For the third consecutive year, Saginaw Valley State University will host one of the state’s largest competitions featuring future generations of STEM professionals.
About 5,500 high school students are expected to participate in the FIRST Robotics state championship Wednesday through Saturday, April 10-13, at SVSU’s Ryder Center. The competition is expected to attract more than 8,000 visitors to the Great Lakes Bay Region, including parents, professional mentors and spectators.
Adrianne Cole, director of STEM at SVSU and one of the competition’s coordinators, said FIRST Robotics fits well with the university’s mission to stimulate interest in the sciences among the young.
"Through STEM at SVSU programs, students explore real-world problems through project-based learning and interact with STEM professionals," she said.
FIRST Robotics competitions follow that educational model, she said.
"STEM education fosters tenacity in students so that they can successfully face adversity in the future," Cole said.
The FIRST Robotics event at SVSU will feature 160 teams from high schools across Michigan that qualified for the state championship after performing exceptionally during earlier regional competitions. On average, 40 students participate on each team. Along with handling the robotics-related work, students throughout each season of FIRST Robotics competition are involved in several activities relating to strengthening their respective teams including fundraising and marketing.
Teams that qualified for the state championship will arrive April 10 for inspections. The qualifying rounds of competition are scheduled April 11-12. The playoff rounds are scheduled April 13. The champions will be crowned that afternoon.
Practice sessions and robot repairs will take place in SVSU’s Fieldhouse while the competition will be held in O’Neill Arena of the Ryder Center.
In each round of competition, three teams compete, using autonomous and remote-controlled robots piloted by students, battling to earn points during a two-minute round. The type of game played changes during each FIRST Robotics competitive season, which largely spans the length of the high school academic calendar.
Each year, an overarching theme — often relating to a STEM industry — is reflected in the rules and mechanics of the games played at the competition. The theme for the 2019 FIRST Robotics competition is “Destination: Deep Space," presented by The Boeing Company. "Destination: Deep Space" features two alliances of “deep space travelers” competing to place polycarbonate hatch covers and cargo on “rockets and cargo ships” before returning to “a safe habitat.”
Major sponsors for the state championships include DTE Energy, Consumers Energy, The Dow Chemical Company and Ford Motor Company.
For more information on FIRST Robotics, visit firstinspires.org.
The following is a video demonstration of the 2019 FIRST Robotics game, "Destination: Deep Space."
There are few crimes, Shawn Schutt points out, where the victim bears some burden of blame from the public. Survivors of sexual assault too often are blamed for the crime committed against them, he says.
“They will sometimes be asked, ‘How much did you have to drink,’ or, ‘What were you wearing when it happened,’” says Schutt, a prevention education coordinator at Underground Railroad Inc.
“But it isn’t the victim’s fault.”
Raising awareness and shifting that burden of blame away from sexual assault survivors is the objective behind a Saginaw Valley State University-hosted exhibition next week, titled “What Were You Wearing?”
The exhibition, which will display clothing worn by survivors of sexual assault when those crimes happened, will open with an event featuring Schutt as a guest speaker Monday, April 1, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in SVSU’s Alumni Lounge in Curtiss Hall. Later, the exhibition will be moved to the hallway outside SVSU’s Student Counseling Center in Curtiss Hall, room C112, from Tuesday to Friday, April 2-5, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. each day.
Staff and student interns in the Student Counseling Center are collaborating on the project with Underground Railroad Inc., a Saginaw-based nonprofit that services victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, stalking and human slavery. Underground Railroad Inc. donated the clothing that will appear in the exhibition.
Among the items that will be displayed are children’s pajamas, casual attire and swimwear.
The idea was inspired by a similar exhibition at University of Arkansas.
“We really want to debunk the myth that what they were wearing is the reason a survivor was sexually assaulted,” says Ashley Corwin, a student intern at SVSU’s Student Counseling Center.
Corwin hopes attendees will better empathize with survivors when seeing the variety and common types of clothing worn during those crimes.
“The installation, we hope, will allow the viewers to see themselves reflected in the outfits,” says Corwin, who received a bachelor’s degree in social work from SVSU in 2018 and is pursuing a master’s degree in social work there now.
Schutt, who earned a bachelor’s degree in health science from SVSU in 2016, said he hopes “What Were You Wearing?” connects with attendees.
“By asking victims those types of questions — like ‘What were you wearing?’ or ‘How much did you have to drink?’ — we’re making it easier for perpetrators to get away with these crimes,” he says. “It’s important to raise awareness about this.”
The initiative also will serve as an educational tool for student interns in the SVSU Student Counseling Center, says Dana Carley Kaczynski, an assistant director with the office helping to supervise the effort.
