Lots of winners in this team effort

Steel and concrete gated entrance to Lied recreation fields

A new entrance pavilion to the Lied recreation fields includes a gate, shade canopies, signage, plantings and a paved gathering area just inside. Photo by Christopher Gannon.

To you or me, it looks like a nicer-than-most entry gate to the two recreation fields bookended by the Lied Center and University Boulevard. But to a team of 32 College of Design students, it represents 15 weeks of planning, problem-solving and get-your-hands-dirty hard work.

For the second consecutive spring, architecture professor Bruce Bassler's design studies studio, an optional course for fourth- and fifth-year students in the college, designed and installed an outdoor feature for Iowa State's recreation services. The entrance pavilion southeast of the building includes a new gate, shade canopies, signage, plantings and a paved gathering area inside the gate for student groups using the fields. Last spring, students built a pavilion/water station at the Southwest Recreation Complex.

Over the 19 springs Bassler has led the class, his students have constructed nearly $900,000 worth of projects for clients on and off campus, as far away as South Sioux City, Nebraska.

"We battle snow, rain and cold, but we have never not completed a project on time – and on budget -- in 19 years," Bassler said.

Academics-student affairs connection

Recreation services' associate director Garry Greenlee called the partnership a win-win, saying his department loves to partner with academic departments.

"We're all here for the students, so this is a good tie for us," he said.

The partners teamed up less than a month before the start of the spring 2014 semester. A planned class project in an Urbandale park was postponed by city leaders, forcing Bassler to punt. A friend and fellow ISU employee suggested he inquire with Greenlee, who was happy to develop a few project ideas on a tight deadline.

Greenlee said the projects completed by the Design students would get done otherwise, but not to the same extent. "The students take it and make it really special. The value we get is great," he said.

He also estimated that with student design and installation labor provided, and some materials donated for the academic project, his cost might be one-third of what he'd pay on the market. To keep the approval process as short and simple as possible, the budget for each project is $25,000.

Problem solving, on a deadline

In a 15-week period, the students:

  • Meet their client and ask questions about the project
  • Put together a design proposal that includes costs
  • Seek client and ISU (facilities planning and management) approval for the design
  • Produce the construction documents and cost estimates
  • Seek FPM approval for construction
  • Order materials
  • Fabricate pieces as needed (some prefabrication occurs at a rented warehouse off campus)
  • Complete on-site construction
  • Host a final presentation and grand opening on the Saturday of dead week

Through the process, Bassler said students learn to manage both budgets and time, and to grasp the relationships among design decisions, constructability and construction costs. But perhaps the greatest learning takes place in solving problems, he said.

"We make mistakes and often have to think through our alternatives based on cost, time and quality. This is a valuable skill for students going into the design professions," Bassler said.

Next spring will be Bassler's 20th – and final – year leading the design studio. Greenlee said he'll propose a few projects to Bassler later this summer.

"I have ideas, but he knows best what will work," Greenlee said.

Presidential caucus is topic of ISU's first MOOC

As the field of presidential candidates grows, so does interest in Iowa's first-in-the-nation caucus selection process. Beginning this fall, University Professor Steffen Schmidt is offering four free massive open online course (MOOC) sessions to help explain the presidential caucus process to a global audience.

"A MOOC is free and allows people to participate at their convenience," Schmidt said. "The discussion forums provide great interactivity and the diversity of participants will make for excellent discussion."

The same course content will be offered in four different sessions, which begin Sept. 1, Oct. 13, Nov. 17 and Jan. 5. The course will focus on:

  • History of caucuses
  • Digging into caucuses
  • Role of media and technology
  • Future of caucuses

Schmidt said more than 600 participants already have enrolled in the MOOC sessions, ranging from high school students to political junkies and media personalities.

"ISU faculty and staff participation will be especially valuable because they often have participated in local political events," Schmidt said. "They are Iowa residents and personally invested in the Iowa caucuses. They are a very powerful force in spreading the word about the MOOC to students and others who might be interested in this course."

Course enrollment is open. The final session runs Jan. 5 to Feb. 2. Participants do not receive college credit. The course includes videos, readings, practice quizzes and interactive discussion forums. The course material will be accessible after the sessions are over, excluding the discussion forums.

"The time commitment is entirely up to the individual," Schmidt said. "Some will want to watch every interview, read every article and post every day to the discussion. Others may just want to graze the material they're interested in or skip material they're already familiar with."

Updates to employee ISU Alert profiles set for July 21

The ISU Alert system quickly alerts students, faculty and staff to potentially dangerous situations by phone, email or text message.  If you haven't logged into AccessPlus to enter a phone number and email address in ISU Alert, your ISU phone number and email address will be added to those blanks as of Tuesday, July 21.

History of ISU Alerts

Twenty-nine ISU Alerts have been sent to the university community since the emergency message service began in late 2007. Here's the nature of those alerts:

  • 11 routine tests
  • 3 warnings about a suspect in an off-campus double homicide
  • 2 severe weather advisories
  • 2 messages about floods
  • 3 missing persons reports
  • 3 reports of suspects purportedly displaying guns on campus
  • 1 bomb threat
  • 1 police chase which ended on campus
  • 3 all-clear messages

"Until recently, we've left it up to employees to sign on to AccessPlus and designate emergency phone numbers and email addresses for ISU Alert," said Andrea Little of university human resources. "Some just don't get around to it. We don't want people to miss receiving critical information in an emergency just because they haven't updated their ISU Alert profiles."

That's why blank spots in two of the three ISU Alert notification methods -- voice and email -- will be automatically filled with employees' ISU phone numbers and email addresses.  If employees already have designated voice or email options, those choices will be left as is. The third option -- text messages -- also will be left alone, whether there's a designation or not.

Do it yourself

"Employees can sign onto the ISU Alert profiles through AccessPlus anytime to change any of their alert options -- voice, phone or text messages," Little said. "We encourage all employees to review and update their ISU Alert notification options periodically to best ensure they are quickly alerted."

Art in the Gardens

Painting by Deda Happel.

Art works -- paintings, photography, jewelry, sculptures, woodworking and more -- will be on display and for sale in 60 exhibit booths throughout Reiman Gardens during its annual Garden Art Fair on Sunday, July 12. The event, which runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., features nature-inspired creations by local and regional artists.

Food, catered by Des Moines-based Big City Burgers and Greens, will be available for purchase. Reduced admission rates will be charged ($7 for adults, $6 for seniors and $3 for youth), with free admission for members, ISU students and children age three and younger. Contributed photos.

Summer brings big groups to campus

Iowa State will host several events this summer, bringing large groups of participants to campus. Find out what (and who) you'll see navigating the sidewalks, roadways and buildings.




Project Lead the Way training institutes

July 5-17


Bravo National Dance and Talent Competition

July 7-12


USA Track and Field Region XIII Championships

July 9-12


Universal Dance Association camp

July 9-12


Iowa Masters golf tournament

July 10-12


Iowa Games

July 10-12, 16-19, 24-26


Iowa Adult Education and Literacy Conference

July 15-17


Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity
leadership seminar

July 21-26