Racing through a narrow figure-eight course at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Ben Stull had a few thoughts going through his mind: Don’t hit cones, hit my apex points, slow down my movements, be smooth. The mechanical engineering major’s performance helped secure a 16th place finish in SAE International’s Collegiate Design Series (CDS) Formula SAE® competition July 7-10. This was the sixth time the team has placed in the top 20 overall in the international competition.
“This competition was, by far, the hardest of the three I have competed in,” said Ed Tomczyk, a mechanical engineering student from Grand Blanc and captain of the team. “We had technical inspection issues and mechanical troubles that we have never dealt with at competition.”
Those issues meant the team had to repeat the technical inspection and soundcheck, but the members were determined to overcome all obstacles.
“It was another successful year, even though the team didn’t do as well as they’d hoped,” said Brooks Byam, professor of mechanical engineering and Cardinal Formula Racing Team advisor. “There was a big disruption that resulted from a rules interpretation that affected the team from Thursday afternoon until late Friday morning, but the students persevered and ended up with a good result. I am proud of how they handled that difficult situation.”
Cardinal Formula Racing’s continued success at the CDS competitions is noteworthy because it is one of the smaller teams and one of the few composed entirely of undergraduate students. The team placed ahead of several larger schools, including the University of Florida, Northwestern University and Virginia Tech. Forty teams competed in this year’s validation event, which included five dynamic events:
The team’s best showing of the competition was the skid pad event―the course Stull drove―with a 10th place finish. The team placed 17th in autocross, 18th in acceleration and 19th in endurance/efficiency. Other drivers were Ethan Brown, a mechanical engineering major from Kimball; Tobias Pfeiffer, a mechanical engineering major from Grosse Ile; and Tomczyk.
Other team members who participated in the competition were:
For Stull, a novice on the team, the Formula SAE competition delivered a valuable learning experience.
“I learned a lot about the auto industry, how the Formula SAE works, racing rules and regulations, the design-to-production process, and how great of an opportunity it is to be able to compete and be part of the team,” he said. “I also have my name and resume with a lot of employers.”
The COVID-19 global pandemic brought much of daily life to a screeching halt for many in the past year, but Saginaw Valley State University’s Cardinal Racing Team maintained its forward momentum, preparing for SAE International’s Collegiate Design Series (CDS) Formula SAE® competition. Now, more than a year after the 2020 competition was canceled, the team is gearing up for the Formula SAE (FSAE) validation event at the Michigan International Speedway (MIS), Brooklyn, July 7-10.
“Having last year’s competition scrapped was very hard because it was the last year for a large part of the senior members on the team,” said Edward Tomczyk, a mechanical engineering major from Grand Blanc who is this year’s team captain. “We did have our car driving before lockdown. From what I saw we were one of the only teams with a running car before lockdown. This made it very nice because we got to hit this year with a running car. We got more testing and driving time on this car than any other car we have ever had. The downside is that these cars have a very short life span and we have had to do a lot of maintenance and fixes that we don’t usually have to worry about.”
Brooks Byam, SVSU professor of mechanical engineering who serves as the racing team's faculty adviser, added, “Fortunately, the team was competition-ready before everything went into lockdown. There was a design team working on a project through the winter and spring 2020 academic terms. So, there was progress being made during that time, specifically on the engine.”
While this year’s team may have had a jumpstart on the car, the team members have worked hard to overcome a significant learning curve.
“Almost every person on the team had no experience working on this type of project,” Tomczyk said. “This car is built by a bunch of students with very limited experience, including some with none. Everything goes wrong at least once, sometimes all at the same time. But if you have the drive and creativeness, what I like to call an ‘any means necessary’ attitude, there isn’t a problem that cannot be fixed.”
In addition to Tomczyk, the team includes:
Before the pandemic hit, SAE competition season was in May. To comply with COVID-related restrictions, this year’s competition has been split into a “knowledge” event and a “validation” event. The knowledge segment was held, virtually, in March and included business, cost and design. The validation event consists of technical inspection and the dynamic events, acceleration, endurance, autocross and skid pad.
“Having the knowledge event online gave a very interesting structure to the season,” Tomczyk said. “The ability to not have to worry about the static events at competition is extremely helpful, but it made the design event hard, because we were not standing next to the car we were being judged on.”
