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Shirin Sadeh


it! I began to realize that teaching was also something I could consider.” Before IBM or General Electric could Continued from p.4 that there wasn’t too many damages to the even attempt to persuade her, Sadeh was alcity. But, of course, what goes along with a ready fielding offers for teaching positions war is that food isn’t available, life just is in- at various universities, ultimately setting her sights on the Midwest. terrupted." “My first job at a college was at Iowa “They had to go through all those hard State University, where I taught physics in times," Sadeh said. "My parents really aged a lot more during that time than any other their physics department,” says Sadeh, bristime. It was hard on everybody. But I was tling with pride. “For the first time, they had a female professor of physics. And that was here.” Despite the catastrophic problems plagu- me. “I was very happy to do something no ing her home country at the time, Sadeh was woman had done at Iowa State University. beginning to acclimate to her newly-adoptThey had a lot of teaching assistants who ed American culture. Her first experiences with novel American behaviors and attitudes were female, but never a professor.” While this accomplishment made a fine fortunately skewed pleasant. feather in her cap, the Midwest was not “Some of the cultural shocks that I might have experienced in the beginning were of an ideal location for Sadeh. After a year of the most positive kind,” Sadeh said. “I’d be teaching at Iowa State, Sadeh left and began walking down the street in Syracuse and looking for other employment opportunisomebody coming from the opposite direc- ties. As it happened, one such opportunity tion would smile at me—a total stranger, was at the College of the Sequoias in the late American—smile, and say ‘good morning.’ 1980s. “I came to Visalia because I saw this job This was so precious to me! Because where I come from, you have to know somebody to opening and everybody said, ‘Visalia is like say ‘hello.’ If you actually say ‘hello’ to some- a stepping stone to everything else in Calione you don’t know on the street and say fornia that’s interesting! You know, Sequoia Park is nearby, LA and San Francisco are not ‘good morning,’ they It would be a great might think you’re a I was an experimental far. place to work,’” Sadeh little bit crazy.” physicist. That means I said. “I came here, It was during this was in the lab all the time. started teaching, and period of newfound comfort and contentDoing experiments, running the rest is history.” The transition ment with her life in equipment, analyzing data from teaching at East America that Sadeh had become my life for six Coast and Midwestfirst began contemern universities to years, at least. plating a career in education. SHIRIN SADEH a California community college took “When I was goSadeh by surprise. ing through school, I Rather than dealing with the advanced-level don’t remember giving teaching much of a thought," Sadeh said. "I was an experimental students common to large east coast schools, physicist. That means I was in the lab all the Sadeh was suddenly confronted with a stutime. Doing experiments, running equip- dent body less knowledgeable about science ment, analyzing data had become my life for and math. “I taught at Syracuse University when I six years, at least.” was a graduate student and when I was finSadeh’s profile had risen to the point where technology giants such as IBM and ishing up I taught conceptual physics," SaGeneral Electric were prepared to offer her deh said. "Big lecture, regular class, not just lucrative career opportunities and, thus, an assisting a professor. So, I knew the level of avenue for acquiring a green card. However, the students in the state of New York. Then by this point Sadeh had been bitten by the I taught at Iowa State, that was in the Midwest. And I saw that there was a decrease in teaching bug. “I noticed that the students were very the background level but not that dramatic happy with me," Sadeh said. "I had this at- compared to New York. But, when I came to titude of going in, ‘yeah, let’s solve a problem, California, all bets were off! This was someyay! This is really fun!’ And they really liked thing else." “When I came here, even though I was


Friday Night Labs Continued from p.1

opened up a whole new door of possibilities of what I can do. Whole new experiences that I didn't know they offered here on campus. It's not just for [the programmers], there's also a huge variety. There are people building drones, robots, people are tutoring each other in math." Contreras and a team of students are developing a game for the Oculus Rift inspired by the classic video game Asteroids. Not only is it realizing that game in 3-D, but it's putting it in a virtual reality space. The player takes command of a weaponequipped spacecraft with the goal of surviving an army of asteroids barreling towards them. Whilst strapped in gear, the player controls the camera with the Oculus Rift and the blasters with an Xbox One controller. The entirety of the game was developed in-house, otherwise Contreras and his team wouldn't have the time or resources to even start development. "We really wouldn't be able to have access to, say, the Oculus," Contreras said. "They're the one that are really driving this project forward and the ones that are supporting us and giving us the resources we need to make this game possible." The game is at a prototype stage so it's lacking in art, assets and still needs some bugs and glitches squashed. "I'm thinking in the next two or three months we might actually be able to produce

