Friday, September 6, 2013

Why seek research experience?

Why seek research experience?

Research experience allow you to apply the knowledge you've learned in a typical STEM class. It helps you learn to problem solve, communicate, and work collaboratively while also helping you to explore and clarify academic and professional goals. Research provides practical skills for future employment and graduate school.

For students pursuing medicine or health care:
The Association of American Medical Colleges says that it depends on the school, but it's important to understand the research you've done and to articulate it in various settings including talks, poster presentation, and interviews.

Indiana University says, "...research can help in the development of critical reasoning skills."

For engineering students:
Engineering employers seek job candidates who have experience working collaboratively on projects.

This Fall, 2013
Oakton offers a number of research opportunities listed mostly under the "200" course number. Moreover, Oakton's Educational Foundation has generously provided a grant to award students $270 internship pay when they successfully complete the course with a C or better, spend at least 30 hours on the project, and present their findings at an end-of-semester STEM Students Symposium. New to the list of STEM research at Oakton are:

31704 - ENG200 - 001 - Amreek Paintal,, - Building a Wind Turbine
31707 - ENG200 - 009 – Anne Lucietto, – How did that fail? Failure from an Engineering Perspective - ONLINE
31708 - MAT 200 - 002 – Kamilla Murashkina, - Investigation into a Mathematics Puzzle - Students in this project will examine the intricacies of a mathematical puzzle and design an android app to run the puzzle.
32158 - MAT 200 - 003 – Henry Ter-Saakyants, - Modeling for Dynamic Process - The mathematics in this project has applications in engineering, business and numerous other fields.

A complete list of STEM research can be found here.

For more information and to register, contact Gloria Liu at

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Engineers Expo at Des Plaines Public Library

From Bob Johnson:
Engineers Expo at Des Plaines  Public Library

Structural Engineers to explore engineering with students

The Des Plaines Public Library has scheduled an Open House for Saturday,  October 11, 2014, 2013 [12:00 Noon – 4:00 P.M.] at 1501 Ellinwood Street, Des Plaines IL.   This program includes activities that are free and open to the public.   The target audience is 3-8 grades, though high school students and parents will come away with an appreciation and understanding of engineering.   You are invited to explore engineering with members of the Chicagoland engineering community in a host of hands-on activities. This event marks the 5th year of this event.  Last year’s program attracted upwards of 400 visitors.

The Expo will feature interactive displays and presentations that are fun and educational, designed to enhance children’s interest in math, science, and of course engineering. 

This science/tech and engineering program is a joint effort among local professional engineering and scientific societies, area national laboratories and businesses.

Structural engineers Bob Johnson, Chas Hague, Ken Nizamuddin and others are expected to introduce budding young engineers to standing room only at the SEAOI (Structural Engineers Association of Illinois - exhibit.

Mr. Johnson’s structural engineering models and ‘toys’ provide an enriching hands-on practical application of structural engineering principles.  You can expect a lively exchange between Johnson and the students as he delves into engineering principles explaining how Chicago skyscrapers stand tall.

Mr. Hague’s display on bridges provides students and adults insight into their design.
Children will have the opportunity to create and load test their own bridge design using a computer program intended for use by students.

This Science Day’ is the extraordinary opportunity to introduce students of all ages and their parents to the current state of technology and advances being made throughout the engineering industry.   For more information, please visit  or call:   (847) 827-5551

The event is open to the public and free of charge.

Math Competition at Oakton Community College

The AMATYC Math Competition
Monday, Oct. 28, 2013
2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Room: 1608 (Des Plaines Campus)
C120 (Ray Hartstein Campus)

Every Oakton student is welcome to participate in this 20-question, 1-hour multiple-choice competition that covers "precalculus" material. No prior registration required. Students can be admitted either at 2:00pm or 3:00pm. Those who come at 2:00pm must stay until 3:05pm. Bring a writing utensil, a photo ID, and a calculator. (Not Allowed: TI-92s and InspireCASes, and devices with QWERTY keyboard)

STEM Speaker Series: Harmonious Equations: A Mathematical Exploration of Music

STEM Expert Forum
Harmonious Equations: A Mathematical Exploration of Music

Presented by

David Kung, Ph.D.
Professor of Mathematics
St. Mary's College of Maryland

What does math have to do with music? More than you might think! Discover how these decidedly different disciplines are connected in this engaging lecture, featuring live musical examples on violin. Learn how abstract algebra plays a role in Bach's magnificent canons and fugues; understand the mathematical principles behind the clarinet’s ability to play so much lower than the flute; and unearth the connection between Calculus, differential equations, and our ability to hear timbre.

