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A Faculty Commons Quarterly Volume 5

Spring 2014


Volume 5 | Spring 2014


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

Russell K. Hotzler President

A Center for Teaching, Learning, Scholarship and Service

Bonne August Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

Julia Jordan, Acting Director Avril Miller, College Assistant

Miguel Cairol Vice President for Administration and Finance

Assessment and Institutional Research Tammie Cumming, Director Raymond Moncada, Assistant Director Rachel Tsang, Assessment Analyst Yi Chen, Institutional Analyst Olga Batyr, Survey Services Liaison Albert Li, Research Assistant

Faculty Commons

Marcela Katz Armoza Vice President for Enrollment and Student Affairs Gilen Chan Special Counsel/Legal Affairs Designee Compliance and Diversity Officer

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 2013-2014 Professor Pa Her

Pamela Brown Associate Provost

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

Karl Botchway Dean, School of Arts and Sciences

National Science Foundation I3 Cinda Scott, Project Manager Coordinator of Integrated STEM Projects

Kevin Hom Dean, School of Technology and Design Carol Sonnenblick Dean, Division of Continuing Education

Design Team Professor Anita Giraldo, Artistic Director Kevin Rajaram, Web Master Angelica Corrao, Matthew Joseph, Mandy Mei, Dorian Valentine, Eva Zelarayan, Designers

Professional Development Advisory Council (PDAC)


Isaac Barjis Ian Beilin Nadia Benakli

Lynda Dias Mary Sue Donsky Aida Egues

Pa Her Louise Hoffman Neil Katz

John McCullough Djafar Mynbaev Susan Phillip

Denise Whethers Gail Williams Adrianne Wortzel

Karen Bonsignore Candido Cabo Sanjoy Chakraborty Gwen Cohen-Brown Susan Davide

Boris Gelman Maria Giuliani Karen Goodlad Joel Greenstein George Guida

Paul King Darya Krym Janet Liou-Mark Karen Lundstrem Zory Marantz

Estela Rojas Walied Samarrai Ryoya Terao Shauna Vey Debbie Waksbaum

Farrukh Zia Pamela Brown, Chair


Volume 5 | Spring 2014

“ I’m impressed at

Contents Spring 14

the creativity of

Planning Strategically for Transformation


Grant Writing: Next Steps


Transformations Sandra Cheng


Bonne August

Pamela Brown

our students and their passion for working with their community.

Geometries of Community, Landscapes of Transformation 10

The city is their

Making Connections


home, so when we

Reflections of a Practitioner


Noyce Explorers, Scholars, Teachers


Faculty Lead Assessment


His Country Made the News


Barbara Burke Geoff Zylstra

Gwen Cohen-Brown Pa Her

Tammie Cumming Vasily Kolchenko

assign a design project that could possibly transform and improve their backyard, they get very excited.” Esteban Beita Department of Architectural Technology

Havana, Cuba at Sunrise Cover– Photograph by John Huntington

E d itors, Barbara Burke and Julia Jordan | Desig ner, Matthew Joseph | Pr i nt i ng, Digital Imaging Cente r at Cit y Tech NUCLEUS: A FACULTY COMMONS QUARTERLY

Volume 5 | Spring 2014


Planning Strategically for Transformation Bonne August


arly last summer New York City College of Technology submitted its required Periodic Review Report to Middle States, our regional accrediting agency, thus marking the midpoint between the 2008 and 2018 reaccreditation visits. The Middle States evaluators not only accepted the report but went on to commend the College for its efforts “not merely to meet but to exceed the Standards.” Any institution would welcome such praise, but given the broad-based, institution-wide effort that has brought our College to its current standing—well illustrated in this issue of Nucleus and its predecessors—it is especially meaningful at City Tech. As part of the Periodic Review Report, Middle States requires institutions to look ahead and anticipate the major opportunities and challenges of the coming five years. Because the College’s planning process is tied to this Middle States timeline, once the Report was submitted, the College committee that had prepared it then turned their attention to drafting a strategic plan for 2014-2018. The drafting of the plan is not yet complete, but the major directions it outlines, anticipated in the Middle States Report, reflect many discussions that have taken place in our College community over the past nine years. First, the plan makes note of several transformations key to the future of City Tech: the transformation of Downtown Brooklyn into a vibrant hub of technology and of booming residential neighborhoods, the transformation of City Tech from an associate degree institution with a few bachelor’s programs to a true baccalaureate granting institution, and the transformation of the College’s faculty and 4


