they want,” said Simpson.

Simpson works closely with student staff members and interns. She says watching and helping students through the same processes she experienced as a young intern has been one of the highlights of her job at the student center.

“Even now watching some of our students who start out as quiet and shy evolve into mature and involved, focused student leaders; that’s my proudest moment,” said Simpson.

Maria Santilli, Co-Assistant Director of the Student Center along side Simpson, says that the atmosphere of the center is familial, and members of the senior staff work together in a “tight-knit” way.

“We create an environment that our student employees want to come back to every day.  Our student employee retention is incredibly high,” she said.

The majors and career goals of those who work in the student center span a wide range. Maleka Powers, Breakers Game Room Operations Manager, notices and takes advantage of this. She says the experience she gains working with a diverse group of people will pair well with her degree in exercise science.

“The environment is very diverse and that’s my favorite part about it,” said Powers. “In personal training, you work with all kinds of different people. Working at Breakers, especially, you interact with a lot of different people from different backgrounds.”

For other students, their work at the Student Center has given them a resource to help lead them to explore new possibilities.

“To be honest, at first I just saw it as a job, but then as I became student manager, that bug has been placed in my ear,” said Pratik Patel, a mechanical engineering major.  He explains that the passion of his colleagues and managers around him has caused him to reconsider if he wants to continue in mechanical engineering.

“The idea of going into higher education has been sitting in the back of my mind,” said Patel.

For others, working in the Student Center provides them with the encouragement and experience to continue in their chosen field.

Julie Koivisto, a grad student studying in the counseling program here, has began her internship at the Student Center just this year. “Just working here for the last couple of months has really reassured me that this is what I want to do,” said Koivisto.

Colleen Powers, Assistant Director of Student Activities/Leadership Development (SA/LD) says that working with students and interns is something that many of the programs hosted in the Student Center – including SA/LD and Central Activities Network (CAN) – strive to do.

“I think for most of us who work in higher education the whole reason we do it is because we want to work with students,” said Powers.

Powers further explains that the interns and students who work for SA/LD and CAN are advised about what activities to host on campus, but most of the decisions are made by them.

“The last two years, we definitely noticed a different energy and enthusiasm of the incoming class and I think part of it has to do with efforts we’ve made toward making orientation a better program for them,” said Powers.

She says there has been an increase at events and a demand for more educational opportunities. As a result, on-campus programs are offering more lectures that students can tie into their classes.

Powers said that having a building and department like the Student Center has been an important factor in bringing these programs together so that they can be easily coordinated.

“Our location is great,” said Powers.  “The Student Center staff takes a lot of pride in making sure the building is the best it can be and making sure it offers the most possible to students.”

Campus Lit Magazine Hosts Award Winning Poet

by Sheridan Cyr

Students gathered eagerly to hear the heartfelt poetry of William Schutt and Alfred Corn in Marcus White Living Room on Thursday evening.

Michael Lacy, Editor-in-Chief of Helix Magazine who hosted the event, welcomed Schutt to the pedestal, saying that Schutt’s achievements were “quite the list, to be honest!”

Schutt traveled to New Britain from Baltimore, Maryland to share his work with the group of students that he once was a part of. Students trying to figure out their own place in the world of writing were fascinated by the finished product of a successful poem.

Reading first from his book “Westerly,” Schutt shared a handful of poems. They tended to have a similar essence. The audience understood his captivation with nature with a hint of skepticism. Schutt keeps an eye on human nature and attempts to pick it apart in hopes of understanding.

“The good thing about our culture is it’s always in flux and influenced by other cultures,” said Schutt.

The poet also shared some newer poems that he’d like to think are wiser than those in the past. He believes that with every year, we become more knowledgeable of the world around us. These poems included, among others, “Background Noise,” “Valet,” and a poem about Hurricane Sandy entitled “Storm.”

As Schutt wrapped up his own reading, he introduced his colleague, mentor and friend to the podium, Alfred Corn. Corn has much more experience in the field, as he has been picking through it longer. When Corn read his poetry, he did not stutter once, nor pause to readjust. He read with much enthusiasm and adoration of the art itself.

Corn has lived in many different places throughout his life, but spoke mostly about his time in New Haven, Connecticut.

“When I was here, I always enjoyed being a Nutmegger,’” said Corn, generating a few laughs from the crowd.