Tuesday, October 22
2 p.m.
Des Plaines campus ¨ Room 1604
Oakton Community College
1600 E. Golf Road
Des Plaines, IL 60016 

Kung earned his doctorate of mathematics at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. His 12-lecture DVD course, "How Music and Mathematics Relate," was recently released by The Teaching Company. The author of numerous articles on harmonic analysis and mathematics education, King has won several awards, including a Teaching Award from the Mathematical Association of America.

Sponsored by the Center for Promoting STEM and Oakton Student Government. For information contact Gloria Liu at or 847.635.1738.

STEM Speaker Series: This is Her Career on Estrogen

STEM Speaker Series
This is Her Career on Estrogen

Presented by

Pauline M. Maki, Ph.D.
University of Illinois at Chicago,
Professor of Psychiatry and Psychology  

How are cognitive performance and mood affected by gender and the sex steroid hormones estradiol and progesterone? Learn about Maki’s recent research addressing the impact of menstrual cycles and menopause on mood and cognitive functions. Discover how she has applied these findings not only to her own career, but to the career trajectories of women in general.

Tuesday, September 24
2 p.m.
Des Plaines campus ¨ Room 1610

Maki received her doctorate in experimental psychology from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. She  was a tenure-track investigator at the National Institute of Health’s National Institute of Aging until she joining UIC’s faculty in 2002.  For the past 15 years, she has led an NIH-funded research program on the role of sex steroid hormones on cognition, mood, brain function, and stress responsivity.


Sponsored by the Center for Promoting STEM and Oakton Student Government. For information contact Gloria Liu at or 847.635.1738.

STEM Scholarships

I was going to write about how to find scholarships, but the following webpage has already provided an excellent guide to this process:

Some pointers to highlight are:
1. Be persistent. Searching for scholarships can feel like a part time job, but you will reap benefits.
2. Apply for as many scholarships as possible even the ones with requirements that you don't completely fullfilll.
3. Some scholarships get very few applicants while other scholarships go unclaimed. Having been among those who award scholarships, I have had to cajole and prod students to apply for scholarships that I know they are eligible to receive. In one grant, we were unable to award all of the allocated funds without intense recruitment. Some students could have received an additional semester of an award (amounting to $2 - 3,000) if they had applied sooner.
4. The worst thing that can happen to you when you apply for a scholarship is that you were not awarded.
5. Especially if you think you are partially eligible, ask questions about the scholarship process even if you think you know it. Double check and confirm that what you understand the process/expectations/requirements to be is what the scholarship committee states them to be. You might be nicely surprised that you meet more of the requirements than you previously thought.

Bottom line: APPLY!! Apply often!! Apply now!

Whenever I come across a STEM Scholarship opportunity, I will post here as well as in Facebook and Google+.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

STEM Internships

This is the time of year to search and apply for internships. Some are due in December while others are due as late as February.

Applications due Jan. 10, 2013 for internships at Department of Energy. Many sites are available including Argonne. When you submit an application and selected specific sites you'd like to serve as an intern, identify individuals at those sites and contact them directly to let them know of your interest in obtaining an internship there. This will help put your application on the top of the pile.

Internship for Department of Homeland Security
Main website for this internship:

The National Science Foundations (NSF) funds numerous Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) grants. Below is a list of REUs in Illinois. If you are willing to travel, for a complete list of research experiences for undergraduates funded by the NSF: or go here to search by subject
Those of you who wish to stay much closer to Oakton, STEM200 courses provide research (and design) project experience which culminates in an All STEM Students Gathering at which STEM200 students present their findings. For a list of projects and mentors, see:

Oakton's BIO240/CHM240 are excellent courses to teach you how to be a good researcher including literature review, identifying a research topic, designing the research around the topic, conducting research, collecting and analyzing data, and presenting findings. Students who successfully complete this course may have an opportunity to participate in a summer internship at a four-year school or research institutions. Past researchers who have employed interns from BIO240/CHM240 reported that they preferred to hire students who have completed this course at Oakton than others without this experience. Currently BIO240/CHM240 topic focuses on the invasive buckthorn shrub. Contact Michael Carr at for more information.

