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June 16, 2016

SVSU to offer new degree: Master of Arts - Public Administration

Saginaw Valley State University has approved a new graduate degree program and will enroll students for the Master of Arts - Public Administration program, beginning with the upcoming fall semester.  

The program is geared toward students who have completed bachelor’s degrees and are interested in careers or seeking advancement in the non-profit, governmental, public administration, or criminal justice fields.

“The program is intended to assist students seeking careers in the public administration sector or who striving for promotional opportunities,” said Joseph Jaksa, associate professor of criminal justice and program coordinator.

Within the program, SVSU offers a specialization in university and college student affairs administration for those seeking careers in higher education.

“Our Student Affairs track is unique to SVSU,” Jaksa said, “providing specific classes for individuals interested in administrative positions at colleges or universities.”

The course curriculum offers a combination of online and face-to-face learning opportunities. Classes are taught in online, hybrid (online and in-person), and traditional face-to-face formats. This educational structure provides students with a level of scheduling flexibility while providing a meaningful learning experience.

“Our class formats and courses provide a challenging curriculum in a friendly, learning environment,” adds Jaksa. “The program features highly-qualified instructors, including experienced full-time faculty members, as well as current and former university administrators. This blend of academic and practical experience gives our students the best of both worlds.”

The new program is replacing a Master of Arts in Administrative Sciences program that SVSU has previously offered.

For more information on the new Master of Arts - Public Administration Program (MPA), visit www.svsu.edu/graduateprograms, or contact the SVSU Graduate Admissions office at (989) 964-6096.      

June 14, 2016

SVSU Board approves tuition increase of 4.19 percent; Buildings named for Brandimore, Hamilton

The Saginaw Valley State University Board of Control approved a tuition increase of 4.19 percent as part of the 2016-17 general fund operating budget adopted during the Board’s regular meeting Monday, June 13.

A Michigan undergraduate student taking 30 credits will pay $9,345 for the upcoming academic year. SVSU students were charged $8,969 during the 2015-16 academic year.

“We continue to do all that we can to maintain our commitment to affordability for our students and their families,” said President Donald Bachand, president. “While our tuition remains the lowest among Michigan’s public universities, the quality of teaching and learning at SVSU has never been higher. We provide an exceptional educational value for our students.”

SVSU is increasing its budget allocation for scholarships and financial aid by 6.6 percent for the upcoming fiscal year.

The Board also granted emeritus status to three individuals who have announced their plans to retire from SVSU: Merry Jo Brandimore, Gene Hamilton, and Gladys Zubulake; Brandimore and Hamilton also will have buildings named in their honor, following Board action.

Brandimore was named Dean of Students Emerita in recognition of her 33 years of service to SVSU, most recently in the role of dean of students since 2008. She arrived in 1983 as director of Housing and Residential Life and has dedicated her entire SVSU career to student affairs. Brandimore’s passion and enthusiasm for “Red Pride” has received respect and praise from generations of students and colleagues.

In recognition of Bradimore’s contributions to SVSU, the Board approved re-naming the residence hall Living Center North as M.J. Brandimore House.

Hamilton has served SVSU in a variety of roles during a Cardinal career that spans 47 years. He is perhaps best known for his work in government relations over the past two decades, advocating on SVSU’s behalf at the local, state and federal level. Prior to that, Hamilton served in SVSU offices for Admissions, Cooperative Education and Field Experiences, and Continuing Education and International Programs. He was named Ambassador Emeritus of Government and Community Relations.

Hamilton holds the distinction of serving as SVSU’s first varsity basketball coach, starting the men’s program in 1969. He and the late Bob Becker, SVSU’s long-time athletic director, are credited with choosing Cardinals as the mascot for SVSU athletic teams. The Board voted to change the name of Cardinal Gymasium – where Hamilton once coached – to Hamilton Gymnasium.

