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A Faculty Commons Quarterly Volume 7 - Double Issue

Spring/Summer 2016


Volume 7 | Spring/Summer 2016


N EW YOR K CIT Y COLLEGE OF T ECH NOLOG Y of the City University of New York

Faculty Commons

Russell K. Hotzler President

A Center for Teaching, Learning, Scholarship and Service

Bonne August Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Miguel Cairol Vice President for Administration and Finance Marcela Katz Armoza Vice President for Enrollment and Student Affairs Gilen Chan Special Counsel/Legal Affairs Designee

Julia Jordan, Director Assessment and Institutional Research Tammie Cumming, Director Kimberly Johnson, Institutional Research Specialist Yimi Zhao, Senior Institutional Research Analyst Olga Batyr, Survey Services Liaison Stephanie Haughton, Research Foundation Technician James Jeannis, Research Assistant Office of Sponsored Programs Barbara Burke, Director Patty Barba Gorkhover, Associate Director Eleanor Bergonzo, Assistant Director

Stephen M. Soiffer Special Assistant to the President/ Institutional Advancement

Grants Outreach Coordinator 2015-2016 Professor Soyeon Cho

Pamela Brown Associate Provost

US Department of Education Title V A Living Laboratory Charlie Edwards, Project Manager

Kevin Hom Dean, School of Technology and Design

Design Team Professor Anita Giraldo, Artistic Director Kevin Rajaram, Web Master Loubna Aly, Arianna Bollers William Luperena, Mandy Mei Paul Nembhard, Marlon Palmer, Designers

David Smith Dean, School of Professional Studies Justin Vazquez-Poritz Interim Dean, School of Arts and Sciences Carol Sonnenblick Dean, Division of Continuing Education

Curator Professor Sandra Cheng

Professional Development Advisory Council (PDAC) Daniel Alter Isaac Barjis Esteban Beita Nadia Benakli Lucas Bernard Karen Bonsignore Candido Cabo Sanjoy Chakraborty


Gwen Cohen-Brown Susan Davide Lynda Dias Mary Sue Donsky Aida Egues Boris Gelman Pa Her Louise Hoffman


Paul King Darya Krym Xiangdong Li Janet Liou-Mark Karen Lundstrem Zory Marantz John McCullough Djafar Mynbaev

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Susan Phillip Marcia Powell Estela Rojas Walied Samarrai Rebecca Shapiro Kimberly Strickler Ryoya Terao Shauna Vey

Gail Williams Farrukh Zia Pamela Brown, Chair

Contents A New Chapter for Nucleus


“ During the past nearly

Sharing Dreams


70 years City Tech has

A Sense of Becoming


helped generations of

Integrating Modes of Inquiry


students achieve



their dreams. ”

The Future of Mentoring


Thank You, Mehmet.


A Dream for City Tech


Why Play?


Why Service Learning?


Solving Environmental Issues


L. Jay Deiner

Bonne August

Barbara Burke Joel Mason

Peter Spellane Aida Egues

Robin Michals

John McCullough

Patrick Corbett and Jason W. Ellis Julie Pellman

Masato R. Nakamura

How Research Can Improve Society


The Evolution of Our Library


Dreaming As A Community


Scholars Exchange




Ozlem Yasar

Nora Almeida, Monica Berger, Cailean Cooney, Junior Tidal, and Tess Tobin L. Jay Deiner

“A Haiku Swing”

Joel Mason Communication Design

Shape Field

CoverIllustration by Joel Mason

Lubos Stepanek

E d itor s, Ba rba ra Bu rk e and Ju li a Jo rd an | D e s i g ne r, Ma rlon Palm e r | P r i nt i n g , D ig ital Im ag ing C e nte r at C it y Te ch NUCLEUS: A FACULTY COMMONS QUARTERLY

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A New Chapter for Nucleus L. Jay Deiner of “dreams for City Tech.” We hoped this would provide a broad and open space for conversation about how faculty would like to evolve our institution. We sent out a call for submissions, and were heartened to receive contributions from the range of faculty at City Tech: early, mid-, and late career; full time and adjunct; Arts and Sciences, Technology and Design, and Professional Studies.


ucleus launched in 2009 as a forum to share City Tech faculty members’ scholarly and creative work, particularly work incubated and supported by Faculty Commons. Since that time, Julia Jordan, Barbara Burke, and the Faculty Commons team have produced eighteen issues of Nucleus. If you have missed any, check them out at: http://facultycommons. With this issue, Nucleus begins a new chapter, one in which we move the publication closer to the ideal of faculty ownership by engaging a faculty guest editor to lead the production. I was happy to receive the invitation to serve as guest editor, and accepted without considering the basic (prudent?) questions—how do the issues of Nucleus come together and what would the guest editor do? In the hope that Nucleus’ future guest editors are reading this essay, I’d like to share the Nucleus production story. Each issue of Nucleus begins with a theme which serves to focus the issue and to highlight connections between endeavors across the college. As the concept of faculty ownership was central to this issue, we chose the theme 4


The essays we received were surprising. Instead of describing an imagined future, most faculty wrote about concrete curricular and scholarly initiatives that they were already leading. Though the initiatives were all quite different, a unifying idea was that faculty did have dreams, and that they were not waiting to begin them. As editors, we then viewed our job as asking the contributors if they could conceive of growing their dreams. In light of the successes faculty had already achieved, what were the next steps, the aspects envisioned, but still out of reach? Throughout the editing process, I’ve been grateful for contributors’ considerations of suggestions and for their assertions to hold firm when suggestions would have moved their essays away from their authentic meanings. As we iterated in on the final versions of the essays, we began to consider the visual aspects of the issue. Layout and magazine artwork is fully outside of the skill set of this guest editor, but we were saved by two groups of talented students. First, Robin Michal’s photography students met with us to brainstorm about thematic imagery, and then produced some of the photos that we have included. Second, the students on the Faculty Commons Design Team transformed folders of essays and artwork into a magazine. Nucleus then represents a collaboration between faculty and students. I hope that you

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enjoy this issue and consider being a part of Nucleus’ faculty led future. L. Jay Deiner is an associate professor of chemistry at City Tech. Jay earned a Ph.D. in chemistry from Harvard University and a B.A. in chemistry from Wesleyan University. Jay’s chemistry research focuses on digital fabrication of electrocatalytic devices for energy storage and conversion. His pedagogical work focuses on incorporation of original research and service learning into undergraduate laboratories, and on the development of methods to teach scientific writing.

Sharing Dreams Bonne August Living Lab. The faculty-driven Gen Ed and Interdisciplinary committees have generated initiatives that have the potential to transform City Tech. In order for my most expansive dreams for the college to come about, I see myself as having two basic tasks, neither of which can be a solo accomplishment.

Tear Down the Walls


n accepting Guest Editor Jay Deiner’s invitation to share our dreams for City Tech, I realize that I could fill pages with thoughts—new degree programs, innovative instructional spaces, expanded faculty, research facilities, international partnerships, and more. Actually, I already have. Having dreams for City Tech is a big part of my job. I spend lots of time and have expended thousands of words on what this college might become, should become and how City Tech can offer more students an experience that is not merely adequate but enriched and inspiring. Few of my nascent dreams for the college can become reality without the faculty, and any that have been actualized are infinitely better for the faculty minds and hands that have shaped them. A dream that the liberal arts could be meaningfully and imaginatively integrated into career and technology education has come alive in a series of exciting grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, as well as in the Title V Living Lab. A dream that active, hands-on learning could become the norm across the curriculum at City Tech has been brilliantly realized by the faculty members who developed the concepts, wrote the proposal, and led the various components for the

First, tear down the walls. This may sound negative, but removing barriers is a pre-condition for fulfilling our best dreams. In order to move forward, we must tear down the walls of the past that block the view of the future, along with the walls of procedure that instead of strengthening proposals serve to prolong and stall the process of change. Next to fall should be disciplinary walls that encourage territorial ambitions, discourage collaboration, and separate research and scholarship from teaching and service. Other walls ripe for deconstruction are walls of rank that can constrain and inhibit newer faculty while leading those who have achieved the highest rank to assume there is nothing more to be accomplished. Tear down walls built by false polarities such as “labor” and “management,” faculty and administration, faculty and students. Tear down walls of classrooms that confine learning to syllabi, Carnegie units, and exams. Tear down walls of competition and resentment that make it difficult to embrace the concept that “faculty” is a collective noun.

