Monthly Archives: May 2014

Engineering and Computer Science students, faculty honored at annual Advisory Board Dinner

Stephanie Sokol for OUSECS

Students and faculty from the School of Engineering and Computer Science were honored for their accomplishments this month at the annual Advisory Board Dinner.

The dinner began in 2010 to thank advisory board members for their time, and expanded to recognize more members of the Engineering and Computer Science Community.

“(The dinner) was great and I like that we can honor the students, as well as faculty, with awards,” said Dr. Louay M. Chamra, Dean of the School of Engineering and Computer Science. “I was very happy to meet the parents and (pay tribute to) students in terms of their contribution to the school, as well as academically-gifted students in the school of engineering and computer science.

On the faculty side, I like the fact that we give awards for their hard work in all aspects of teaching, research and service to the community, as well as Oakland University,” Dean Chamra continued.

A committee of department chairs and board members vote for faculty awards. This year’s honors went to Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Director of Outreach and Recruitment, Chris Kobus, Ph.D., for Teaching, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering Laila Guessous, Ph.D., for Service, Associate Professor Osamah Rawashdeh, Ph.D., for Research, Professor and Chair of Mechanical Engineering Zissimos Mourelatos, Ph.D., for John Dodge Chair and Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering Xia Wang, Ph.D., for Distinguished Associate Professor.

Graduating seniors from the program were also recognized for service and academics that evening. Faculty members decided who would be honored based on achievement and performance, Dean Chamra said.

“These students go to classes everyday and may have work outside the classroom, but yet, they find a time to volunteer and make a difference at the university as well as the community,” Dean Chamra said. “So, by honoring them — whether for service or academics — we tell everybody that if you volunteer, your hard work is not for nothing. We appreciate everything they do for us, and that’s what Oakland University is all about.”

Jameson Carle, an electrical and computer engineering student with a GPA of 3.73, was honored with the Service Award. This award is given to the graduating senior who has “rendered the greatest service to the school,” in judgment of the faculty.

Carle has been involved in many on-campus organizations, including his presidential role with Tau Beta Pi Honors Society, position as Treasurer of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, involvement with Sigma Pi Fraternity and OU Student Program Board, to name a few.

Outside of school, he gave back to his community, working with Gleaners, Toys for Tots and an American Textile Recycle Services, in addition to organizing math workshops in local schools and receiving the Eagle Scout Award in 2009 from Boy Scouts of America. His next step will be moving to Denver, Colo., to start his career as New Product Introduction Engineer with Agilent Technologies.

Information Technology Graduate Trpko Blazevski was honored with the award for Professional Development, which is given to the student who “has demonstrated the greatest technical development in his/her studies and shown an outstanding measure of individual initiative in connection with a project.”

Graduating with a 3.95 GPA, Blazevski was named Student Leader of the Year, and recipient of the Alfred G. Wilson Award. His academic success earned him Dean’s List recognition, an Academic Achievement Award and first-place honors in the Senior Capstone Design Competition.

Blazevski was also involved in on-campus student organizations, including Gold Key International Honor Society and Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, and is the founder of the Oakland University Cyber Security Club “CyberOU.” Through the club, Blazevski coordinated a Google Glass Exploration Conference and the 2014 Cyber Summit Conference with keynote speakers from around the state.

The award for Exceptional Achievement went to Mechanical Engineering Graduate Caymen Novak. This honor is given to the student who faculty sees as achieving “the highest level of academic experience.”

Novak maintained a 3.95 GPA as an Honors College student, receiving the Matilda R. Wilson Award, Provost Undergraduate Research Award and recognition as Dean’s Scholar and Presidential Scholar.

The graduate is also a member of Alpha Lambda Delta, Golden Key International, Tau Beta Pi Honor Society, Society of Women Engineers and Engineering Society of Oakland University. As a student, she worked as a teaching assistant, academic peer mentor and Imagineers Engineering program instructor, in addition to participation in Track & Field, Judo Club and Juggling Club.

The Academic Achievement honor is awarded to the student with the highest GPA. This year’s recipient was Matthew Solt, a Mechanical Engineering and Physics senior with a GPA of 3.99.

Solt interned and did research at Cornell, OU and MSU, become the first Goldwater Scholarship Honorable Mention from OU in 2012.

On campus, Solt worked as a Supplemental Instruction Leader for the Academic Skills Center/Tutoring Center, and served as a Peer Tutor, achieving the highest tutoring certification from his experience. He was also an officer of Tau Beta Pi Honors Society, an OU Top 3 sophomore for SECS in 2011, member of the American Physical Society and Secretary for the Society of Scholars, in addition to Presidential Scholar of Oakland University.