The first poem he shared took the reader to a train, dissecting the surrounding passengers as well as the scenery. He pointed out that he had traveled so far, yet had not moved from his designated seat. “Don’t miss the goings-on around you!” warned Corn.

He shared poems from “The Various Light” and “Tables.” As a child, Corn read a great deal of Edgar Allen Poe and has been influenced by him throughout his life.

At the end of the evening, the poets shared tips and guides to the aspiring writers that made up the audience. Corn said that the best way to get your thoughts on paper is to “write in your mind and then record what you write on the computer.”

Schutt gave one key suggestion: “You should write a poem that at least one person in the room will hate.” He says it is important to remember that not everyone will like your writing. That is just part of the business.

Album Review: Gary Clark Jr. Live

by Dillon Meehan

The future of rock-and-roll music, guitarist Gary Clark Jr., has released his first live album “Gary Clark Jr. Live.” The album was recorded from the best renditions at his shows all across the world over the past year.

The young musician had recently gained fame by performing at Eric Clapton’s last two Crossroads Guitar Festival in 2010 and 2013. The festival lineup was hand picked by Clapton.

The album starts off with “Catfish Blues,” a cover of guitar legend Robert Petway’s 1941 song. It is the perfect way for Clark to open his live album, considering he is often regarded as the future of Texas blues.

The next song on the album is “Next Door Neighbor Blues.” With Clark’s ability to paint a picture with his lyrics and his wailing guitar solos, it becomes apparent as to why Rolling Stone wrote articles declaring him as “The Chosen One” and the next Jimi Hendrix.

Clark then breaks out with “Travis County” an up-tempo ballad about how he was arrested in high school. The problem is with no crowd noise it seems as though it was recorded in a studio, slightly taking away from the experience of listening to a live album.

However, Clark quickly breaks into his epic seven-minute track “When My Train Pulls In” which features many intense solos throughout. After hearing this particular song, all of the hype and praise makes sense. This is why the Rolling Stones asked him to tour with them and why he performed for President Obama at the White House.

Clark then shows his genre-breaking ability.

After playing several up tempo tunes, he plays a few slower songs such as “Three O’Clock Blues” and “Things Are Changin’” a love song that separates itself from the rest of the album due to its combination of blues and R&B.

Clark then begins to break out his hits, playing the very powerful and heavy “Numb” and “Bright Lights.” He then plays “Please Come Home” which won a Grammy for Best R&B Performance, as well as “Ain’t Messin’ ‘Round,” which was nominated for Rock Song of the Year.

Clark’s ability to have been nominated for multiple genres in todays genre-strict music industry is further evidence of how different of a musician Clark truly is.

He finishes the album with the slow and beautiful track “When The Sun Goes Down.” However, before the end of the album, Clark is able to cover both Jimmy Hendrix and blues legend Albert Collins by combining “Third Stone From The Sun” and “If You Love Me Like You Say.”

“Gary Clark Jr. Live” is different than many live albums which feature a lot of crowd noise and applause both before and after songs as well as the occasional crowd sing-a-along. However, because “Live” is a collection of different concerts it is unable to have that experience.

With that being said, Clark’s major-label debut album “Blak and Blu” was criticized for being overly produced and sounding slightly electronic. “Live” gives Clark a chance to show his music stripped down and as raw as possible. It allows the listener a chance to hear how talented Clark truly is, and there is just enough of the occasional applause to remind you that it is live.

Hendrix comparisons aside, Gary Clark Jr. is talented, with a very unique style. There is still plenty of time for the “Future of Texas Blues” to continue make his mark in the music industry.

Gotham: A Crime-Drama Set in the DC Universe

by Jesmarie Disdiel

Fans of Batman and all the characters in his world will greatly appreciate the new TV show Gotham – a crime-drama with a DC universe twist.

Set in Gotham City, the series portrays the origin stories of DC’S most popular hero, Batman, and some of his infamous villains: Catwoman, the Penguin, Poison Ivy, the Joker and more.

The show is written like most crime-dramas on television today, with a crime of the week. The crime showcased last week in the pilot: the murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne, Bruce Wayne’s parents.

The premiere introduces the character of Detective James Gordon, a new recruit of the Gotham Police Department, who is assigned the Wayne double murder case and promises the young Bruce Wayne he will find the culprit. Gordon comes to Gotham with a desire for justice, but as the episode progresses, he learns that he is seeking “justice in an unjust world.”

