Monthly Archives: September 2014

Enrique Iglesias and Pitbull ‘don’t stop the party’ at the Palace

Stephanie Sokol for The Pit

Enrique Iglesias and Pitbull brought endless energy and fun to The Palace of Auburn Hills Sunday Sept. 22, as they made a stop in Oakland County during their North American tour.

Photo/Stephanie Sokol

Photos/Stephanie Sokol

Following a brief opening act by J Balvin, Iglesias took the stage, dressed casually in a plain white tee, baseball cap and jeans. But despite his casual appearance his fans went crazy as he ran around the stage.

He started the night with “I’m a Freak,” following with his 2001 hit “Escape,” which drew a strong response from fans.

A few songs into the set, Iglesias and his band walked off the stage, and headed over to the soundboard, climbing on top to perform.

“Last time I was here, I only gave 99 percent,” he said. “I swear on my mom, I’m going to give you 100 percent Detroit!”

Going with the Motown theme, Iglesias and his band went R&B with a cover of “Stand By Me.” During the song, he got the crowd pumped, and ended up bringing an audience member onto the stage. When the man brought his beer, Iglesias offered him a tequila shot instead, to which the man responded by taking the bottle and chugging it. The crowd laughed and cheered and after being briefly interviewed by Iglesias, they finished the song as a duet, the man unable to take the smile off his face. The ladies also loved Iglesias. When he approached the aisles, women tried to rip off his shirt, and one even threw a clothing item on the stage.

During an uncensored performance of “Tonight I’m Lovin You,” Balloons with the words “Sex Love” were dropped from the ceiling, and fans had fun throwing them back and forth, as pyrotechnics went off onstage. Iglesias asked all his fans to hold their phones up at one point during the show, which made the Palace look like a sky full of stars.

Though he played a variety of new hits, old tracks and covers, Iglesias wrapped up his set with a fan favorite, performing



“Hero,” as a majority of fans sang along, and shortly after, this year’s single, “Bailando,” which also kept fans dancing at their seats.

After a 40-minute “intermission” featuring a deejay trying to get the crowd pumped for Pitbull, the Palace went black and Pitbull’s biography began scrolling over the screen.

In Pitbull tradition, the arena became a night club, full of constant disco-lighting and dancing. His dancers moved after a 2 minute routine, to reveal him walking out wearing an all black suit.

“You know what I want to do n the D tonight? I want to take it back,” Pitbull said.

Throughout the evening, he sampled other artists, including Ozzy Osbourne, Guns N’ Roses,  Salt and Pepa, among others, throwing in his signature strut across the stage and randomly adding his own thoughts, in addition to video clips constantly airing behind him.

Old tracks like “Give Me Everything” and “Hotel Room Service” brought a smile to fans’ faces, and Pitbull repeatedly reminded everyone that he was Mr. Worldwide, and “went from negative to positive.”

“What I love about music is that it brings everyone together, no matter where you’re from… it breaks down all boundaries, all barriers, all limits,” he said.

Pitbull wrapped up his set with “Feel This Moment,” and smoke filled the stage as dancers encouraged fans to keep dancing.

Iglesias and Pitbull returned to stage to play two songs for the encore, during which streamers were thrown from the stage, and fans continued to dance the night away, proving that there really was no stop to the party these two artists brought.

Enrique Iglesias and Pitbull brought a party to the Palace of Auburn Hills last night.

Enrique Iglesias and Pitbull brought a party to the Palace of Auburn Hills last night.


Oprah’s ‘Life You Want Tour’ brings inspiration to Detroit

Stephanie Sokol for The Pit

Oprah Winfrey made a stop at the Palace of Auburn Hills. Photo/ Palace Entertainment

Oprah Winfrey made a stop at the Palace of Auburn Hills.
Photo/ Palace Entertainment

Oprah Winfrey wants her fans to remember that when things aren’t going the way you want, it might be a message from life pushing you in another direction. That was one of the topics she shared this motivational weekend, Sept. 12-13, when the “Life You Want Tour” made its stop at The Palace of Auburn Hills.

Friday’s events began at 11 a.m., with O Town, an art-fair style event with vendors selling food, clothing and more.

At 6 p.m., the Palace became extremely packed, as the eager crowd gathered  to see Winfrey live.