Nurture the Dreams of Others

Engage fully in teaching as a craft to be mastered and burnished, again and yet again. Enjoy the resources to practice scholarly or creative work with sustained zest and passion. Mentor junior colleagues wisely and foster a collaborative and generous climate in their workplaces. Cultivate imagination and innovation. Embrace academic freedom not as “don’t tread on me” but an expansive vision, the opportunity to study, to investigate, to collaborate, to imagine, and to teach and learn outside the walls. Not all dreams, even impeccably worthy ones, are the right dreams. Someone recently suggested that, as faculty scholarship continues to flourish, City Tech might dream of becoming another MIT or Cal Tech. These are truly great institutions, with extraordinary resources and exceptional students. Even if we were magically to acquire a comparable endowment, however, it is not our mission to become more selective or exclusive. Instead, our best and most fitting dream is that, as we continue to nourish and reward faculty scholarly and creative achievements, our programs will continue to expand and develop, and especially that a much greater number of students who enter City Tech will graduate because we have learned how best to teach them, how to inspire their own best efforts, and how to support their attainment of their own dreams.

Second, nurture the dreams of others. This begins with supporting the faculty’s best work, as they: Approach students as people full of talent who are more than worthy of our energy and dedication. NUCLEUS: A FACULTY COMMONS QUARTERLY

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A Sense of Becoming Barbara Burke


hen I dream of City Tech’s potential to “become,” I draw my sense of possibility from the work of two contemporary social theorists, Susan Sturm and Danielle Allen. Sturm, a professor at Columbia Law School, developed a pathbreaking theory of institutional citizenship, a framework for inclusion that defines full civic participation in the context of academic institutions. Her theory is the basis of University of Michigan’s landmark work in gender equity in STEM fields, and for Imagine America and related initiatives that seek to create a more equitable distribution of opportunities for leadership and to promote socially engaged learning. Danielle Allen, a classicist by training and a MacArthur Fellow, is a member of the social science faculty at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton. Allen has compared 21st century political culture in the US with Athenian democracy as she investigates the nature of the ties that bind people together in democratic societies. She uses the term “epistemological pot luck” to describe the remarkable variety of world views that citizens bring to their common life and that must be acknowledged as the essential matter of which communities are made.



Inspired by their work, I believe City Tech has the power to define a new vision of a public academic institution in one of the world’s most diverse cities at this unique moment in history, and that in so doing it can offer the nation a vision of its best self. The radical demographic heterogeneity of our community, the wide spectrum of academic offerings, and the astonishingly broad range of our students’ personal aspirations, often formed against great odds, challenge us to do something worthy of the hope that students place in City Tech. That “something,” I would suggest, lies in the creation of community. As human beings we are built to connect. Many forms of connection— shared national heritage, religious and cultural traditions, and family—are defined through history and by blood. Other kinds of connection, often formed spontaneously, can also generate powerful bonds: political causes, for example, or aesthetic and intellectual affinities, or the ‘anarchic power of love’ that Arthur Schlesinger once described as one of history’s wild cards. Much has been achieved, innovated, and leveraged at City Tech that illustrates new forms of connection and community. The OpenLab, our innovative digital platform for teaching, learning, and collaboration, didn’t exist six years ago; today it has almost 20,000 members. Faculty and students who built the DURA house for the US Department of Energy Solar Decathlon had an unforgettable experience in engaged learning. And the Design Team in the Faculty Commons represents a remarkable experiment in creative teamwork with a changing cast of student designers who grow professionally through service as they prepare to take their talents to the world.

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These examples of community were created through a combination of faculty imagination and institutional support. They represent an emerging critical mass of faculty and administrators whose ethos is generative and inclusive and based upon ideals of community, engaged learning, and the centrality of intellectual exploration to the academic mission. My dream for the near future would be to create a more vibrant intellectual culture that is accessible to all members of the community—students, staff, and faculty—a culture that is visible and in the air from the moment you walk in. The college should have a “sticky” social surface with lots of opportunities for participation for all. Lectures, faculty-led seminars on all manner of topics, readings, writing groups, political debates, art exhibits, concerts, and community forums—why can’t there be more? It is voluntary affiliation with activities like these that engenders a sense of community. I believe that great institutions share a common characteristic: institutional self-awareness. They reflect confidence in their foundational values, considered judgment in pursuing their future course, and a shared sense of pride in what they do well. I’m not referring to a “brand,” with its connotations of cattle and commerce, but rather both an implicit and explicit way of doing business that reflects our values. Such self-awareness doesn’t just happen. It must be won through a sustained discussion of ultimate purposes vis-àvis proximate goals. We must work to affirm our commitment to an ideal of full participation, an appreciation of our precious multitude of world views, and a desire to pass along within our community the incandescent spark of becoming.

Integrating Modes of Inquiry Joel Mason The thought of serving as chair can be a daunting one. Even more so when your previous chair served a legendary 21 years, while introducing a bachelor’s degree program which saw significant student growth. Yet, if you are fortunate enough to have that very chairperson as your mentor, then you may not only survive the experience, but actually come to enjoy it. From the start of my time at City Tech Professor Joel Mason has been the best of mentors—not only to me—but to our students. I appreciated how he interacted with them as young artists and designers, always offering encouragement and respect for their talent. From when I was first hired as an adjunct to eventually becoming chair, his gentle guidance, often with a dose of humor, was always—and still is—very reassuring. No matter the question or the dilemma that arose, he never made me feel foolish; in fact, he had a way of instilling confidence. And sometimes just an offer to commiserate over a sticky issue was all that was needed. Often this took place over lunch at his desk—but oh what lunches! Almost always something interesting he had made the evening before, ready to share the recipe. I’ll miss those conversations in the office, but know that I will still look to him as my mentor and friend, sharing the latest news or asking for his advice, as he’ll always be a part of our Communication Design program. —Mary Ann Biehl

Education goals into career department currricula. Examples include OpenLab, First Year Learning Communities, interdisciplinary courses, and the inclusion of relevant General Education goals into all course outlines.


ity Tech’s mission statement articulates a vision of education “…built upon a liberal arts and sciences core curriculum designed to foster intellectual curiosity…” Career and Life Goals include the ability to “apply problemsolving techniques to the workplace” and to “understand the scientific and technical framework within which modern society functions…” The mission statement of the School of Arts and Sciences has as a key aim to “…introduce the methods and body of knowledge that address the human experience of self, society and the physical world…” In recent years, City Tech has undertaken major initiatives to integrate other dimensions of General

A central goal of each career department is to identify and define those problem-solving methodologies unique to its specific discipline. In the Department of Communication Design we introduce first-year design students to the theory and methods of the design process and implement that process throughout our program. Understanding this specific “mode of inquiry” is critical to the students’ long-term success in solving a diverse array of design projects. This concept is operational in every discipline and satisfies a part of the mission statement. However, as educators, I believe we still face challenges in getting our students to fully understand the differences and connections among varying modes of inquiry as practiced in disciplines throughout City Tech.   

employed in the problem-solving process and, if relevant, how the method links up with problem-solving methods used in other disciplines. For example, the role of mathematical reasoning in the physical sciences or the role of statistics in the social sciences. 2. Develop a new (possibly required) course, Comparative Modes of Inquiry, which would provide a comprehensive survey and overview of methodologies in relation to “…the human experience of self, society and the physical world…” This course could also include an examination of how the methodologies practiced in City Tech’s career departments relate to other disciplines. During the past nearly 70 years City Tech has helped generations of students achieve their dreams. As I retire, I have submitted this essay as part of my dream for City Tech and its future.

Toward the goal of fostering a deeper understanding of the role of modes of inquiry, I offer two proposals: 1. Review all course outlines and revise as needed to include a clear statement of the methodology and/or methodologies NUCLEUS: A FACULTY COMMONS QUARTERLY

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Dreamworks: Technology Education Peter Spellane



ity Tech is at its best when it heeds Apple’s grammaticallychallenged advice to “think different.”

Each part of the college’s name suggests the institution’s potential: we’re in brilliant New York City at a time of sustained growth and expansion. As part of the City University of New York we work with a great diversity of professional colleagues and with students who embody the city’s breadth, depth, and great energy. Most significantly, we’re the university’s sole technology-focused campus in a period of continual technological realignment. Advances in information processing, data handling, and wireless communication technologies redefine the meanings of “work” and “workplace.” In the professional practices that correlate with our academic disciplines, newfangled “technologies” disrupt traditional practice. As a college and as a community of thinkers, we will do well to recognize the innovations and respond to disruption by thinking and being “different.”