“The exhibit gives the interns an opportunity to participate in an outreach project that involves collaborating with a community agency, and see it from beginning to end,” she says.
“Ultimately, the message of this particular project is something that hits home for us as counselors as we work with survivors of sexual assault here at our Student Counseling Center every day. It is very important to each of us to share this message with the campus community.”
The opening event and week-long exhibition are free and open to the public.
Education advocates say a Saginaw Valley State University-based leadership education initiative for teachers will bolster math studies and achievement in the Great Lakes Bay Region.
Based at SVSU's Regional Mathematics and Science Center, the Great Lakes Bay Region Mathematics Specialist program provides leadership training to local middle school teachers — grades 5 to 8 — specializing in math. The initiative graduated its first class of 13 teachers in August 2018. The second class has already met and organizers are still accepting applicants.
The initiative is vital for bolstering student achievement in math across the region, advocates say. The goal is to prepare the program's trainees to return to their schools to support colleagues and administrators in math-related assessment, curriculum and instruction strategies.
The program works, said Amy Kolb, a member of the math specialist program group that graduated in August.
“In my 20 years of teaching, the math specialist program at SVSU is the most valuable professional development tool that I have ever participated in,” said Kolb, who teaches math at E.F. Rittmueller Middle School in Frankenmuth.
“I have developed a deeper understanding of mathematics, and I am better prepared to support my students - especially students who struggle with math. My experiences in the program have also taught me how to develop and lead professional development for other math teachers.”
A $65,637 grant from the Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance is funding the training for the second group of participants. The cohort earlier this month met for the first of nine training sessions scheduled throughout the winter, spring and summer seasons.
Teachers interested in applying for the remaining eight sessions of the program can contact Tamara Barrientos, director of the SVSU Regional Mathematics and Science Center, at email@example.com or (989) 964-4636. There is no cost to participate.
With a strong communal spirit, Saginaw Valley State University's Concert Choir will join forces this week with The Saginaw Bay Symphony Orchestra and Saginaw Choral Society for a concert event presented at a grand scale.
“It's pretty massive,” said Kevin Simons, director of the SVSU Concert Choir and an SVSU associate professor of music. “This is probably the biggest choir I've ever worked with.”
The concert, titled “Music & Voices: Saginaw Rising,” is scheduled Saturday, March 30, at 8 p.m. in the Temple Theatre in downtown Saginaw. Tickets remain available online by clicking here.
Fouad Fakhouri, the music director for The Saginaw Bay Symphony Orchestra, said he's never worked with so many musicians during a single concert.
“These types of performances don't happen often,” he said. “I'm tremendously excited for this collaboration.”
There are 50 students involved in SVSU's choir and about the same number of Saginaw Choral Society musicians, Simons said. He also will perform as one of seven soloists.
Their vocals will join forces with the 70-piece Saginaw Bay Symphony Orchestra for an evening featuring classical pieces created by historically-celebrated musicians such as 18th century German composer Beethoven, 19th century Austrian composer Anton Bruckner and 20th century English composer Vaughan Williams.
Simons said his choir and its community companions recently began rehearsals, and the early chemistry between the groups has him excited for Saturday's event.
“The music was thrilling,” said Simons.
Organizers of the event say they have hoped for such a collaboration for years.
“I've always wanted to do this,” said Fakhouri, who joined The Saginaw Bay Symphony Orchestra in 2016. “I know Kevin quite well, and I know the choirs will be ready for this level of performance.”
The concert will be an experiential thrill for students with the SVSU Concert Choir, Simons said. While the group has worked with the Saginaw Choral Society before, this will mark their first teaming with a symphony.
“I remember the first time I sang with an orchestra like that,” Simons said. “It was memorable. You never forget it.”
What will add to the experience is the prestige of the venue, he said. The Temple Theatre represents one of the region's most historic performing arts centers. The 1,750-seat theatre — which first opened in 1927 — features an intricate, neo-classic design reinforced by large-scale restoration work over the years.
“This is going to be a great opportunity for our students to play in the Temple and perform with people in the community,” Simons said. “It will be a great day for SVSU singing, and it shows what a leader we are in the culture of this region.”
A Saginaw Valley State University initiative designed to give students more experience producing plays soon will place one theatre major in the director's chair for a production of a Tony Award-winning and Pulitzer Prize finalist black comedy.
Joseph Green, a theatre major from Shelby Township, will direct "The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?" from celebrated American playwright Edward Albee. The play will be a 2-night affair — Friday and Saturday, March 29-30, at 7:30 p.m. — in SVSU's Black Box Studio, located in Curtiss 180 in Curtiss Hall.
