CyRide fleet sports buses that bend

CyRide articulated bus

CyRide's orange route, which runs from the College of Veterinary Medicine and loops around campus, is the busiest in the state of Iowa. To help accommodate the crowds -- an estimated 12,000 riders daily -- two articulated buses are being added to the fleet.

CyRide training

CyRide transit trainer George Smith and drivers Jason Bollman (left) and Don Knowles (center) examine the articulated section of the bus during training. Photo by Bob Elbert.

The articulated feature is the accordion-style design that allows the two sections of the bus to pivot and "bend" around corners. The buses, which measure 62 feet in length (standard buses are 40 feet), will double capacity to 120 standing and seated riders, combined. They offer three access doors, rather than the standard two, and 60 seats.

CyRide transit director Sheri Kyras said two articulated buses do the work of three regular buses, saving money on fuel and driver costs.

"These buses will allow us to continue to efficiently provide quality service to the Ames and Iowa State University communities," Kyras said. "CyRide's ridership has increased each year since 2006. Articulated buses are assisting the transit system address the challenges associated with higher ridership."

Drivers began training on the buses this month, and the new vehicles went into service this week. The buses cost $687,413 each, with 90 percent covered by federal grant dollars.

Five questions for the ultimate handyman

Bill Rickard

Photo by Bob Elbert.

Bill Rickard, coordinator of the aerospace engineering labs and shops, is the ultimate handyman. Need a wind tunnel? He’ll see that it gets built. Need an airfoil to test in that wind tunnel? He’ll see that it gets built. And when students need to find tools to complete their class projects? He and other shop coordinators across campus are building something for that, too.

The basics

  • Name: Bill Rickard
  • Position: Teaching laboratory coordinator, aerospace engineering
  • Years at ISU: 26 years

What kind of tools do you have in the Howe Hall shops?

There’s a composites lab for carbon fiber and fiberglass projects. There’s a CNC (Computer Numerical Control) hot wire foam cutter. There are two 3-D printers in the rapid prototyping lab. In the shop there’s a CNC router table plus table saws, miter saws, band saws, sanders and cabinets full of hand tools. In addition, we have electronics capabilities for soldering and troubleshooting circuits. It’s amazing how much stuff is on campus right now.

What do you build with all these tools?

There are so many examples. The airfoils that are used for turning vanes inside one of the wind tunnels were made with the hot wire foam cutter. Scale-model wind turbines were made with 3-D printers. Models of cities and farms for tornado studies were made in the wood shop. We also support a number of student projects, including the "Make to Innovate" program in the aerospace engineering department and our senior design class.

But there’s a problem with student access to these and other resources on campus?

There’s a great deal of frustration for a lot of students. The university is moving into interdisciplinary approaches in classes. Students are doing a lot of projects they have to design, fabricate and test. The frustration is when a student says, "I need a couple of pieces of metal CNC milled, but I don’t have that in my department and how do I do it?"

Shop managers have come up with a solution?

It’s called the Undergraduate Resource Hub and it was developed with a three-year, $150,000 grant from the dean of the College of Engineering. It’s like a library of resources and safety training. Aerospace engineering has CNC equipment. Agricultural and biosystems engineering has welding and metals equipment. The Boyd Lab in mechanical engineering has wood and CNC metal working tools. The College of Design has printers, scanners and laser cutters. Every shop keeps its unique identity and methods of tracking and doing jobs. The Resource Hub doesn’t take priority. But the shops will make resources available to undergraduate students when they can.

Can others get involved?

We hope to get more departments involved. Not only does it make resources available to students, but also peer-to-peer instruction and the chance to work with people in other disciplines. We want lots and lots of departments. Just contact me or any of the people listed at the Resource Hub. I can’t see why this would not take off.

Business dean finalist interviews to begin next week

On-campus interviews of the finalists for the next dean of the College of Business will begin in early April.

In a recent memo to Business college faculty and staff, the search committee co-chairs -- College of Human Sciences dean Pamela White and associate provost for faculty Dawn Bratsch-Prince -- said they anticipate that a new dean will be named before the end of spring semester.

The co-chairs note that the search produced an "excellent pool" of 50 applicants representing a wide array of experiences and expertise.

The search committee and senior vice president and provost Jonathan Wickert interviewed semifinalists off campus earlier this week. Finalists may be named yet this week. Updates will be posted on the faculty/staff announcements page.

Save these forum dates

These times were set aside for open forums and receptions for the eventual finalists:

April 4
3-4 p.m., Open forum in 1148 Gerdin
4-5 p.m., Reception in Kelley and Joan Bergstrom Commons
April 8
3-4 p.m., Open forum in 0330 Gerdin with overflow in 3164 Gerdin
4-5 p.m., Reception in Kelley and Joan Bergstrom Commons
April 10
3-4 p.m., Open forum in 1148 Gerdin
4-5 p.m., Reception in Kelley and Joan Bergstrom Commons
April 17
3-4 p.m., Open forum in 0330 Gerdin with overflow in 3164 Gerdin
4-5 p.m., Reception in Kelley and Joan Bergstrom Commons

Former Business dean Labh Hira retired in March of 2012 to serve as interim president of the Iowa State University Foundation. Michael Crum, professor and Ruan Chair in Supply Chain Management, is serving as interim Business dean.