My understanding of all things City Tech is imperfect; I spend an overwhelming proportion of my day pursuing the specific “workload” that I’m contracted to do, but looking over the small walls that separate Chemistry and the School of Arts and Sciences from other fields of the college, I notice several programs at City Tech that, in my view, embrace their technology mission with vigor and success. Consider Entertainment Technology, Architectural Technology, and Hospitality Management. These programs and their faculties, observed from my not-terribly-close range, continue to refine their mission and juice it up with new technologies as they go about their work. Roughly ten years ago, I presented some news from City Tech at a General Education meeting at Queensborough Community College with my then new colleague Claire Stewart of the Hospitality Management Department. Claire recounted one meeting of a culinary class she had taught that term. She spoke of her class’s analysis or deconstruction of the German-Italian movie “Mostly Martha.” She described

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her student’s complex understanding of the scene in the narrative “when Martha walks out of the kitchen and slams a raw steak on that customer’s plate.” I cannot recall exactly how the student finished that sentence or what she thought of Martha’s response to the grouchy diner; I recall that the student’s response was strong and keenly felt. The significance to me as a fellow instructor was that Claire’s incorporation of the movie in that culinary class, her own knowledge of restaurant kitchens and the students’ engagement with professional practice brought education, narrative, and professional work to a kind of singularity. Claire’s point of course was the significance of narrative in understanding the meaning of work. Her venue was a cooking class, but her work concerned thinking and understanding. I had been a member of College Council for a handful of years, willing to exercise the franchise entrusted to me and vote away on proposed academic programs, before I read more deeply

questions of both the distinction in the related disciplines and attraction of a bachelor’s in architectural technology, are both “technology.” I think it’s the strong embrace of City Tech’s architectural staff of the technologies that increasingly inform the practice of architecture: building information modeling, three-dimensional modeling and parametrics, visualization, energy modeling and analysis, sustainability and resilient design, and computer aided design. Once again, it seems good practice in getting-along-with-theVoorhees neighbors helps an academic program think “different.”

into both the proposals and began to learn about the approval processes of the subcommittees of the Curriculum Committee. I first gained focus when Entertainment Technology proposed, with a name that rivals the workproduct of the wordsmiths at Apple, a new program in “Emerging Media Technologies.” The different thinking in this case reflects Entertainment Technology’s awareness of and appreciation for the sophistication and applicability of the work of their “Tech and Design” neighbors in Voorhees Hall: the entertainment crew leans


into Computer Engineering, Computer Systems, Mechanical Engineering and Industrial Design, and Electrical Engineering and Telecommunications. This level of getting-along-with-others stands out in my experience of higher education. In the course of the last year or two, I sought to understand better the distinction between “architecture” and “architectural technology” and to make sense of the success of that department’s new B Tech degree program. The answers, to the

The disciplines that describe themselves as “liberal arts and sciences” tend to hold technology at arms-length. We seem less ready to embrace the opportunity and the challenges of new technologies and new economic realities than are our colleagues at the other end of Jay Street. If I were king of City Tech for a day, I’d dole out knighthoods to professors who could identify the potential of an emerging technology, some cell-phone app or digital or virtual anything, that could lead to a new meaning or some new reading of psychology, economics or chemical potential. (I’d have knighted Matthew Gold for doing exactly this, but the Graduate Center snatched him away before I got to be king.) These programs stand out because they involve experience and engagement with professional practice in the design and delivery of technology-directed higher education. In contrast to the sense of “academic” work being unsullied by workplace realities, these programs in applied professions embrace the rough and tumble realities of time, money, and constantly changing challenges and opportunities.


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My Grandest Dream: The Future of Mentoring Aida Egues


dream grand dreams of a future of pedagogy. I envision a curriculum that engages students, emotionally and socially. Using both art and science, I dream of a studentcentered curriculum that empowers them to develop their citizenship, leadership, and relationships. I dream of using culturally relevant pedagogical approaches in courses to increase students’ academic achievement as well as their awareness of social responsibility. What approaches can help students discover their unique passions? How can they use their passions to creatively solve community issues? What projects can be designed by faculty and students to demonstrate civic engagement?

My dream has been partially fulfilled. As a Living Lab fellow, my colleagues and I were given time, support, and permission to develop classroom activities centered on service learning and project-based learning— examples of high impact educational practices. Because of the Living Lab participation I have reinforced the connection between didactic and clinical environments, so that students have exposure to the value of realworld applications in their learning, gain hands-on experience in the field, and help to serve their communities. Collaborative assignments and projects, undergraduate research, diversity/ global learning, service learning, community-based learning are now

part of my classroom practice. After an activity, I have asked nursing students to reflect on the question: As nurses do they see to care, or care to see? What did the experience mean to them personally, to their community, and to the nursing profession? I dream that every City Tech student will participate in service learning and I seek likeminded colleagues to make that dream a reality.

The Future of Mentoring I dream of building a legacy where we strive to increase the number of underrepresented minority students earning undergraduate degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering

City Tech is well positioned to acknowledge our students’ cultural knowledge, their ethnically diverse frames of reference, performance styles, and prior experiences. How can we make learning more effective and relevant? I dream of building a cumulative co-curricular program where students are encouraged and supported in developing personal leadership skills. I dream of facilitating student discovery in identifying their own dreams, taking the action steps to make them a reality. I dream of students using the classroom experience to create meetings and seminars, host events, and lead workshops. I dream of students creating collages or posters, pieces of art or music, educational sessions or programs, physical inventions, dance or poetry to fulfill a variety of general education expectations. From the health sciences to the social sciences, and from the hard sciences to the technologies, I dream of a pedagogy where self-reflection is a required part of a project’s culmination.



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and Mathematics (STEM), as well as the arts and health professions. I dream of actively recruiting and retaining students through teambased mentoring, of reaching out to local schools and building pipelines of students who want to come to City Tech, students who had never before conceived of a successful college trajectory. I am not alone in that dream. Many colleagues work daily across deciplines. They tackle big questions and work in interdisciplinary fashion to expose students to the critical questions that our society faces. Why not cultivate a central mentoring mission? One that focuses on students’ and faculty members’ feelings of group culture

and ownership to create a supportive and encouraging environment for all participants. I dream of an academic environment where culturally diverse students and faculty are unafraid to ask questions of mentors who enable and encourage their dreams.

Handbook on Mentoring Students I have found that dream greatly fulfilled by membership in the multidisciplinary Undergraduate Research Committee (URC) under the leadership of BMI director Reginald Blake. We developed A Handbook on Mentoring Students in Undergraduate Research: Proven Strategies for Success. The Handbook is a culmination of several years of work by URC faculty mentors who are actively engaged in both disciplinary and interdisciplinary research with students from across the fields of anthropology, architecture, astronomy, biology, chemistry, communication design, engineering, health sciences, history, humanities, literature, management, mathematics, philosophy, physics, psychology, robotics, sociology, and theater.

national and regional conferences. To that end, the Handbook is both pioneering and unique, and sharing it with the entire College community is an exciting proposition for the URC. Moving forward, the Handbook will be a living, dynamic, regularly updated document that will be accessible on OpenLab. I dream that the URC will grow exponentially to include all faculty members who are interested in mentoring and will continue to provide guidance through workshops and online presentations. I am proud to walk alongside fellow dreamers and colleagues of the Undergraduate Research Committee members Reginald Blake (Chair), Viviana Acquaviva, Ralph Alcendor, Mercer Brugler, Pa Her, Elaine Leinung, Janet Liou-Mark, Zory Marantz, Alberto Martinez, Hamidreza Norouzi, Katherine (Kate) Poirier, Jonas Reitz, Jody Rosen, Diana Samaroo, Liana Tsenova, and Lin Zhou. Most of all I dream that we will all walk alongside our students as proud mentors.

The Handbook includes topics such as how to get started with the mentoring process, characteristics of effective mentors and mentees, developing a mentoring plan, and evaluation of the mentoring journey. URC members developed the Handbook as a resource to guide faculty in developing mutuallybeneficial faculty-student mentoring relationships and appropriate mentoring skills within the context of research at City Tech. URC faculty members, passionate about mentoring, have facilitated the personal and professional growth of their mentees through partnerships that have led to peer-reviewed publications and research presentations at international, MAEN CAKA PRESENTS HIS RESEARCH. NUCLEUS: A FACULTY COMMONS QUARTERLY

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Thank You, Mehmet. Robin Michals When I dream about the future of City Tech, I imagine a school where the strengths that our students bring to the classroom are recognized and used as the scaffolding on which to create a unique learning environment that will prepare our students to participate fully in economic and civic life.


bout 8 years ago, I had an extremely disruptive student in COMD 2330 Digital Photography. I will call him Mehmet for the purposes of this article. Over the semester, I struggled to contain Mehmet’s energy and worked to make sure he did not “infect” the other students. I thought of Mehmet as a problem. Near the end of the semester, he stayed late one day huddled over one of the classroom computers. I was amazed to see him so focused and let him work while the photography equipment was being put away and the classroom reordered after that day’s photo shoot. Finally, I went over to him to see what he was doing. Mehmet was editing a Wikipedia entry on a Brooklyn rapper. He had strong opinions about this musician’s work and was expressing them forcefully. Mehmet was demonstrating the agency that we dream of for our students, not to mention the writing skills. And he wasn’t doing it for a grade but out of passionate interest. I saw him in a new light. As long as I thought of his deficits, as long as I thought of him as a problem, I had nothing to offer him. After seeing his deep engagement and participation in creating culture, not just consuming it, I had a new respect for what Mehmet was bringing to the classroom.