facilities, in particular the new building now under construction, thus giving the College the capacity to be a full partner in the innovative landscape and dynamic activity all around us. But capacity alone is not achievement. What will enable City Tech to realize this potential? What potential obstacles must be avoided or addressed? The strategic planning process seeks to answer these questions. The draft focuses on four large goals, each of which requires opportunity, resources, and commitment. Each goal entails both building capacity and directing energy and resources. The first goal is to pursue, energetically and purposefully, changing opportunities in City Tech’s areas of expertise. The achievement of this goal requires continued internal change, as well as the deliberate cultivation of external partners. The plan proposes to implement cycles of continuous improvement for existing academic programs and to continue to create new ones. These efforts have an essential dependence on the fundamental elements of curriculum— both a strong General Education and up-to-date majors, as well as faculty and infrastructure, each of which must be cultivated and nurtured wisely. In particular, the College has both an opportunity and a responsibility to become a leader in STEM education. Students are the specific focus of the second goal, which seeks to increase student success and to enhance students’ experience, both academic and co-curricular. Connecting students more closely to their majors and to the College is a challenge for all commuter colleges, and making the students’ experience here both exciting

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and positive is the responsibility of everyone at City Tech. The students are the reason we are here. Proposals for achieving this goal include making improvements to the basic processes of advisement, registration, and financial aid; expanding and re-thinking how students become oriented to the institution, greatly strengthening and coordinating all of the supports offered to students, and creating ample space for a rich student life. Ambitious plans and worthy goals cannot be realized unless the systems for implementing them are designed with those goals explicitly in mind, work smoothly and efficiently, and are well coordinated across areas of responsibility. Because City Tech’s systems must integrate with the University’s and the State’s, controlling our destiny is especially difficult, but unless we do, the larger goals will go unmet. Therefore, the third goal is to strengthen communication, coordination, and collaboration across the College to advance both personnel and programs. The plan speaks to the large cross-institutional systems, especially IT and business processes, but every area and office will need to be involved in examining roles, workflow, processes, and practices, analyzing

Grant Writing: Next Steps Pamela Brown

solicitations, connect with collaborators and prepare competitive proposals to further advance their scholarship. The “Grant Writing: Next Steps” Advisory Council, composed of experienced grant recipients, includes Professors Reginald Blake, L. Jay Deiner, Andy Zhang, Gaffar Gailani, Delaram Kahrobaei, Anne Leonhardt and Viviana Vladutescu. The Advisory Council makes recommendations for support strategies and otherwise lends its expertise to serve as grant development mentors.

hand-offs, and making improvements to achieve not only efficiency but also better service for the end user, whether that is a student, a member of the faculty, or College staff. The fourth goal gives special meaning to the other three, for it addresses the critical questions: What kind of institution do we want City Tech to be for the faculty, staff, and students who form the College community? How do we want the College to be known outside our immediate community— within CUNY, to our industry partners and disciplinary partners, and to local, national, and potential international entities within our growing reach? This goal is to develop a strong, shared institutional identity that will guide decision making internally and present a distinctive, readily identifiable face to the world outside the College. Addressing this goal requires examining and affirming core institutional values, ensuring that those values are both shared by and available to all, and embracing a perspective that moves the institution forward. Only when that has been done will we be ready to share our institutional world view with the larger communities of which we are—or aspire to be—a part. The committee has worked hard to craft goals worthy of the effort needed to achieve them. The reward will be a City Tech that confidently assumes its place in the University, the City, and the many disciplines our programs represent. Its roots will be in the values that underlay its creation, to provide strong career-focused programs for the diverse population of New York City, but its future will be limitless.

“ Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort.”


hen President Franklin D. Roosevelt made this remark it is unlikely that he had proposal writing in mind. However, grant funding can provide you with resources to conduct research, build innovative programs, develop new courses and pedagogies, bring technology to your students, and experience the pride when your ideas come to fruition. This academic year the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) in Faculty Commons is sponsoring the “Grant Writing: Next Steps” workshop series to support recent GRTI and PSC-CUNY recipients in the STEM disciplines. The goal is to help these faculty members, who already have work to build on, identify promising

In the fall, Advisory Council members discussed their proposal writing experiences including initial set-backs, refocused efforts, and strategies used to successfully obtain funding, as well as project management once their grants were awarded. Those in attendance completed a survey on their needs, which revealed that the support most commonly requested was assistance with finding the right solicitation and making connections with collaborators. In response, these topics were addressed at a follow up workshop in which Avrom Caplan, CUNY Associate University Dean for Research, made an informative and engaging presentation on upcoming funding opportunities through the National Science Foundation (NSF) and its call for Improving Undergraduate STEM Education (I-USE). This spring, the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research has launched a new CUNY-wide competition to echo the NSF I-USE initiative. The Research in the Classroom: Idea Grant Program supports the integration of teaching and research activities in the classroom. Our faculty are well positioned to apply. The proposal is posted on CUNY’s website and all full-time CUNY faculty are encouraged to submit by early September.


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Sandra Cheng

Transformations The Living Lab at City Tech and Beyond

“A Living Laboratory: Revitalizing General Education for a Twenty-First Century College of Technology” is a five-year initiative funded by a $3.1M grant awarded under the U.S. Department of Education’s Strengthening Hispanic-Serving Institutions (Title V) program. The project was launched in October 2010 and has appeared regularly in Nucleus.


he thick, warm air of a city summer dissipated into the crisp days of early autum. It was again time to reflect on City Tech’s Living Lab project, a federally-funded grant aimed at reimagining the role of General Education in an urban college of technology. This fall, we embarked on the fourth year of the project that has helped transform City Tech and our Brooklyn Waterfront into a living laboratory for our students. Each year, a select group of Fellows has gathered in a semester-long series of seminars to enhance General Education at City Tech, whether one is teaching first-year students, building 6


a collaborative research team, or developing service learning projects. With two more years of the long-term grant to build durable and effective practices, a reflection of Living Lab activities demonstrates how the project has transformed teaching and learning for faculty and students alike. Living Lab seminars are intensive with thought-provoking reading and lively debate, and they offer unique opportunities for collaboration among faculty from disciplines as diverse as Architectural Technology, Human Services, Math, Nursing, and English. Together, Living Lab Fellows evaluate

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and work on implementing creative, high-impact pedagogical practices in their classrooms; they encourage each other to move beyond classroom walls to engage the larger community. Take for example two science courses, Professor Ralph Alcendor’s microbiology class and Professor Diana Samaroo’s chemistry laboratory that turned the waterfront into an experimental lab. Working in groups, Professor Alcendor’s students drew water samples from under the Brooklyn Bridge in order to gain a better understanding of the bacterial diversity of our environment. Student teams in Professor Samaroo’s class used their samples to conduct numerous



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chemical experiments back in the lab. The chemistry students even borrowed samples from Professor Alcendor’s biology course to test for differences in water quality before and after last fall’s catastrophic storm. The exercises helped nurture collaboration between students and created opportunities for students to conduct field-based research and data collection. For Professors Alcendor and Samaroo, involvement in the Living Lab seminars created the opportunity to pool resources for students enrolled in courses in different disciplines. Such scientific experiments serve as an example of place-based learning practices promoted by the Living Lab, and they also highlight the environmental vagaries of New York City’s shoreline, which came into glaring focus when Hurricane Sandy devastated the city’s waterfront. Severe flooding damaged communities of numerous faculty, staff, and students, and even turned the old Klitgord auditorium into a temporary shelter. With the third year’s emphasis on academic service learning, Living Lab Fellows took the opportunity to visit a community organization in Sheepshead Bay, one of many seaside communities ravaged by the Superstorm. On the surface the sleepy community appeared tranquil and back to normal, but Fellows quickly 8