Gotham is not a typical city with a crime problem. Crime runs Gotham. It is home to many criminals and is governed and “protected” with corruption. The police department itself is corrupt, with Gordon’s rough drunkard of a partner, Harvey Bullock, unconcerned with achieving justice.

The pilot introduces many important characters, such as Catwoman and Penguin, and as the series progresses, audiences will begin to understand how their past shapes how the villains are viewed contemporarily. We also begin to see how Bruce Wayne’s surroundings turn him into the future Dark Knight.

With only one episode aired so far, it is unfair to doubt the success of the show. Some people may criticize the show for not depicting the characters they’ve come to love in the way they want.

For instance, Alfred, who is Bruce Wayne’s butler, appears dark and not as proper as he is usually portrayed in other versions. The pilot also tries to introduce many characters all at once, which may make the episode feel cluttered.

The series doesn’t feel like just another crime-drama, though. It is interesting because it is a prequel to everything Batman is today, with The Dark Knight movie series ending a few years ago and a new Batman vs. Superman movie coming up. The show has relevancy and therefore will gain attention, not only from diehard Batman fans, but also from the newer generation of viewers.

The pilot was successful in what it set out to do: to introduce audiences to the origins of Detective James Gordon, Batman and the villains. The series has promise and it will be interesting to see how the characters and their relationships with one another develop and if the show can live up to the high standards left by the recent Batman film producers.

Review: FIFA 15

By Dillon Meehan

The world’s best-selling sports game franchise has released yet another gem with the soccer video game FIFA 15. While many sports games are often criticized for their lack of new content, and seem to be just a simple roster update, FIFA 15 has improved on all fronts. EA Canada has stepped up their game and retooled several parts of the game.

Subtle and minor changes are what separate FIFA 15 from its predecessors. The player models have been rebuilt and a player’s kit is no longer just attached to their body, when a defender grabs onto an opposing striker, you can see their hand grabbing hold of the jersey and pulling them closer.

The player’s faces were modeled accurately to their real life counterparts and look nearly identical, from their hairstyle to their facial hair. A player’s ability to keep possession of the ball has also been improved. In FIFA 13 and 14, it was rather easy to lose possession of the ball and it was a constant back and forth between whomever was playing. In 15 however, due to the improved first touch, you will be able to possess the ball in those tight situations making it much easier to perfectly set up a scoring chance. However setting up a chance is only half the battle, with EA Canada making improvements to goalkeepers it is now more difficult to simply blast a shot past them and you have to give yourself the best angle possible if you want to score.

EA has also added a new aspect never before seen to FIFA, players that show emotion. After a nasty tackle or a clutch goal, players would react as they would in real life. They may shove the player who took them down to hard, or be chased down by all of their teammates after scoring the go-ahead goal in the 90th minute. This is where the new living pitch aspect comes in to play. As the game progresses you will be able to notice the pitch start to be torn up with cleat marks or a divot after a slide tackle. When a player rifles a shot passed the keeper into the net, the entire goal frame may shake or lift up due to the sheer amount of power, just as it would in real life.

The entire atmosphere has been revamped, not only game play and graphics. The entire stadium reacts to whatever happens on the pitch. When the home team scores a goal the crowd erupts and you can practically feel their excitement. Fan bases are now given their own specific in game chants and you can hear them all in game, whether you are at Anfield or The Etihad, you will be able to tell just by the distinct crowd noise.

FIFA also made many improvements to Ultimate Team, FIFA’s most popular game mode. EA has added a concept squad feature that gives you the entire FIFA catalog of players to choose from. It also allows users to plan future transfer purchases and see how they would improve your team’s rating and chemistry. A user will now have the ability to loan a player for a limited number of games. By doing this, users will now be able to figure out which player they would want to target in the transfer market and which player fits their team better. It is a new and interesting feature that implements and entirely new dynamic to the game.

FIFA 15 is phenomenal. EA Canada took advantage of the power of the next-gen system and remains as the best sport game franchise, by a wide margin. EA needed to put out a good game. EA’s summer sales are down due to the fact that there was no golf or NCAA football game and EA Sports UFC was a complete flop. While Madden 15 was a success, NHL 15 failed to meet anyone’s expectations and was a total failure. FIFA has always managed to be successful and continuously sets a high standard. It is a must buy and is currently the best sports game on the market.

Shut Off the Movie, Pick up the Book

by Brooke Karanovich

The book is always better than the movie.