Our students have a rich breadth of cultural reference and can interpret intercultural experience from more than one worldview. Sometimes, I am amazed that students don’t share my frame of reference, which includes historical events, books, movies, things of which I think everyone should be aware. Yet, I also understand that they share experiences I know nothing about. Just this week, a student asked me about a particular dance and it was as if he was speaking another language. I had no idea what he was talking about. Often a student will use a movie to make a point in a class discussion and all the other students will know exactly what he or she is talking about but I won’t have a clue. When looking at photographs by Steve McCurry of participants in the festival of Holi with a class, I realized that several of the students had first hand knowledge of Holi while I have only read about it. How do we better recognize their experiences and use the richness of their cultural experience in the classroom? While only 25% of the American public is bilingual, over 60% of our students are. Many studies have shown the benefits of speaking more than one language. Katherine Kinzler, arguing for the superior social skills of bilinguals (NYT on March 11, 2016), stated that bilinguals not only have cognitive advantages but stronger communication skills as well. Social skills that support collaboration are key to navigating and succeeding in the 21st century workplace. Often, we focus on the weakness of our students’

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use of language. While this may be the most important area in which we can foster their growth, our students do have strong communication skills in other areas. Our students excel at teamwork. Our students work well with others because they listen to each other and show respect for their colleagues. Upon this strength, clear writing and speech can be built. Our students have empathy for those who are less fortunate. A commonly stated fact about our students is that 50% come from households with incomes under 30k. They understand what it is to go without. Our students face the challenges of balancing work and school, while fulfilling their responsibilities to their families. In this process, they develop empathy for others who are stretched thin, those who make do with not enough. It can be argued that what has lead to the breakdown in civic life in our country is a lack of empathy. Our students have the potential to be the leaders who will re-knit our social fabric. In my encounter with Mehmet years ago, I learned that teaching and learning must have mutual respect as its starting point. Often, we as teachers focus on our students’ deficits. What they don’t know or can’t do overwhelms us and colors how we see them and our work as educators. My dream, my aspiration for my own teaching is that I will use all the strengths our City Tech students bring to the classroom to inform my teaching. My dream for our school, which as an institution, has done so much already to institutionalize exciting approaches to pedagogy such as experiential and place-based learning, will adopt as part of our shared identity, a respect for what our students’ bring to the classroom and innovate methods to scaffold the education we offer on our students’ existing strengths.

A Dream for City Tech John McCullough


hen I think of the future of City Tech, I think about the future of New York, the future of America, and the future of the world. I think about our alumni out in the world. Out in the world, and using the experiences they had here to help them get by out there: reveling in their joys and triumphs; coping with their obstacles and setbacks; overcoming challenges great and small. I don’t know for sure what challenges they will be facing, but I know they will be the ones to answer the big questions of tomorrow. They will face challenges we haven’t imagined yet. They will grapple with ambiguity, compromise, and disagreement. They won’t be able to check their answer in the back of the book—they will need to forge ahead into new territory, and write their own books. New ideas will push out old ones. New technology will solve old problems (while creating new ones). Simmering pots will boil over, and flashes in the pan will fade away.

“What does freedom mean?” They responded with essays, short answers, poetry, and visual art. Some focused on big picture ideas of how we view freedom (or lack thereof) as a society: freedom of religion and expression; freedom to travel; freedom from oppression. Some thought about freedom more personally, and considered the impact of health and wellness on feeling free to smile or talk to someone on the street. They shared these ideas in classes, on the OpenLab, and in person at events on campus. This year, our theme is Knowing Brooklyn, and we invited people to think about the borough that we all teach, work, and learn in. So far, students have discovered unknown opportunities in the borough by researching interesting companies doing business here; another group of students found a new research opportunity when they discovered nobody was collecting or publishing the kind of data they needed to answer their questions. The Brooklyn Waterfront Research Center has invited

authors and scholars to campus to talk about Brooklyn’s history and to speculate about its future. Next year, anything is possible. The GenEdge theme is an open invitation to our students and faculty to tackle big issues and big ideas. My dream for City Tech is for each year’s theme to spark interesting conversations in classrooms, offices, break rooms, and cafeterias and beyond. My dream— shared with fellow faculty, especially Libby Clarke—is for students and faculty alike to find new connections between their academic disciplines and the wider world. My dream is for students to graduate feeling capable, qualified, and most of all empowered to answer the big questions of tomorrow.

How do you prepare someone for that? If we want our students to answer the big questions of tomorrow when they graduate, they should be trying to answer the big questions of today while they are still here. That is the idea behind the GenEdge Theme— an annual question or topic that anyone in any class, any major, any stage of their City Tech life can engage with. Last year, students and faculty across the college considered the question:



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“ Working class people like my family built Brooklyn—in a lot of

cases—literally. Perhaps we could all universally decide that diversity is the trend of Brooklyn we wish to embrace most. I relish the fact that I can walk down the street in a lot of neighborhoods and see an art gallery from a newer resident and then see a deli or bodega run by older residents. I see this and I feel hopeful and eager for a Brooklyn and a world that could exist in this balance, as it has traditionally. My Brooklyn is one that embraces change but also values traditions and doesn't necessarily consider them to be mutually exclusive.

Laura Storch—Excerpt from “My Brooklyn”, first published by City Tech Writer Volume 11



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Knowing Brooklyn

“[Students] will face challenges we haven’t imagined

yet. They will grapple with ambiguity,

compromise, and disagreement. They won’t be able to check

their answer in the back of the book…

—John McCullough


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Active Learning Through Serious Play in Mobile Co-Curricular Spaces Patrick Corbett and Jason W. Ellis



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Serious Play and Active Learning “Serious play” is a term used to describe complex, systematic learning situations and behaviors that produce engagement, problem solving, and spontaneous creativity (Rieber, 1998). Serious play refers to a range of activities designed around learners as players engaged in active learning scenarios and simulations, both digitally and physically located. Serious play allows participants to experiment with decision making across a range of low-stakes gaming mechanics, either in collaboration or competition. When done well, serious play produces “flow,” or immersive, focus, awareness, and enjoyment of an activity, which is tightly entwined with heightened performance and willingness to learn (Csikszentmihályi, 1990). We have secured funding for a mobile serious play “laboratory” here at City Tech. Initially, our equipment will enable us to create and deliver co-curricular workshops to students using the open-source and widelytested LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® (LSP) platform. We will use LSP to show students how low-stakes modeling of problems and solutions can create powerful insights into how to improve as communicators on their path to becoming degreed professionals. In these workshops, students will (literally) play, by building models that represent facets of their own identities using specialized LSP kits designed for this purpose. Students will create narratives for their models, and work collaboratively to integrate individual ideas and narratives together into a team-based solution for problems they encounter while playing. Through serious play, we hope to challenge the core perceptions, the “design model,” of how City Tech students

perceive themselves as communicators and how they approach unfamiliar or difficult communications conflicts. The process of LSP, and serious play more generally, leads participants through meaningful challenges (e.g., levels). Skilled facilitation challenges students to be more mindful communicators, and keeps the spirit and conditions of serious play alive so the group reaches that necessary point of catalysis. Through this cycle of creative—but structured and facilitated—experimentation, students wrestle with problems, failures, and progress and reflect on their shared experiences.

Co-Curricular Learning Spaces and Programming We both continue to use LEGO® to teach in the classroom, but this is not a “curricular” project. Instead, we envision the mobile laboratory as a co-curricular tool that can be used to create a space for serious play anywhere we can seat ten people at a flat surface. Though we believe curricula can be innovative, and even accommodate creative play (as we have seen through A Living Laboratory: Revitalizing General Education for a 21st Century College of Technology), that belief is tempered by two systemic challenges that City Tech, like most public colleges, faces: (1) The tendency in public education oversight toward functional complexity, where teacher-designed and led instruction is replaced with routine systems of content delivery, data generation, accountability reporting, and continuous improvement. Faculty are at risk of becoming de-facto managers of classroom work that is increasingly divorced from pedagogy because the focus continues to shift to producing grades for larger numbers of students than can realistically be engaged as individual learners.