discovered the very real consequences of a devastating hurricane. Living Lab Fellows met with local residents to listen to their first-hand recollections of their experience before, during, and after the storm and came away with a deeper understanding of the recovery process. Professor Soyeon Cho of Heath and Human Services noted how she was “able to look at the community not as a professor who teaches Human Services classes, but a person who is trying to examine the needs to provide actual help.” Meeting with hurricane survivors was dramatic, evoking Walt Whitman’s lines in Leaves of Grass “What is that you express in your eyes? It seems to me more than all the print I have read in my life,” a poetic statement that highlights the disjuncture between direct and mediated experience. The visit to Sheephead Bay was a perfect opportunity for faculty to directly engage a variety of issues that arise when one develops academic service learning projects for students, including methods to identify needs, assess situations, and the importance of oneto-one communication. Third-year Fellows have initiated numerous academic service learning projects to foster student involvement in diverse communities. Professor Aida Egues of Nursing has noted how the

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“Living Lab has been the most incredible opportunity and platform for educators wanting to offer students altruistic, creative, and meaningful experiences through high-impact practices suited for developing the leaders of the future.” In Professor Jason Montgomery’s Building Technology course for the Department of Architectural Technology, students have the opportunity to study the effects of Hurricane Sandy. One assignment requires students to redesign a storm-damaged brownstone in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Professor Jill Bouratoglou assigns design projects for commercial and residential use in her Architectural Design class. As part of the design process, her student teams are required to visit and research their target communities. Each group reflects on and submits components of their research and design steps on the class website on the OpenLab, City Tech’s new online platform. Professor Cho strives to combine course objectives with a model of academic service learning in Introduction to Human Services. She proposes using a semester-long project in which firstyear students identify a community and an active agency within it for a series of research papers and reflective writing. Student teams are required to interview agency personnel and create


a means to survey clients in order to assess the agency’s impact. This assignment promotes the practice of formal assessments, writing research reports that demonstrate the application of learned theories, enhanced personal observations, and peer evaluations. Through practice students demonstrate what civic engagement means. This year in the Nursing Department, two Living Lab Fellows, Professors Aida Egues and Elaine Leinung, have enlisted other faculty members in their department, including Professor Lisette Santiseban, to help launch a service learning component for all students enrolled in the Community Health Nursing course. Full- and parttime faculty will work with students on projects that meet course objectives while addressing health disparities in vulnerable populations throughout New York City. Collaborating in teams, students will perform comprehensive community assessments and then document their experiences on the OpenLab, posting self-reflections on meeting clinical objectives as part of their ePortfolios. Students will engage community partners through participation in educational sessions, health assessments and fairs, media and political support initiatives, outreach, and training.

Other Living Lab Fellows have explored the potential for applying the service learning model to communities within City Tech. Professor Andrew Parker of the Mathematics Department proposes including a service learning project in an introductory course for Math Education majors. Future math teachers would be paired with students in remedial math classes and required to create lesson plans. The transformative process of learning how to teach students with varying needs will be documented in a reflective paper. The project gives students and teachers direct experience with pedagogical methodologies as well as engagement with the broader City Tech community. Living Lab Fellows have taken advantage of the interactive abilities of the OpenLab since it went live two years ago. With the capability to reach wider audiences than conventional learning management systems, the OpenLab increases the possibilities of student interaction with fellow students, faculty, and the greater community. At last count, the OpenLab boasted over 10,000 users, who have filled the site with stunning student portfolios, class websites, and virtual spaces for a diverse range of university groups. The OpenLab is a vibrant online community that has given students greater access

to each other and to professors than ever before. Promoting open access, many OpenLab courses are public and therefore visible to anyone with access to the internet, allowing those in the “real world” to see what’s happening. The Spring 2014 group of cohorts has focused on the role of General Education in capstone courses and the development of internship opportunities. A presentation of their work to the College community took place on May 9th.

Come join the Living Lab! Watch out for our events, focused on implementing and assessing high-impact educational practices and place-based learning. Sign up on the OpenLab – the friendly OpenLab Community Team is always on hand to answer questions, and workshops are offered throughout the year. See for more information.


