Tag Archive | "students"

West Florida student participates in math research at Harvard University

From the UWF Newsroom

Ruth Ashley, a senior mathematics student at the University of West Florida, spent the summer at Harvard University’s Research Experience for Undergraduates internship program, an opportunity she described as “a dream come true.”

For 10 weeks during the Summer 2013 semester, Ashley worked at the Institute for Applied Computational Science as part of a pilot program that develops opportunities for students to apply mathematics to solve real-world problems proposed by industry sponsors. She worked with two other students for Quantam Reservoir Impact, a value-creation agency for the upstream oil and gas industry based in Houston, Texas. Her team’s objective was to create a data-driven model to predict the best places to drill in the Southern region of Texas.

“It excites me, knowing that I have real world experience in data analysis now,” she said.

Ashley, a John. C. Pace Honors Scholar, said the costs of the trip were funded completely using an off-campus educational experience stipend that is granted to all Pace Scholars.

During the Spring 2013 semester at UWF, Ashley completed a proseminar in queuing theory with assistant professor Dr. Anthony Okafor, which engaged her in mathematical and statistical research above standard course materials. She credits that, as well as her involvement in the UWF Honors Program, for providing her with the skills needed to succeed in the Harvard internship program.

“After successfully completing my proseminar, I felt more confident in my ability to do independent research,” she said. “Participating in the Honors Program has also strengthened my team-working skills, which was helpful as I worked very closely with two students for 40 hours a week throughout the summer internship.”

Ashley will graduate in December 2013, and she said her plan is to search for a job in her field, utilizing the experience she gained at UWF and Harvard.

“I encourage students in STEM disciplines to participate in undergraduate research programs,” she said. “I’m so thankful that I was able to represent UWF at Harvard, and I know the experience has given me an edge for future career opportunities. This summer was a dream.”

Related Posts:

Posted in Campus, NewsComments (0)

Young entreprenuers use imaginations at Pensacola Startup Weekend

By Erin Timmons

The panel judges entries at Pensacola Startup Weekend.

The panel judges entries at Pensacola Startup Weekend.

Eve Knight’s journey towards becoming an entrepreneur began with the search for something many find elusive while on long road trips – a clean restroom.

Armed with a business plan and a crooked grin, Knight, a sixth-grade student at Gulf Breeze Middle School, took part in Pensacola Startup Weekend on Oct. 11, when she shared her idea for a mobile application that ranks gas stations based on bathroom cleanliness.

“My dad was getting really annoyed with me making him stop at multiple places just so I could use a clean bathroom,” Knight said. “Using my application, you’ll be able to avoid the worst part of traveling – strange gas stations with dirty restrooms.”

More than 30 University of West Florida students joined graphic designers, coders, technology lovers, and hopefuls of all ages as they shared ideas, formed teams, and competed for a chance at launching their own startup business venture.

Startup Weekend Pensacola was hosted as a joint venture of the Greater Pensacola Chamber and Pensacola State College. UWF’s College of Business and School of Science and Engineering sponsored the event. Based in Seattle, Startup Weekend is a nonprofit organization that hosts over 400 events annually in over 100 countries around the world.

The concept of the contest was fairly simple and the energy throughout the building was frenetic, a frenzy of business and technical jargon hung in the air as handshakes were exchanged and introductions were made. Participants had just one minute to pitch their business plan, with 38 of the 90 total participants presenting with the hopes of a big break in return.

After all pitches were delivered, participants voted on their favorite 15 ideas. Teams were formed based on interest-level towards the idea and what skills that team required from assisting members to bring their ideas to life. Regardless of whether their idea was selected or not, team members participated in order to network with like-minded individuals and assist in transforming an idea into a business.

Kiarra Julien, a senior graphic design major at UWF, attended the event in order to make connections with others within the workforce she will soon be joining.

“I’m definitely here to network,” Julien said. “I want to learn as much as I can through those who have graphic design and entrepreneurial experience, especially before I graduate.”

Once the teams were formed, they had only 54 hours to develop their project with the help of their peers and through the guidance of coaches – six business professionals from the Pensacola area from several fields of specialty.

Randy Ramos, CEO at Global Business Solutions Inc., founded his company in his living room in 1995 with $1,000. His Pensacola-based company now employs more than110 information technology specialists in eight states, and it was through this unlikely success that Ramos said he felt the need to share his experience and knowledge with participants.

“When you can help foster ideas into business opportunity and just work with people to do that, that right there ensures me that I am doing what I can to help this entrepreneurial movement grow,” Ramos said. “We are all doing our best, together, to encourage intellectualism and creativity. These qualities in our youth are stifled now a day. I want to change that.”

Event organizer Andrew Wagner said that participants were highly encouraged to participate in Startup Weekend due to the appeal of self-employment.

“College wasn’t a viable option for me,” Wagner said. “My skills and enthusiasm I felt were better suited for my pursuit in entrepreneurialism, and I saw that being fairly prevalent among my classmates when I was in school. Why work for someone when you can work for yourself? If you have the drive and the talent, it’s possible.”

