Core4STEM Expo

Analisa Garza
Guest Blogger

Last week the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce teamed up with representatives from Fortune 500 companies, governmental agencies, universities and colleges, and local high schools to host the third annual CORE4STEM EXPO at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center. The EXPO is part of the Chamber’s STEM initiative to encourage students by increasing awareness and interest in college and career goals with a long term effect of attracting higher paying jobs to San Antonio thus strengthening and increasing the cities prosperity (“Core 4 stem,” 2012).

Approximately 2,000 7th and 8th graders had the opportunity to broaden their understanding of STEM college and career goals by participating in hands-on activities, viewing demonstrations, and hearing from guest speakers including Jose Hernandez, the first Latino astronaut.

Thanks to the coordinating efforts of Helen Torres, SAC Director of Partnerships and Extended Services, and her staff, San Antonio College had the opportunity to participate in the EXPO by hosting hundreds of students with learner-centered hands-on sessions in STEM fields.

Students were introduced to the world of “Polyhedron and OCTA-TETRA Models” by Dan Suttin, SAC Math Lab tutor, where they learned the connections between these shapes and their applications to careers in architecture, engineering, design, art and mathematics.They were able to apply cyber security principles through simulated programs led by Troy Touchette, chair of Computer Information Systems, where they defended computers from hackers.

They also visited five activity tables led by SAC STEM students where they were introduced to multiple engineering careers including Bio Engineering using equipment provided by the SAC Biology Department and Geothermal Engineering using models provided by Adelante Tejas. Following these activities the students participated in Q&A sessions with Dr. Dan Dimitriu, Program Coordinator of SAC Engineering, and current SAC engineering students Kat Bently and Christopher Woods.

At the completion of each session the SAC College Connections team distributed buttons, backpacks, T-shirts, and information regarding the STEM programs available to their age group on our campus.

This event was a great success for our city and due to the collaborative efforts of all the STEM affiliated departments on our campus; it was a wonderful representation of the opportunities available to students through San Antonio College.

 

Analisa Garza is the MESA Center Coordinator.

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Changing nursing, changing healthcare

Dr. Roswitha Davies 
Guest Blogger

What comes to your mind when you hear the word “nurse?” Do you think of a person who

Dr. Roswitha Davies, Nursing Dept.

Dr. Roswitha Davies

takes care of sick people in a hospital? Do you think of a person who works in a doctor’s office or a clinic who give pills and shots?  Most students who apply to the Nursing program at San Antonio College have an idea of what it means to be a nurse.

When looking at nursing on a broader level of a profession, however, our image is not as clear. Within nursing, we have licensed vocational nurses (LVN) and registered nurses (RN). Both levels are licensed to practice by the state upon completion of their programs, but the amount of training is different. Licensed vocational nurses receive one year of training and a certificate upon completion. Registered nurses may receive their training at a two-year community college and receive an associate degree or at a four-year university where they receive a bachelor’s degree. Registered nurses may further their education at a master’s or doctorate level.

Licensing ensures that all nurses are safe to practice in their jobs, and institutions that hire nurses ensure that the nurse’s job responsibilities do not exceed the level of training the nurse received. However, some research is finding that nurses at the bachelor’s level or higher can better deal with the evolving and complex healthcare system of the future.

In 2008, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Institute of Medicine undertook an initiative for the purpose of making recommendations for the future of nursing. A report, released in 2010 was titled “The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health.”  Regarding nursing education, the report recommended that “nurses should achieve higher levels of education and training through an improved education system that promotes seamless academic progression.” The report further recommended that by 2020, the proportion of nurses with a bachelor’s degree should increase from 50 percent to 80 percent.

The ability to progress to the next level of education is not new in nursing. Mobility programs have been in existence for many years for LVNs to further their education and become registered nurses. Programs are also available for registered nurses with associate degrees to obtain bachelor’s degrees. Many of RN- to-BSN programs are available but currently only about 17 percent  of nurses with associate degrees continue to a bachelor’s degree. From this report, an idea was born in Texas to reduce barriers in the state that hinder successful academic progression from an associate to a bachelor’s degree in nursing.

This initiative became the Consortium for the Advancement of Baccalaureate Nursing Education in Texas (CABNET). San Antonio College is among 45 community colleges and 16 universities that have expressed interest in participating. In addition to reducing transfer and financial barriers to educational progression, CABNET has taken on a broader goal of revising the way nursing education is taught. Content taught in the various nursing programs would build from basic knowledge and skill taught at community college level to deeper learning at the university level. This common curriculum would eliminate duplication of courses and re-teaching of content that currently exists.

