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Commencement 2014, Double Your Fun(d)!, and Other RMU Alumni Updates

WarnerGreetings Alumni!

The sun is shining at RMU today! May is such a great time to be on campus.

You may not know this, but alumni make up the largest constituent group of the RMU family, at 40,000-plus strong. This past Saturday at the undergraduate commencement ceremony, we welcomed over 845 new graduates into the RMU Alumni Association. Congratulations, recent grads!

As the sun shines today on campus (and hopefully the rest of the summer, keeping my fingers crossed) there is still one little cloud we could use some help getting rid of. Currently only around 3-4% of our alumni actively contribute to the university financially. With so many alumni in the RMU family, if we could get this number up even just a little bit, we could do so much more for our students.

That’s why I’m excited to tell you about our Double Your Fun(d)! campaign. One of our alums has graciously offered to match any gift made between now and May 23. Make a $25 gift, it becomes $50! Give $100, it becomes $200! You get the picture.

Furthermore, every gift we receive helps us increase RMU’s standings in the US News and World Report rankings for alumni participation, which in turn increases the value of your Robert Morris degree.

Please help us take advantage of this incredible opportunity by giving to the Double Your Fun(d)! campaign today.

Of course, there are plenty of other ways to participate and be an active member of RMU’s alumni family. Join us as we cheer on the Buccos on Friday, June 27, at our annual RMU Night at PNC Park. Tickets are only $22.00 and seats are in the all-you-can-eat section. Please visit the alumni website to se what might be happening in your neck of the woods.

Again, these are a few of the many ways that you can support your alma mater while having fun and staying connected to the university.

Thanks for your support, and, as always, I hope to see you at an upcoming event.

Warner Johnson
RMU Director of Alumni

Running for a Cause – RMU Students Complete the American Odyssey Relay

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This April, three history majors and members of the RMU History Club – seniors Dan Blevins and Steven Noorlag, and junior Caleb Smith – took part in the American Odyssey Relay Run Adventure, a two-day, 200-mile relay race from Gettysburg to Washington D.C., which crosses various Civil War battlefields along the way.

The race benefits Hope Connections for Cancer Support, a cancer support services charity; and Team Red, White and Blue, which works to create a community of veterans, their families, and American citizens who can enjoy authentic social interaction and shared experiences through activities and events all across America.

“It was the experience of a lifetime,” says Blevins, president of RMU’s History Club, and, along with Noorlag, a member of RMU’s Three Rivers Battalion. “You start out in Gettysburg and run through the battlefield, passing all of the monuments. If that doesn’t motivate you, nothing will.”

Blevins served 10 years in the Army in Iraq, Afghanistan, and South Korea as a Cavalry Scout before coming to RMU through the Yellow Ribbon program.

Around 150 teams of 12 ran non-stop during the two-day race, and Blevins says the streets were lined people cheering them on. “I have never seen such camaraderie in my entire life.”

>>Click here to visit RMU’s Flickr page and see photos from the race

Each runner on the team had three different legs to run over the course of the race, and each team had a van to provide support and transport the other runners during the race. Blevins says they were able to get about an hour of sleep per runner; they completed the course in 32 hours.

“It was physically exhausting,” he says, “but when you are racing for a good cause it is easy to find the energy to keep going.” ~

Written by Valentine J. Brkich

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finding a Life-Changing Purpose for Her Engineering Education

SRobb_NicaFam

Recent Robert Morris University graduate Sarah Robb was awarded a $100,000 fellowship through the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program.

The award will enable Sarah to enter Carnegie Mellon University’s Biomedical Engineering Ph.D. program this fall, where she will focus on the medical applications of single-walled carbon nanotubes. It will also help to fund travel to various conferences, where she’ll have the opportunity to network, present her research, and become more involved with professional engineering societies.

“It’s pretty exciting,” says Sarah, who recently completed RMU’s integrated B.S. in Engineering/M.S. in Engineering Management program. “I am so happy and grateful for all the knowledge and opportunities RMU has provided me.”

This past year Sarah collaborated with other members or RMU’s Engineering World Health (EWH) chapter (which she helped to organize) in order to design and build a low-cost, non-battery-powered otoscope that could be used in environments where electricity or batteries are unavailable. The idea for the otoscope was spawned after her trips to Nicaragua with Dr. Carl Ross’s nursing students.

