A break in sight

Male student cuts blue styrofoam form

Photo by Christopher Gannon.

Industrial design junior Myron Bose works on a prototype of an adaptive scooter seat in the Armory's industrial design shop earlier this week.

Classes are in recess next week (March 13-17) for spring break. When the semester resumes, count on five weeks of class, followed by dead week and final exam week, with spring commencement events scheduled for May 4-6.

Nursing degree gets senate approval

A pair of new academic programs and a more stringent transfer requirement were among items approved at the March 7 Faculty Senate meeting.

Beginning this fall, a bachelor's of science in nursing will be jointly offered by the colleges of Human Sciences and Agriculture and Life Sciences. Nurses who hold degrees from accredited programs (registered nurse or associate degree in nursing) are the target audience.

A minor in pharmacology and toxicology also was approved. Administered by the biomedical sciences department and interdepartmental toxicology program, the undergraduate minor would benefit students interested in careers that involve "drug action, toxicology and their effects on living animal and environmental systems."

Transfer GPA

Senators voted in favor of raising the minimum grade point average requirement for transfer students, from 2.00 to 2.25. The higher GPA requirement, effective in fall 2019, would not apply to students with an associate's degree.

"We want our students to be successful," said academic affairs council chair Tim Bigelow. "After looking at students coming in without an associate's degree, it was found that students with a 2.25 or less GPA were significantly less successful than students with a higher GPA."

A show of hands

Senators also approved:

  • Discontinuation of a summer option for students below the minimum admission requirement for the Regents Admissions Index, as of summer 2018
  • Proposed changes to the Faculty Handbook's faculty appointments policy (section 3.1) that align with mandates from the Higher Learning Commission, including a process for hiring faculty who do not meet minimum qualifications
  • A statement of faculty core values, outlining "the fundamental aspects of academic life, including integrity, collegiality and respect" and "commitment to academic freedom, granting of tenure and other tenets central to the faculty"

Next month's vote

Two items will be eligible for a vote next month, including a proposed master's of professional practice in dietetics. The online program was created in anticipation of future national requirements for registered dieticians.

Senators also will vote next month on a proposed change to the university's communication proficiency grade requirement for undergraduates in ENGL 205, raising it from a C- to a C. The higher requirement, which already exists in some colleges, would be part of the university catalog.

Athletics council elections

From a slate of six candidates, two faculty members were elected to serve on the university's athletics council. Tera Jordan, assistant professor in human development and family studies, and Rob Whitehead, assistant professor in architecture, begin their three-year terms next fall.

Collective bargaining negotiations continue, despite new state law

On Feb. 17, Gov. Terry Branstad signed into law House File 291, which impacts the collective bargaining process for Iowa's public employees, including about 1,200 ISU merit staff covered by the AFSCME collective bargaining agreement. The university is monitoring the law's mandates and will continue to update employees.

Current negotiations

The State of Iowa currently is negotiating the 2017-19 AFSCME collective bargaining agreement, which goes into effect July 1. The current two-year agreement will remain in effect through June 30.

"This means that all benefits and other employment provisions of the current agreement, including health and dental insurance, will remain as is at least through June 30," said Kristi Darr, interim vice president for university human resources.

Darr added that the state's current health insurance plans for merit employees will not change on July 1, and will continue to be offered through Dec. 31.

"Once the 2017-19 contract is finalized and we know the full impact to the benefits, rules and procedures, we will share this important information with our employees," Darr said.

For more information, visit the UHR website.

Representation areas are in place for council elections

The Professional and Scientific Council amended its bylaws March 2 in preparation for its upcoming elections. The changes align with the university's recently reorganized administrative structure, which moved units from the former business and finance division into university services, the president's office or the finance division.

Nominations for council seats are due Friday, March 10. The online election will be held March 20-31. Current open seats by representation area are:

  • Academic affairs: 9 (of 27 total)
  • Finance: 1 (of one)
  • President's units: 4 (of five)
  • Student affairs: 3 (of five)
  • University services: 3 (of three)

New committee

Council members will vote next month on establishing a standing equity and inclusion committee. As proposed, committee members would be appointed by the council president and could include P&S employees who are not serving on council. The committee would "advise the ISU President and administrators on a wide range of issues related to the topics of diversity, equity and inclusion."

