January 20, 2013


Volume 8, Issue 21 – January 20, 2014


Good Stuff at SPSU

Another term has begun, and as usual, there are a lot of good things to say about SPSU, its faculty, and its students.

First up, the website bestcolleges.com has ranked the top universities in America in terms of how much return in terms of future earnings do graduates get for their investment in tuition and time.  The listing includes two Georgia Universities in the top 50.  Which ones?  Well, Georgia Tech is there at #3, and the only other is SPSU at #25, beating out such unknowns as U. Texas at Austin (#26), Virginia (#30), Washington (#31), Alabama (#33), Michigan (#34), UCLA (#36), Clemson (#38), Binghamton (#39), Colorado-Boulder (#43), UCONN (#45), and NC State (#46).  Not too shabby.

Next, the US News and World Report rankings of online graduate computer information technology programs is out, and SPSU has made the top 10 for the first time, coming in at #8 in the country.  It was ranked #11 last year, and #17 in 2012.  Congratulations to all in the MSIT program!

Speaking of Information Technology, congratulations also go to Bob Brown, who just completed his Ph.D.  Those who know Bob are aware that he has done this the hard way, teaching overloads almost every term and having taken on all kinds of other major responsibilities at SPSU, while working on his research and thesis.

I think I’ve mentioned it before, but our Business Administration and Accounting programs were recently reviewed by ACBSP, and earned a 10-year reaffirmation, the longest possible.  Congratulations to all in BA and Accounting!

Just to show that news about SPSU can show up anywhere, the November issue of Canadian Architect contains an article called “X Marks the Spot: A Meticulously Crafted Inn Adds to the Visionary Projects Already Established on Remote Fogo Island”, written by our own Michael Carroll (Architecture).  Fogo (meaning “fire”) island, for those who don’t know (and I was one of them) is part of the province of Newfoundland, which is where Michael is originally from, and is its largest offshore island.  It’s a pretty empty place, with only 2700 people in about 92 square miles of area.  You can see a write-up about his article here.

And speaking of far away, our own Hussein Abaza (Construction Management) is currently off in Afghanistan, on a state-department sponsored $1M project to help develop GIS labs there.  He has just arrived safely in Kabul, and reports that the compound he’s staying in is fortified with two layers of anti-blasting walls with guards on either side.  The meetings have gone very well.  Good luck on the project, Hussein.


Finally, congratulations to all the successful submitters to this year’s round of mini-grants.  There are a lot of interesting projects, and the deans and I are pleased to support this faculty development activity. The projects that were selected were (in no particular order):

Category A: Project-based Learning

  • Pegah Zamani (Architecture) and Kevin McFall (Electrical and Mechatronics Engineering)—Light Lab: Eco-Morphology Kinetic Architecture
  • Svetlana Pertsverger (Information Technology) and Guangzhi Zheng (IT)—Online Hands-On Privacy Labware
  • Chi Zhang (IT) and Svatlana Peltsverger (IT)—Investigation and Development of Online Tools and Techniques for Information Security Hands-on Exercises


Category B:  Improving Student Success in Gateway Courses

  • Jennifer Vandenbussche (Math) and Meighan Dillon (Math)—The Effect of Incentivized Remediation in Calculus I on Student Success in Calculus I and Subsequent Success in Calculus II
  • Shangrong Deng (Math) and Yang Kang (Math)—WebWork for Calculus II (Math 2254)
  • R. Luminda Kulasiri (Physics) and Kisa Ranasinghe (Physics)—Student Success Through Videos of Physics Experiments

Category C:  Undergraduate Engagement in Faculty-mentored Research and Creative Activities

  • Mine Hashas (Architecture), Peter Sakaris (Biology) and Allen Roberts (Civil Engineering Technology)—Rottenwood Creek: How to Merge Natural and Urban Ecologies
  • Pavan Meadati (Construction Management), Jon Preston (Computer Science), and Allen Roberts (Civil Engineering Technology)—Development of 3D Simulation Game for Concrete Formwork
  • Randy Emert (Mechanical Engineering Technology)—Industry Collaboration of 3D Printed Injection Molds
  • Ying Wang (Electrical and Mechatronics Engineering) and Larry Wang (Math)—A Hybrid Robotic Architecture for Vision-based Autonomous Mobile Manipulation
  • Bill Diong (Electrical and Mechatronics Engineering) and Guangzhi Zheng (IT)—Campus Power Consumption Analytics for Improved Conservation and Efficiency
  • Jidong Yang (Civil and Construction Engineering), Ming Yang (IT) and Sung-Hee Kim (CCE)—Analysis of Traffic Video Images for Safety Evaluation

Many of last year’s projects have become papers or grants, and I’m looking forward to hearing the results of this year’s group.




Technology Tourism

Last Tuesday, I (and about 70 others) engaged in a bit of technology tourism to see some of the new facilities developed by our colleagues in University Information Technology Services (UITS) in collaboration with our faculty and administration in the schools of Computing and Software Engineering; Architecture and Construction Management; the Information Technology Advisory Committee, and many others.  I’ve had the pleasure of participating in some of the visioning and planning, and have seen firsthand the “can do” ethos that now pervades these efforts.  Over the course of the past year or so, quite a number of IT facilities on campus have enjoyed a major facelift and upgrade, and several brand new facilities have been created.  Funding for these projects has come from a mix of Academic Affairs, UITS, Tech Fee, and end of year sources.