When the team hits the MIS track in July, Byam is cautiously optimistic about its chances. “We feel about the same as we usually do,” he said. “There are about 70 teams competing this year compared to the usual 110 or more.”
Byam has good reason to be optimistic. Since becoming the team’s adviser in 1998, he has steered it toward continual improvements, creating a culture of success and building an outstanding reputation in the FSAE college circuit. While competition has grown steadily over the years, expanding to include international teams, Cardinal Formula Racing has held its own, recording the highest finish for exclusively undergraduate teams for five consecutive years.
Cardinal Formula Racing has placed in the top 20 five times overall: 6th place in 2002, 8th in 2005, 14th in 2008 and 18th in 2010. The team placed 19th in 2019.
Whatever the outcome of this year’s event, the Cardinal Formula Racing experience delivers positive results for the students.
“I have gained more from the team than I could have ever imagined,” Tomczyk said. “The number of résumé skills I have gained will help me through my entire engineering career. Many automotive-based, racing job applications specify ‘Formula SAE experience preferred.’ FSAE alumni have a great advantage in the job market.”
A group of Saginaw Valley State University students will fuel their passion for leadership and service through their participation in the Roberts Fellowship program.
“The Roberts Fellowship program challenges talented, hard-working students to expect more of themselves, to do more, and to be more than they originally thought possible,” said Julie Foss, SVSU associate professor of modern foreign languages and chair of the Roberts Fellowship program. “The 23rd class is another outstanding group of students who are well-equipped to grow into more effective leaders and global citizens.”
Students are selected for the Roberts Fellowship on the basis of demonstrated academic achievement, campus and/or community service, leadership potential, and potential to engage with diverse cultures and perspectives. One of SVSU’s Programs of Distinction, the program provides outstanding students with the academic, professional and service opportunities that help students develop leadership skills.
Throughout the 2021-2022 academic year, the 12 Roberts Fellows students selected for the 23rd class will participate in weekly seminars, engage in a year-long service project of their own creation and interact with campus and community leaders. The program culminates in an international travel experience that exposes students to professional and cultural differences in different countries.
The Roberts Fellowship program was established through a gift from Donna Roberts, who served as corporate secretary and assistant general counsel of Dow in the 1990s.
Members of the 23rd Roberts Fellows cohort are:
Zachary Archbold of Midland, a cell biology, molecular biology and biomedical sciences student
Alivia Barres, a chemistry major from Bay City
Kacy Clark of Freeland, a communication major
Max Gervais, a computer information systems major originally from Troy
Warren Jacobs, Bay City, majoring in biochemistry
Jaden O’Berry, of Flint, a theatre major
Talia Pruiett, Bay City, majoring in social work
Skyler Steward, a biology major from Auburn
Paige Talaga of Auburn, majoring in elementary education and English language arts
Glecia Tatum, a theatre major originally from North Carolina and now residing in Saginaw
Rhossa Umutoniwase, an international student from Rwanda majoring in biochemistry
Brianna Vanderstelt of Middleville, a psychology major
Saginaw Valley State University’s commitment to serving military veterans has been recognized with a place in the Military Times Best for Vets: Colleges rankings. SVSU ranks 15th among four-year public institutions in the Midwest and is among only 189 four-year public institutions nationwide to achieve this distinction. In addition to the Best for Vets: Colleges ranking, SVSU has been recognized as a Military Friendly School and as a Gold-level Veteran-Friendly School by the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency.
“This ranking demonstrates that SVSU strives to be military-friendly,” said Bethany Alford, director of Military Student Affairs and a senior chief in the U.S. Navy Reserve. “We appreciate the sacrifices our military-affiliated students have made for our country, as well as their grit and determination in pursuing a degree. It’s important that we provide them with the resources that will help them succeed.”
Each year, Military Times surveys colleges and universities across the country to ask about their programs for veterans. The survey results are analyzed — along with public data about the institutions — to create an official ranking, which is found at colleges.militarytimes.com.
SVSU’s Military Student Affairs office is dedicated to the needs and concerns of all military-affiliated students. The office provides a number of services designed to help both active and veteran military students navigate the university landscape to successfully complete their degree and transition into graduate school or the workforce. Three percent of SVSU’s student body are affiliated with the military.