Stand-out squirrel

White squirrel

This unusual squirrel near Lake LaVerne has been capturing second looks and camera clicks of late. Photo by Barb McBreen.

Technically speaking, the white squirrel that has been spotted around campus of late is not an albino squirrel, says Tim Stewart, associate professor in natural resource ecology and management. The fur of an albino squirrel would be entirely white, and the animal would have pink eyes.

"This squirrel is not entirely white, has dark eyes, and is therefore referred to as a 'leucistic' individual, simply meaning that it has lighter-colored fur than typical members of its species," Stewart explained. "As with albino squirrels, there are rare genes in the squirrel population that occasionally result in an individual with fur color that is different than the typical individual."

For this little fox squirrel (Sciurus niger), typical would be orange-brown coloring. As with albinism, leucism probably isn't advantageous in avoiding predators in most situations, Stewart said. This is a likely the reason leucistic individuals are not more common in the squirrel population.

Spring training: Get ready for Kuali debut

If you work with university processes and systems, a little spring training on the Kuali system is in order. The training will prepare you for changes that occur July 1, when some administrative systems are switched to the Kuali system.

Kuali is open-source software that 50-plus universities, including Iowa State, are building for use in all kinds of business and administrative projects. Through Kuali collaboration, universities are able to enhance and maintain administrative systems at less cost, ISU officials say.


A few Iowa State processes are moving to Kuali this summer, with many more to be phased in later. Two basic training sessions will be offered from late March through mid-May. The courses, each consisting of three 1.5-hour sessions, are:

  • Kuali Financial Systems, designed for all users entering financial transactions
  • eData, designed for all users reporting financial information

Magann Orth, Kuali learning and development specialist, distinguishes between the two sessions this way: "eData is for viewing; KFS is for doing."

Several sessions are available for each course, although some already are filled. Sign up for a session through AccessPlus.

Kuali at ISU

More information about the Kuali project and training opportunities are available on the Kuali website.

It's extension and outreach week in Iowa

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach will celebrate Extension and Outreach Week throughout the state March 24-30.

“It’s one way we can say 'thank you' to the many volunteers, community leaders, organizations, agencies and other partners who support ISU Extension and Outreach work in Iowa," said Cathann Kress, vice president for ISU Extension and Outreach.

County extension offices will be holding open houses and other activities throughout the week. Iowans may contact their ISU Extension and Outreach county office for details about local events.

"Abraham Lincoln signed the law that gave birth to the land-grant universities. Iowa State was one of the first of these special colleges founded on three big ideas: to open higher education to all, to teach practical classes and to share knowledge far beyond the campus borders," Kress said. "Our educational programs harness Iowa State University resources to meet the needs of Iowans."

ISU Extension and Outreach is part of an educational network supported by the university, local county governments and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Every county in Iowa has an elected extension council that decides how local tax dollars are spent to support ISU Extension and Outreach educational programs at the county level.

"County extension council members help keep ISU Extension and Outreach relevant and engaged with Iowans," said Terry Maloy, executive director of the Iowa Association of County Extension Councils. "We assess the needs of counties and share them with ISU Extension and Outreach to address with research-based information and education to help people make better decisions in their personal, community and professional lives."

ISU Theatre stages classic Tennessee Williams play


Juniors Elizabeth Thompson (Stella Kowalski), left, and Annie Feenstra (Blanche DuBois) and senior Drew McCubbin (Stanley Kowalski) are the lead actors in ISU Theatre's A Streetcar Named Desire. Photo by Nancy Thompson.

ISU Theatre takes the stage March 28-31 at Fisher Theater with its rendition of Tennessee Williams' classic play A Streetcar Named Desire.

As relevant today as when it debuted on Broadway in 1947, A Streetcar Named Desire tells the story of Blanche DuBois (junior Annie Feenstra), a refined yet troubled Southern woman from Mississippi, who travels to New Orleans to visit her sister, Stella (junior Elizabeth Thompson), and brother-in-law, Stanley Kowalski (senior Drew McCubbin). Blanche's visit interferes with the couple's passionate and unusual relationship, which culminates with Stanley becoming cruel and violent toward his sister-in-law.

"Many of Tennessee Williams' plays are considered triumphs of American realism, but I find that there is also an exciting amount of magic interwoven in his plays,” said director Matt Foss, lecturer in the department of music and theatre. “The story of Stella, Stanley and Blanche in the haze of the French Quarter in A Streetcar Named Desire’s New Orleans explores Williams’ deeply personal story enveloped in his own particular brand of magic."

Show dates and times are March 28, 29 and 30 at 7:30 p.m., and March 31 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $16 ($14 for seniors; $8 for students), and available at the Iowa State Center ticket office or through Ticketmaster.