The CABNET plan allows for all required general education courses to be taken at the community colleges that would further reduce tuition costs. Finally, the CABNET plan still allows for the student, upon completion of the associate degree requirements, to become licensed and enter the workforce as a registered nurse. The CABNET initiative is moving into its development phase with the plan to begin implementation in Fall 2013.

Dr. Roswitha Davies is an associate professor in the Nursing Department  @ SAC.

Astronomy vs. Astrology: Words matter!

 David A. Wood Jr.
Guest Blogger

Too often, we are loose with our vocabulary, and we end up saying or writing one thing when we really mean something else. Then our intent changes meaning and confusion reigns. When you are an astronomer, this most commonly occurs when others mistakenly refer to you as an “astrologer.” Astronomy and astrology have a long, intertwined, and tense history, but there is a huge difference between them.

Astrology is a pseudoscience, having more in common with fortune telling than science. It claims to use the Sun, Moon, and planet positions against the background stars to predict human events on Earth. When an astrologer casts a horoscope for you, she claims that your day, week, month, or year are predestined by the relative positions of seven objects, most of which are tens of millions or even hundreds of millions kilometers away! Furthermore, generic horoscopes, based only upon the Sun’s position, attempt to describe the lives of 500 million diverse people whose only connection is that they were born in the same 30-day calendar period. Why, then, are some twins so different?

Astronomy, on the other hand, is a true science that relies on the scientific method to determine how the universe works. Astronomers are not going to cast a horoscope for you, but that doesn’t mean that astronomy doesn’t affect your daily life. In fact, just the opposite is true. Astronomical events are so fundamentally hard-wired into your DNA, that you unconsciously follow their patterns. Seasons are caused by the tilt of Earth’s axis. The Moon’s phase cycle affects everything from tides to fertility.

Weeks are divided into seven days, each originally to honor one of the seven moving celestial objects: Sunday is the Sun’s day; Monday (lunes) is the Moon’s day; Tuesday (martes) is Tews’s or Mars’s day; Wednesday (miercoles) is Woden’s or Mercury’s day; Thursday (jueves) is Thor’s or Jupiter’s day; Friday (viernes) is Freya’s or Venus’s day; and Saturday is Saturn’s day. Even the designations of a.m. (short for ante meridiem, means “before midday”) and p.m. (short for post meridiem, means “after midday”) are astronomical relics that remain in our lexicon.

There is one last dirty little secret that astrologers won’t tell you. Your horoscope sign is wrong by a month. Astrologers tell me that I am a Libra, and 5,000 years ago, the Sun was indeed in Libra in early October; however, thanks to a phenomenon called “precession,” the Sun drifted into Virgo in early October almost 2,000 years ago. So, should I read the Libra horoscope, or should I drift back a month to read the Virgo horoscope?

In the end it doesn’t matter. I get to choose my destiny. It is not predetermined by the random location of a few remote objects on the day I was born.

Dr. David A. Wood Jr. is the Director of Institutional Research, Planning, and Effectiveness. He is an astronomy instructor at SAC.

How San Antonio College fits in City Mission

Helen Torres
Guest Blogger

San Antonio College is participating in the upcoming STEM Expo Nov. 8-9 at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center. This Expo aims to reach out to middle school students in five school districts: Edgewood, Southwest, South San, San Antonio and Harlandale.

Helen Torres

Helen Torres

Among the interactive sessions will be various SAC departments. These include: Dr. Dan Dimitriu, Engineering; Dan Suttin, math tutor; and Troy Touchette, Computer Information Services. Touchette will be accompanied by students from the Information and Technology and Security Academy. They took top honors in March at the CyberPatriot IV-The National High School Cyber Defense Competition in Washington, D.C.

The interactive sessions are designed to spark student interest in STEM careers at an early age. The overall goal of the college, businesses and city is to encourage engineers and scientists in San Antonio and keep the brainpower here. If we grow our city’s workforce in the STEM areas, San Antonio will attract strong business and industries that will pay competitive wages and raise income levels in San Antonio.

San Antonio College faculty have stepped up again to support community initiatives, the Mayor’s Educational 2020 goals, and support SAC’s goals of improved student success.

This partnership is a win-win for future SAC students who are being exposed to STEM careers early, and for the future workforce of the City of San Antonio.

Helen Torres, SAC’s Director of Partnerships & Extended Services, serves on the Hispanic Chamber Education Committee, and is responsible for forging college partnerships like this one with the Hispanic Chamber, UTSA, and area school districts.