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Geometries of Community, Landscapes of Transformation The Senior Urban Design Studio Barbara Burke


tudents working in the senior architecture studio (ARCH 4710) taught by Professors Tim Maldonado and Esteban Beita are engaged in the design and creation of architectural solutions that address important felt needs of local communities. Each year the studio has a different community focus. In 2012-2013, the ARCH 4710 studios worked in partnership with Wellington Chen, Executive Director of the Chinatown Partnership, to challenge students to design gateways to Chinatown that would signify its cultural uniqueness, dynamic social and economic milieu, and historical significance. Students drew up designs and made models of architectural gateways at six different intersections that demarcate the boundaries of Chinatown. Addressing an array of design challenges, students have created imaginative solutions that engage a remarkable range of materials, geometric forms, artistic

sensibility, and stylistic ingenuity. The preparation of gateway models was a rigorous process that began with research. Students walked up and down every street in Chinatown. Once they selected a particular site for their gateway design, they returned at different times of day to observe light conditions in early morning, afternoon, and evening so that the architectural solutions that students create would take advantage of the changing qualities of light at a specific site. They studied patterns of use and social appropriation of public space. Students plunged into design work, using the best tools of the trade to create their renderings—Rhino, Revit, 3DMax, Lumia, and animation tools—facilitated by a knowledgeable CLT. Oral presentation is built in to each and every assignment. Students dress professionally when they present their work to a panel of City Tech faculty, representatives of government agencies such as




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the Department of Transportation, professional architects, and urban planners. There is a 360 degree review of all aspects of a design, just as there would be at an architectural firm. The studio culminates in the publication of a glossy compendium of student designs, the first of which is Gateways to Chinatown (2013). This year, Professors Montgomery and Milev joined the studio faculty and the focus turned to the Brooklyn Tech Triangle, a spatially incoherent area surrounding the College that includes 11 institutions of higher education, the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and a large number of high tech firms and creative start-ups that are located in DUMBO. New York City is second in the nation after Silicon Valley in the size and growth rate of its high tech sector, making the dedication of urban space to accommodate the sector’s continuing growth an urgent economic development priority for Brooklyn and the city. The Tech Triangle offers an excellent location but is at present a soulless amalgam of prominent transportation infrastructure from the Brooklyn Queens Expressway, the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges, and L train. These structures chop up the streetscape, make transportation within the Triangle difficult, and are inhospitable to pedestrians and street life. Student designs currently on exhibit on the 8th floor of Voorhees include a stunning plan for a Brooklyn New Museum that articulates the triangle at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge with Cadman Plaza (fig.1), a combined retail and residential tower that seems to defy

City Tech students present creative project-based solutions that address community issues.


gravity (fig.2), and an intriguing Waffle Pavillion (fig.3). Looking ahead, the focus for 2014-2015 will be on Industry City, located at the former Bush Terminal, a landmark of Brooklyn’s history as a major seaport. Professor Maldonado believes that the most important ingredient in the education of an architect is inspiration— inspiration that is informed by a number of factors that can be and are taught in the department. These include deep knowledge of style traditions in the history of world architecture and


the distinctive cultural influences, values and proclivities, vernacular materials, and building technology that are characteristic of a particular time and place. Professor Beita continues, “After teaching the urban design studio for over two years, I’m impressed at the creativity of our students and their passion for working with their community. The city is their home, so when we assign a design project that could possibly transform and improve their back yard, they get very excited. I use that excitement to challenge them to make a real difference when they are working professionals.”

The Department of Architectural Technology has a long history of addressing real-world issues through projects in our design studios. The traditional studio pedagogy in architectural education relies on problembased learning that integrates skills and knowledge from all aspects of curriculum. Student engagement and motivation increase exponentially when they also have the opportunity to present their ideas to community partners (real ‘clients’!) and to think about problems in their own neighborhood. It is thrilling to see these efforts memorialized in print, and to see the students’ excitement and pride in having their work published. The Chinatown publication is a solid step toward formalizing our longstanding practice of learning through community service and the first in a long series to come!

Shelley Smith, Chair Department of Architectural Technology As a public university one of the institutional goals of the School and the Architectural Technology Department is to provide a meaningful and relevant education experience for our students. The selection of studio topics which explores the urban design challenges of actual neighborhoods in New York City is one of the ways we connect the students’ education with the goals of developing relevant and sustainable solutions for our urban centers.

