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,

As we move into the final months of the semester, and into the holiday season, I am reminded of how grateful I am for our students, alumni, employees, and community/industry partners. Your dedication and contributions make it possible for the Padnos College to contribute to the strong STEM talent pipeline in West Michigan.

I am heartened by all of the great things happening in the Padnos College and in the community, several of which are highlighted in this newsletter. I hope you had a very happy Thanksgiving and wish you a strong finish to the end of the semester. 

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


Tomorrow is Giving Tuesday!

If you care about preparing the next generation of STEM professionals, please consider donating during the 2021 Giving Tuesday campaign on November 30th, 2021!
Giving Tuesday is an annual tradition that brings together the entire Grand Valley State University community in support of students.
Donations of any size help fund the experiential education of PCEC students so that they enter the workforce well-prepared to tackle industry's most difficult challenges. A small gift can make a big difference!
To support our students, please visit the PCEC Giving Tuesday Page!
The competition winners
Data Science Competition Winners

GVSU Data Science Society Hosts Data Science Competition

The Grand Valley State University Data Science Society has set out to “become the go-to extra-curricular resource for individuals interested in data science to find portfolio-worthy projects and network with local professionals”, and as one of the newest clubs at GVSU, they’ve gotten off to a fantastic start.
Originally started in the summer of 2020, and made official in December of 2020, the Data Science Society provides GVSU students with a place to meet and network with other young professionals in their field. 

Over the summer, the Data Science Society hosted its first Data Science Contest, in which Competitors were tasked with creating a poster or dashboard that uses statistical graphics and data visualization methods to convey information about a company's services, customers, and equipment. 
Congratulations to Ian Dykas and Claire Murray, who won the award for Best Presentation; and Kanyanee Manapradit and Benjamin Arthur, who won the award for Best Overall Analysis!
Students from Saint Augustine's University pose in front of Kenedy Hall of Engineering
Students from Saint Augustine's pose in front of Kennedy Hall of Engineering

Students from HBCU Learn More About GVSU'S Graduate Programs During Campus Tour

Administrators from Grand Valley and Saint Augustine’s University signed an agreement September 20, giving SAU students opportunities to earn master's degrees in STEM fields in as little as five years. Saint Augustine’s is the second Historically Black College/University to sign an agreement with Grand Valley, following an April signing with Fort Valley State University in Georgia. 

B. Donta Truss, vice president for Enrollment Development and Educational Outreach, said these HBCU and Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSI) agreements help create a diverse workforce and aid Grand Valley's strategic plan of attracting a more diverse student population. 

"Inviting SAU students to Grand Valley gives them an opportunity to get their questions answered, and see the campus and area in person," Truss said. "We went to Saint Augustine's to sell them on this plan, now we bring them here to close the deal and, hopefully, the students see what an easy transition it will be."

President Philomena V. Mantella greeted students in Zumberge Hall and discussed the university's strengths, adding its strong STEM master's degree programs would complement the education they receive at Saint Augustine's.

"The surrounding community is very supportive of Grand Valley's programs and its talent," Mantella said. "It's most important for us to create conditions that you find would be a good fit for your graduate studies."

View the full story on the PCEC News website.
View the Saint Augustine's visit photo album.
Visit the GVSU HBCU/HSI Pipeline Consortium website.

Olivia Gleason
Olivia Gleason

GVSU Alum Named as Rising Star of Safety

Olivia Gleason, alum of the GVSU Occupational Safety & Health Administration program, has been named a Rising Star of Safety by the National Safety Council.

Olivia is a Safety Professional a Stellantis
in Warren, Michigan. Her spotlight from the National Safety Council is below.

“Olivia worked with the environmental team to establish a day dedicated to promoting the principles of safety, environment and energy. Olivia developed an integrated EHS project on aquaponics, generating engagement in the event, and showed how the principles of EHS can be applied to a variety of activities both in and outside of work. The project includes a demonstration, trifold, handouts and instructions on how to build a functional aquaponics system at home on a budget, including seed packages to get them started. Olivia also worked with the on-site health specialists to ensure they were available to answer any questions, provide health evaluations and offer health supplements.”

View the fully story on the PCEC News website.

Visit the Occupational Safety & Health Department website.

GVSU Hosts FIRST Tech Challenge Training

The 2021-2022 FIRST Tech Challenge season is officially underway! FIRST in Michigan reached out to Grand Valley State University for space to host an FTC Volunteer training session as part of the preparation for the competitive season. Alexander Fera, a Lead FIRST Technical Advisor, coordinated the event for Saturday, October 11, at the Innovation Design Center. Local FTC volunteers met at the IDC to learn about FTC field setup/teardown, network setup, scoring system, inspection, robot troubleshooting and customer service. 