Solt will be will be attending Stanford University’s Ph. D. program in physics next fall, and receiving funding from the school to research at CERN this summer.

 “(I consider) every student who graduates from the School of Engineering and Computer Science (an) ambassador for both Oakland University and the school of engineering,” Dean Chamra said. “When they go out into the world and do well, they are representing all of us at Oakland— students, faculty and administration. That shows the quality of education and students at Oakland.”


Caleb Johnson wins American Idol Season 13



Stephanie Sokol for The Pit

Caleb Johnson’s third time on American Idol was the charm. The 23-year-old rockstar from Asheville, N.C. native beat 17-year-old Michigan singer Jena Irene Wednesday night, as the 13th season winner.

During the final episode, the two performed Queen’s We Will Rock You, No Doubt’s Just a Girl and Bryan Adams and a flame cannon filled performance of Tina Turner’s It’s Only Love.

“The competition is officially over!” Harry Connick Jr. told Ryan Seacrest. “I can stand!”

Long before that, it was sort of clear who the eventual winner would be, when Seacrest asked the audience at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live to cheer for their favorite singer, and Johnson earned more enthusiasm from the fans.

Jena Irene’s performance of Paramore’s Decode started at the piano, and was later joined by her band.

Towards the conclusion of the season, Jena and Johnson still seemed friendly, joking about going to prom together no matter what.

At the end of the night, Johnson performed As Long As You Love Me, and Seacrest reminded viewers that Johnson’s album is already available for pre-order on iTunes before its Aug. 12 release.

Whitecaps take Captains 4-1

Stephanie Sokol for The Pit

Two nights in a row, the West Michigan Whitecaps brought dominant starting pitching, allowing them to beat the Lake County Captains.

Buck Farmer-s 12-strikeout led the Whitecaps to a 4-1 win at Classic Park Wednesday evening, as the Whitecaps (14-12)  struck out a season-high 15 batters in the game.

The team has now allowed only one run over the last 21 innings of the series against Lake County (7-19). Winning four out of their last five games, the Whitecaps face the Captains again Thursday.

Farmer (3-2) started with a dozen strikeouts, beating his previous record of 11 strikeouts on April 28 at Cedar Rapids, and finishing three punch-outs shy of Alan Webb’s 15 strikeout franchise record in a 1998 start at Beloit.

Throwing 64 of his 95 pitches for strikes, Farmer made it past several batters in four of his seven innings and struck out the side in both the third and fourth frames. He allowed just one run on five hits and one walk in seven dominant innings, only faltering during a solo home run off Eric Haase’s bat in the second.

The Whitecaps also got scoring assistance in the top of the second, when Ben Verlander lifted a routine fly ball to shallow right field, but it dropped between three defenders for a gift-single.

Following, Harold Castro brought a double to put runners on second and third, and later that inning Bennett Pickar split the gap in right-center to score both runners for a 2-0 advantage. Haase cut the lead 2-1 on the homer in the bottom of the second, but the ‘Caps still kept going.  

In the top of the fifth, West Michigan worked for three consecutive two-out singles, including an opposite-field hit by Dominic Ficociello that brought Javier Betancourt home. In the seventh, Wynton Bernard tripled and scored on a two-out single by Raph Rhymes to push the lead to 4-1.

Bernard (2 of 1)

In the seventh, Wynton Bernard tripled and scored on a two-out single by Raph Rhymes to push the lead to 4-1. Pit file photo

Things got interesting in the bottom of the ninth, when the Captains loaded the bases against Montreal Robertson with one out.

Scott Sitz came to the rescue, inducing a game-ending double play ball from Claudio Bautista to clinch his first save of the season.

Luis Lugo (0-4) felt the loss despite a solid starting performance for Lake County, when the 20-year-old lefty struck out six and walked one over 4.2 innings, but was charged with three runs on five hits.

Indie pick of the week: Petals of Spain

Stephanie Sokol for The Pit
The vocal harmonies and music of the Denver-based band Petals of Spain is eerily similar to the Bohemian Rhapsody-rock group Queen, with a hint more brass background instrumentals reminiscent of Sublime.
Photo/Petals of Spain

Photo/Petals of Spain

Nic Hammerberg, Hunter Hall, Mason Shelmire, Dylan Johnson and Taylor Imbrogno of Colorado are the five “petals” that make up the group, who has been together for five years and toured throughout Colorado.