Tickets are $13 for the public and $10 for students or seniors 60 and older. Because of strong language and adult situations, it is recommended only for audiences 17 or older.
The production is part of the SVSU theatre department's Studio X.P. Program, in which students propose a production of their choice, then cast and direct the play. Green both suggested the play and will direct it under the supervision of Tommy Wedge, assistant professor of theatre.
“SVSU theatre puts their name on the play, but essentially, the department doesn't really touch the show,” Green said of his opportunity. “They are trusting the students to put on a quality production. Having full agency over your own show as a student is very rare, especially for a university of our size.”
Wedge said Green's vision for “The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?” is a strong interpretation of its source material written by the playwright known for modern theatrical classics such as “Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”
“It's about society's shifting views on love and sex, and how those ideas mix with what is acceptable within culture and society,” Wedge said.
The black comedy follows a white-picket family with a marriage that falls apart when a man in that family falls in love with a goat.
“There's quite a bit of profanity in the show,” Wedge warned, “but there's quite a bit of profanity in life too. It's a really well-written play.”
Aubree Harrell, a communication and theatre major from Essexville who plays the wife of the man who falls in love with the goat, said the bizarre situations that unfold in the play hold a deeper meaning.
“We all can relate to this story in some way,” she said. “It may seem like an outrageous scenario, but if we take out maybe one element, we can see ourselves in this play.”
Tickets can be purchased online or at the SVSU Box Office.
Seven members of the Saginaw Valley State University community are among 17 women the YWCA Great Lakes Bay Region will honor today for their leadership and contributions to social causes across the area.
The 2019 YWCA Women of Achievement Awards ceremony is scheduled Wednesday, March 20, at 5 p.m. at Horizons Conference Center in Saginaw Township.
Three members of SVSU’s staff and one student are among those who will be honored. They include the following:
Three other 2019 YWCA Women of Achievement Awards recipients are part of SVSU’s community, including one former Board of Control member and two alumna. They include the following:
For more information on the YWCA Great Lakes Bay Region and its Women of Achievement Awards, please visit www.ywcaglbr.org/women-of-achievement-awards/.
During its sixth annual Best In Business awards ceremony Friday, March 22, Saginaw Valley State University will recognize businesses and entrepreneurs as well as SVSU faculty, students and alumni dedicated to supporting the Great Lakes Bay Region business community.
Business and alumni awards were chosen by an advisory board featuring leaders from SVSU’s Scott L. Carmona College of Business & Management. Faculty honorees were selected by SVSU students.
Regional businesses honored will include the following:
Business leaders honored will be as follows:
SVSU faculty members honored at the ceremony will include the following:
SVSU’s Best In Business awards ceremony will recognize graduate students, undergraduate students and alumni at the ceremony.
SVSU's Scott L. Carmona College of Business & Management is among the 5 percent of business schools worldwide accredited by AACSB International, widely considered a gold standard for business school accreditation.
For more information, visit www.svsu.edu/cbm.
More than 125 employers and agencies next week plan to participate in Saginaw Valley State University’s annual Spring University-wide Employment and Networking Fair.
Free and open to the public, the event is scheduled Friday, March 29, from noon to 3 p.m. in the banquet and seminar rooms at SVSU’s Curtiss Hall.
The employment fair will provide attendees with the opportunity to meet and network with representatives from regional, national and global organizations.
Among the employers and agencies signed up to attend are Aflac, Bankers Life, Chemical Bank, Consumers Energy, Dow Chemical Company, Hemlock Semiconductor, Independence Bank, MidMichigan Health, and Morley Companies as well as the U.S. Army and Navy.
Auburn-based Dynamic Focus Photography will be available at the event to provide free professional photography portraits for attendees.
For more information about the SVSU Spring University-wide Employment and Networking Fair — including an updated list of employers and agencies planning to attend — click here. More representatives are expected to sign up to attend as the event date approaches.
The Spring University-wide Employment and Networking Fair is among eight employment fairs organized annually by SVSU's Career Services office.
A play with a plot about uniting friends and family despite distances that once separated them. A theatrical production aimed at bringing together the region's diverse performing arts talents. A director hailing from a university that serves as a community-engaged bridge for that region.
There's a lot going on with the Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance's unprecedented multi-theatre production of "Mamma Mia!" planned for fall. But one common theme — the desire to unify communities — seems to neatly tie together the ambitious effort for director Tommy Wedge, an assistant professor of theatre at Saginaw Valley State University.