(2) The pressures of austerity politics, which involve the continuous and dramatic public underfunding of higher education. City Tech still reckons with the legacy of the austerity politics of a generation ago: in our inadequate physical plant, our gaps in faculty hiring, our struggle with general education, our noteworthy issues of space, but most importantly, in our struggle to consistently engage students as emerging intellectuals and professionals. We see the tangible costs of functional complexity and austerity politics within the manifest limitations of what we, and our colleagues across the college, are able to accomplish in service of learning—not just delivering classroom instruction. By creating a co-curricular space outside of our classrooms, where we can engage students in different learning modalities like serious play, we hope to not only begin a conversation, but also foster a community of practice that values learning-centered contact with students outside of the classroom.

Moving General Education Beyond Instructional Space Our vision for City Tech is to see it assume leadership in providing innovative General Education (Gen Ed) experiences to students. As the Living Lab has shown us, when materially supported, City Tech faculty are able to make tremendous use of the resources of City Tech, CUNY, and New York City to create high-impact learning experiences for students. As a public undergraduate institution of technology in one of the world’s great metropolises, we have that opportunity. And we have students who desperately need the context that Gen Ed provides to their discipline-specific education.


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City Tech students’ Gen Ed experience should not be limited to classroom instruction. Simply put, students are not in flow when we are “teaching” them. They are most engaged when they are within peer groups engaged in active learning and problemsolving activities that they help devise themselves. So, while student success is generally measured by what takes place in the classroom, we know as educators that only a portion of our students’ intellectual, social, and emotional development happens under our direction. Furthermore, students flourish when they have the opportunity to explore problems, test solutions, make mistakes, discover success, and reflect on their growth. The knowledge, skills, and values learned through Gen Ed need to be experienced and reinforced

across multiple channels of students’ interactions with the college, our faculty, and each other. Co-curricular programming is a mutually beneficial alternative way to access these channels. Using peer-to-peer active learning techniques provides students with the incentive of feeling empowered to explore and discover with their peers.

Looking Toward Our Future As a learning, training, and testing method, serious play is more than 40 years old. We know others who are using these techniques at City Tech. We are committed to seeing this, and other innovative communities of practice, grow. Just as we see our role as bringing resources to our students and using these resources to the best of our professional ability to engage curiosity and promote learning, we hope others

are doing the same. In fact, we would love to connect. Of course, our mobile serious play laboratory is just the first step of a more ambitious project to use some of these ideas and techniques to connect with students, colleagues, and our communities. We will continue to seek investment, further design pedagogy, share our research findings, and support our colleagues in their own endeavors. As we continue to do our part to develop innovative programming, both inside the classroom and out, we invite you to join us.

References: Rieber, L. P., Smith, L., & Noah, D. (1998). The value of serious play. Educational Technology, 38(6), 29-37. Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1990). Flow: The psychology of optimal experience. New York: Harper & Row.



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Why Service Learning? Julie Pellman


nvision students coming to class excited to share their experiences in the community, eager to talk about their experiences, and share new perspectives and realities. Imagine faculty members eager to bridge the world between the classroom and the outside world, full of stories to share with their students about how they have been involved in the community, and eager to involve those who are interested. Dream about a school with a service learning office that can help connect students to agencies relevant to their chosen fields of study. This is my vision of New York City College of Technology as a school that values service learning in the curriculum. Service learning enables the student to explore course content by working with communities. This pedagogy allows students to appreciate the complexity of social issues and incites the development of civic responsibility. With this understanding, we may expect students to facilitate sustainable community development that promotes leaders in a global community and thus may promote social justice (Pellman, J. et al., 2013, June). How would service learning enhance the experience of students at New York City College of Technology? Service learning can foster the spirit of inquiry by having students think about what types of community settings they might want to learn more about. Service learning can help students look at familiar settings in novel ways. It can expose students to persons from different walks of life from themselves, who hold different worldviews, and/or who come from different cultural backgrounds.

Service learning can help students to dispel stereotypes they may have. Through work in their community, students may feel more connected to and integrated in their community, and therefore experience a heightened desire to make their community more sustainable. Finally, service learning can open new avenues of thought and exploration, crystallize career goals, and present the possibility for others. How might the curriculum at New York City College of Technology be enhanced by service learning? Service learning could be a part of hybrid and

online classes. Students could share experiences both online and in the classroom. Service learning could also provide a useful tool in learning communities. Students could view their experiences in the community from a multidisciplinary perspective. Service learning links students, faculty, and community-based agencies. It may promote the visibility of New York City College of Technology and bolster its reputation as an innovative and creative center for learning.

Reference: Pellman, J., Belyaev-Glantsman, O., Elias, M.J., Gibson, J. E. , Holt, C., Lawlor, J., McCarthy, S., Ogley-Oliver, E., & Pellman-Isaacs, E. (2013, June). Service learning: Lessons learned and curriculum developed. In J. Pellman (Chair), Different lenses - a common goal: Faculty and students share service learning experience. Symposium conducted at the meeting of the 14th Biennial Conference of the Society for Community Research and Action, Miami, Florida. PHOTOGRAPH BY ANDREY FYODOROVYKH


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Solving Energy and Environmental Issues Masato R. Nakamura


gain knowledge and develop researchrelated skills. Students’ research capabilities can be developed through six steps of the research process: 1) identification of research problems and background, 2) literature review, 3) data collection by experimental work, 4) theoretical (mathematical) work by analyzing the data, 5) writing a proceedings/report/poster, and 6) a poster presentation in a conference.

Research Assistants


he Energy and Environmental Simulation (EES) Laboratory at the Department of Mechanical Engineering Technology is City Tech’s research unit for analyzing energy and environmental issues through computer simulation. Its data collection is derived from experimental and field work. This research laboratory is a professional, industry-based group. Hence, it is not a student club and not for student projects. However, it is open to everyone who would like to conduct research on energy and the environment. This research laboratory is beneficial for students who wish to obtain Research and Development (R&D) skills; both are often required in a high-level position in industry and academia. I started EES Lab in 2011 and it continues to grow. In Fall 2015, a total of 16 student members participated and contributed to its research activities (See Figure 1).

waste management, 3) Computing for sustainability: sustainability in a digital society, energy consumption in a data center, 3D modeling for eco-design. Current research projects include combustion chamber design for wasteto-energy facility, recycling analysis, an IoT-based composter for wood waste treatment, numerical analysis of landfill gas emission, air quality in MTA subway stations, and development of wave/tidal energy system. The EES Lab overall provides an opportunity for students to gain a deeper understanding of environmental issues and impacts. It allows students to

Students with excellent performance in the EES Lab were recommended and became research assistants. They also published papers as co-authors and provided oral presentations in international conferences. The experience that students are able to gain from this research laboratory will put them at an advantaged position in the competitive selection process for either an engineering position or a more advanced educational degree. In the past, four EES Lab students won prestigious undergraduate scholarships for research on Materials and Energy Recovery (MER) from the American Society for Mechanical Engineers (ASME). In addition, we have seven CUNY Service Corps students working

The EES Lab focuses on conducting research on the following fields: 1) Energy: natural (oil, coal, gas) and renewable recourses (wind, solar, hydro, and geothermal), 2) Environmental issues and solutions: air pollution control, wastewater treatment, solid FIGURE 1. STUDENTS IN EES LAB, 2015-16



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Future Plans for the EES Lab

in different teams. One of the teams, Data Analysis Team, analyzed large data sets and assisted in publication of two chapters of books about Solid Waste Management and Climate Change and Sustainable Technology in volumes of Environmental Science and Engineering Series. The EES Lab also collaborates with other City Tech research units. One of the research collaborations is the joint project with Professor Ozlem Yasar’s Scaffold for Engineered Tissues (SET) Laboratory. In this joint project, Environmental Impacts in Medical Waste are analyzed in order to minimize waste from medical facilities when a tissue is engineered through the scaffold process for a patient as shown in Figure 2. The result of this research was presented at the International Conference on Solid Waste Management (ICSW) in 2015 and received encouraging feedback. Based on this research, we are currently preparing a journal publication.

Origin and Goals of the EES Lab My experience as a postdoctoral research scientist in the Catalysis and Combustion Laboratory at the Earth Engineering Center, the Earth Institute inspired me to establish

my own research unit. At an invited event, I was asked by young research scientists about the establishment of my own research unit and the difficulties that I faced. It can be very difficult to establish and manage a research group in an undergraduate institution, especially at the beginning of the developmental stage. Difficulties did arise from different aspects, including how to recruit students, promote the research group, plan different projects and efficiently manage the work. For example, mechanical engineering students are interested in making a space shuttle, design new cars, developing robots and so on.