Each musician has been involved in music since they were young. Nic and Hunter met at age 13, while touring Europe to perform in Colorado Children’s Chorale and all of five consider themselves “theatrical,” having performed with operas, musicals, choirs, collegiate music schools and jazz ensembles.
“It depends on the season, but music is our fuel- literally & figuratively,” Hammerberg said. “There’s something very special about music and how it seems to evoke a plethora of emotions.”
One key characteristic in the band’s songs is strong energy. Overall, Petals’ music is upbeat and lively, something Hammerburg said comes from “a little Ujjayi breathing, coffee and an excitement to be alive.”
One of their tracks, “I Gotta Know,” examines a time in Nic’s life when the girl he loved left the country, and he started to examine the idea of monogamy in every facet of life. While it has emotional themes, the feel of the music remains happy, like many of their other songs.
“‘Taking Me High’ is definitely a favorite (song) to play,” Hammerberg said. “Not only can you get your disco hips on, but the song was written as a tribute to Robin Gibb, written shortly after he passed. The title “Taking Me High (Robin Fly)” was our way of saying thank you, and rest in peace.”
“New favorites of our own are in the EP we’re workin on. We’re all over the board on favorites of another artist, but for me I might say Feist’s “Mushaboom,” or Rufus Wainwright’s, “Go or Go Ahead.” Incredible songwriting with soundscapes to die for. I’m guessing Hunter might go with Queen, Mason with Red Crimson or Paul McCartney, Dylan with something sick per usual, and Tyler with MGMT. I’m not sure we’d all agree as Petals, on a favorite song. That’s why working together is so marvelous.”
Petals of Spain listens to a variety of genres, like classical music, jazz, pop, classic rock and other current musicians. But they also find inspiration elsewhere— including their own minds.
The band hopes that each listener will gain a personal experience when listening to their music.
“When inspiration hits you, you don’t want to lose it! More recently I’ve come to accept that if you (by you I mean we) can’t remember it, perhaps it’s not worth remembering,” Hammerberg said. “Some of our better compositions have come from pure subconscious, while others are methodically thought out- sometimes, both. I’ve read and been told, when answering, ‘how would you describe your music to people who have never heard it before,’ to have a specific, poignant answer that sticks with people. I’m more interested in your perception. I’d describe Petals as music, rich with harmony, and ever-improving strong hooks. The “genre” is limitless.”
Petals of Spain said they have recently been making big connections, and facing the biggest opportunities they’ve been given in the past five years, including New York producers and coast-to-coast tours. In addition, they are currently working on an EP, following the release of several singles.
To keep up with Petals, like them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, and check out their website.

Detroit contestant competes on ‘The Price is Right’

Stephanie Sokol  for The Pit

Daytime Emmy Award-winning game show THE PRICE IS RIGHT, hosted by Drew Carey, daytime's #1-rated series and the longest-running game show in television history, celebrates its milestone 8,000th episode, Monday, April 7 (11:00 AM-12:00 Noon, ET; 10:00-11:00 AM, PT) on the CBS Television Network.  Photo: Monty Brinton/CBS

Daytime Emmy Award-winning game show THE PRICE IS RIGHT, hosted by Drew Carey, daytime’s #1-rated series and the longest-running game show in television history. Photo: Monty Brinton/CBS

Detroit resident Dave Mitchell got a pleasant surprise on a recent trip to Los Angeles. He was in the audience of ‘The Price is Right’ with his 83-year-old mother, when he was called onstage to compete.

“It was fantastic, something I never would have thought I would be a part of,”  Mitchell said. “Getting called onstage with Drew was outstanding. My mom watches the show religiously and we always wanted to get on there. I never dreamed we would actually get on the show, and me being onstage — you’ve got to be kidding. It was breathtaking; my heart was pumping and rushing the hype on the show was unbelievable.”
A former program director from a non profit agency in Detroit, Mitchell said this was a great way to kick off retirement. Everyday at 11 a.m., he tunes in to “The Price is Right.” While visiting his brothers in L.A., himself, his wife, his mother, brother and sister decided to go see it in person.
A big fan of the show, Mitchell said it was a totally different than watching from home— it’s an indescribable experience. This was his first time being on a game show, and while he was a little nervous, David kept his cool, spun the wheel and had a great time.
“(The Price is Right should) keep doing what they’re doing bc the show is awesome,” Mitchell said. “There’s a lot of excitement and the people were so nice. It’s a process— we were there all day — but it was well worth it. Anybody going out there should make one of their stops at the price is right.”
The episode airs Tuesday, May 13 (11:00 AM-12:00 PM ET10:00-11:00 AM PT) on CBS.