From the beginning, the audience was encouraged to send questions and share photos of themselves, using #LifeYouWantDet.

The show officially started shortly after 7 p.m. DJ Kiss got the crowd excited with fun, uplifting music, including Coldplay’s “Sky Full of Stars.” The lights then went off, and the screen lit up with a montage of clips from Oprah’s career, from her start in daytime television, to the first episode of her talkshow and the beginning of her network television station.

As the video wrapped up, Oprah’s voice boomed talking about stars and matter, and the fans’ RFID  access wristbands lit up, turning the pitch-dark Palace into a solar system of lights.

Oprah strutted onto the stage in a  jade-hued gown, and fans cheered as she talked about her visit to Pure Michigan, and the peaceful walk she took along downtown Rochester’s Paint Creek trail.

“Hello Detroit! The D, you’re here! You came, oh my gosh, I’m so happy to see you,” she said. “So I ask you why are you here? You know I don’t sing, I don’t dance. You know I don’t have a hit record, right?”

“I’m here to help you figure out why you’re here. I’m here to help you turn up the volume in your life, to help you figure out what your passion is, what your vision is, what your mission is. I’m here to let you know that you’re co-creating your life, right now. And if you acknowledge and honor that, you will be able to move closer to the life you want.”

Oprah had her audience’s full attention throughout the evening, sharing personal stories including a bit about the process of auditioning for ‘The Color Purple’ and other things that impacted her life, all relating to the idea that the universe pushes people where they should be.

“Be grateful even when you’re in the struggle,” Oprah said. “Be thankful for the little things. Life is speaking to me all the time,

Photo Courtesy of Harpo Studios, Inc. / George Burns Oprah Winfrey and Toyota Brand Ambassador Amy Purdy (far left), Bonnie Davison (Devita’s father, second to left) and Devita Davison (second to right) of Detroit Kitchen Connect who was honored with The Toyota “Standing O-Vation” Award.

Photo Courtesy of Harpo Studios, Inc. / George Burns
Oprah Winfrey and Toyota Brand Ambassador Amy Purdy (far left), Bonnie Davison (Devita’s father, second to left) and Devita Davison (second to right) of Detroit Kitchen Connect who was honored with The Toyota “Standing O-Vation” Award.

and gratitude is a force.”

The second day of activities started bright and early at 7 a.m., with more O Town going on all day, and a morning fashion show to kick off the day.

Throughout day 2, various speakers — the “trailblazers” — took the stage, in a classroom-like atmosphere to speak and hold mini “seminars,” where fans listened, asked questions and participated in activities. Among the guests were ‘Eat, Pray Love’ author Elizabeth Gilbert, author Rob Bell, author and philosopher Mark Nepo, Soul Cycle Instructor Angela Davis and Life Coach Iyanla Vanzant, all bringing their stories and life tips to the fans.

“We all want the same thing, and that is to be able to fulfill the highest and truest expression of ourselves,” Oprah said. “You want to be able to step into that what is your glory, take that and live everyday. And I promise you that that is what we are here to help you do this weekend.”

During the second day, in addition to more motivation talk and group activities like exercise and meditation, Devita Davison was awarded the second Toyota “Standing O-Vation” award, for her work with Detroit Kitchen Connect, “a Detroit-based organization created to build community and invigorate the economy by supporting local food entrepreneurs.”

Through this award, DKC is awarded a $25,000 grant from Toyota to help them continue supporting the local Detroit community.

After a day of speakers, the event wrapped up, leaving guests uplifted and inspired to take on their world and take control of their lives.

“All power comes from the greater power that is spirit, and your success, your happiness and your joy is in direct proportion of how you are connected to that spirit,” Oprah said.

The Life You Want Tour Continues, with more stops across the country:

Sept. 19-20            Washington D.C.                 Verizon Center

Sept. 26-27            Newark, New Jersey           Prudential Center

Oct. 17-18              Houston, Texas                   Toyota Center

Oct. 24-25               Miami, Florida                      American Airlines Arena

Nov. 7-8                  Seattle, Washington           KeyArena at Seattle Center

Nov. 14-15             San Jose, California           SAP Center at San Jose

OU mechanical engineering alum takes skills overseas

Stephanie Sokol for OUSECS
Charon Morgan never thought about moving away from Michigan — the place where

Photo/Charon Morgan

Photo/Charon Morgan

she grew  up, started her family and started her career.