Officer elections

Council officers are in place for 2017-18. Their terms begin in June, when current president-elect Jessica Bell assumes her role as president. The incoming officers are:

  • President-elect: Stacy Renfro (Center for Statistics and Applications in Forensic Evidence)
  • Secretary: Jacob Cummings (equal opportunity)
  • Vice president for university community relations: Nick Van Berkum (sociology)
  • Vice president for university planning and budget: Bethany Burdt (human development and family studies)
  • Vice president for equity and inclusion: Samone York (College of Liberal Arts and Sciences)

In addition, Aaron Fultz (human development and family studies) was nominated and approved to fill a vacant council seat representing academic affairs.

Seven projects will tackle undergraduate teaching challenges

Seven faculty teams will share more than $100,000 in grants next year to develop innovative approaches to undergraduate student learning. The 2017-18 academic year marks the 21st year of the Miller Faculty Fellowship program, which now has funded 192 projects involving more than 650 faculty as principal investigators (PI).

All six undergraduate colleges are represented among the projects' PIs. The Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching's (CELT) advisory board reviewed 21 proposals and made recommendations to senior vice president and provost Jonathan Wickert, who gave final approval. The maximum grant is $15,000, and six of the projects received awards at or within about $220 of the maximum.

In addition to the $50,000 provided annually by the president's office, CELT reallocated $52,348 to supplement the grant program. Sara Marcketti, CELT associate director for scholarship of teaching and learning, said past Miller fellowship projects have resulted in significant scholarship, including presentations, publications and books. Faculty also have used the fellowships as seed grants to secure funding from external sources. Because of this impact, she said CELT director Ann Marie VanDerZanden felt it was important to invest additional funds.

Following is a quick summary of the seven funded projects:

A better peer assessment: Designing a peer assessment protocol to maximize fairness

Summary: Identify the extent to which bias affects peer assessment scores in team-based learning and develop peer assessment protocols that maximize fairness.
Award: $15,000
Faculty team: Jane Rongerude, community and regional planning; Cassandra Dorius, human development and family studies; Michael Dorneich, industrial and manufacturing systems engineering; Sandra Gahn, School of Education; Lisa Orgler, horticulture; Kajal Madeka, CELT; Holly Bender, CELT; Craig Ogilvie, physics

Save Us: Online general microbiology students as post-apocalyptic plague survivors

Summary: Design a course to serve 100-plus Microbiology 302 students, who will learn the basics of microbial structure and function, antibiotic resistance, infection, immune response and public health as they develop a cure for a fictional plague.
Award: $12,725
Faculty team: Nancy Boury, plant pathology and microbiology; Lesya Hassall, CELT; Gaylan Scofield, Brenton Center for Agricultural Instruction and Technology Transfer

Course-based undergraduate research experiences (CURE) for industrial engineering students as a model for the College of Engineering

Summary: Implement a pilot that provides 150 undergraduates per year with research experience in the context of a class, as an alternative to research assistantships. A successful model could be expanded to other Engineering departments.
Award: $15,000
Faculty team: Leslie Potter, Richard Stone and Devna Popejoy, industrial and manufacturing systems engineering

Preparing pre-service teachers for makerspace communities in PK-12 education

Summary: Design instructional materials (face-to-face and online) to improve pre-service teachers' understanding of makerspaces and their ability to design makerspace learning activities.
Award: $14,781
Faculty team: Denise Schmidt-Crawford, Yi Jin and Dennis Culver, School of Education

Exploring the potential of augmented reality (AR) applications to teach structural analysis

Summary: Prepare a mobile and interactive AR application to teach structural analysis that incorporates applied mechanics, material science and applied mathematics. Assess the effect of AR on student learning.
Award: $14,971
Faculty team: Aliye Karabulut-Ilgu and An Chen, civil, construction and environmental engineering; Rafael Radkowski, mechanical engineering

Development of new teaching material and visual tools to enhance student learning in the general chemistry laboratory courses

Summary: Develop teaching materials to be used by all teaching assistants in all sections of the general chemistry labs so that about 3,600 students annually receive comparable instruction. Also, develop visual instructional tools such as videos and animations for students' use prior to the labs.
Award: $14,870
Faculty: Sara Pistolesi, chemistry

Engaging students through online testing modules in a high-enrollment engineering economics course

Summary: Design online testing modules that more closely reflect a professional engineering environment and require students to demonstrate proficiency in a subject. In a module, questions are randomly selected and no question is repeated exactly.
Award: $15,000
Faculty: Cameron MacKenzie, industrial and manufacturing systems engineering

The projects must be completed by June 30, 2018. In addition to preparing a final report, Miller fellows share the outcomes of their project during a fall luncheon.