Zubulake has served SVSU as an award-winning educator for 25 years and was named Professor Emerita. She joined SVSU as director of the Bilingual/Bicultural Teacher Training Program in the College of Education, and joined the faculty in the Department of Modern Foreign Languages in 2001.

Zubulake has received three SVSU honors: the Franc A. Landee Teaching Excellence Award in 2006, the House Family Award for Teacher Impact in 2012, and the Ruben Daniels Community Service Award in 1999. She also was named Educator of the year by the Michigan Educational Opportunity Fund in 1998 and the Michigan Foreign Language Association in 2004.

The Board also approved the addition of four new academic programs. SVSU students will now have an opportunity to complete degrees in general studies, neuroscience, elementary teaching for international students, and middle/secondary teaching for international students. All four programs are effective starting with the upcoming fall semester.

In other action, the Board:
•    Approved amendments to the Student Association charter.
•    Approved revisions to the Code of Student Conduct for the 2016-17 academic year.
•    Approved the reappointment of nine individuals to the SVSU Board of Fellows, a community advisory board: Mary Lou Benecke, Thomas A. Braley, Vicente Castellanos, Gil Johnson, Kenneth W. Kousky, John W. Nagy, Ernest E. Paulick, Chris Pryor and Jerome L. Yantz.
•    Approved the confirmation of board members for previously authorized charter schools.
•    Approved the addition of grades 6-8 for Waterford Motessori Academy, a previously authorized charter school.
•    Approved faculty promotions. Three faculty were promoted to the rank of professor: Anthony Crachiola, mathematics; Dorothy Lee, nursing; Christopher Surfield, economics. Nineteen faculty were promoted to the rank of associate professor: Emily Beard-Bohn, English; James Bowers, criminal justice; Colleen D’Arcy, teacher education; Sherrin Frances, English; Andrea Frederick, nursing; Melissa Garmo, criminal justice; Christopher Giroux, English; Dennis Gray, biology; Ellen Herlache-Pretzer, occupational therapy; Jaime Huffman, nursing; Thomas Mahank, mechanical engineering; Andrew Miller, geography; Rajan Murgan, physics; Emmanuel Ncheuguim, mathematics; Jason Pagano, chemistry; Jean Prast, occupational therapy; Sheruni Ratnabalasuriar, criminal justice; Jennifer Stinson, history; Charles Weaver, health science.
•    Approved granting tenure to Kevin Simons, associate professor of music.
•    Approved a posthumous degree policy.
•    Approved, in principle, the university’s guiding principles for strategic planning.

June 9, 2016

Great things ahead for 2016 SVSU graduates

‌‌Graduation is an exciting time, and exciting opportunities lie ahead for many of the 990 members of SVSU’s 2016 graduating class.

We Are New Cardinal Alumni — available online at www.svsu.edu/weare2016 — is a series that takes a snapshot of that excitement through the eyes of several of our outstanding graduates.

The series reflects on our exceptional graduates’ experiences at SVSU. Their résumés include membership to engaging student organizations, participation in volunteer and service-learning opportunities, and recognition for outstanding research and academic achievement.

And their stories stretch beyond SVSU, as this series also looks forward, toward our students’ plans after graduation. While some students are poised for postgraduate studies at prestigious universities across the U.S., others already have secured jobs in industries dedicated to strengthening the Great Lakes Bay Region, the state of Michigan and beyond. 

All of our graduates are ready to write the next chapter in their lives while adding to the outstanding lineup of Cardinal alumni.

June 6, 2016

SVSU neuroscience student honored for brain research

A Saginaw Valley State University student has earned two major accomplishments recently for his dedication in research relating to improving the lives of individuals who have suffered traumatic brain injuries.

While attending The Michigan Chapter of the Society for Neuroscience conference last month, Zackary Bowers, a psychology major from Freeland, received an Undergraduate Student Outstanding Poster Award from among 180 poster presentations.