The future plans for the EES Lab at City Tech are to increase awareness of this research unit and to gain a more influential role in making New York City a greener and more sustainable city. This future mission can be achieved by conducting quantitative research with students on topics such as global warming, innovative recycling technology, and more costeffective solid waste management. By providing insights on environmental issues and impacts, I hope to ignite other people’s passion for sustainability and public health. It is important for me to promote an environmental conscious through environmental education and continual development of sustainable technologies at City Tech in order to eliminate global environmental impact and safeguard our natural resources. Helping/supporting student’s dreams for a sustainable society is my life-long goal. I believe some of my students will become environmental “superheros” in the next decade and help the next generation of students with me at City Tech. I’m sure they will knock on my door in the future. That is my dream.

My research is waste management/ recycling technologies. They are not interested in garbage. However, these difficulties can be tackled with a strong vision for a sustainable society, and set goals through clear communication with students. The initial goals were to provide an opportunity for students to develop research and developmental (R&D) skills; to gain new knowledge regarding energy and environmental solutions for a sustainable society. The experience and skills that students are able to gain from my research group can be beneficial to their future goals, such as applying for graduate school or advanced engineering job positions. NUCLEUS: A FACULTY COMMONS QUARTERLY

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How Research Can Improve Society Ozlem Yasar



am more than ready to push forward and break all the barriers that face women in STEM. My dream to build a research lab that is internationally recognized for its contribution to improving society has begun. The Scaffolds for Engineered Tissues (SET) research laboratory is located in Voorhees in the Mechanical Engineering Department. It is in this newly formed lab that I guide my student researchers to use engineering, technology, math and science as success tools. Together, we can change how the world thinks about health and engineering accessible production of prosthetic human limbs. Where does biology end and engineering begin? What elements are shared and how can the two distinct disciplines work in concert to advance medical solutions to big questions of human health—access and affordability for all? How does one question lead to another and another? In the SET research lab, we are actively working on the design and fabrication of three dimensional tissue scaffolds for tissue engineering applications. As the faculty advisor, I facilitate students’ work on research projects such as “Design and Fabrication of Tissue Scaffolds using UV Photolithography”, “Developing 22


Maskless Photolithography Techniques to Produce Engineered Scaffolds” and “Design and Development of Lindenmayer Systems to Make Inbuilt Branching Networks for Tissue Scaffolds.” Students have published papers and have presented our research at both national and international conferences. The vision for the laboratory comes from my passion for research. That passion is fueled by my curiosity and joy of tackling challenging questions. Research enables me to take my goals to the next level and will help me serve the well-being of humanity. In addition, research keeps me fresh, active, and challenged. Mentoring students in the research process is a way of breaking down barriers that women and minorities often face in the STEM disciplines. I am passionate about sharing my research practices with the next generation and am particularly fortunate to work at City Tech in an urban environment that thrives on what could be possible. I am continuously working to adapt abstract concepts into real-world devices. This is what my research wisdom is. Research lets me pursue my interests and helps me to discover something innovative. After many extended hours of work, a new

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discovery that is made in my lab thrills me. And now, thrills my students. I keep my dream alive by keeping the momentum going every single day. I am more energized and more engaged with my research every day. I am constantly pushing myself. Students who join in the research benefit outside the classroom. Because of their interest, I am more generous with my time, attention, understanding, and mentorship. I provide a place to get engaged in work that can improve society. I am using the SET research laboratory to connect, produce, encourage, and motivate others in taking up this work. I actively seek interdisciplinary partnerships not only within CUNY but also with SUNY institutions and beyond. I hope that students that I mentor will appreciate their experiences. Research helps us speak up for ourselves and brightens our future. I want to be an Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton, or Galileo Galilei to put my signature on countless stories of success. And I dream that City Tech student researchers will develop the discipline, passion, and perseverance to pursue their dreams.



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Considering the Evolution of Our Library Nora Almeida, Monica Berger, Cailean Cooney, Junior Tidal, and Tess Tobin How can we offer flexible physical and online spaces for students, faculty, and staff to engage in and collaborate on their academic work? What high-quality research and curricular materials are most appropriate for students, faculty, and staff at our associate and baccalaureate degree-granting college? How best can library faculty collaborate with faculty and staff across the college to develop students’ information literacy at college and for lifelong learning? What are best practices in user-centered information technologies—including the library website and computer labs—that can enable students, faculty, and staff to find success in their academic endeavors?


ike so much at City Tech, the Ursula C. Schwerin Library has and continues to evolve and change. Here we highlight some of the recent changes in library services, resources, and facilities, and speculate on our future plans.

Technology Library faculty and staff are making great strides in providing technology to students. During the Spring 2016 semester we’ll be piloting our first iPad Mini loan program. The objective is to expose students to newer technologies. Each iPad will allow students to download and install apps during the 3-day loan period. In addition to iPad loans, we’ve installed large plasma screen monitors connected to desktop PC workstations in two of our library study rooms. This will allow students to not only share what they view on a screen with others and work on group projects, but it also gives them an



opportunity to rehearse presentations. Within the last few years, public speaking students have requested that the library provide such facilities. Technology plays an important role for students using the library, prompting future initiatives. We’re currently exploring a mobile printing solution to allow students to wirelessly print from their smartphone or tablet through a web page, a mobile app, or by scanning the screen of their device. Students have also asked for access to Linuxbased workstations. Raspberry Pi, an inexpensive single-board computer about the size of a credit card, is a solution that we’re considering.

Events Our dream is that the library can be a place for students and faculty to get exposed to exciting new ideas. Every October, we do programming for Open Access Week. Library faculty

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have received grants to bring in speakers, screen films, and present book discussion programs for students. Recently we offered the NEH grant Bridging Cultures: Muslim Journeys as well as the Gilder Lehrman and NEH grant, Created Equal: America’s Civil Rights Struggle. We’d love to do more programming like this for students. We may revisit our Cinema@tech film series and bring film screenings back to the library. An exciting new area for programming could feature book talks by both faculty and other authors geared to both students and faculty. If the library space evolves to allow it, we would love to add more programming and events on a variety of topics and even host musical performances.

Scholarly Communications Library faculty provide workshops for faculty throughout the year on different facets of scholarly communications. Our goal is to help faculty understand how the different aspects of scholarly communication fit together and complement each other—why it is important to make our scholarship openly available and how understanding our rights to our scholarship relates to this. Learning about the broader idea of publication quality helps faculty avoid publishing our work with unethical publishers and allows us to make good choices that maximize the impact of our scholarship. Scholarly communications is a dynamic and rapidly evolving area and library faculty want to deepen our role in future conversations at City Tech.

Collaboration and Space

We envision Academic Works, our new institutional repository, as a centerpiece for the college’s scholarship and creative work. It will preserve our work and, by making our work far more visible, open up new possibilities for collaboration. Academic Works showcases the work of City Tech faculty, providing a bird’s eye view of our collective accomplishments. We also hope to include other kinds of content in Academic Works including undergraduate research and items from our archives.

Open Educational Resources “We could all pay $25 and share the textbook”—Overheard in the Atrium on the second day of Spring classes The beginning of the semester is an exciting and crucial point in the year. It demands heightened patience and attention from the whole college community as we adjust to the swell of students and a surge in academic activity. And the hardship that many City Tech students encounter when trying to access required course materials is perhaps most visible during this period. The Student PIRG reports that 65% of students who were surveyed did not buy a textbook due to cost, and 94% of them expressed concern over how that decision—not having their own copy of the textbook— PHOTOGRAPHS BY KEVIN RAJARAM

would impact their grade (http://www. NATIONAL%20Fixing%20Broken%20 Textbooks%20Report1.pdf). As the Spring 2016 semester takes off, we’d like to take this opportunity to spotlight the great work from faculty involved in the Library’s Open Educational Resources (OER) program, an initiative begun in Fall 2014 that funds faculty to curate open course materials to supplant traditional textbooks. Faculty select high quality curricular materials developed by colleagues in their field, and integrate pedagogical materials they’ve developed themselves. The result is free access to students via City Tech’s OpenLab platform. These OER have proven successful at providing students with easy access to learning materials, often made up of diverse content (videos, interactive simulations, podcasts) that can support many learning styles in a way textbooks— both because of their scope and format—cannot easily match. Did we mention textbooks are heavy?! It sounds trivial, but urban commuting is not for the faint of heart. Our first cohort of OER fellows saved their students nearly $20,000 in textbook costs in Fall 2015, and we look forward to seeing the savings of our second cohort next semester.

