Bridging the gap

Installation of pedestrian bridge over College Creek.

Crews placed a pedestrian bridge across College Creek on June 24. Photos by Christopher Gannon.

Placement of pedestrian bridge over College Creek

An essential piece of a $676,000 project was put in place on Friday, when a crane lowered a precast pedestrian bridge over College Creek. The bridge will provide access between the Lied Center and the recreational fields to the east of the Maple-Willow-Larch residence halls. Previously, the sidewalks along Beach Road and University Boulevard were the only available creek crossings.

Chris Strawhacker, project manager in facilities planning and management, said the bridge provides users a connection to amenities at the Lied Center, such as parking and restrooms. It also is sturdy enough to handle small equipment, such as mowers and compact utility vehicles.

"The bridge gives students a direct connection from the Lied building and parking lot to the recreation fields for intramurals and other activities," Strawhacker said.

The bridge is scheduled to open by the end of July.

New interactive teaching, learning platform debuts this fall

A new service promises to give instructors more options in creating interactive lectures for their classes.

Following a successful pilot program during 2015-16, information technology (IT) and the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT) are introducing Top Hat, a cloud-based teaching and learning platform. The service, which begins this fall, will replace clickers -- the remote control-style devices used at ISU for the last 10 years -- with students' existing devices, enhancing functionality for instructors and students.

New features

Top Hat offers instructors new technology-based, pedagogical opportunities in the classroom. Among features are:

  • Six types of questions for student responses
  • Synchronous and asynchronous modes of participation
  • Methods for instant feedback via open-ended discussions
  • New ways for instructors to create interactive content and customize student access

Students will benefit from the new service as well. They will be able to use their existing devices -- like smartphones, laptops and tablets -- to access Top Hat. They can access content outside of class time and track progress through their Top Hat accounts.

Since students will use their own devices, IT and CELT support for clickers has been discontinued. Likewise, the TurningPoint 5 software used with clickers is no longer supported by the vendor or ISU.

Blackboard integration, transition help

"We believe both instructors and students will be very pleased with Top Hat," said Ann Marie VanDerZanden, CELT director. "It allows instructors to engage students pedagogically in ways we have not been able to before at ISU. It's very intuitive to use and is accessible through virtually any device."

Top Hat integrates with Blackboard, ISU's learning management system. The current integration is simple, but a more advanced and expanded Grade Center integration is expected this fall, if not sooner.

Instructors transitioning from TurningPoint 5 to Top Hat can get expert help from Top Hat staff in transferring their legacy clicker course content and using Top Hat in courses.

VanDerZanden emphasized that faculty seeking this service should contact the IT Solution Center as early as possible to avoid the mid-August rush.

Students: How to switch

Students using Top Hat will pay for a license rather than hardware clickers. They can get licenses through the University Book Store when ordering books, or directly through Top Hat. They can create Top Hat accounts for free, but will be prompted for a license code when they try to join their courses.

Top Hat student licenses are $50 for five years, $25 for one year or $17 for one semester. Students with legacy clickers can exchange them at the bookstore for a $25 Top Hat license credit.

Making the transition

An ISU Top Hat website is available, which includes these transition tips:

  • Create a free Top Hat account at, via the "sign up" link in the upper right corner of the page. Select ISU as the institution and use an ISU email address for discounted pricing.
  • Users who need support, including instructors who want to use Top Hat's transition help, should use this online form or contact the IT Solution Center.
  • Top Hat representatives will visit campus the week of July 18 and at the start of the fall semester to offer training and assistance. Watch Inside Iowa State for details.

"Our hope," VanDerZanden said, "is that the features of the new Top Hat service will entice more instructors to use this type of technology in their classes."

The Bomb yearbook collection now online

ISU yearbooks 20s-30s

20s- and 30s-era editions of The Bomb line the shelves of Parks Library. Photo by Christopher Gannon.

The complete collection of The Bomb -- 45,000+ pages -- is now online. University library staff recently completed a six-year project to digitize Iowa State's yearbooks from 1893 through 1994. All volumes, as well as audio from a scratchy vinyl record chronicling 1971 sounds of campus, are part of the library's digital collection.

"Fellow sufferers, we consciously project this BOMB into your midst without making the slightest apology."
   Preface, "The Bomb," 1893

The yearbooks can be read as a virtual book with "turn-able" pages, viewed as single pages or downloaded as PDFs. For extended viewing of a volume, digital initiatives archivist Kimberly Anderson recommends downloading. Off-line browsing will be considerably faster, she said.

The search function on the yearbooks is a work in progress.

"We're still working to improve the reliability of the search and convenience in using the site," Anderson said.