Oakton's Internship Program for enrolled students offer a variety of positions and different times of the year as well as varying lengths of experience. The minimum requirement for being classified as enrolled is to be registered for a credit or non-credit class. More information and application are available at:
End of Spring 2012 All Students Gathering
May 2, 2012

Student Team Members
Project Advisor
Design and build passive solar panel

Botnari, Marina
Dwyer, Mariellen
Grouev, Milen
David Fremgen
Design and build solar powered house
Amirisefat, Mohammad
Anushiravani, Omid
Latif, Ahmed
Mohimani, Hilma
Majid Ghadiri
An Investigation of Micro Climate at Oakton Community College*
* For this project, Kowols and Prajapati won Third Place in the Technology category of the 2012 Illinois Skyway STEM Poster Competition.
Kowols, John
Prajapati, Hardik N.
Jeff Moro
Lake Oakton Restoration Project
Schmidt, Jacob
Michelle Groves
Phytoplankton Study in Winter

Hack, Lawrence
Michelle Groves
Remote Control of a Complex Electromechanical Device
  • Determine the number and characteristics of the signals required to control the device
  • Software to execute on PC to control the device
  • Hardware interface to process commands from PC to the device
  • Software to execute commands on the interface

Janyia, Richard
Reza Dai
Chemistry Research Project: Preparation of Porphyrazine Photosensitizers

Breedt, Mariette
Goze, Ken
Shahwan, Susan
Wade Jarrell
Effects of Physical Activity on Learning
Kaiser, Nizam Z.
Park, Min A.
Rice, Damarcus
Sundeep Talwar
Design and build a lunabot
Codrean, Raphael
Gorman, Alex
Koteva-Ivanova, Olya S
Mazur, Mike
Memon, Faheem
Sheikh, Salman
Angelo Gero
Investigations into Math Topics
Angelova, Aneta
Cao, Hanh
Dorota Zak
Tacklebox Sampler - Design and build an automated water sampling system
Bailey, Michael
Ericksen, Thursten
Flood, David
Gladych, Raymond
Gregorio, Robert
Starr, Michael
Joe Kotowski
Alternative energy to power baseball scoreboard
Challenger, John
Krasnyckyj, Nicholas
Syed, Muhammed
George Tootelian

Friday, September 21, 2012

Faculty Positions in Computer Science

Through NCWIT's Academic Alliance, a number of faculty positions in computer science were announced.

Western New England University, Department of Computer Science and Information Technology
Assistant Professor in Information Technology
Assistant Professor in Computer Science

University of Puget Sound 
Tenure-track faculty position for computer science opening

College of St. Scholastica, CS/CIS Department
Tenure Track Faculty Position in Computer Science/Information Systems

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Faculty Positions - Computer Science

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

STEM Speaker Series: Choke: The Science behind Academic Stress and STEM Performance

Presented by Sian Beilock, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology, University of Chicago

Poor test scores can affect your grade, put scholarships in jeopardy, and have a negative impact on your educational opportunities. But test-taking pressure can undermine your efforts to do well. Explore the science behind the choke. Why do some students thrive, while others fail in high-stakes situations? How can you overcome test anxiety and improve your own performance in STEM?

Dr. Beilock is one of the world's leading experts on the brain science behind "choking under pressure" and the many factors influencing all types of performance from test-taking to public speaking to your golf swing. Dr. Beilock authored the book Choke: What the secrets of the brain reveal about getting it right when you have to.

Sponsored by the Center for Promoting STEM and the Oakton Student Government Association.

For those of you who missed Dr. Beilock's presentation, you can hear her speak on NPR Chicago WBEZ 91.5 at: Why we choke when the pressure's on (Nov. 4, 2012).

Chicago's WLS ABC7 News recently aired a short segment on her research:

WBEZ also interviewed her on November 6, 2012 (about half way down the page):

Dr. Beilock will be speaking at the first symposium of the Spring 2013 Chicago Symposium Series on Excellence in Teaching Mathematics and Science: Research and Practice on February 1, 2013 at the University of Illinois at Chicago. For more information and to register:

You may also request to borrow the video recording of Dr. Beilock's talk from Gloria Liu,

Dr. Beilock mentioned a research she did on the effects of math anxiety in elementary school teachers on girls' math achievement. The article is available at The Council on Advanced Studies at University of Chicago: "Female Teachers’ Math Anxiety Impacts Girls’ Math Achievement."