“It’s nice to be able to open our space back up to the community and use it for what it was intended: utilizing our dedicated space to bring multiple schools together for K-12 STEM projects and enrichment” said Sara Maas, the outreach coordinator for the Padnos College of Engineering and Computing.

GVSU is in the process of obtaining a Freight Frenzy field for local FTC teams to utilize for practice or scrimmaging. For access to the field at the Innovation Design Center, please contact Sara Maas at 

Visit the PCEC Outreach website.

GVSU Hosts 2021 Manufacturing Leadership Summit

In September, GVSU had the honor of hosting the 2021 Manufacturing Leadership Summit (MLS) on Advanced Strategies for Advanced Manufacturing. MLS invites local manufacturing leaders to learn about innovations in the manufacturing industry and discuss the future of manufacturing. The conference featured keynote speakers Marita Cheng, Founder of Robogals, Aipoly, and Aubot; Doug DeVos, Co-Chair of the  Amway Corporation Board of Directors, and Randy Thelen, President and CEO of The Right Place, Inc.

“Given the strong focus on Industry/University collaborations within the GVSU Padnos College of Engineering & Computing (PCEC), the School of Engineering was pleased to have the opportunity to participate in this event and network to discuss employer engagement, including recruitment of a student pipeline with the potential for conversion to full-time, post-graduation employment,” said Diane LaFreniere, James R. Sebastian Chair in the School of Engineering. 

Two club participants place a GVSU flag atop a lighthouse
Two club participants place a GVSU flag atop the lighthouse.

GVSU Crew Activates Amateur Radio At Remote Lighthouse in Lake Superior

A group from Grand Valley traveled in August to the Upper Peninsula to participate in an amateur radio activation at a remote Lake Superior lighthouse.

The group included Nicholas Baine, associate professor of engineering; Jared Bergeron, lab technician for the School of Engineering; and Dan Mills, Grand Valley graduate and founder of the university's amateur radio club, W8GVU. Mills had the idea of doing what in amateur radio terms is called a "DX-pedition," a journey to a remote location, and connected with Baine and Bergeron.

Their journey to Stannard Rock lighthouse, 20 miles from Au Train, took nearly four hours by boat. “We couldn’t take bigger boats out there because of the depth of the water at the lighthouse,” Baine said. “The whole point of the lighthouse being there is that it sits on Stannard Rock, which is like a mountain in the middle of Lake Superior.”

Carl Lindquist, executive director of the Superior Watershed Partnership and Land Conservancy, which works to maintain the Stannard lighthouse, stressed the importance of the structure. Not only does the lighthouse mark an area of shallow water, it is also vital for climate research by the United States and Canada, and serves as a historical landmark.
Matt Shaver and John Spencer
Matt Shaver and John Spencer

From New Graduates to Entrepreneurs: Computer Science Alums Talk Business Journey

Matt Shaver and John Spencer both graduated from Grand Valley in 2010 with a B.S. in Computer Science. The two are now business partners after co-founding BrainGu, a company that was originally dedicated to making cybersecurity easy and accessible for all, and now is focused on developing mission-critical solutions based on DevSecOps and cloud-native innovations.
Friends throughout their time at GVSU, Matt and John took many classes together, worked on the same final project for graduation, participated in the competitive programming team together, and contributed to the accreditation of the Computer Science program. 

While both John and Matt commented on how much they enjoyed their time at GVSU, they also spoke about how valuable they found both their coursework and the relationships they were able to build. They noted that it was often the courses they liked the least, such as advanced math classes and classes involving programming in Assembly, which proved to be the most beneficial and foundational in building their business. 

View the full story on the PCEC News website.
Visit the School of Computing website.

GV Students Re-Engineering Recycling with Pinball

When David Pevic and a team of fellow GVSU mechanical engineering students set out to create an environmentally friendly project that encouraged recycling, they wanted to reconsider the reasons people recycle.
Tried and true are the methods of rewarding recyclers with economic incentives or the promise of saving the environment, so Pevic and his team thought as far outside the box as possible. Their project aims to reward good recycling habits with something unexpected: a game of pinball.

The plan, which has been underway since June, is to create a fully functioning pinball machine that uses recycled aluminum cans as balls. Players will provide a recyclable can and be granted one game of pinball for their efforts. The team is working on this project as part of the PCEC Combined Degree scholarship program.

“I want to do my professors proud, and for this scholarship, I want to make sure I’m earning my keep,” Pevic said. “It’s a chance for all of us to pursue excellence.”

Engineering students Nate Holmes, Co Nguyen, and Sydney Hill make up the rest of the team. The finished machine will include custom artwork, sounds, graphics, and a custom playfield, all designed and built by a team of students.

View the full story on the PCEC News website.
Visit the School of Engineering website.

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