Harley Davidson, an elementary education major serving as a staff sergeant (E6) in the Michigan Army National Guard, credits the Military Student Affairs office with helping her navigate the process of using her military benefits to pay for college.
“When I started off at SVSU, I was a transfer student who was also new to using my military benefits,” said the Pinconning resident. “The Military Student Affairs office helped to get everything I needed taken care of. They have also been great about giving me and other students a comfortable place to have questions answered and to relax and study. I now work in the office while I’m taking classes. The office has given me the opportunity to connect with other veterans and service-connected students, do rewarding work and connect with many other offices and resources on campus.”
“The Military Student Affairs office has given me and other military-affiliated students a place where we can get assistance with our educational benefits and also a community with understanding individuals,” said McClain Mercer, a political science major living in Bay City. Mercer, who served in the U.S. Army JAG Corps from 2016-2020, said SVSU is helping him prepare for a career through programs and organizations like the Student Law Club and Forever Red.
For 10 years, Military Times Best for Vets: Colleges has been a top resource for veterans to help with their education decisions. This is the seventh year SVSU has made the list.
This year’s rankings now include an individual web page for each school, with information that will help veterans make important decisions about their career planning and how to use the education benefits they earned through military service.
Recognizing the tremendous support the Children’s Grief Center offers grieving children and families throughout the Great Lakes Bay Region, SVSU’s Student Association has selected the organization as its charitable partner for the 2021 Battle of the Valleys. The 18th annual fundraising competition, which harnesses the friendly football rivalry between SVSU and Grand Valley State University to raise funds for charitable organizations in each university’s respective community, begins Sept. 26.
“We selected the Children’s Grief Center mostly based on the services they provide to children and their families,” said Madeline Lowry, co-chair of the 2021 Battle of the Valleys. “Even through this tough time with the pandemic, they have been receiving increased participants as children and families lose loved ones.”
Lowry, a rehabilitative medicine major from Lake Orion, added that 44 organizations applied to be selected to receive funds raised by SVSU students during the competition.
Camille Gerace Nitschky, executive director of the Children’s Grief Center, said that the organization is supported solely through donations, grants, memorials and bequests. “We are so honored and so excited to be part of this wonderful event,” she said.
“The Center stood out amongst the other applicants because of its passion for helping others, its strong mission, and it is an amazing resource for those in need,” added Battle Co-Chair Josie Koenigsknecht, a communication major from Fowler.
Battle of the Valleys 2021 marks a return to its competitive roots following Grand Valley’s withdrawal from the competition in 2018. SVSU continued to raise funds in 2019 and 2020. Since 2003, the SVSU Student Association has donated more than $464,000 to Great Lakes Bay Region nonprofits. The annual fundraising competition is held the week preceding the SVSU-GVSU football game. Between 2003 and 2018, SVSU won the Battle challenge 13 out of the 16 years.
The 2021 Battle of the Valleys – the 18th – kicks off on Sept. 26 and will culminate with the presentation of a check to the selected beneficiary during the SVSU-GVSU football game on Oct. 2. This year’s game will be held at SVSU.
An SVSU geography professor is conducting a study on the effectiveness of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s treatment of invasive species at the Frankenlust Township Nature Park in Bay City with support of a grant from the Environmental Endowment Fund of the Bay Area Community Foundation. Rhett Mohler, associate professor of geography, successfully petitioned for the $6,599 grant from the Environmental Endowment Fund of the Bay Area Community Foundation for his “Monitoring Invasive Species” project. The project period is May 11, 2021 through August 31, 2023.
The goal of the project is to monitor the effectiveness of the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s treatment of invasive species at the Frankenlust Township Nature Park and inventory desirable species.
“This type of research has the dual benefit of serving the community while also allowing our students to gain experience in their fields of study,” Mohler said. “Additionally, invasive species continue to be a large problem, so this type of work is very timely and needed.”
Mohler will hire one student employee to assist with research.
Mohler has identified four community-minded goals for the project:
Mohler joined the SVSU faculty in 2012. He has been active in research throughout his career at SVSU. In 2018, he received the Ruth and Ted Braun Fellowship to expand his efforts to map two invasive plants in the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge, south of Saginaw. In 2014, he investigated the environmental history of a stretch of the Kawkawlin River as part of the Saginaw Bay Environmental Science Institute.