Navigating the world of higher education can be tough

By Analisa Garza
Guest Blogger

I can remember being an incoming freshman; the college campus was a different world to me.  I felt lost and alone, the instructors seemed intimidating and I had no idea where to begin.  The first few years were rough waters and without strong ties to classmates and professors in my field of study I quickly began to sink academically.  Reflecting a few years later after having successfully obtained  my master’s degree in Biology from Texas A&M International University, I realized that the tides turned when I took a position as a student worker in a STEM office.  Mesa Logo

Working in the Biology and Chemistry department gave me (more like forced me) to have close connections with STEM professors and classmates.  Having these connections was one of the driving forces that helped me commit myself to being a serious scholar.  I was   surrounded by people that knew how to navigate the waters I was unfamiliar with, and I didn’t want to disappoint the people I saw daily.  Also, I quickly came to realize that my instructors were easier to talk to than I had anticipated and that each one of them sincerely cared about my success.  Over the course of several years these professors connected me with other STEM students, taught me how to do original literature and laboratory research, helped me successfully receive scholarships that paid for my entire graduate program, and gave me the opportunity to instruct lower-level undergraduate courses.  They helped me get my first job as a high school science teacher and hired me as adjunct faculty when I graduated with my master’s degree.  The support and direction they gave me helped me go from a mediocre student to an A+ Scholar and I will be forever grateful.

With this in mind, I am so excited and privileged to be the new Mathematics, Engineering, and Science Achievement (MESA) Center Coordinator.  I know the impact the MESA Center will have on student success by connecting SAC students to their STEM classmates, professors, and community partners in their field. The MESA Center is a great place to connect with likeminded students pursuing degrees in the STEM areas and STEM affiliated student organizations.  It can also help by introducing you to STEM faculty and counselors that will help you navigate the waters of higher education, and help you find the extra help you need to become successful in the courses you are finding most difficult.  Having these connections will also help you find and secure the internship and research opportunities you want (Did you read Isabelle’s blog about her internship this summer at NASA).  These opportunities will help to ensure your scholastic success and equip you for your future career.

If you are a STEM student, or even just thinking about going into a STEM field, drop by the MESA Center.   It is located in the Chance Academic Center, Room 204.  I’d be happy to show you around the center, give you more information about the resources the Center has to offer and introduce you to some of the students that hang out here.  You can also learn more about the MESA Center and download a membership application from our website, or keep track of all the cool things we’re doing by liking us on Facebook and following us on twitter.  The MESA Center is a boat that knows how to navigate rough waters, so hop on!  It’s more fun when your travel with friends!

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The first Adelante Tejas STEM-ulate: Science Showcase will be Wednesday, Sept. 5 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Professors and students will present experiments  in the Loftin Student Center Mall as part of the Organization Showcase of on-campus clubs.

For more info about  MESA, visit Alamo.edu/sac/MESA or find them  on facebook: MESAatSAC.

 

Adelante Tejas – Year one nears completion

 By Title V Grant staff
 Guest Bloggers

In October 2011, San Antonio College (SAC) and Sul Ross State University (SRSU) began the Adelante Tejas (Forward Texas) grant partnership to improve Science, Technology, Engineering and Math education for Hispanic and low-income Texas students. This Title V grant seeks to increase the number of students declaring STEM majors at SAC and matriculate them through to corresponding graduate programs at SRSU.

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Counselor Rosa Maria Gonzalez and Instructor Alfred Alaniz advise a SAC student.

SAC’s grant support staff came on board in early 2012, which included a web master, a programmer, a student success specialist, a research specialist, and a pipeline coordinator. Grant staff from SAC and SRSU quickly began a comfortable long-distance working relationship.

In April 2012, Sul Ross hosted the first site visit in Alpine, for six San Antonio College delegates. Faculty and staff from both institutions met their counterparts, toured the university campus, visited the McDonald Observatory and explored Big Bend National Park together.

In June 2012 the combined Adelante Tejas team conducted a three-day STEM Summer Institute at San Antonio College to introduce faculty to new technological opportunities that could enhance STEM instruction.

Attendees learned how audiovisual podcasts could be used to supplement traditional classes and each recorded a short podcast to get more comfortable with the process. The Adelante Tejas grant calls for the development of 10 podcasts per year. As of this writing, nine podcasts have been recorded and eight have been delivered.

The Summer Institute participants also learned about 3D visualization technologies and were shown examples of how those could supplement STEM classes to clarify difficult concepts or to virtually ‘share’ bulky classroom models and physical artifact samples with students. Currently, faculty has proposed six 3D visualization projects and four proof-of-concept examples have been completed.

