Student research in spotlight at annual exposition

Three male students look at autonomous wheelchair

Nick Roth (left), Justin Dumm (middle) and Tyler Kline (right) prepare their autonomous wheelchair prototype for the 2019 Research and Creative Exposition at Penn State New Kensington. The trio of electro-mechanical engineering technology (EMET) students at the campus were mentored by Joseph Cuiffi, program coordinator and instructor of EMET. 

Credit: Rebecca Dietrich

NEW KENSINGTON, Pa. - Topics such as augmented reality, automation, information recall and mental health were highlighted during the 17th annual Research and Creative Exposition at Penn State New Kensington. The event, along with Career Connections Day, was held April 9.

"This whole event showcases the campus, showcases the students, research and creativity."

-- Jim Shields, associate director for career services at Penn State New Kensington.

More than 50 students, including sophomore Sedona Rogers, presented research projects, via poster presentations, which correlated to their comprehensive work. Participants were then judged on their research content, poster display and their oral communication and defense of the work. 

Rogers, an electro-mechanical engineering technology (EMET) student, presented her work focused on creating a program for an automated car wash simulation and expressed the importance of students taking part in undergraduate research. "It's super important because it gives you experience, first of all, presenting something," said Rogers. "Also, the more you research and work on a project, you learn your interests and also your weaknesses."

Student participants were mentored by faculty members who provided guidance throughout the academic year. For Rogers, her mentor, Joseph Cuiffi, provided assistance and also enabled her to learn new skills such as programming. Cuiffi, is program coordinator and instructor of EMET.

"He's [Cuiffi] an awesome instructor," said Rogers. "He's really great in helping us choose a project and really fit into our major and interests. I've never programmed before, and he was great at guiding me through the steps, but still allowing me to learn on my own."

University Libraries' Undergraduate Research Award: Excellence in Information Literacy winners

Eight students were also presented with Undergraduate Research Award: Excellence in Information Literacy prizes from Penn State's University Libraries. The winning students each received award certificates, as well as gift cards for the campus bookstore and $50 Amazon gift cards, which were presented by Jennifer Gilley, head librarian, and Amy Rustic, reference librarian.

The 2019 winners from Penn State New Kensington include: Tyler Campbell, Hailey Dikun, Carly Duncan, Kevin Litzinger, Kylie Meyer, Makayla Shank, Aarron Smith and Savannah Smith.

The award recognizes scholarly work of students who demonstrate information literacy skills in relation to their research and poster presentations.

Career Connections Day

In conjunction with the exposition, the campus’s Office of Career Services organized Career Connections Day, which entered it's 11th year. Eighteen organizations participated by providing students with career information, as well as the opportunity for students to network and build their contacts. The career-focused aspect of the event also serves the purpose of showcasing the many research and creative projects happening at the campus to local business and industry.

"When we put the two pieces [research expo and career day] together 11 years ago, it just made sense," explained Jim Shields, associate director for career services. "You have the students all dressed up to show off the best things that they worked on this year and give them the chance to network and talk about themselves." 

He continued, "This whole event showcases the campus, showcases the students, research and creativity. It showcases what we're able to do here at Penn State New Kensington, and it's exciting to show off what this campus is capable of."

A full photo gallery from the event can be found on the Penn State New Kensington Facebook page.