“That’s what we’re fostering here, possibility. Sure, the job market is bleak, but our desire to create something of meaning isn’t. That’s why it was important for us to organize this event, to encourage those in the Pensacola area to be enthusiastic about their ideas and abilities.”

The competition concluded on Oct. 13 after final presentations were made by teams before a panel of judges, five local entrepreneurial leaders.

First prize was awarded to a team that developed an application, CrewCardHR, for businesses to track time clock activity and provide human resources in remote job locations.

The victorious team behind the winning idea received three months of brick-and-mortar office space at the Gulf Coast Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) business incubator in downtown Pensacola in order to further develop their application.

Second prize went to the team that developed Moody.co, a social networking website that uses boards similar to Pinterest for users to browse their interests. Third prize was awarded to the team that developed an online application called Florida Nest that would allow property owners to find renters for their vacation homes.

Second and third prize winners received virtual-tenant access to the CIE and to their many advisers and coaches from various professional fields that will assist the new startup businesses.

Ramos hopes that the first Startup Weekend in Pensacola will not be the last.

“If we focused on the inspiring idea of not taking a job, but creating a job, we can inspire ideas that lay dormant in our area youth,” Ramos said. “Startup Weekend provides them with an incredible opportunity to share their ideas and encourage them to be creative and get involved with other people, and I’m glad I could be a part of it.”

Related Posts:

Posted in Event, featured, NewsComments (0)

Can you canoe?

For those looking to escape the University of West Florida and paddle down the Blackwater River for the weekend, they might just run into 12 fellow Argonauts on the water.

UWF Outdoor Adventures is hosting an all-day canoeing trip at the Blackwater River State Park in Milton. The excursion will take place on March 30.

Adrienne Dahlberg, graduate assistant to Outdoor Adventures, said the group visits Blackwater River often.

“This is a river we have been down multiple times and is a really nice length for a day trip,” Dahlberg said in an email.

The park was created to protect the waters of the river, according to the Florida State Parks website. The last two miles of the river are part of the canoe trail that the group will travel across.

Semester canoeing trips are a favorite among the UWF community and Outdoor Adventures staff.

“This is our most popular trip,” said Shaun Boren, assistant director of Outdoor Adventures. “It’s one of my personal favorite things to do.”

The canoe trip will be more about leisure than adventure and expert canoeing Boren said. No experience is necessary and people learn how to canoe on these trips he said.

Spaces for the day trip cost $15 each, including transportation, canoeing gear and coolers for lunches. A picnic lunch is a part of the schedule.

Though this month’s trip is fully booked, there will be more off-campus excursions sponsored by Outdoor Adventures. The canoe trips take place at least twice a year.

“We host these day canoe trips about once a semester, sometimes more in the warmer months,” Dahlberg said.

For more information on upcoming Outdoor Adventures events, contact the organization at 850-474-2061 or outdooradventure@uwf.edu.

Christian Pacheco
Staff Writer

Related Posts:

Posted in Environment, Sports, UncategorizedComments (0)

Students prepare for graduation

Students at last semester's graduation ceremony cheered with excitement as the ceremony came to a close. (Photo by John Blackie)

All college students dream of graduation day- — the cap and gown, the diploma that signifies all the years of hard work and, we hope, getting a good job. For some students at the University of West Florida, that long-awaited dream finally comes true this December. Joshua Swinford, a senior engineering technology major, graduates this December. To stay on the path of graduation, he interned at Coast Software Inc. this past semester and even appeared on the Dean’s List a few times. He said even though his senioritis kicked in around sophomore year, it never really affected his grades. “I just would wait until the last minute to do assignments and end up staying up all night to do them,” Swinford said. Sarah Kuhl, catalog and graduation coordinator in the Office of the Registrar, said that students should apply for graduation for the semester they intend to complete all degree requirements. This includes required internships and completion of incomplete grades, she said. “The graduation application is due two semesters ahead of time,” Kuhl said. This requirement allows the student two full semesters to make changes to his or her schedule in the event that any requirements are lacking, she said. Graduation applications may be submitted after the deadline, but students run the risk of missing out on the announcement of commencement deadlines, including cap and gown pre-orders and the publication of the commencement program, she said. Besides making the grades necessary to graduate with a 2.0 GPA, among other requirements, Kuhl said that not talking with your advisers about what classes to take is detrimental to the graduation process going smoothly. “It is also important that students monitor their SASS degree audits to ensure they are meeting all degree requirements prior to graduation,” she said. The rest of us must stay focused and keep our grades up to make it as far as Swinford, so he gave this advice to those not graduating this December: “Get involved with something that doesn’t involve UWF,” he said. “If you don’t, you will go insane.”

Jade Hoy
/Staff Writer 

Related Posts:

Posted in Campus, featured, NewsComments (0)