Now, the 1996 Oakland University mechanical engineering graduate lives and works in Shanghai, China, where she took an executive job with General Motors over a year ago — and  she said it was one of the best life choices she ever made.
“It’s important for people to really stretch themselves and get out of their comfort zone to experience something they never thought they’d do, because that’s been the best experience  for me,” Morgan said. “I never thought two years ago that I’d even be here.”
Growing up in Romeo, and going to school in the area, Morgan lived in Michigan her whole life.
Immediately following her graduation from OU, she began her career at General Motors in technology and validation.
“Oakland was such a great experience,” Morgan said. “I recall working very, very hard, spending many hours every day in the library with teams — I remember working in a lot of teams. The one thing that sets OU apart from discussions I’ve had with my colleagues and experiences with other schools, is spending a lot of time in the labs. The fortunate part of that was you had the theoretical message in the lecture, but then you really got the hands-on experience when applying it in the lab, and that also taught you to work very effectively with teams, which is really what you do in the real world.”
What started as a primarily technical and chassis career led to more design and management work.
Morgan’s current position focuses on “optimizing the way engineering functions are run” at General Motors, working to boost efficiency with the company there.
Being with the company for almost 20 years, she had rich experience that made her a good fit for the job. In this position, she is working to better the market’s needs, which vary in other
countries based on fuel economy regulations among other criteria.
“As a global company, GM has engineering centers located around the world, and China is where the industry has high growth projected,” Morgan said. “There’s growth now, but there will be an even more rapid pace of growth in the future. With that in mind, understanding how we can operate the business on the other side of the world to be as efficient as in the U.S where we have such a mature automotive industry, is great for us as a global company. Being able to collaboratively spread regional knowledge and apply it to our emerging countries is key.”
The move to China wasn’t easy, however. Morgan has three sons, and nobody in the family spoke Chinese. Professionally, verbal communication wasn’t an issue, since most of her Chinese peers speak English, but interacting in society was a bit more of a challenge.
However, Morgan said communication goes beyond speaking, both in the professional world and through personal interactions.
“You can learn a lot about people and how they feel based on their emotional and physical mannerisms, so you learn how to communicate with them without speaking as much,” Morgan said. “Chinese culture is very different. But China ultimately wants the same thing as the U.S.,  Germany, Brazil and other countries. Globally at GM we all want to design, build and sell the world’s best vehicles. We’re really focused on utilizing the global capabilities that we have to build our company to be the best it can be.”
From college to the present, Morgan has been involved with the Society of Engineers (SAE), and currently serves on the Board of Directors.
“My transition from student to professional life was seamless because I had great experiences with the OU staff and professors. Plus, with all of the labs that were required, I learned how effective teams can work together,” Morgan said. “I was able to bridge some of the student-to-professional gaps through my involvement with SAE, which was how I met up again with Brian, one of my first professors at OU.”
When Charon first became an SAE board member, she ran into a former professor and fellow OU alum, Don Hillebrand, a 1984 mechanical engineering grad and current Director of Energy Systems Research at Argonne National Laboratory.
Hillebrand said he remembers Morgan’s ambition and dedication from when he taught her as an undergrad.
“I remembered Charon because she was a very good student,” Hillebrand said. “She stood out as the one who got all her work done and left, as opposed to everyone else who just goofed off, which is why I remembered her. When I saw her on the board, it was clear she had done very well for herself.”
Through SAE, Morgan has done various projects, including leading a group in the reinvention of SAE’s mission, and consistent involvement in the board-sponsored education outreach programs.
While on the board, Morgan has continued to be very involved even after her relocation to China, continuing to attend meetings and participating in calls.
“While she (Morgan) was on the board, she was called to go to China on assignment, first temporary and now permanently,” Hillebrand said. “But she’s continued to attend all board meetings and all calls. It’s amazing how much she’s doing and she’s a tremendous asset. There’s that saying if you want to get something done, find a busy person and ask them to do it. That’s the definition of Charon — she has so many things going on but if she volunteered to take something on, it was done quickly, it was done very well and it was done very efficiently, with a really good attitude.”
Though she sometimes misses home, Morgan is enjoying her career in China, and said it was one of the best decisions she’s made. She recommends taking the time to experience something new at least once in life.
“Hard work pays off and it’s so important to step outside of what you’re used to and do something a little different — take a risk, put yourself in an uncomfortable situation, or stretch yourself, because those are the times in your life, and in your career, that you’ll cherish those experiences….. you will cherish them the most and learn the most,” Morgan said.