Alert System Continued from p.1

expected in the discussion of student safety. Calvin took out what seemed to be a bookmark which turned out to be a magnet like the ones somebody might put on their refrigerators. This is the new technology that the school will be using in case of an intruder on the campus. “It allows the door to stay open, but locked.” Calvin said, “So students can go in and out of the classroom all day long, but in case of an emergency, the door can be locked easily.” The magnet covers the hole in which they door may lock itself into so that the door may open and close freely throughout the day. When an emergency lockdown is proceeding, one just needs to remove the magnet

a playable game," Professor John Redden said. "Here at COS [and] Friday night labs!" Last year, Redden started a video game programming workshop, which was, at the time, the genesis of what would eventually become Friday Night Labs. Two games came out of that workshop: iThrowrock, a game where you accumulate points throwing rocks at targets, and Air Hockey SURGE, which does it's namesake. Both games are downloadable on Android devices right now. Physics and engineering professor Owen Lawrence had a Friday evening lab for his students as well. He took notice of how successful Reddens workshop was, so he decided that both labs should combine forces. "Friday Night Labs got started as an effort between myself and John Redden, who teaches mathematics and computer science," Lawrence said. "One aspect of it is to have a research experience for our undergraduate STEM students." On the Friday Night Lab's first night, last November, both professors had a turnout of 40 students attending. Both Lawrence and Redden were extremely surprised and knew they had something special going on. The lab also has 3-D printers students can use for free. Usually one starts by making a model of their name to get an understanding of Solidworks, the program that operates them. By no means are they akin to Star Trek's famous "Replicator," but these machines can be used to accomplish some ambitious projin order for the door to be shut and locked. Each magnet is worth $3.25 with free shipping. The COS campus in Visalia is currently the only campus that has these magnets, and is in possession of 75 to 100 of them. This seems to be a relatively small number compared to the number of classrooms we have on the Visalia campus, and the only faculty that were given the magnets were the janitors to assign to doors at their own volition. Calvin said that the reason for such a small number of the lockdown magnets is that the campus is in their trial stage to see if the magnets are a good choice for the safety measure that will be taken in the future. The total amount of money spent on the magnets would have come out to about $325. One can purchase them on their website, The principal of Elberta Elementary School in Alabama, used the lockdown mag-