The award recognized Bowers’ research in improving brain functionality for individuals suffering from traumatic brain injury. The research was performed in SVSU’s Brain Research Lab, where he has worked for about two years under the guidance of Charles Weaver, assistant professor of health sciences, and Jeffrey Smith, SVSU’s Malcolm & Lois Field Endowed Chair of Health Sciences.

“The mentorship has been great,” Bowers said. “And the faculty here provide so much room for you to grow, so long as you are willing to work hard. I didn’t think undergraduates were able to do this kind of research until I saw the kind of research they were doing at SVSU.”

Bowers began at SVSU as a business major but eventually connected with members of the Brain Research Lab. He grew up reading publications such as Popular Science, and discovering the university’s laboratory reignited his interest in science.

Smith said Bowers is deserving of the accolades.

“He’s a very bright, hard working student,” Smith said. “He puts a lot of effort into everything he does.”

Bowers, in turn, credited SVSU’s faculty and resources for providing an environment that leads to academic success, as well as the classmates who helped in his research efforts.

“It’s been a life-changing experience,” he said of the research.

Bowers’ next life-changing opportunity will include presenting at the National Neurotrauma Society’s conference. He received a travel award that will fund his attendance at the organization’s annual symposium June 26-29 in Lexington, Kentucky. He will be a rare undergraduate student presenting research at the conference, which primarily features Ph.D. researchers and graduate students discussing the latest findings in neurotrauma science.

“I’m very excited about the opportunity,” said Bowers, who was born in Caseville and graduated from Gladwin High School in 2010. “It’s going to be a great experience.”

Bowers expects to graduate in May 2017 and plans to pursue a Ph.D. that focuses on research of brain cell development. Eventually, he hopes to work as a university professor.

June 2, 2016

SVSU student accepted to challenging University of Wisconsin summer research program in chemistry

A Saginaw Valley State University student is spending her summer pursuing a passion for chemistry research through a highly competitive program at a university nationally renowned for its graduate programs in chemistry.
 
Emily Dzurka, a chemistry major from Bay City, is participating in the Research Experience for Undergraduates program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison from May 31 to Aug. 5. She will perform research with faculty, staff and students in the university’s Department of Chemistry, which U.S. News & World Report in 2014 ranked No. 9 nationally among higher education chemistry departments.

“I was so ecstatic when I found out,” Dzurka said. “I would love to go to the University of Wisconsin-Madison for graduate school, so getting my feet wet like this is an amazing opportunity.”

Dzurka already has experience in chemistry research through opportunities at SVSU.

Through an SVSU partnership, she has worked as a co-op student at The Dow Chemical Company in Midland, where she managed analytical instrumentation and performed sample testing.

On campus, she teamed with advisor Stephanie Brouet, SVSU associate professor of chemistry, on undergraduate research projects involving molecule synthesis.

Brouet said about 700 people applied for 15 spots in UW-Madison’s Research Experience for Undergraduates program.

“So this is a very big opportunity,” Brouet said.

Having witnessed Dzurka’s determination to tackle complex research projects, Brouet is confident Dzurka is prepared for her latest challenge.

“She excels in lab work,” Brouet said. “She’s very self-motivated, very reliable and very professional in her approach. What’s most impressive is her dedication to organic chemistry. She’s very passionate about what she’s doing.”

A 2012 graduate of Bay City Western High School, Dzurka plans to earn a bachelor’s degree from SVSU in May 2017. She said laboratory work is one of her passions.

“I like to be in the lab, and enjoy running my own reactions to figure out what works and what doesn’t work,” Dzurka said. “They’re like puzzles that I like to figure out.”

Dzurka said she hopes one day to work full-time in research at Dow.

May 27, 2016

Bullock Creek teacher combines seat belt safety and STEM learning, thanks to SVSU & Dow Corning

Teacher Erin Martin decorates the walls of her Bullock Creek High School classroom with pop culture science flair.