"'Mamma Mia!' is about a character trying to get her three dads to join her family, and this production is about three different theaters joining together as a family, so it seems an apt framing device for what we're trying to do," Wedge said.
"It's about bringing people together."
The Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance recently announced it would present "Mamma Mia!" and elements of the production in September and October at three venues: Bay City Players, Midland Center for the Performing Arts, and Pit and Balcony Theatre in Saginaw. The schedule will include performances — both open to the public and exclusive for high school student audiences — as well as community workshops and other performances relating to the musical.
"I've never been part of a process like this before," said Wedge, who has worked for productions at all three theaters. "There are a lot of moving pieces, but all of them are achievable."
For the South Dakota native, confidence comes in part because he knows the barriers separating the performers, producers and audiences for the three theaters are largely arbitrary. Wedge said collaboration between the trio of venues has increased in recent years. Managers communicate to ensure they don't produce the same plays during the same seasons, and props and equipment often are shared between the different crews.
"And, especially for the younger performers and staff, the barriers are nonexistent," said Wedge, pointing out that several SVSU students and alumni have résumés highlighting work at all three locations.
"We have been on this path of opening doors between the three theatres for a while, and that led us to where we are today."
Wedge said embracing the spirit of collaboration driving the Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance's production came natural to him. After all, he adopted an enthusiasm for community engagement from SVSU when he first joined the university in 2011.
"SVSU is one of the most supportive universities when it comes to using our shared strengths to improve the communities around us," he said. "Showcasing the absolute best this region has to offer is something I know how to do."
His work at SVSU already is carrying over to his latest production. Melanie Frasca, an SVSU theatre and English double major from Waterford, was involved in several Wedge-directed plays at the university. She will serve as his stage manager for "Mamma Mia!"
He said other members of the SVSU community likely will be involved in "Mamma Mia!" Openings remain for the production crew staff. Cast auditions begin in July.
Wedge most recently directed the February 2019 SVSU production of "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time." He directed two plays at Midland Center for the Arts including "Beauty and the Beast" in April 2017, and four shows at Pit and Balcony including "Spring Awakening" in May 2014. He served as a directing consultant at Bay City Players.
The fall lineup of "Mamma Mia!" performances will mark his first experience working with the beloved Broadway-born musical about a young woman's effort to unify her family on the eve of her wedding.
"I'm a huge fan of the movie," he said of the 2008 film starring Meryl Streep. "For my money, it's the most successful jukebox musical there is. I'm looking forward to bringing a fresh perspective to it."
Tickets for "Mamma Mia!" will go on sale to the general public on June 27 and will be available from the box offices and websites of all three theatres (www.midlandcenter.org, www.pitandbalconytheatre.com, and www.baycityplayers.org).
For more information about the Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance's production of "Mamma Mia!,'" visit the organization's website at www.greatlakesbay.com.
Zareena A. Grewal, associate professor of American studies, religious studies and anthropology at Yale University, will give a public lecture at Saginaw Valley State University Thursday, March 21, at 6:30 p.m. in the Rhea Miller Recital Hall.
Grewal is an author and documentary filmmaker whose research focuses on race, gender, religion, nationalism and transnationalism across a wide spectrum of American Muslim communities. She has received awards for her writing and research grants from the Fulbright, Wenner-Gren and Luce Foundations.
Her first book, “Islam is a Foreign Country: American Muslims and the Global Crisis of Authority,” is an ethnography of transnational Muslim networks that link U.S. mosques to Islamic movements in the Middle East through debates about the reform of Islam.
Grewal’s first film, “By the Dawn's Early Light: Chris Jackson's Journey to Islam,” examines the racialization of Islam and the scrutiny of American Muslims' patriotism.
At SVSU, Grewal’s lecture will cover the subject of her forthcoming book, titled “Is the Quran a Good Book?” which combines ethnographic and cultural studies analyses with historical research to trace the place of Islamic scripture in American imagination, especially in relation to national debates about intolerance.
Grewal's visit to SVSU is supported through the Dr. Raana Akbar Memorial Lecture Series in partnership with SVSU's Edwards Lecture Series and Dow Visiting Scholars Lecture Series.
The Raana Akbar Memorial Lecture on Islam and Culture was established in 2011 by Dr. Waheed Akbar in memory of his late wife Raana, a former member of the SVSU Board of Control, physician and community leader.
The William and Julia Edwards Lecture in Philosophy and Religion is a forum where recognized scholars in religion and philosophy are invited to share their work with the campus community.
The Dow Visiting Scholars and Artists program was established through an endowment from The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation to enrich our regional cultural and intellectual opportunities.
For more information, visit www.svsu.edu/publiclectures.