The physical position of the library—in the Atrium, in the center of our vertical campus—is in many ways a reflection of the place the library occupies in the academic and cultural life of City Tech. This semester, we have continued some long term collaborations including partnerships: with the English and Biology Departments to host READ peer tutors in our converted periodicals space, with the English Department to provide library instruction to hundreds of students, and with the Faculty Commons to host programs for faculty on topics ranging from Open Educational Resources to Wikipedia Assignment Design. We’ve also continued to collaborate with the Living Lab fellowship organizers to lead faculty discussions about information literacy (the focus of the fellowship this semester). New collaborative initiatives include the interdisciplinary course LIB/ARCH 2205: Learning Places, which launched in the Fall 2015 semester. Two sections are currently running with library and architecture faculty facilitating student investigations into the history of Vinegar Hill and Cadman Plaza. We have also recently partnered with the Instructional Technology team on an initiative to expand the library’s presence in online education platforms. There are currently library modules available in Blackboard courses and we hope to develop comparable access points to library resources in OpenLab in the future. We envision the library as a nexus and only hope to expand our presence on campus through collaboration, and with the upcoming completion of the new building, hope to expand our physical footprint as well.


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Volume 7 | Spring/Summer 2016


Dreaming As A Community L. Jay Deiner


was nine years old the first time I came to City Tech. On that day I was a guest at my grandmother’s retirement party, celebrating her years as a civil service worker in the Ursula C. Schwerin Library. When I returned to the college many years later, this time as a faculty member, I had particular appreciation for the changes that had occurred. New York City Technical College had become New York City College of Technology. Enrollment was growing, mostly driven by an increasing number of baccalaureate degree students. There was talk of a new building, then finally breaking of ground. Clearly, we are an evolving institution. But describing our dynamism by saying that “the college is changing” relies on a deceptively passive construction. The evolution of City Tech is a reflection of our expanding mission. Our new baccalaureate programs begin as conversations within departments, broaden to collaborations with administration, and culminate in years of curriculum development. Our college changes because we—faculty, staff, administration, and students—have ideas about what it means to be NYC’s public college of technology. We have dreams of how we need to grow to live this meaning. What if the conversation about meaning and growth were a hallmark of our college culture? What if we continually asked, debated, and struggled with the questions of where our institution should go and how we should get there? What if we focused PHOTOGRAPH BY CHRISTOPHER ALVARADO

our institutional dreams through real conversation with students?

share their ideas, not just through their artwork, but right in that moment.

This final question is most resonant for me because of my recent experience working with Professor Robin Michal’s students to create artwork for this issue. To kick off the project, I

One theme that emerged from this conversation with students was the desire for a more robust community experience, a City Tech calendar filled with intellectual and social events that gave students a reason to linger after class. Faculty share this dream, and some have expressed as much in their Nucleus contributions. And so this discussion with Robin’s students, and its similarity to conversations with colleagues, leads me to formulate a vision of intentional evolution of our intellectual and social culture through ongoing conversation with students. While this vision is inchoate, some things are clear. We would need to create opportunities for dialog with students and mechanisms for incubating and scaling ideas. We would need to rethink space, events, and experiences through the lens of promoting cohesion. We would need to create the habit of dreaming together.

visited her class with plans to briefly describe Nucleus and present the issue’s theme. Students would then shoot photographs abstracting the notion of “dreams for City Tech.” During my visit, the students, Robin, we all sat in a circle, and I began speaking, though not particularly eloquently because I was distracted by the notion that the class would be wondering “who is this strange professor and why does he want us to do work for him?” But a few seconds into my halting speech, when I said that the issue was about what we dream our college could be, I saw students perk up; they wanted to


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2016 PSC CUNY Research Awardees Awardee



Viviana Acquaviva Nathan Astrof Megan Behrent Christopher Blair Mercer Brugler Kimberley Bugg

Physics Biological Sciences English Biological Sciences Biological Sciences Library

Juanita But Corina Calinescu Patrick Corbett & Jason Ellis (Co-PI) Deborah Courtney Andrew Douglas Marta Effinger-Crichlow Renata Ferdinand Boris Gelman Eugenia Giannopoulou Anita Giraldo Navid Hajiallahverdi

English Mathematics English

Measuring the Metallicity of High-redshift Galaxies with Machine Learning and SED Fitting Identification of Trafficking Motifs in Class-C GPRCs Poetry & Politics: Andre Lorde, Adrienne Rich and the Women’s Liberation Movement Phylogeography and Ecological Divergence of Leaf Chameleons in the Rainforests of Eastern Madagascar Mitogenomics of the Order Antipatharia (black corals) Climbing the Ladder: Academic Library Directors of Color Recalling their Experiences with Advancing from Middle Manager to Senior Library Leadership READ: A Strategy to Improve Disciplinary Literacy in STEM Vertex Operator Constructions of Representations of Twisted Affine Lie Algebras Multiliteracy Research & Pedagogy Study: The Communications Diversity Mobile Research Space Building Homes in Nicaragua: A Phenomenological Exploration of a Global Service Project Representation Theory of Nonsemisimple Lie Algebras Little Sallie Walker: The Impact of Rituals of Play on Black Women Things I Tell My Daughter: An Auto-ethnography of African American Mothering Spin-polarized Nucleon-nucleon Scattering in Large Nc QCD The Role of H3K27 in IFNg-mediated Gene Expression Finding the Sky: A Multi-media Installation Improving Structural Resiliency of Infrastructures Under Blast Loading

Caroline Hellman Delaram Kahrobaei Raffi Khatchadourian Caner Koca German Kolmakov Manas Kulkarni David Lee Nan Li D. Rob MacDougall Ariane Masuda Kevin McGirr Robin Michals Sheila Miller Diana Mincyte Lisa Pope Fischer Parvaneh Pourshariati Jonas Reitz Sean Scanlan Hans Schoutens Jeremy Seto

Health and Human Services Mathematics African American Studies English Physics Biological Sciences Communication Design Construction Management and Civil Engineering Technology English Mathematics Computer Systems Technology Mathematics Physics Physics Humanities Mathematics Social Science Mathematics Nursing Communication Design Mathematics Social Science Social Science Social Science Mathematics English Mathematics Biological Sciences

Rebecca Shapiro Simon Smith

English Mathematics

Armando Solis

Biological Sciences

Jenna Spevack Ryoya Terao Thomas Tradler Shauna Vey Adam Wilson Kitching Rhoda Wong Chen Xu Andleeb Zameer Lin Zhou

Communication Design Entertainment Technology Mathematics Humanities Entertainment Technology Health and Human Services Computer Engineering Technology Biological Sciences Mathematics



The Children of the Raven and the Whale: Visions and Revisions in American Literature Cryptosystems Using Subgroup Distortion Automatic Migration of Legacy Java Method Implementations to Interfaces Einstein-Maxwell Metrics on 4-manifolds Emerging Materials for Photonics and Optoelectronics: Fundamentals and Applications Nonlinear Dynamics in Non-local and Open Systems Interactive Communication Technologies for Better Health: Learning From Designers and Platforms Metric Spaces with Bounded Curvature and Gromov-Hausdorff Convergence Kant and the Political Context of Contemporary Bioethics Ambiguity and Deficiency of Permutation Polynomials What do Persons With Serious Mental Illness Think About Smoking Cessation and Other Tobacco Interventions? Washing Away: Florida and Louisiana The Higher Infinite—Research Products The Aesthetics of Sustainability: Rethinking Power in the Frontiers of Europe Elderly Hungarian Women’s Reinterpretation of Post Socialist Change Heraclius and Muhammad: A Case of Historiographical Mimicry? Easton’s Theorem and the Ground Axiom Fixing Scholarly Peer Review: How to Train Reviewers, Expand Editoral Boards and Promote Sharing An Axiomatic Approach to Cartier Modules and Crystals Modulation of Neurodevelopment Through Cytokine Interventions in Maternal Immune Activation Model of Psychiatric Disease Principles of Applied Lexicology: A Historical Anthology Infinite Permutation Groups With Finite Suborbits and the Scale of Simple Totally Disconnected Locally Compact Groups With More Than One End Information-theoretic optimization of Comprehensive Coarse-grained Knowedge-based Potentials for Structural and Evolutionary Studies of Proteins Overtones: A Public Sound Installation for Governors Island Pianos: A Craftsman’s Story Constructing Local V_infinity Structures for Manifolds The Last Vaudevillian: Recovering Baby Peggy’s Stage Years A Gesturally Enhanced Guitar with Real-Time Inertial Measurement Voices of Chinese Immigrant Mothers Caring for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders Apply Genetic Algorithm to Diffuse Optical Tomography Effects of Activin B, TGF β and BMP4 on Differentiation of Mouse Neurospheres Exploring the Inhomogeneities of Networked Fluids Using Mesoscopic Simulation

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Scholars Exchange Below is a sampling of faculty presentations from 2015-2016. In 2016-2017 the Scholars Exchange, featuring presentations by faculty who have received PSC CUNY Research Awards in the humanities and social sciences, will adopt a Brown Bag Lunch format in the Faculty Commons. We hope you will join us on Wednesdays in the Fall.