As an avid reader, I will argue this point any time, any day. As an avid reader with friends that prefer movies, I have to argue this point all the time, every day.

I’m sure that we can all agree that modern cinema is going downhill. As studios try harder and harder to sell blockbusters, there seems to be more and more fluff being produced instead. Fluff movies are an awful waste of time.

And you know a fluff movie when you see one. Lately, they have included romantic comedies, terribly done sequels to romantic comedies, corny action movies, equally corny sequels to action movies, and overly poignant heart-wrenchers.

Studios are trying too hard to make the next blockbuster. Movies are over the top nowadays. The budgets of movies are through the roof, and when these movies flop there is little return.  Everyone is vying for an instant hit, yet the movies aren’t reaching the desired status.

Much of my problem seems to lie with sequels, which is an originality issue in itself. However, the original originality issue with movies is the lack of unique screenplays.

For years and years, the movie industry has relied upon literature to provide the ideas for movies. Which is actually wonderful because who doesn’t want to see their favorite book on the big screen? It’s pretty interesting to see what someone else made of it.  Maybe the characters are exactly like you pictured them. Maybe they’re completely different. That in itself is a fun thing to see.

Creating a movie from a book is not necessarily a bad thing. The problem arises when the only movies that are coming to theaters are adaptations of books.

Additionally, a problem arises when an author writes a book with the direct intention to sell it to a studio and have it made into a film. Where did the art of novel writing go? It seems terrible to me that literature has been turned into a hollywood business.

A novel tells a story with great detail. Authors use words to paint pictures. They have to spend their words carefully, creating histories, developing characters, and telling the plot. Movies have the advantages of using images to convey all of this. So, when people insist that movies are better than the books, it’s unfair.

Movies have all the advantages while authors work long and hard to produce the amazing stories that they craft. For example, the Harry Potter books are an intricately created series of seven books with amazing character development and detail.

It’s ridiculous to imply that the movies are “better” than the books in any sense of the word.

Volleyball Escapes Bite from Bulldogs to Win NEC Opener

by Sean Begin

The Central Connecticut volleyball victory over the Bryant Bulldogs on Saturday wasn’t their most polished performance of the season. But, against a Northeast Conference opponent who came out firing, it’s a win the team will take.

“I gotta tell you, Bryant played their hearts out. They came with a lot more energy than we played today,” said head coach Linda Sagnelli after the match. “It’s a really important lesson learned that every single opponent is the same, it doesn’t matter who’s on the other side of the net.”

“It feels good [to get the win] because this whole preseason we’ve had pretty tough matches and we were just trying to figure things out with new people,” said junior Makenna Lommori. “It’s good to start with a win.”

While the Blue Devils (5-8, 1-1 NEC) may have opened Saturday’s match by taking the first set 25-18, they struggled to find a rhythm on offense early, something Bryant (3-16, 0-1 NEC) took advantage of.

The Bulldogs pushed hard in the second set, edging Central 25-23 to even things up. They kept that momentum going through the third set as well, playing point for point with the Blue Devils.

With the score knotted at 20, senior Rachel Dunlap gave away a point on a miss-timed swing. It didn’t take her long to get it right back. The very next point Dunlap slammed home the kill to tie the game once more and push Central through to a 25-22 third set win.

“We kind of we’re swimming in mud a little bit the first three sets of that match,” said Sagnelli. “We did things in that five point stretch after it was tied at 20 better than we had in the whole entire match. And I’m just glad that carried over into the final set.”

Everything finally clicked for Central in the fourth and final set, both offensively and defensively. After once again exchanging points with Bryant early, Central took a slim 6-5 lead. From there, they played like the team who has made the last two NEC championships.

The Blue Devils rattled off nine straight points from both well-executed blocks and efficient attacking to put the set out of reach, to secure the match.

“In that final set, our rhythm switched. What Bryant had,[we had]. All of a sudden we just settled into our game,” said Sagnelli.

Central faced a couple of issues that match to contribute to the slow start. Starting libero Rachel Fish was battling an illness coming into the game, but tried to play through it in the first set.

“Rachel wasn’t feeling well, at all,” said Sagnelli. “We gave her a chance to go ahead and try to play through it but she just wasn’t feeling well at all.’

Senior Brittany Schumacher took over at the libero for the rest of the game and filled in admirably. Sagnelli credits her for the play that turned the team around.