Five members of SVSU’s Roberts Fellowship Program have created a place for children from the Great Lakes Bay Region to memorialize their loved ones. The students devised the garden as their service project, which is a component of the Roberts Fellowship. The garden is located near the entrance to the Children’s Grief Center’s new headquarters at 4708 James Savage Road, Midland.
On Saturday, May 1, 11 children and their families, who participate in Children’s Grief Center groups in Midland, Bay City and Saginaw, attended the “Growing Grief Into Gardens” event at the Center’s new office. Children were invited to plant a flower and paint rocks in memory of their loved ones who had passed away.
“We decided we wanted to work with the Children’s Grief Center because of the pandemic,” said Madelene Cifrulak, a nursing major from Midland. “Everyone has experienced loss in some way this past year.
“We decided to plan a garden project because being outside and working with your hands is therapeutic for most people. Also, the process of planting something, tending to it and watching it grow reflects the grieving process,” she said.
The 2020-2021 Roberts Fellowship cohort consisted of 10 students. They split into two groups of five to work on service projects. The memorial garden group included:
Children’s Grief Center Executive Director Camille Gerace Nitschky, said, “We were delighted with the wonderful event we had on Saturday, Growing Grief Into Gardens, created by the Robert Fellows. Their thoroughness in the planning and then bringing it all together with our children, teens and families was so incredible after not seeing our kids for the last year except in Zoom meetings. It was beyond what we could have ever hoped for, and we will have our Grief Gardens for years to come to honor our people that have died.”
The Roberts Fellowship Program focuses on leadership from a global perspective. Each year, approximately 10 outstanding students from a range of disciplines participate in the year-long program, attending weekly seminars, engaging in a year-long service project, and interacting with campus and community leaders.
The Roberts Fellowship Program was established through a gift from Donna Roberts, who served as corporate secretary and assistant general counsel of Dow in the 1990s.
Saginaw Valley State University’s Tami Sivy, professor of chemistry, has received the Michigan Distinguished Professor of the Year award from the Michigan Association of State Universities. The award recognizes the outstanding contributions and dedication exhibited by the faculty from Michigan’s 15 public universities to the education of undergraduate students. She is one of three professors in the state to receive the honor.
Sivy joined the SVSU faculty in 2008 and has served as department chair since 2015. In her tenure at the university, Sivy has promoted outstanding student experiences for undergraduate students, creating opportunities for research and community partnerships. She emphasizes developing students’ critical thinking skills and helps them discover joy in learning.
“Dr. Tami Sivy represents the best of teaching, research and dedication to student success,” said Dr. Daniel J. Hurley, CEO of the Michigan Association of State Universities. “She mentors and empowers her students, symbolizing the excellence in higher education for which Michigan’s public universities are globally renowned.”
Sivy not only teaches classes at every level, she is responsible for the entire upper-level biochemistry curriculum and has mentored more than 50 SVSU students in laboratory research. Sivy sits on the steering committee of the Saginaw Bay Environmental Science Institute at SVSU. She also was involved in the development of the SVSU /STEM/Dow Science and Sustainability Center’s mobile laboratory and the curriculum that is used in outreach activities to area students. She has mentored many regional high school teachers and students in environmental research projects.
In 2012, Sivy and her undergraduate students began using rapid DNA testing to detect fecal contamination and its sources at freshwater sites in the Saginaw Bay Watershed. After many years of collaboration and validation, the method has now been used to determine beach closings in Bay County since 2019. This pioneering work led the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy to request her assistance in adapting testing for the COVID-19 virus in wastewater. Sivy was the first in Michigan to engage undergraduate students in this testing, which spans the SVSU campus and seven surrounding counties. In support of freshwater and wastewater testing, she has received nearly $4 million in external funding.
“As a faculty member at SVSU, Dr. Sivy positively impacts the classroom and surrounding community through her research on water quality,” said Deborah R. Huntley, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at SVSU. “She is a teacher who mentors and understands the needs of students. Her dedication to the success of students and her commitment to her community, colleagues and SVSU are well evident.”
Sivy has won several awards at SVSU, including the Franc A. Landee Award for Teaching Excellence, the most prestigious teaching award conferred by the university. She also was an exchange professor at Shikoku University in Tokushima, Japan, where she served as an ambassador of SVSU to the community and taught undergraduate courses.
