Stay informed on the latest happenings in PCEC!
Stay informed on the latest happenings in PCEC!
Grand Valley State University
Padnos College of Engineering & Computing Newsletter
Dr. Paul Plotkowski, Dean
Padnos College of Engineering
and Computing

Dean's Message:

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

In the Padnos College, we are fortunate to have a large and wonderful extended family comprised of our students, alumni, faculty, staff, and community partners. This extended family allows us to offer our students a very rich educational experience and provides opportunities for us to support the broader community of which we are a part.

In this newsletter, you will find several examples of the rich partnerships and positive impact created by members of the PCEC family. Sadly, you will also see below information on the passing of two great members of the PCEC family, Joyce Wisner and Jeff Ray. Their support for students shaped who we are as a college. We are fortunate to have known them both and to have extended family members who have taken up the torch so that Joyce and Jeff's legacies may live on.

As always, I enjoy hearing from you. If you have questions or comments, follow this link to Connect with the Dean.

Joyce Wisner
Joyce Wisner

Grand Valley Mourns Death of Former GVU Foundation Director, Dedicated Philanthropist

Leaders at Grand Valley and in the West Michigan community are mourning the death of Joyce Wisner, a longtime supporter of the university.
Wisner served on the Grand Valley University Foundation Advisory Cabinet and had a passion for philanthropy and education, continuing a family legacy of philanthropy that her father, Leslie E. Tassell, started. 
“Joyce Wisner left a significant impact on Grand Valley,” said President Philomena V. Mantella. “Her family legacy lived on through her gifts to the university and will continue to impact generations of Grand Valley students.”
Joyce and her late husband, Thomas Wisner, gave generously to both the Keller Engineering Laboratories and the Cook-DeVos Center for Health Sciences. Together, the Wisners created the Thomas and Joyce Wisner Engineering Scholarship Endowment which benefits GVSU engineering students looking to pursue their dream of a graduate education in engineering through the Wisner Fellowship for New Product Development, the Wisner Scholarship for Non-traditional and First Generation Students, and the Wisner Scholarship for Transitional Students (students moving from another discipline to pursue a second degree in engineering).
Jim Brooks, co-chair of the GVU Foundation, said Wisner believed giving back to the community was important. “As a second-generation foundation director, Joyce played a particularly important role in continuing the family’s involvement with Grand Valley,” Brooks said. “Joyce was a dedicated philanthropist whose support made a difference not only for Grand Valley students, but also the entire community. She will be missed.”
Dr. Jeff Ray
Dr. Jeff Ray

PCEC Remembers Impact of Former School of Engineering Director

Faculty and staff in the Padnos College of Engineering & Computing are mourning the loss of influential colleague, Dr. Jeff Ray.
Jeff became a faculty member in the GVSU School of Engineering in 1997. During his time at Grand Valley, he introduced our current approach to Senior Design Projects and the Engineering Design Conference, served as the chair of the Mechanical Engineering program, and eventually became the Director of the School of Engineering. Jeff’s commitment to student success, experiential learning, and industry engagement left a permanent mark on the GVSU School of Engineering that continues to benefit students to this day.
Jeff left GVSU in 2007 to join Southern Polytechnic State University in Georgia as the Dean of the School of Engineering Technology & Management, and went on to become Dean of the College of Engineering & Technology at Western Carolina University (WCU). He was well-known and beloved by many PCEC personnel and alumni. Our thoughts are with his family and his colleagues at WCU.
MIOSHA Training Participants Show Off Their Certificates
MIOSHA Training Participants Show Off Their Certificates