Photos hang near the doorway, showing TV personalities such as Bill Nye The Science Guy, images from movies accompanied by science-themed quotes, and photos of her at a Star Trek convention, where she posed happily with actors from the popular TV and film franchise.

“I'm a Trekkie,” she admits proudly.

Even more than that, Martin is a self-professed pop culture science junkie. That characteristic helps inspire her love of learning real science, making it more accessible and fun. Making science more accessible and fun is a philosophy she tries to apply in her teaching approach.
Now, thanks to a community partnership aimed at improving K-12 education in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), Martin has more resources than ever in empowering that philosophy.

Martin is one of 16 area educators participating in The Dow Corning Foundation/ Saginaw Valley State University STEM Community Partnership. Funded by a $254,000 Dow Foundation Grant, the project connects teachers with SVSU faculty and Dow Corning officials as they work on ideas for stimulating student interest in STEM.

Martin and each teacher involved in the partnership plans to discuss how the program impacts their classroom during a symposium Tuesday, May 31, from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in SVSU's Curtiss Hall banquet rooms. The event is free and open to the public.

Each teacher involved in the partnership develops lesson plans meant to engage students in STEM. Martin's project involves teaching students about the importance of seat belts on safety.

“I wanted to help my students learn but I also wanted to try to help people,” she said. “High school students do not wear their seat belts 100 percent of the time and the leading cause of death for teenagers 12- to 19-years-old is motor vehicle traffic accidents. I want to help save lives by increasing seat belt use.”

Martin isn't teaching that lesson simply by sharing math equations or using statistical analyses to illustrate seat belt safety. The lesson plan involves tasking students with assignments that involve real-life – albeit safe – simulations.

In Martin's classroom, not too far from those photos of celebrities, several boxes of Barbie Sisters Safari Cruiser toys are stacked against a wall. For the purposes of the classroom research, these miniature vehicles are used as stand-ins for the road-appropriate variety. Using sensory equipment purchased through The Dow Corning Foundation/SVSU STEM Community Partnership, her students are studying the physics of motor vehicle collisions.

The research is meant to give her students an idea of the devastating effects of crashes at higher speeds.

“The main question my project will answer,” she said, “is ‘Will measuring a small-scale crash and experiencing a life-sized simulated crash increase the seat belt use of physics students and increase their understanding of momentum?’”

The Dow Corning Foundation/SVSU STEM Community Partnership also connected Martin and her class with Dan Hinterman, an engineering and services manager at Dow Corning. Hinterman began visiting Martin's classes on a monthly basis in the fall, leading engineering-based activities while discussing the STEM industry with students.

One of Hinterman's first visits involved tasking students with designing miniature bridges using wooden construction sticks, rubber bands, masking tape and glue. The objective was to build a bridge spanning a 24-inch divide during an hour-long class. Students were grouped into several teams and competed against each other to see which bridge could carry the most weight.

Daniyelle Noel, a 16-year-old junior at the school, enjoyed the assignment.

“I really like that challenges like this force you to think outside the box, and I really enjoy the fun competitive way of presenting challenges,” she said.

Aaron Cummins, another 16-year-old junior, said hands-on activities such as those in Martin's physics class are more engaging for students than textbook-heavy assignments.

“I absolutely feel that these activities are inspiring to students,” Cummins said. “My classmates enjoy them also, and I think that many of them are surprised at how much fun engineering can be.”

Martin hopes both the lesson plans and networks made with the help of The Dow Corning Foundation/SVSU STEM Community Partnership will inspire her students to experience the same kind of “fun” in STEM that she experiences.

“I made a lot of connections through this program that will help me with this project and beyond,” Martin said. “I am grateful for the opportunity to work on a project that I think will have a huge impact on my students’ learning and lives.”

May 25, 2016

SVSU Art Gallery hosting student exhibition

The University Art Gallery at Saginaw Valley State University is hosting its 11th annual Student Art Exhibition through Friday, June 17. A reception for the artists will be held Thursday, May 26 from 3 to 5 p.m.