just giving exams at the same level that I was lungs getting infected. I know that they need accustomed to in other universities prior to fresher air than this. I want to go where I here, I was known as somebody who is be- can breathe, I want to go to where my old yond-belief hard," Sadeh said. "To this day, friends from college are. We kept in touch I’m not an easy teacher. I put a lot of energy all these years, in spite of the fact that we’re into my classes. I want the best for my stu- 3,000 miles away. I think that would be a dents, so I like to train them in a way that better place for me to live.” they can go anywhere they choose." Sadeh is quick to point out, however, that “I don’t limit them retiring from COS I think my job is a good one as to where they can does not necessarily transfer to," Sadeh because I can help people mean retiring from said. "They could go altogether. achieve their goals. If, in just teaching to MIT and sucSadeh remains open a small way, I can make the to the idea of teaching ceed if they wanted to. They could go to future goals of a student at other institutions, Harvard, they could possible because this was with one particularly go anywhere. I don’t prestigious university a stepping stone, this class in mind. just limit them to lothat they take with me, and “One of the things cal stuff. Because you owe it to your stuthey were able to step over to I have on the sodents to raise their the next step, then my job is called ‘bucket list’ is to level so that they can teach at Harvard,” redone. choose for themveals Sadeh, her face SHIRIN SADEH selves. Who am I to alight with ambition. limit them?” “I’m hoping they will That ethos forms give me a couple of the crux of Sadeh’s teaching philosophy. part-time type positions to teach math and Rather than lower her standards to accom- physics at Harvard. I’ve always wanted to go modate lower-achieving students, Sadeh in- to Harvard as a student. It didn’t happen. So, stead challenges her students to rise to her I’d like to be able to teach there.” higher expectations. Despite the difficulty Retiring from the college also represents of her classes, Sadeh believes that they will an attractive option for Sadeh due to the ultimately benefit any student who possesses time it would allow her to spend with the other great passion in her life: family. the appropriate motivation and work ethic. “I think now my students just know that “I’m looking forward to spending more if they’re going to take a class with me, they time with my family that I haven’t had much need to be willing to work," Sadeh said. time with because of living here," Sadeh said. "They need to know why they’re there. And Family is very important to me. My mother in the end, they will have a good experience. is still living, she is 83 years old. I’d like to be They will learn a lot, hopefully, and go any- able to put more time into my mother’s life where they can from there.” and take care of her for all the years that she After 28 years of teaching at the College took care of us.” For the time being, though, Sadeh reof the Sequoias, Sadeh’s enthusiasm for her profession has not waned. However, she has mains content in her role as a professor of recently been contemplating retiring from physics and mathematics at COS. Despite the college, describing it as an inevitability. her longing to continue her grand journey Sadeh has even started planning her next through life outside of the Central Valley, Sadeh still greatly values her profession and moves after she departs COS. “I’m thinking I’ll go back east again," Sa- the contribution she provides to the world. deh said. "That’s where all of my good friends “I think my job is a good one because I from college are. That’s a way of thinking I’m can help people achieve their goals," Sadeh more accustomed to, even after 28 years of said. "If in just a small way I can make the living in California. I don’t see myself as a future goals of a student possible because Californian, but I see myself a lot more like a this was a stepping stone, this class that they New Yorker, or somebody from Connecticut. take with me, and they were able to step over I don’t mind the colder winters, because the to the next step. Then my job is done. I did something productive and made more proair is cleaner." “My lungs have been under attack here ductive human beings for the society. I think for 28 years," Sadeh said. "Every winter I that’s pretty good. Independent people that get seriously ill, and it all stems from the are going places.”


Photograph by Nicolas Gonzalez

3D printers are available for students to use at Friday Night Labs. ects. COS Alumni Vyllen Valdez 3D printed stuff." an operating prosthetic arm, with the wrist, Everything at Friday Night Labs is kept fingers and tendons all functional. free thanks to grants from the PASEO proSome students are more tranquil, however, gram, the COS Foundation and Science and use Friday Night Labs as a means of get- Undergraduate Research Group Experience ting some help with their homework from (SURGE). All of it is done for the sake of givtheir peers and tutors. Paul Gonzalez is one the ing student access to resources to conduct remore active students, contributing his effort search and have hands-on experience. to making smartphone games, the Asteroids "I fully believe [that] 'hands-on' is a great project, and even assisted Redden on mak- compliment to learning the theory of the ing a free online graphing calculator at www. classroom," Lawrence said. But some days, Anyone can attend Friday Night Labs. he comes only to do homework and socialize. However, professors encourage students to "I made a lot of friends here," Gonzalez join the SETA Club, which meets bi-weekly said."A lot of people who help me with other at John Muir 101. subjects, like physics and biology and all that net when a shooter walked onto campus threatening her sister. “Teachers and students immediately went into our established lockdown procedures,” Hope said. “Having the lockdown magnet on all the classroom doors proved critical in the split second response of the adults in the building.” Brent Calvin expressed his doubts about the lockdown magnet and some of the issues that may be faced when using them to separate the students from a possible threat. “It’s not perfect,” Calvin said. “We’re trying them, there has been some concern that those things are going to walk off, they’re going to get lost, people are going to steal them. All that is valid. We’re concerned about that, too.” Another answer to the safety issues at COS campuses in the past were called the Purple Trees. They were posted in classrooms

throughout the campus. Purple Tree Technologies is a privately owned company designing products to help protect people from impending dangers. Unfortunately, the company went out of business and stopped updating their products. The company is based out of Columbia, Missouri and they are the developer of Emergency Alert System, or EARS. The Purple Tree broadcasts to cell phones and all free standing devices. Some impending dangers the Purple Tree can warn of is tornadoes, terrorist attacks, child abduction, and many other emergencies. Calvin then said that they are planning another emergency drill to test out their new products to see if the students are protected properly and that everyone can get to a safe, secure location with as little hassle as possible. The test will most likely be early in the Spring semester of 2017.

The Campus - Fall 2016, Issue 3  
The Campus - Fall 2016, Issue 3