The RMU EWH's otoscope prototype

The RMU EWH’s otoscope prototype

“RMU engineering has great resources for students – CAD modeling programs, 3D imaging scanners and cameras, 3D printers, robots, rapid prototyping devices – ” she says, “so it was kind of my dream to see our students using their knowledge and the resources we have here to help out the nursing program, which benefits so many needy people in the Managua barrios.”

Sarah and the RMU EWH chapter decided to build the otoscope after surveying and gathering input from Dr. Ross and nursing students over a two-year period. The data they gathered from the survey will also allow the chapter to design and manufacture other projects for the future, based on the needs identified by the traveling nursing students.

Sarah first traveled to Nicaragua with RMU’s nursing program in the spring of 2013. This past March, thanks to her receiving the 20-Year Club scholarship and support from the American Association of University Women, Pittsburgh Chapter, she was able to the impoverished country along with Dr. Ross and his students.

“The first trip opened my eyes to how easy it was to make a positive difference in someone else’s life,” she says. “People shouldn’t be dying for things we throw away in more developed countries. This trip fueled my excitement to get involved and make a difference.”

Sarah is set to begin her studies at CMU this fall. In the meantime she’s working as an intern at Mine Safety Appliances in Cranberry, where she has gotten the chance to speak to schools about engineering through the company’s outreach program. “Eventually I’d love to teach engineering classes and continue to share my engineering knowledge and experiences with others.” ~

La Mia Strada – My Road

ImageBack in 2012, Michael A. DiLauro, director of RMU’s Academic Media Center, debuted La Mia Strada, a feature-length documentary sharing his “personal perspective on ethnicity and culture as it links ancient and contemporary Italian culture with its Italian-American counterpart.” Through years of conducting dozens of interviews, exploring historical sites, sifting through archeological artifacts, digging through family photographs, and immersing himself in the music, poetry, and oral histories of the Abruzzo, Molise, and Puglia regions, DiLauro created an amazing film and commentary on the fragile the bonds that span an ocean and connect a family from generation to generation.

DiLauro, who earned an M.F.A. in film studies at Ohio University and completed the Master Directing program at the prestigious Maine Cinema Workshops, has received five regional Emmy’s for his work, as well as a Blue Ribbon at the American Film Festival, several ADDY awards, and the Gabriel award for outstanding television programming. His feature documentary film, “Prisoners Among Us: Italian American Identity and WWII“, was awarded the Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary at the New York International Independent Film Festival.

La Mia Strada has been screened at the Palestrina Film Festival in Italy, Atlantic City Film Festival and was awarded a Silver Medal from the Media Communications Association-International Film Festival along with several cultural centers and universities throughout the United States. Already this year it was screened at the University of Dayton and Miami University (Oxford, Ohio).

(Trailer for “La Mia Strada”)

Alumni Update – Spring Has Sprung at RMU!

WarnerHey Alums,

Well, spring has finally sprung in the Burgh!

It may have been a long, miserable winter, but it’s been an enjoyable one for RMU sports fans. Last month, the university saw its sports teams on ESPN six times. This included the men’s and women’s basketball NEC Championship games, the men’s first and second round NIT games, and the women’s NCAA first-round game against Notre Dame. RMU hockey also made its debut when it took on the University of Minnesota in the Sweet Sixteen in St. Paul.

On my recent journeys to neighboring states, I’ve been able to spend some quality time with many familiar and new alumni. RMU Alumni events in Cleveland, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C., drew favorable numbers of attendees, and further down the eastern seaboard, our Florida receptions were also warm and friendly. Locally we’ve had some afternoon lunches with alumni from PNC and Highmark, and next month we look forward to noon-time gatherings with folks from Alcoa and Schneider Downs.

Last but not least, we held our third Annual March Madness Alumni Reception on Pittsburgh’s North Side at Atria’s. What a treat it was to see students, alumni, professors, and friends all come together for an evening of sharing! These types of events really afford students and recent grads the opportunity to pick the minds of our many great alumni about the world of work they are preparing to enter.

And if you didn’t know, or you somehow forgot, at Robert Morris…IT’S ALL ABOUT THE STUDENTS!

Staying connected is just another way to give back while at the same time helping yourself. I hope to see you this spring or summer at an RMU Alumni event!

Sincerely,

Warner Johnson
RMU Alumni Director

RMU Alumna’s Stay-cation Leads to New Business Opportunity

Miranda with daughter Ava at the Pittsburgh Children's Museum

Miranda with daughter Ava at the Pittsburgh Children’s Museum

About five summers ago Miranda Bauer M’08 and her husband, Josh, decided to take a week’s “stay-cation”. Like many Pittsburghers, although they had grown up in the city, there was still so much they had never seen or done before. So they decided to spend the week like tourists.