The tour began in the Engineering Technology Center with a short presentation about IT project management and some refreshments.  We then broke into smaller tour groups with the first stop being the new node nexus on the first floor.  A node nexus is a modern replacement for the old IT wiring closet.  It provides greater access, temperature control, and security (and hence, greater reliability) for the network.  There is also room for future growth.  Since its outer walls are made of glass, students and visitors can see exactly what’s happening inside.  Also located on the 1st floor of the ETC is the first stage of SPSU’s Academic Research Network (ARN).  Departments will be able to develop their own Content Networks, and students will be able to participate in and run virtual companies, delivering services to outside customers.

We then went to Building I-1 to see the node nexus on the second floor and the new technology classrooms on the first floor.  The technology classrooms have just been completed and feature a raised floor (so cabling arrangements can be changed at will) and collaborative desk arrangements allowing students to share content on their own portable devices (laptop, tablet, phone) with their collaborative group and with the class overall.

The tour and facilities were remarkable, even more so when one remembers that just a few years ago, the fate of building I-1 was to be torn down and replaced by a new building.  Instead, we decided to rehabilitate I-1 in stages and add a “twin” studio building (I-2), with a piazza in between.  The project is now complete and beautiful, and I-1 now has our most technologically advanced classrooms.  It’s been quite a change.

These aren’t the only IT facilities on campus to be upgraded—others can be found all around campus.  More are planned for later this year, including upgrading the IT facilities in Building G (which are on their last legs) and in the Library.  It goes to show you what can happen when we all work together.  Congratulations to Sam Conn (VP Information Technology), our deans, and so many faculty and staff for their leadership and work on these projects.


And Also…

This was also a good week for Chelsea, defeating the evil Manchester United 3-1.  Samuel Eto’o, a Chelsea player from Cameroon, scored the first Chelsea hat trick in two years in the process.  Go Blues!  Chelsea remains two points behind first place Arsenal and one point behind Manchester City, so it’s a tight one this year.


Music-wise, I just got a blu-ray DVD in the mail from England of Cliff Richard’s concert in Sydney, Australia last year.  Cliff Richard is only moderately well known in the US (his biggest hit here was “Devil Woman”, which reached #6), but in England and many other places he’s a superstar of the highest order.

Cliff has the interesting distinction of being the only person in history to have at least one #1 single on the charts in each of the five decades from 1950 to 2000:

1950’s:  2 #1’s (Living Doll; Travellin’ Light) and 5 top 10’s.

1960’s:  7 #1’s (Please Don’t Tease; I Love You; The Young Ones; The Next                                             Time/Bachelor Boy; Summer Holiday; The Minute You’re Gone;                                                 Congratulations) and 34 top 10’s.

70’s:  1 #1 (We Don’t Talk Anymore) and 4 top 10’s.

80’s:  2 #1’s (Living Doll; Mistletoe and Wine) and 15 top 10’s.
90’s:  2 #1’s (Saviour’s Day; the Millennium Prayer) and 7 top 10’s.

He came close in the 2000-2010 decade, with a #2 and a #3 single (4 top 10’s).  He’s had multiple top ten albums (28 studio, 4 soundtrack, 3 live, and 7 greatest hits), and recently sold out his 50th anniversary as a recording artist tour.

The new DVD is great—well shot, excellent sound, and a good mix of old hits and new songs.  Cliff, now 73 (!), still looks great and is in fine voice.  He’ll be recording yet another album this spring in Nashville.  I introduced wife Jill to his music many years ago, and she is absolutely in love with him (as is every woman of any age in England).  I have absolutely no idea how he does it, but I’m getting suspicious that he’ll outlive us all and still be going in 2050.


Last Week’s Trivia Contest

Last week’s contest had questions and answers all having the word “year” in them.  Some of you didn’t notice that the question could also have the word “year” in it!  Ya gotta read the rules more carefully!  First with all five correct was Rich Bennett, former faculty member in SIS and our first retiree winner!  Others with all five included Barry Birckhead (former Dean of Students, also retired) and Robin Daniel (UTeach).  Lots of people got four right.  Here are the correct answers:

  1. Traditional greeting at 12:00 am on January 1stHappy New Year!
  2. Big reductions in prices after Christmas.  Year-end Clearance Sale.
  3. All high schools and colleges used to publish one at the end of the spring semester.  Now, not so much.  Yearbook.
  4. 1938 novel by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, it became a movie starring Gregory Peck and Jane Wyman in 1946.  The Yearling.
  5. 5.     Television show that always began with “Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear…”  The Lone Ranger (Note the word “yesterYEAR” in the question). 

This Week’s Trivia Challenge

In honor of Martin Luther King Day, all the questions or answers to today’s trivia challenge have to do with the civil rights movement.  As usual, the first with the most takes the prize.  No looking up the answers now!  SEND ALL ENTRIES BY EMAIL TO zszafran@spsu.edu, since if you put them as a response on the BLOG, everyone will be able to see them!

  1. Philosophy espoused by both Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi.
  2. Colloquial name for the various segregation laws in the South.
  3. Name of the speech delivered by Martin Luther King at the March on Washington in 1963.
  4. Martin Luther King was the youngest ever winner of this prize, won in 1964.
  5. Name of the letter written by King at the request of the New York Times Magazine while he was incarcerated in April 1963.  Ironically, they didn’t publish it—excerpts appeared (without King’s permission) in the May 19, 1963 New York Post Sunday Magazine.
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One Response to January 20, 2013

  1. Bob Brown says:

    There are those who say I do EVERYTHING the hard way!

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