Kevin Hom, Dean School of Technology and Design NUCLEUS: A FACULTY COMMONS QUARTERLY

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Making Connections

Engaging the Humanities in a College of Technology Making Connections: Engaging the Humanities in a College of Technology, a National Endowment for the Humanities Initiative at Hispanic Serving Institutions, was designed by faculty in English, History and Architecture. Faculty from our three schools have been selected to participate in a series of interdisciplinary Seminars to explore selected literary, historical and cultural texts; to learn from one another; to contextualize their fields; and to think deeply about the essential role of the humanities in a technological age. The close study in the cultural representations of technology will provide an intellectual framework and a series of models for faculty participants as they choose to either develop a new interdisciplinary course that connects

the humanities with technology, or create an interdisciplinary module for an existing course. The Making Connections project has three components. Each Seminar begins with a presentation by internal or external scholars, open to the entire College community, followed by a more intimate discussion of the topic and readings attended by the scholar and the Fellows.

The most direct and immediate impact will occur in the new curriculum that is developed by the Fellows.

Ultimately, their work will result in one or more interdisciplinary courses now mandated parts of the curriculum at City Tech. In addition to this, both Fellows and Project Directors will circulate their experiences and their acquired insights beyond CUNY through conference presentations, and articles. Most of all, we envision Making Connections as the beginning of the next phase of institutional transformation in City Tech’s engagement with General Education. The essential intellectual mission of General Education at a 21st century college of technology is to make the connections, institutionally and intellectually, that will inspire and equip students in a deep and sustained reflection on the social and cultural implications of technology.

Project Director Geoff Zylstra Social Science

Fellows Damon Baker Entertainment Technology

Robin Michals Advertising Design and Graphic Arts

Co-Project Director Ann Delilkan Humanities

Jill Belli English

Collaborating Faculty Richard Hanley English

Candido Cabo Computer Systems Technology Sean MacDonald Social Science

Anne Marie Sowder Construction Management and Civil Engineering Technology Christopher Swift Humanities


Shelley Smith Architectural Technology

This grant will enable the College to enmesh intellectual connectedness in the very fabric of our courses, bringing General Education and specialized courses into meaningful relation.



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NEH Seminar Bridging Cultures : Science, Technology, and the Humanities Geoff Zylstra


Slaton, a historian of engineering education from Drexel University, imagined ways to move beyond the intellectual divisions in the university by asking what being a humanist means in the context of a culture devoted to industrial capitalism. She answered this question by advocating a reflexive focus on questions without certain answers. The vexation and self analysis caused by these kinds of questions produces students with greater analytic abilities and a broader sense of human welfare. Slaton began her talk by pointing out that the lines between disciplinary categories have cultural roots. We treat the various realms that we have constructed as significantly different and neglect to see similarities and connections. Sculpture and surgery, she pointed out, share very little epistemologically but have a great deal in common. These demarcations are cultural and need to be problematized in the university. At the same time, the commonalities of different disciplines should be highlighted.


hydraulic engineer who asks his students to sit, backs pressed against a tree, and eyes closed, envision liquid moving from the roots to the extremities of the tree. A photographer who wants her students to think about how the social importance of lipstick relates to the lighting of a television commercial. A writing professor who asks students to write the worst possible thesis statement. These examples of creative teaching animated Dr. Amy Slaton’s presentation on problems of disciplinary divisions at the opening Seminar for the NEH Making Connections.


In the modern context, the connections between humanism, science, and technology lie in a framework of social improvement. Slaton explained that humanistic intent becomes a “mantle of caring” in the technical disciplines. Humanism represents a forwardlooking goal of science and technology rather than something designed into the technical processes themselves. Our current mindset is outcomes focused, set by the parameters of scientific problems solving. Indeed, if we want our airplanes to stay up in the air, our computers to operate and the lights to turn on when we flip the switch, we need to supply the correct answer to specific technical problems. But this type of thinking also shortchanges us. Proficiency

and outcomes focused education often neglect the deep thinking and intellectual risk taking required for innovation and ethical deliberations. Perhaps, Dr. Slaton contemplated, disruption, confusion, and intellectual chaos should sometimes be learning outcomes in our courses. Ultimately, the humanities will help us and our students interrogate human connections with other parts of nature, technology, and occupational environments, all of these critical to technically oriented education.