“It was one of the most enjoyable vacations I’ve ever had,” says Miranda, a 2008 graduate of RMU’s integrated communications and information systems program. “We visited Kennywood, went on the Just Ducky Tour, strolled through the zoo…a bunch of things someone from out of town might do. We had a blast.”

Three years later Miranda became a mother, and an even newer Pittsburgh world opened up to her. “All of the sudden, I was a stay-at-home mom visiting places like the Children’s Museum, Sandcastle, and the Carnegie Science Center,” she says. “That’s when I got the idea for PittsburghPass.”

Geared toward families with young children, PittsburghPass.com offers a Pittsburgh activities package that includes one admission each to Kennywood, Sandcastle, the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium, Carnegie Science Center, and The Children’s Museum – all for just $83.99 (a savings of up to $143 for a family of four). There’s also an option geared toward singles and couples for $65.99.

“Basically, anybody looking for fun things to do in Pittsburgh at a discounted rate will enjoy a PittsburghPass,” says Miranda.

An only child, Miranda was the first member of her family to attend college. After graduating, she landed a job with a local self-storage company and worked as their marketing manager over the next five years. She says RMU’s focus on communication skills played a big part in her success right out of school. “The focus on public speaking was really important. It was one of the key things that helped me excel in my first job.”

Today Miranda spends most of her time caring for her two young daughters, ages 2 years and 6 months; however, she also works part-time as an adjunct faculty member for RMU’s School of Communications and Information Systems, teaching business and professional communications.

“RMU gave me the confidence to go out and start my own business,” she says. “Now I’m hoping I can do the same for my own students.” ~

PittsburghPass ticket packages are on sale only until June 7. For more information, visit PittsburghPass.com.

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Written by Valentine J. Brkich

From Ghana to NASA

lawWhen Lawton Crentsil immigrated to the United States from Ghana back in 2007, his goal was to obtain an undergraduate degree in engineering. Little did he know that he’d be doing research that could one day help astronauts on deep-space missions.

This May the junior manufacturing and biomedical engineering double major will be taking part in NASA’s National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI) Summer Apprenticeship program.

“Nothing could be more appealing than to work hand-in-hand with some of the best engineers and scientists in the world,” says Crentsil. “I could never have asked for more than this. Choosing RMU has turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”

Crentsil will begin in late May at the NSBRI Summer Bioastronautics Institute at the institute’s headquarters in Houston, Texas. After that he’ll spend the remainder of the 11-week internship at the NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio. There, he and William K. Thompson, senior electronics and biomedical engineer, will be doing biomechanical modeling of novel resistance exercise devices that may be used one day in flight units for exploration missions.

“These devices would serve as countermeasures to mitigate loss of bone health and muscular performance due to prolonged microgravity,” says Thompson. “I am looking forward to working with Lawton, who has an expressed interest in biomechanics, and who I believe possesses the academic skills and work habits necessary to make a significant contribution to our efforts.”

Crentsil was studying at a community college in Harrisburg before transferring to RMU in 2012. When he first visited the university, he didn’t know much about its engineering offerings. Then he met Arif Sirinterlikci, Ph.D., head of RMU’s Department of Engineering. “My perception completely changed after I had a one-on-one meeting with him during my tour of campus two years ago,” says Crentsil. “Dr. Arif instilled in me the desire to aim high in whatever I do. His continued encouragement and advice to continue working hard in obtaining good grades was the cornerstone in motivating me to pursue this opportunity.”

In addition to his studies at RMU, Crentsil is currently serving in the Army National Guard with the 856 Stryker Unit in Punxsutawney, Pa., as an SMP (Simultaneous Member Program) cadet and expects to be commissioned as a second lieutenant by the end of June 2015 upon completion of his Leadership Training Course in Kentucky. “Joining the military has also been a fulfilling dream of mine,” he says. “It has instilled in me a sense of readiness and taught me that if you allow yourself to quit on any aspiration, it wasn’t really worth starting in the first place.”

In his free time, Crentsil enjoys playing guitar with friends and jamming to flamenco tunes. He’s also a big soccer fan and is looking forward to the FIFA World Cup in Brazil this summer, although he says that he’ll be somewhat torn when his native Ghana locks horns with the U.S. in the first group matches. “I might be tempted to put on the colorful jersey of the Black Stars come June 16,” he says. “But regardless of the result, my allegiance still lies with the United States.”
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Written by Valentine J. Brkich

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