“She had a really phenomenal dig off one of their hardest hits of the day,” said Sagnelli. “She sat down right under it and from that point on, I told the team, that’s the turning point. It was the turning point of rhythm for us.”

And where Schumacher filled in well for Fish, junior Nicole Dean filled in well for freshman Nicole Celarek.

Celarek has quickly found a prominent role in her first season, ranking third on the team — with 94 kills. Though, on Saturday, she couldn’t seem to get anything going. Enter Dean: coming off an injury and playing in just her second match of the season.

“We have four people that can play [the opposite] position. The two strongest of those players would be the two Nicoles,” said Sagnelli. “And one got the start and just didn’t have a great day and the other just went right in and picked it up.”

With the team nearly at full health once again (Dean and sophomore Cassidy Stankowski are both back from injury), this depth is what helped them win on Saturday and is what will help them for the rest of the season.

“With Cassidy healthy, she really solidifies the whole offense,” said Sagnelli. “Heather [Trueman] out there taking a lot of swings is great. But having everybody healthy is nice.”

As well, having everyone cleared to play is helpful to Lommori, the team’s setter. It gives her multiple options to go to at any time during a game.

“It’s really nice because we’re so deep, even people coming in and out of the game [can contribute],” said Lommori. “Even if someone is having an off day or just needs a little break, we have other people that have the same level of trust on the court.”

Central was led on the attack by Stankowski and Trueman, who each had 14 kills. Both players led the team in digs with 15 each. Three other Blue Devils posted double digit digs: Lommori (12), Fish (11) and Schumacher (10). Dunlap was effective on both ends with 11 kills and 6 blocks.

Central takes the court again this weekend with games on Saturday and Sunday against Robert Morris and St. Francis (Pa.), respectively. Both games start at 1 p.m.

STEM grad program

By Ruth Bruno

For the first time at Central Connecticut, certified teachers will be able to earn their graduate degree through a Masters of Science in STEM Education.

This particular graduate program, that began this semester, is designed to accommodate any K-12 teacher who wishes to incorporate the different aspects of Science, Technology, Education & Math (STEM) into their classroom.  The 33-credit program is designed so that students can take two classes per semester to finish in three years.  Most of these classes will be held at night to accommodate those currently teaching.

“We really have striven to make this a program where our students can manage to teach while they’re earning their master’s degree,” said Dr. Marsha Bednarski, a professor of geological sciences and one of the coordinators who organized the new program.

The program is attracting former undergraduates at CCSU who have recently graduated, as well as teachers who have decided to come back to school to get the higher levels of certification they feel they need.

Bednarski says she hopes that students who graduate from the program will be well equipped to help their own students understand how Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics merge together.

Dr. Glynis Fitzgerald, Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of Graduate Studies, expressed a similar sentiment.

“They already have the teacher certification,” said Fitzgerald of the grad students.  “Now they get the STEM masters and they can bring all these different fields together for their classroom. Instead of being just a math teacher or just a science teacher, they can talk about how math incorporates with science.”

Fitzgerald says this kind of program was spawned as part of an effort to meet the needs for the state of Connecticut and its residents. She says that with an increase in manufacturing and advancing technology, teachers will find it beneficial to keep up with the latest STEM programs.

“I think that these teachers are going to be better prepared to meet the changing needs of the workforce.  As we become more and more technologically driven the students that come out of our program will be better equipped to teach students and to learn themselves how to work in this kind of new environment,” said Fitzgerald.

According to Bednarski, the entire process of developing and opening the new graduate program lasted about 30 months.  No new faculty members were fired.  Those coordinating the program took existing programs and faculty members and brought them together.

Fitzgerald says that the biggest obstacle in starting the new program was explaining and clarifying what the STEM graduate program would entail to administrators.

“The toughest part was communicating effectively about what this new field is. It took a little bit of talking to principals to explain to them what we were doing and to show them how exceptional it is,” she said.

There are currently between 15-17 students enrolled in the program.  Fitzgerald believes these numbers will increase.

“I think the faculty have done a good job and I expect that number to grow dramatically in the next year,” she said.

CCSU is currently the third largest graduate school in the state of Connecticut, second only to Yale University and the University of Connecticut.  According to Fitzgerald, it is the faculty of CCSU that make the university stand out.

“Here at Central we have real faculty teaching the courses every single day and you get to learn from that and be a part of the research teams as well,” said Fitzgerald.  “I think that’s a really exciting benefit that CCSU offers that other [larger universities in Connecticut] don’t.”