M. Genevieve Hitchings

Rebecca Shapiro

Principles of Applied Lexicology: A Historical Anthology

Elderly Hungarian Women’s Reinterpretation of Post-Socialist Change

My research involves collaborating with several entomologists in a study of invertebrates inhabiting the North American Mid-Atlantic region. My scholarly pursuits over the past several years have involved illustrating insects, the most diverse group of organisms on the planet. There has been concern among scientists about a significant decline in insect populations worldwide in recent years. Since the response to their alarming decline depends on public awareness, the effective use of illustration to convey information and to bring attention to critically important environmental issues has become a primary factor in my choice of projects. This presentation highlights my research gathering reference materials for drawing.

Women were especially targeted as readers of dictionaries during the seventeenth century; in the eighteenth century, however, women readers and scholars were either disparaged, or more often, ignored. If we consider dictionaries and reference books such as grammars, syllabaries, and thesauruses as a variety of conduct book from this time, then it is useful to consider what kinds of conduct women were being asked to perform. My book examines in part the concerns of women readers and writers of dictionaries, as well as the ways in which femininity and masculinity were constructed—but also how they changed over time.

From living in a socialist society to a capitalist one, this presentation covers the stories of individual senior Hungarian women as they respond to, and as they understand the society around them. This qualitative ethnographic study uses person-centered life history interviews and participant observation to explore understandings of life experience, memory, and perception. Shared historical moments create a sort of structural continuity, yet how people interpret their own life in relation to these moments not only indicates self-determination and autonomy, but also social constructions of memory as told through the lens of present day society. One person’s story overlaps with another’s to show multifaceted perspectives of everyday practices and the lived experience. Living through World War II, the socialist, and postsocialist era, shows adaptation to change, and gives us insight into today’s society as these senior women face economic strain, generational divisions, and issues related to the aging process.

The Invisible World Around Us: Seeing Insects Through Illustration

Lisa Pope Fischer

Diana Mincyte

Alan Lovegreen & Laura Westengard

The Making of a New Writer: Tragedy and Tableau in John Steinbeck’s New York Now popularly remembered as a California writer, John Steinbeck is equally a New York author. His 1925 introduction to NYC dramatically shaped the writer’s perceptions about urban life, manual labor, writer’s block, and even the weather. Our archival research unearths Steinbeck’s fascinating and virtually ignored first moments in Brooklyn, and then tracks the influence of such time on the fiction that defines his authorial career. Using his letters, local land use records, and archived periodicals, we reexamine this period of his life as a formative source of tragedy and trauma that Steinbeck later draws upon in his enduring literary works.

Constructing Distinction and Sustainability in Alternative Food Networks in Lithuania This project is an ethnography of two alternative food economies operating side by side in Lithuania­­—criminalized raw milk networks relying on poor consumers and subsistence farmers and artisanal food markets catering to wealthy urbanites. Focusing on milk as a central commodity, this project explores the processes through which boundaries separating the two economies are reproduced in the context of European sustainable development policies that advocate social inclusion. Contributing to political sociology, my research underscores the ways in which European sustainability politics operates as a particular spatial regime imposing its logic not only on the rural landscape, but also on urban politics.

Robin Michals Pearls Under Water

China, in terms of sheer numbers of people, is arguably the country facing the greatest impact from sea level rise. The World Bank released a list in 2013 of the ten cities globally that face the highest economic losses due to sea level rise. Guangzhou was number one. All the cities built on the alluvial plain of the Pearl River Delta are threatened. Pearls Under Water is a series of photographs of some of these areas including the casinos of Macau, shopping centers of Shenzhen, the international architecture of Zhujiang New Town and the narrow streets of Shipai, an urban village, both in Guangzhou.


Volume 7 | Spring/Summer 2016


A Haiku Swing Ripe with red, gliding, leaf sways behind the window, bounces off my pen. Stretching branches crack, leaves slapping one another, the sound of air. Flocks of fluffy seeds descend slowly on the lake, memory of snow. Breathing in the sky, the clouds gulp it with a yawn, I don’t breathe a word.

Window, sleepy rain, droplets wiggle their tails, shot of espresso.

—Lubos Stepanek

33rd Annual Literary Arts Festival, Charles Hirsch Faculty and Staff Award 1st Place Poetry: Lubos Stepanek, “A Haiku Swing”



Volume 7 | Spring/Summer 2016

FACULTY CONTRIBUTORS Nora Almeida is Assistant Professor in the Ursula C. Schwerin Library. Her research interests include: critical pedagogy and information literacy, student research behaviors, and information activism.  Monica Berger is Associate Professor in the Ursula C. Schwerin Library. She manages Academic Works, CUNY's institutional repository, and is chair of the library’s scholarly communications committee. Her research interests focus on scholarly communications as well as popular music. Cailean Cooney is an Instructor in the Ursula C. Schwerin Library. She coordinates the Open Educational Resources faculty fellowship. Her research interests include open pedagogy, scholarly communications, and edtech. Patrick Corbett is Assistant Professor in the English Department. His areas of interest include multidisciplinary research in education and intersections of new technology, material culture(s), and the Humanities. He teaches information architecture, a variety of professional and technical writing courses, and coordinates the internship program for the Professional and Technical Writing baccalaureate program. Aida Egues is Associate Professor in the Nursing Department. Her areas of interest and research include healthcare disparities and diversity, ethical conduct and interpersonal violence in the workplace, high-impact practices, interdisciplinary collaboration, mentoring, and public health. She has taught a variety of courses and clinical sessions in the areas of chronic illness, community/public health nursing and nursing fundamentals. Jason W. Ellis is Assistant Professor in the English Department. Science Fiction is the locus of his interdisciplinary research on computing culture, maker culture, and composition. He teaches courses in technical communication and literature. Joel Mason is Professor in the Communication Design Department. His areas of interest include graphic design history and theory. His creative work ranges from photography to improvisations on geometric form using digital technology. He has taught courses in typography, graphic design and served as advisor to Senior Project. He also created the cover art for this issue of Nucleus.  John McCullough is Assistant Professor in the Entertainment Technology Department. He specializes in scenery fabrication and automation for the stage. As a freelance technical director, he works with companies such as Ars Nova, and New York Stage and Film. Robin Michals is Associate Professor in the Communication Design Department. She is a photographer whose work focuses on the de-industrialized waterfront, sea level rise, and urban infrastructure. She teaches courses in Digital Photography and Advanced Photography Studio. Masato R. Nakamura is Assistant Professor in the Mechanical Engineering Technology Department. He teaches courses in Solid Modeling and Industrial Design. His fields of research include Earth and Environmental Engineering, Renewable Energy, Sustainable Computing, and Ecodesign. Peter Spellane is Associate Professor in the Chemistry Department. He was part of a team that designed and launched new courses in environmental science, with support of the NSF, and has worked on NEH-funded projects that seek to integrate the humanities with education in science and technology. His current work concerns the environmental legacy of the production of chemicals and petroleum in New York City during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Junior Tidal is Associate Professor in the Ursula C. Schwerin Library. His research interests include web usability, mobile web development, and open-source technologies. He teaches a variety of faculty and student library instruction workshops. Tess Tobin is Associate Professor in the Ursula C. Schwerin Library. Her areas of interest include the recruitment of underserved students to the library profession and advocating internationally for library services designed to meet the needs of cultural and linguistic minorities.  She teaches a course in Research and Documentation for the Information Age. Ozlem Yasar is Assistant Professor in the Mechanical Engineering Technology Department. She teaches courses in DrawingsAutoCad, Engineering Materials, Structures, and Product Design. Her research centers on tissue engineering applications to make health care more accessible to all. She is a tireless supporter of Women-In-Science/Engineering initiatives.


Volume 7 | Spring/Summer 2016




Volume 7 | Spring/Summer 2016

Nucleus Volume 7 Spring/Summer 2016  

A Faculty Commons Quarterly