The exhibition features works from all medium areas of current SVSU art students. The show consists of 84 pieces by 38 students.

Rachel Eichler, a graphic design major from Pigeon, received the Best in Show Award for her acrylic painting, “Night Walk.”

Juror awards were given to SVSU students Malory Kochanny, Emily Phillips, Jessica Smith, Sara Stedman, Adam Stuart, and Kurt Winger.
            
All gallery exhibitions and receptions are free and open to the public.  For open gallery hours or call (989) 964-4159.  The University Art Gallery is located in the Arbury Fine Arts Center on the campus of Saginaw Valley State University, svsu.edu/visit/campusmaps.

May 24, 2016

Bay City Western students analyze sports physics through SVSU, Dow Corning Foundation initiative

Jarret Deming is a natural with a tennis racquet in his grip. Until recently, he never considered how it could empower him to better understand physics.

On a brisk morning - temperatures below 40 degrees - the 17-year-old junior at Bay City Western High School doesn't appear phased by the cold as he swings at the tennis ball. Deming is a natural, after all.

But this year he is getting a little help on his tennis posture and follow through. That support isn't coming from a coach or a teammate or even a how-to video. It's happening in Deming’s third hour physics class, where science, sports and technology are colliding thanks to a community partnership aimed at improving K-12 education in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math).

“I enjoy this more than sitting in a classroom and listening to a teacher talk,” said Deming, who spent class time mapping out and analyzing the physics of his tennis form.

The lesson plan comes from Lisa Welch, a teacher participating in her second year as a participant in The Dow Corning Foundation/SVSU STEM Community Partnership.

The initiative is aimed at influencing 4,000 K-12 students within the Great Lakes Bay Region. Funded by a $254,000 Dow Corning Foundation grant, the project connects teachers with SVSU faculty and Dow Corning officials as they work on ideas for stimulating student interest in STEM.

In summer 2014, Welch was among 12 teachers in the region selected as part of the inaugural group of participants. In summer 2015, Welch was one of 16 educators enrolled in the initiative. She and her colleagues participated in education seminars and interacted with STEM professionals.

That same group of Dow Corning Fellows plans to discuss how the program impacts their classroom during a symposium Tuesday, May 31, from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in SVSU's Curtiss Hall banquet rooms. The event is free and open to the public.

Welch plans to share how Deming - and other students involved in her classroom's sports physics research - benefit from The Dow Corning Foundation and SVSU initiative.

Along with tennis balls, students in Welch's third hour physics class are hitting baseballs and golf balls in the name of science in the name of sports physics research. With iPad technology purchased through the Dow Corning Foundation/SVSU STEM Community Partnership, students are using computer software to produce 3-D maps of their peers simulating at-bats, tennis serves and golf ball chipping.

“I'm really interested to see what we learn from all this,” Welch said. “It's great seeing the way students are reacting to this. They are getting a chance to see firsthand how the topics we are learning in class apply in the bigger picture of sports perfection”

Welch said The Dow Corning Foundation/SVSU STEM Community Partnership has inspired her – and given her resources – to keep students engaged in STEM-geared learning.

Another benefit: “The network of people I've met, from SVSU and Dow Corning,” she said. “I'm not teaching in a small room anymore, on my own. I have a league of people who want to help me teach.”

Each Dow Corning Fellow is paired with an SVSU faculty member as well as professionals from Dow Corning. Welch works with Jason Pagano, assistant professor of chemistry, and Kelly Broker, a Dow Corning product development team leader.

Broker is impressed with how Welch has found new ways to engage students in STEM education.

“There's so much more to science than just what you learn in the classroom,” Broker said. “Experiences such as these give students such a broader perspective of what science is about.”

And it's not always exclusively about science, as Deming has discovered. Sometimes a STEM education ties in with elements of life that don't require hours of classroom lectures or thick textbooks to study. Sometimes a STEM education is found in the swing of a tennis racquet.