Miller faculty fellowships are named for and partially funded by the estate of F. Wendell Miller, an attorney and farm manager who died in 1995. His will stipulated that the bulk of his estate be used to create the Miller Endowment Trust, with income from the trust to be divided equally between Iowa State and the University of Iowa. Former president Martin Jischke established the fellowship program in 1996.

CyBox: The best storage on campus

"Unlimited storage" If you saw that on the subject line of an email, you would likely hit the delete button (and rightfully so).

CyBox logo

But the statement holds true for faculty, staff and students who use CyBox, Iowa State's cloud-based storage and sharing system. The university provides CyBox storage to individuals as well as departments and colleges for university business.

"With over 36,000 active users, CyBox is the most widely adopted file storage solution at ISU," said information technology services director Mike Lohrbach.

There's plenty of room on ISU's version of the popular Box.com storage site, and Lohrbach said he hopes more faculty, staff and students will give it a try.

Here's a quick look at CyBox’s features.

Another backup plan

If you can't store files on CyBox and must store them solely on a laptop or other device, try Mozy.

Easy setup

Faculty, staff and students can instantly access their individual CyBox space by going to iastate.box.com and signing in with their ISU Net-IDs and passwords. New files can be created in the CyBox folder. Existing files can be moved there by uploading or dragging and dropping.

Departments also can set up common space for sharing information among department members. To set up a department site, contact the Solution Center at 294-4000.

Easy access

If you have access to the internet, you can access your CyBox space from any desktop or mobile device. If you are working away from the office, you need not bother with mapping network drives, carrying thumb drives or emailing files to yourself.

Safe harbor for your files

There's always a way to lose that doc you've been working on for weeks -- lost drives, destructive malware, dead computers or accidental overwrites, to name a few. CyBox files live in the cloud and file versioning lets you go back in time to see early drafts of your document.

Encryption is an important CyBox security feature. All files are encrypted while they are in transit on the network and they remain encrypted in your storage space. CyBox security meets student privacy requirements under FERPA and medical privacy requirements under HIPAA. CyBox data also stays within the continental United States, with ISU retaining ownership.

More sharing, fewer attachments

When you send a file by email attachment, you lose control of where it might be forwarded. You also may lose control of edits if proposed revisions (tracked and untracked) start pouring into your inbox.

CyBox's "sharing" feature offers more control. You can invite collaborators to view a folder, then determine what the collaborators are allowed to do with files in that folder. For example, you may only allow them to view a file or folder, or you may allow edits. No matter how many people make edits, they're all working on one document. So no mass reconciling of various versions is required later. If the end result is not quite what you wanted, you can review the revision history of your document to find the best version.

Unlimited space

Individuals and departments can use as much space as they need, with a few stipulations.

  • Files must be used for university business or classes; no personal files.
  • A single file cannot be larger than 15GB

Lohrbach noted that IT professionals are working on the rollout of a new system that meets the needs of researchers who tend to have huge files and large data sets.

Free apps

CyBox comes with free apps to make work easier on various devices -- desktops, tablets and phones. One popular app, Box Edit, allows users to edit files using the native applications on their devices (such as Word, PowerPoint or Excel), then automatically save them back to CyBox.

Mozy: Extra backup protection

Laptops are vulnerable to a lot of things -- fried circuits, tumbling down the stairs or theft. If you faithfully store your files on CyBox or another ISU file server, you should be able to recover nicely from a laptop calamity.

For cloud storage

CyBox is available for all faculty, staff and students.

However, if you need to store work solely on your university-owned laptop, it's important to have a backup. Iowa State's solution is Mozy, a secure backup service. Through a university contract, campus users can buy Mozy protection for $27 a year.

The Mozy software, which can be installed on up to three devices (PC, Mac or Linux desktops or laptops), automatically encrypts and backs up files in the background while connected to the internet. You will not need to spend hours manually backing up your device.

Contact the Solution Center (294-4000, solution@iastate.edu) for more information about Mozy. 

Watch it on campus

Katherine Johnson, played by actress Taraji P. Henson

Actress Taraji P. Henson portrays NASA "computer" Katherine Johnson in the 2016 film, "Hidden Figures." File image.

Academy Award Best Picture nominee "Hidden Figures" is Cyclone Cinema's feature of the week. Due to spring break, the film will be shown on Thursday and Friday evenings only (7 and 10 p.m. nightly, 101 Carver). The film tells the true story of African-American women who worked with NASA to help launch the program's first successful space missions in the early 1960s.

Hosted by the Student Union Board, admission to all Cyclone Cinema shows is free.