SECS outreach programs boost engineering interest among youth

Stephanie Sokol for OUSECS

outreachweb3Oakland University’s School of Engineering and Computer Science (SECS) provides a great place for students to learn more about the field of engineering— and not just those admitted into the program.

From camps, to field trips and special “engineering days,” OUSECS has a variety of outreach programs to get children and teens interested in engineering and related fields. 

“My favorite part (about outreach) is watching the students get excited about what they’re doing,” said Chris Kobus, director of outreach and associate professor of engineering. “I used to do a majority of the material, but now I have a staff of students and I get to watch and see the progress of the students. The kids are very happy — it’s a great feeling.”

The hands-on activities started about 4 years ago, when the school started offering general engineering and computer science exploration summer camps. 

A relationship began with Pontiac Schools, and gradually, camps expanded from general exploration camps to more focused programs. 

After positive feedback from the parents and kids, the camps have expanded greatly — providing more options and facilitating an increase from 100 to about 700 attendees in the summer alone. 

“From mid June to mid-August, the students are here all day, everyday,” Kobus said.

STEM camps take place on OU’s main campus, the OUInc business incubator and the Macomb County satellite Anton Frankel Center. OU engineering undergrads and other local engineering students lead the camps, instructing the hands-on activity, which they plan with direction from Kobus.

While the camps benefit the community, they also help the program grow. With jobs increasing in the engineering field, more graduates are needed, so gaging students’ interest — and indulging and encouraging them in those interests early on — is crucial.

“Around 7th and 8th grade, parents start talking to their kids about what they want to do,” Kobus said. “Having an opportunity to come out to a STEM camp — either a focused camp or general exploration camp where they learn a bit of everything — helps kids get acquainted with what the substance is, and get excited because now they get to decide what math and science courses they might take next year, and into high school. If they want to be in the STEM field, they’ll need to take a certain pathway to get there, so this both prepares them and lights their fire for the subject.”

Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) camps focus on hands-on, project-based learning. Students have the opportunity to apply material and themes to real-world situations, through experiments and projects, for a unique learning experience.

Noelle Rossetto, who is home-schooled, found out about STEM camps from her sister. Attending them was enjoyable for her, and the work she did made her more interested in engineering and computer science.

“It was really fun,” Rossetto said. “I did a lot of stuff that I haven’t done before, and that I honestly didn’t think I could do. Making web pages was my favorite, because I liked writing the code. I would definitely come back again.”

Rochester Hills resident Kristin Schreck enrolled her children in STEM camps for the first time this summer, and said they will
attend again next year.

Abby Schreck, 11, and Nate Schreck, 9, both took part in an Engineering Exploration week and had a great time learning new things.

“I think the most valuable part of the camp was that my kids were able to see a side of science and technology that they don’t webget a lot of exposure to in school,” Schreck said. “The topics were current and relevant, and taught by experts in the field. Lessons were explained to them in a technical way, but in a way they could understand and get excited about and have fun with. The counselors were excellent too, and explained so much about OU’s campus during the tours.”

Kobus said the camps have continued to grow, and in turn, have boosted enrollment in the OU Engineering and Computer Science Programs. 

He said he plans to continue adding more outreach programs each year — from STEM camps to field trips and visits to schools — because of the positive effects they have on everyone involved.

“The whole point is to get more students excited about STEM,” Kobus said. “For every student who graduates, there’s two or more job openings — we can’t possibly fill them all without increasing enrollment. It (STEM) has done quite a bit for our enrollment. Since this program got rolled out a few years ago, our enrollment has almost doubled. From 2009-2014, we’ve almost doubled the number of students we have. We’re growing this year— about 20 percent. You don’t see that kind of growth in other units on campus. So what’s different? The outreach program. We’re getting the name out there.”

For more information about the outreach program, visit