“This has been fun,” the 17-year-old says of the classroom assignment. “If it helps me understand the most efficient way to swing in tennis, then that's even better.”

May 24, 2016

SVSU honors outstanding nurses at annual awards

Saginaw Valley State University celebrated the valuable contributions of eight registered nurses in the Great Lakes Bay Region during the sixth annual Carleen K. Moore R.N. Nursing Excellence awards Tuesday, May 10 during National Nurses Week.

Established by SVSU's Department of Nursing, the honor recognizes the continual dedication, quality service and front-line leadership exhibited by nurses in clinical practice, education, leadership, and community service. Awards were presented in the categories of acute care, nurse educator, long-term care/rehabilitation, and nursing in the community.

•    Tracy Bruff of Saint Mary's of Michigan, received an Acute Care Nursing award; she was nominated by her Director, Jill Loftus. Bruff is described as the Saint Mary's “stroke clinical outcome queen!”  She works quietly and independently to continuously improve the work environment for patients, their families and staff.

•    Tiffini Jarstfer of MidMichigan Medical Center-Midland was one of three recipients of the Acute Care Nursing award; she was nominated by her nurse manager, Amy Barnhart. Jarstfer is cited as a role model for other nurses in how she treats her patients and coworkers. She also has been key in helping students to transform from shy and scared to confident take-charge professionals.

•    Eric Maher, the stoke coordinator at Saint Mary's of Michigan, also was a recipient of the Acute Care Nursing award; he too was nominated by his nurse manager, Loftus. Maher gets a “first touch” with patients when they first become aware of their stroke symptoms. Many departments have gained a strong respect for him due to his ability to coordinate the testing necessary for timely stroke intervention.

•    Cindy Baker of Marlette Regional Hospital, received one of two Community Nursing awards, she was nominated by her director, Vicki Meiburg. Baker successfully initiated and implemented the Patient Centered Medical Home Model of care delivery for six practices. A colleague said, “Cindy is a gifted Nursing Leader. She always puts the patient first in everything she does.”

•    Kathy Janer of the Bay County Health Department, was a recipient of the Community Nursing award; she was nominated by Molly Stapish and Joel Strasz, public health director for Bay County. Janer was part of the pilot school nurse program in Bay City Public Schools. One of her significant accomplishments was instituting best practices for medication administration in the school setting.

•    Colleen Markel of who was a recipient of the Nursing Education award, was nominated by Greg Ghilardi, vice president of human resources for MidMichigan Medical Center. Markel served as a nurse in the Intensive Care Unit for 20 years before accepting her current position as manager of workforce development. She is described as exceedingly student-focused in her role, where she and her team coordinate nursing clinical placements for more 400 students per semester from seven different colleges and universities.

•    Karen Rezmer of Covenant HealthCare, received one of two of the Long-Term Care/Rehabilitation Nursing awards; she was nominated by her director, Christine Clayton. Rezmer meets and greets her residents each day, reviews their charts, and discusses their care and progress with them, their physician and their family. She is known and appreciated by the residents and their families in addressing daily care needs.

•    Patti Krenz, who was a recipient of a Long-Term Care/Rehabilitation Nursing award, is currently a staff nurse at McLaren Bay Special Care. She developed the “Precious Reflections” support group more than 25 years ago, and continues to serve as a facilitator to provide support for those who have experienced the death of a full-term baby or miscarriage.

The awards were presented by SVSU alumna Ellen Talbott, vice president of patient care services and chief nursing officer for McLaren Bay Region. The ceremony featured Judy Ruland, dean of SVSU’s College of Health and Human Services, as a guest speaker.

May 18, 2016

SVSU Cardinal Formula Racing adapts and perseveres to again place among world’s best

The Saginaw Valley State University Cardinal Formula Racing team competed well and finished highly during the 2016 Formula Society of Automotive Engineers (FSAE) Collegiate Design Series at Michigan International Speedway May 11-14.