The university library has many digital collections exploring such topics as:

  • Early histories of Iowa counties
  • Cyclone wrestling
  • Early accomplishments of ISU extension
  • Historic university photographs

Old-school viewing

For those who prefer the real thing to the virtual, all the old Bomb editions can be pulled off the shelves in the special collections reading room on the fourth floor of Parks Library, or requested at the first-floor circulation desk.

End of an era

The yearbook lost its partial student government support in 1972. During the 1980s and early 1990s, decreased sales, poor financial management and a contract dispute with an outside vendor adversely affected the balance sheet. By 1995, the yearbook had accumulated a $90,000 budget deficit, and university administration announced that no future yearbooks would be produced until a sustainable plan was developed. No plan emerged and 1994 proved to be the last edition.


Save the date: Homecoming parade set for Oct. 23

This fall's Homecoming celebration will include something not held for decades: a parade. Working since January on a proposal, student organizers received permission last month to organize a parade for Oct. 23, the Sunday that opens Homecoming week. The parade will start at 2 p.m. in downtown Ames.

Homecoming logo

An opportunity for ISU students who aren't members of a Greek fraternity or sorority to get involved in Homecoming is a key purpose of the parade, said Allison Pitz, senior in marketing and management and co-chair of the student 2016 Homecoming planning committee. Drawing the Ames community into the university's fall celebration is another.

While this fall's parade is a pilot project, "we hope we launch something that sticks, that becomes a Homecoming tradition," Pitz said, noting that most large public universities hold a Homecoming parade. Iowa State homecomings included a parade of the floats-and-bands variety for about 25 years starting in 1923, but smaller jaunts, typically through the Greek neighborhood south of campus, on and off since then.

Student planners don't intend to replace or replicate the former spring Veishea parade, Pitz said; quite the opposite. She said a downtown route has worked well for Fourth of July and Ames High Homecoming parades. The city and downtown business community support a Sunday event, she said, which planners also favor to eliminate class conflicts for Iowa State students who participate.

She anticipates the parade to be an hour or less in length.

Sign us up

A few entrants are confirmed, but Pitz said the task of recruiting parade entries will accelerate around Sept. 1. The focus will be on student groups, particularly those that can perform or somehow showcase an activity while on the move. Faculty and staff who advise student organizations are encouraged to mention this opportunity to their group leaders; details will be shared after fall semester starts.

Visitors keep campus busy during summer

Many events -- from local to global -- will bring thousands of visitors to campus this summer. The following is a look at the groups (expecting 100 or more participants) that Iowa State will welcome over the next couple months.

Group Dates Participants Housing Venues    
Special Olympics Iowa summer games May 19-21 3,000 yes Lied, Forker, Beyer, Hilton
Odyssey of the Mind World Finals May 25-28 12,000 yes Campus-wide  
New student orientation May 23-July 1 6,000 yes Campus-wide  
USA Ultimate Iowa High School Championships June 4 100 no Rec fields  
PEGASAS (Partnership to Enhance General Aviation Safety, Accessibility and Sustainability) annual meeting June 7-9 150 no Town Engineering  
International Social Theory Consortium Conference June 9-10 125 no Morrill  
Agriculture Credit School: Iowa Bankers Association June 13-17 100 no Scheman  
OPPTAG summer youth programs June 13-July 22 400 yes Campus-wide  
USA Track and Field Iowa state meet June 18-19 1,000 no Cyclone Sports Complex  
USA Hockey Bantam Central District Select Camp June 19-24 150 yes Ames/ISU Ice Arena  
Cyclone Volleyball camps June 21-23, 12-14, 25-27 400 yes Forker, Hilton, Lied  
Miniature Hereford Breeders Association Junior Nationals June 22-26 200 no Hansen Ag Center
School Foods Short Course June 23, 19-21 445 no Scheman  
GoServ Global 5th Anniversary Celebration June 25 350 no Sukup Endzone Club  
Iowa 4-H Youth Conference June 28-30 830 yes Campus-wide  
Iowa Reading Association Conference June 28-29 600 no Scheman  
BravO National Dance Competition July 5-10 1,000 no Iowa State Center  
Universal Dance Association Camp July 7-10 150 yes State Gym  
Iowa Masters Golf Tournament July 8-10 100 no Veenker golf course  
Iowa Games July 9-10, 15-17, 22-24 14,500 no Campus-wide  
Project Lead the Way core training July 10-22 285 yes Howe, Sukup, Elings  
National Cheer and National Dance associations July 15-17 200 yes State Gym  
83rd Annual Custodian/Maintenance School July 18-22 100 no Scheman  
National Beep Baseball World Series July 24-30 500 no Rec fields  
Mary Greeley Medical Center Birthday Party Aug. 7 1,000 no Scheman