Torero Tidbits: Spaghetti Bridge Building; STEMWoW; Summer Symposium; Students Pass Test; Fall Sports in August

Torero Tidbits: Spaghetti Bridge Building; STEMWoW; Summer Symposium; Students Pass Test; Fall Sports in August

More than 500 students in 15 U.S. locations — including one at USD’s Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering — will compete in the annual Spaghetti Bridge contests, which culminates a month-long Johns Hopkins University-run summer course called Engineering Innovation.

The event takes place at 11 a.m. on Friday, July 19 on the first floor of the USD Belanich Engineering Center.

Using only dry spaghetti and epoxy, participating high school students have designed and built bridges whose strength and resilience will be tested in the competitions. Kilo by kilo, weight will be added to the bridges until they shatter. Prizes will be awarded to the teams whose bridges hold the most weight. The students typically work in teams of three or four. The program's record for the bridge that has held the most weight before breaking is 95 kilos — the equivalent of 209 pounds.

Nationwide, the 2019 Engineering Innovation program's students come from 25 states and U.S. territories and from 22 countries. USD's event features 19 students with five team-built bridges.

Johns Hopkins' Whiting School of Engineering created Engineering Innovation in 2006 to expose high school students to various engineering disciplines and to teach them critical thinking and problem solving. Since then, the program has grown to comprise 15 sites across the country. After completing the program, 86 percent of the participants have gone on to pursue careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).

— Liz Harman

STEMWoW Summer Program Hosts Sixth-Graders’ Presentations

The STEMWoW summer program concludes its two-week run this Friday with sixth-grade students presenting their works/projects based on United Nations Sustainable Goals.

STEMWoW (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics World of Work), is led by USD faculty Dr. Perla Myers (Mathematics), Dr. Joi Spencer (SOLES), Dr. Odesma Dalrymple (Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering), and Dr. Yaoran Li and Dr. Vitaliy Popov (SOLES Research Team). It was created as a result of a $300,000 National Science Foundation grant awarded to USD in 2017. It is supporting the Chula Vista Elementary School District. The NSF-USD award project is entitled "Bridging the World of Work and informal STEM Education.”

The faculty members identified and conceived an integrated approach to informal learning. The two-week program, as well as follow-up sessions to engage family engagement in STEM, allows the USD team to develop, implement and test a multilayered STEM learning approach for workforce development in STEM fields through targeting Hispanic youth. 

Chemistry/Biochemistry Summer Research Symposium

The USD Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry will host a Summer Research Symposium, complete with professional speakers and concluding with a student poster session, on Wednesday, July 24 from 1-5:30 p.m. in Mother Rosalie Hill Hall.

Following welcome remarks, Dr. Ashley Parks '08 from the Southern California Coastal Water Research Project will kick off the presentations — all in MRHH’s Warren Auditorium — “Influence of dissolved organochlorines on bioaccumulation in San Diego Bay, California,” from 1-1:30 p.m. Jessica Moreton from UC San Diego will talk about “Function through Form: Turning Particles into Protectants,” from 1:30-2 p.m. Dr. Shannen Cravens '11, current assistant professor of chemistry at Gonzaga University, will speak from 2-2:30 p.m. on “DNA Literacy: How do proteins “read” our cellular blueprint?”

After a 30-minute break in the Hilton Loggia room, two more presentations will take place. California State University, Fullerton’s Dr. Nicholas Salzameda '01 will focus on “Disrupting protein-protein interactions to fight human disease,” from 3-3:30 p.m. Finally, the symposium’s keynote speaker is University of California, Irvine’s Dr. Jennifer Prescher, who will discuss “Seeing is Believing: Illuminating cells with bioluminescent probes,” from 3:30-4:30 p.m.

A research poster session for current USD students in the department will be available for viewing and to speak with the students in the Hilton Loggia room from 4:30-5:30 p.m.

This event is open to all USD summer research students, faculty and staff. It is sponsored by the National Science Foundation and the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation, Inc.

Biochemistry Students Pass the Test

For the second straight year, USD biochemistry seniors who volunteered to participate in a national Biochemistry and Molecular Biology accreditation exam and the results were favorable and above the national averages.

Of the test takers, 56.25 percent performed well enough to have their degree certified by the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) and 12.5 percent earned a pass rate high enough to earn distinction status.

In only the second year that USD seniors have taken this exam, the students again performed well and above the national average — the pass rate is 41 percent and the distinction pass rate is 11.5 percent.

Said USD Chemistry and Biochemistry Professor and Department Chair, Dr. Joe Provost: “Credit goes to our wonderful students as they are engaged in many ways in and out of the classroom and laboratory. Also, our faculty deserve kudos for mentoring, developing and challenging our students, particularly, Dr. Jessica Bell, who volunteers to gather the students, help them register for the exam and devotes a Saturday to administer the test.”

In 2018, 60 percent of USD students who took the test passed the exam, compared to the national average of 42 percent. In terms of the certification of distinction rate, 24 percent of USD students earned the honor compared to 12.3 percent for the national average.

August is Coming Soon: Women’s Soccer Will Kick Off Fall Sports Season

The first sign of the University of San Diego fall sports season will actually take place in mid-August. On Friday, Aug. 16, the women’s soccer team hosts the University of Arizona in a 6 p.m. exhibition match at Torero Stadium.

The match with the Wildcats will serve as a lead-in for the start of the regular-season schedule, in which USD plays three more home games: Friday, Aug. 23 against Long Island University-Brooklyn at 7 p.m., Holy Cross at 1 p.m. on Aug. 25 and a 7 p.m. battle with Long Beach State on Sept. 1.

Other fall sports teams beginning their 2019 season in August includes men’s soccer (at San Diego State on Aug. 30), women’s volleyball (Hawaiian Airlines Rainbow Wahine Classic, Manoa, HI — Aug. 30 vs. Hawaii, 7 p.m., Aug. 31 vs. Washington, 4:45 p.m., Sept. 1 vs. St. John’s, 2:45 p.m.), and football (Aug. 31 opener at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, 2 p.m.).

— Compiled by Ryan T. Blystone

YouTube video courtesy of Johns Hopkins University

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