“I'm thrilled with my students,” said Brooks Byam, SVSU professor of mechanical engineering and the team's adviser. “They're a sophisticated race team that can build a car, get it ready and have it go fast right away. They're just awesome.”

Teams from higher education institutions across the globe attend the series, where student teams design and build an Indy-style race car over the course of the year. The competition features multiple competition categories such as endurance, acceleration, autocross, cost, presentation, and skid pad. The scores from each category determine an overall tally.

The competition is tougher than ever before, Byam said.

The evidence: While this year's SVSU team placed 30th out of 120 teams in the competition by scoring 568 points, last year's team placed higher – 26th – despite scoring nearly 50 points fewer.

“We're facing a lot more graduate schools from overseas, with students working at big, European professional sports car companies,” he said. “It's really tough.”

The top three teams in the 2016 competition arrived from Germany and Austria.

Year after year, SVSU has proven itself as one of the top university teams with exclusively undergraduate students. For the second consecutive year in 2016, SVSU placed highest among schools without a graduate program in engineering.

To put 30th place in perspective, SVSU’s students outperformed teams from schools such as University of Michigan-Ann Arbor (who finished No. 46 overall), as well as Duke (No. 37), Northwestern (No. 53) and Georgia Tech (No. 54).
(A full list is published at http://www.sae.org/images/cds/selfservice/463280566_FSAE_MI_2016_overall_prelim.pdf)

Byam said the FSAE contest - and the year of preparation that precedes it - offers valuable learning experiences for SVSU students eyeing a career in engineering.

“The competition is results-oriented, there's a tight time line, a tight budget, and you have to perform at your absolute peak in a globally-competitive environment,” he said. “If you have to hire someone to be an engineer, you want to be able to check those boxes. Students who can check those boxes will make an impact on the industry.”

Ryan Whitman, the team's captain and a mechanical engineering major from Standish, said working with Cardinal Formula Racing opened doors for him professionally.

“It's prepared me for everything I want to do with my career after college,” he said. “I want to work in racing or performance vehicles, and this has been a great experience for me.”

Whitman recently began a spring- and summer-long internship at Auburn Hills-based Chrysler's SRT (street and racing technology) division.

“The only reason I got this opportunity is through Cardinal Formula Racing,” Whitman said. “Chrysler looked at my résumé, saw I had the experience and brought me here.”

The team has formed partnerships with several companies in the industry over the years, and those networks often help students land jobs after graduation. For instance, Buena Vista-based Nexteer Automotive, which donated tires as well as trucks and trailers to transport the students' car and equipment this year, employs several Cardinal Formula Racing alumni.

“Nexteer has been a huge supporter of our program because they know what kind of students come from this program,” Byam said.

The FSAE competition helps students keep score of their skills in ways that aren't measured in final points tallies.

For instance, this year's team's toughest challenge at the Michigan International Speedway happened when a judge's interpretation of a competition rule forced the students to perform some on-the-spot welding during the technical inspection portion of the competition, Byam said.

When a judge ruled that the SVSU car's fuel tank was too exposed to the ground, the team added a steel frame beneath the tank. The work partly damaged the vehicle's electrical system. The students discovered the damage later during a timed portion of the competition.

“They fixed the problem but our time was running out. They had less time to go through their normal processes and procedures, so they overlooked some things that cost us,” Byam said. “We probably could have gotten another 30 points out of the car if that hadn't happened.”

Another 30 points would have landed the team in 20th place.

While the lost points irked the competitive side of Byam, he said being forced to adapt the vehicle on the fly provided valuable training for the students.

“All these things the judges can throw at them – where the students have to react and innovate – helps them in the long run,” Byam said. “It's about learning. That's what we do.”


For more on SVSU’s Cardinal Formula Racing Program, visit svsu.edu/cardinalformularacing/.