Sivy earned her B.S. in biochemistry from Calvin College and her Ph.D. in chemistry and biochemistry from the University of Colorado, Boulder.
The two other 2021 recipients include Thomas Werner of Michigan Technological University and Yunus Zeytuncu of University of Michigan-Dearborn.
The University Writing Program at SVSU celebrated the writing achievements of student writers with 2021 University Writing awards.
“On behalf of the University Writing Committee, I am thrilled to recognize the achievements of the 2021 University Writing Awards winners,” said Scott Kowalewski, SVSU associate professor of rhetoric and professional writing and Writing Program administrator. “Despite the challenges this academic year posed, these student writers demonstrated a commitment to writing excellence.”
Diane Boehm Writing Awards for e-Portfolios are presented annually to outstanding e-portfolios to recognize the creative and effective integration of writing and multimedia. Diane Boehm, director emerita of the SVSU Writing Center, established and funds the award.
This year’s winners of the Diane Boehm Writing Awards for e-Portfolios are:
Gabrielle Bourgeois, a creative writing major from Alpena, won the Seitz Creative Writing Scholarship, which is awarded to juniors or seniors with a major or minor in creative writing. The scholarship was established and is supported through gifts from Jim and Melissa Seitz.
The Robert S.P. Yien First Year Writing Awards showcase outstanding work by first year composition students in ENGL 080 and 111. Papers are judged by a committee comprised of the First Year Writing Coordinator and selected SVSU English Department faculty. This year’s winners are:
First place ― Xander Barrat, a pre-accounting major from Muskegon
Second place ― Madelyn Harris of Manchester, Mich., a pre-management major
Third place ― Ledonna Husband, a pre-occupational therapy major from Bay City
Fourth place ― Brendan Horning, a finance major from Fenton
Fifth place ― Max Kershen, a pre-med major from Bay City
The University Writing Program at SVSU provides students with the resources to develop their writing and critical thinking skills, supports faculty engagement in best practices in the teaching of writing, and encourages all members of the university community to value writing by coordinating various activities and programs across campus. This year, the awards program was held in a podcast format.
One nonprofit organization from the Great Lakes Bay Region stands to benefit from the fundraising efforts of Saginaw Valley State University’s Student Association. The student government is now accepting applications for beneficiaries of Battle of the Valleys, one of SVSU’s proudest and most meaningful traditions. Applications will be accepted through June 11 and can be found at svsubattle.com/benefactor-applications.
“Battle is a huge part of the Cardinal culture and it shows just a little bit more about the kind of people we have on our campus,” said
Student Association Member and Battle Co-Chair Madeline Lowry. The rehabilitative medicine major from Lake Orion added, “One of my favorite sayings about battle is ‘half the size, twice the heart.’ Our campus is half the size of Grand Valley, but we have twice the heart with each year we win.”
Battle of the Valleys harnesses the friendly rivalry between SVSU and Grand Valley State University to raise funds for charitable organizations in each university’s respective community. The 2021 Battle of the Valleys – the 18th – kicks off on Sept. 26 and will culminate with the presentation of a check to the selected beneficiary during the SVSU-GVSU football game on Oct. 2. This year’s game will be held at SVSU.
“One of our traditions is bringing SVSU’s attention as to why we battle,” said SVSU Student Association Battle Co-Chair Josie Koenigsknecht, a communication major from Fowler. “This awareness allows students and faculty to recognize that we battle for many more reasons other than simply raising funds. We battle to support, to serve as a friend, to engage in community involvement, and to bring SVSU and the community together.”
Since 2003, the SVSU Student Association has donated more than $464,000 to Great Lakes Bay Region nonprofits. The annual fundraising competition is held the week preceding the SVSU-GVSU football game. Between 2003 and 2018, SVSU won the Battle challenge 13 out of the 16 years. In 2019 and 2020, SVSU’s Battle fundraising efforts were unrivaled; GVSU’s student government had decided to suspend participation in the competition. Grand Valley is back in the competition for 2021.
“Student Association is proud to serve charitable organizations throughout the region, but Battle of the Valleys is so much more than a fundraiser," said Koenigsknecht. "Maddie and I are eager to lead Battle of the Valleys 2021, but it would not be possible without the support from SVSU and the community.”