GVSU Hosts MIOSHA Training

The GVSU Occupational Safety and Health program recently hosted an industry confined space, lockout/tagout, and fall protection training event for construction and manufacturing professionals in the local community.
The training sessions were led by Dr. Dave Huizen, OSH faculty member, in the GVSU Innovation Design Center using new hands-on training equipment which provides an experiential learning environment in which students and industry professionals are able to gain practical experience following safety protocols and an opportunity to practice their new skills in a controlled environment. 
Each training session lasted approximately three hours and involved three periods of instruction, each followed by hands-on activities in which students applied the content of the training. One such activity involved a ‘rescue’ from ‘underground’ in which students practiced lifting a student wearing a safety harness out of a ‘tunnel’ that they had become ‘trapped’ in. After each lecture and hands-on portion of the training, the students completed written exams that demonstrated their mastery of the training content.
GVSU is proud to be able to offer training opportunities to the West Michigan Community. The training events and equipment were funded by the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) through a Consultation Education and Training Department grant. We are grateful to MIOSHA for their support.
GRPM Campers Visit GVSU
Grand Rapids Public Museum Campers Visit PCEC

Partnership with Grand Rapids Public Museum Creates STEM Learning Opportunities for K-12 Student Campers

As part of a long-standing partnership between GVSU Padnos College of Engineering & Computing (PCEC) Outreach and the Grand Rapids Public Museum (GRPM), K-12 students participating in GRPM's Camp Curious this summer visited PCEC for STEM-related activities and tours.
PCEC Outreach planned experiential learning activities that aligned with the GRPM’s current exhibit, Amazing Pollinators. Students made Mason Bee hives out of recycled cans and paper tubes and learned about Mason Bees, homemade hives, and how to hang/maintain their hives. The Mason Bee hives will provide a fun, engineered environment for solitary bees next spring.
“Our partnership with the Grand Rapids Public Museum creates wonderful opportunities for students to learn about STEM. We are thrilled when we are able to host them on campus and get them excited about future educational and career opportunities,” said Sara Maas, PCEC Outreach Coordinator.
Mitchell Piazza
Mitchell Piazza

Computing Students Find Innovative Solutions to Real-World Problems

During the initial stages of the global pandemic last fall, Mitchell Piazza ’21, a computer science major, along with three of his senior classmates, Jessica Ricksgers, Karan Tamang, and Aron Sunuwar, sat in their rooms recording countless hours of data on a quest to find an innovative way to reduce the spread of viruses like COVID-19. 
Sponsored by Procter & Gamble and supported by donors to the university, the team designed an Apple Watch program app called DecontaiminAide. This program uses a machine learning model to tell the user the number of times they touch their face, as well as if it is coupled with coughing or sneezing. For example, when a face touch is detected, the application turns the microphone on to start collecting audio. The objective is to detect if the user is forming habits such as coughing or sneezing into their hands, then touching their face, biting their nails, etc. 
“This project is an excellent example of how a small group of computer science students can take an aspirational concept provided by one of our industry partners and very rapidly deliver an innovative solution to a real-world problem”, said Dr. Robert Adams, the course instructor.  “This was one of 10 projects sponsored by our industry partners this past fall semester.” 
Dr. Jeff Potteiger, Dean of the Graduate School, shakes hands with Richard Gross (right)
Dr. Jeff Potteiger, Dean of the Graduate School, shakes hands with Richard Gross (right)

Engineering Alum Wins Regional Thesis Award

The GVSU Graduate School is pleased to announce that Richard Gross, alum of the Master of Science in Engineering program, is the 2021 Outstanding Thesis Winner from the Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools (MAGS). Gross’s thesis, title “Algorithm for Geodetic Positioning Based on Angle-Of-Arrival of Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcasts“ was selected in the category of Mathematical, Physical Sciences, and Engineering.
Grand Valley State University has submitted nominations to the MAGS Thesis Competition since 2011. Gross’s thesis is the first GVSU student to win the top prize, which includes a $750 honorarium. He graduated in April 2019 with an emphasis in Electrical/Computer Engineering.
Gross's faculty advisor, Dr. Nicholas Baine, commented, “Richard was a fantastic student and worthy recipient. I could not be more proud of what we were able to accomplish together."

Engineering Design Conference Next Week!

This year's Engineering Design Conference (EDC) is coming up next week! The EDC will be held on Friday, August 6, 2021 with both virtual and in-person events.
The conference will feature a co-op employer forum, co-op employer and industry sponsor appreciation and awards ceremony, and industry-sponsored senior project presentations.

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