Fostering student-faculty rapport was the focus of an intensive four-day academic advising training institute that took place in July at SAC. Nine SAC faculty members and the SRSU Adelante Tejas director, Leslie Hopper, attended the institute. Video of these training sessions was streamed live over the Internet for those SRSU faculty and staff who were not able to attend.

This advising institute was designed to equip faculty with the tools, support and encouragement needed to advise students. In addition to training and workshop exercises, question and answer sessions with students gave the faculty first-hand exposure to real student concerns and insight into relevant advising strategies. Grant representatives, with assistance from staff and faculty from both institutions, are developing an institutional articulation agreement and a draft has been proposed. In addition to the agreement draft, three majors have been selected for the development of transfer guides. These include a BS in Biology, BS in Wildlife-Biology and a BS in Mathematics. A draft for the BS in Mathematics has been developed and has been presented for approval to department chairs at both institutions.

As part of the articulation agreement discussion, several instruments that would assist in the SAC to SRSU transfer process have been considered for inclusion. The addition of a consortium agreement would allow students to receive credit for hours enrolled at SAC to be considered in their financial aid package from Sul Ross for each semester they are co-enrolled. Also, a joint admissions agreement would allow SAC students to receive academic and financial advising through web-conferencing from SRSU staff before official admission into SRSU.

Representatives from both institutions continue to hold weekly web conferences and plan to finalize the articulation agreement, the BS in Mathematics transfer planning guide, the consortium agreement and the joint admissions agreement in anticipation of a signing ceremony in Spring 2013.

In August 2012, some 10 members of SAC’s faculty and staff (along with one student) visited the Sul Ross campus and learned more about the unique field research opportunities available to students in and around the West Texas Chisos Mountain range. SAC geology major Reuben Uribe met with SRSU graduate students and was invited to participate in hydrology field research the following week. This unexpected invitation is a prime example of the collaboration that can develop from this partnership.

As the first grant year comes to a close, SAC and Sul Ross have developed a solid foundation for the success of the Adelante Tejas grant and we are looking forward to the next four years.

Transfer success: SAC to TAMUSA

By Zach Havins
Guest Blogger      

Being an “undecided student” can be nerve wracking. There are life altering decisions you must make based on the degree you want to pursue. Luckily, I found the bachelor’s degree I want to pursue with the help of advisers at San Antonio College (SAC) and Texas A & M University at San Antonio (TAMUSA). I chose to pursue a degree in a STEM field of study, Bachelor of Business Administration(BBA) in Computer Information Systems (CIS) with a concentration in Information Assurance and Security at TAMUSA.

Choosing a STEM field of study that easily transfers from SAC or surrounding Alamo colleges to TAMUSA, offered a variety of benefits. The obvious advantages of is the low-cost tuition and the multiple locations across San Antonio. SAC  was only a few short miles from my apartment, saving me money on gas and allowing me to focus more on my education rather than my expenses.

What I enjoyed most  were the interchangeable courses TAMUSA allows as substitutions. My degree requires a literature course, but I wasn’t interested in taking British Literature, Philosophy or any of the standard literature courses. TAMUSA advisers mentioned that I can take a foreign language class to substitute and that also includes American Sign Language (ASL). That  sounded like a fun and easy “blow off” class to me. Surprise –  I discovered this to be one of the hardest classes I ever enrolled in and one of the most enjoyable and enlightening. Instructor John Cage  gave me great awareness and knowledge about the deaf community and culture. I can now communicate using basic sign language with any of the estimated 116,000 hearing-impaired people in San Antonio.

Concurrent enrollment was the official name of my enrollment status during my first semester at TAMUSA, meaning I was enrolled in both lower-level courses at SAC and upper-level courses at TAMUSA. I found this both convenient and  spectacular. TAMUSA is a new, but fast growing university.   The student-to-teacher ratio is almost identical to SAC, allowing for you to receive extensive help from professors and improved class lectures. There is   room for students to get involved.  This summer,  I was elected Vice-President of the Cyber Security Athenaeum (CSA) club at TAMUSA.

I arrived at TAMUSA with little experience on working with computers or servers, running an operating system other than  Microsoft Windows. Less than two years later and spending countless hours in the lab, preparing and competing in the last four cyber competitions, I have gained a surplus  of knowledge in the Computer Security field and feel confident I will find a job with ease and be highly successful upon graduation.

Zach Havins is currently a student at Texas A & M University-San Antonio.