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Reflections of a Practitioner My Teaching Philosophy


Gwen Cohen-Brown

How would you describe yourself as a teacher? I strive to create an open, interactive and engaging classroom environment that rewards critical thinking, application of knowledge and supports intellectual curiosity. Upon completion of the Associate Degree program in the Department of Dental Hygiene and passage of their licensing exams our students will be licensed professionals in New York State. It is up to us-their faculty-to ensure they have the necessary tools, skills, knowledge and behaviors to be an essential component of the oral health care team. Many dentists rely on their hygienists to provide, in addition to routine dental hygiene care, oral cancer screenings, community outreach and individualized patient care.

Why is academic service learning so much a part of your work? Students transition from learning theory to applying theory in the Dental Hygiene Clinic. Every student must provide an intra-oral extra-oral exam and an oral cancer screening on every 14


new and recall patient. And we have had the opportunity to provide free oral cancer screenings to the Brooklyn community. The students and faculty have generously donated their time to see patients through the oral cancer screenings and all have benefited greatly from the process. Our students learn that they have both the power and responsibility to save lives. They graduate knowing that they are professionals capable of positively impacting their patient’s lives and that their approach to patient care, their affect, will directly affect their capacity to provide proactive appropriate oral health care to their community. Students take ownership of this responsibility and long after they graduate they continue to apply what they have learned in our classrooms and clinics in private practice.

What is your teaching philosophy and who and what have shaped it? I have had the opportunity to work with some amazing professors during my undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate education. Simply I looked at

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the most effective professors I have had and tried to emulate their style. I also looked at my least favorite professors and decided that the ‘Socratic’ method of teaching was not for me.

I believe that effective teachers: •

Are always learning and encourage a love of learning

Are prompt, organized, and prepared

Teach to Learn – not to Memorize

Create an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect – teach with humor and understanding

Serve as a mentor and role model

Promote cultural sensitivity and respect for diversity

Sharing my knowledge and expertise with students is fundamental to effective teaching; doing so in a nonthreatening positive manner is essential to their learning.

Noyce Explorers Scholars Teachers

NSF Funds a $1.4M

STEM Teacher Preparation Collaboration with Borough of Manhattan Community College Pa Her


he City Tech National Science Foundation Noyce Scholarship program Noyce Explorer, Scholar, Teacher (NEST) inaugurated in January 2014 to address the severe local and national challenge of staffing middle and high school classrooms with well-qualified mathematics, science, and computer technology teachers. An annual scholarship will be used to support outstanding students majoring in STEM disciplines who would like to become middle or high school mathematics or science teachers in high-need New York City schools. NEST will address teacher under-preparation by recruiting, retaining, and graduating a community of Computer Systems Technology and Applied Mathematics students who will both receive STEM degrees and be certified to teach the disciplines of math, science, and computer science to students. Public schools in low-income neighborhoods such as central Brooklyn and the Bronx are often classified as highneed because of their difficulties in


Preparing the Next Generation of Exceptional Mathematics and Technology Teachers for New York City NEST PROJEC T DIREC TORS ANDREW DOUGL AS AND FANGYANG SHEN RECRUIT NOYCE SCHOL ARS.

attracting and retaining teachers. Often times, a significant number of STEM teachers are not certified to teach in the disciplines to which they are assigned. Since City Tech’s multi-cultural student body reflects the demographic diversity of the New York metropolitan area, with a significant majority having graduated from the NYC public school system, NEST is likely to impact the race-ethnic disparity gap in STEM by increasing the number of under-represented minorities who teach and serve as role models and mentors for under-served students in STEM. NEST has a three-tiered structure: Noyce Explorers are a cohort of associate-level STEM students from both Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC) and City Tech who receive stipends to participate in an accelerated hands-on summer program at BMCC (an in-house technical support internships at both colleges). Giving Explorers exposure to teaching as a profession is a primary aim of this program tier; Noyce Scholars are a cohort of baccalaureate-level STEM students who are competitively chosen to receive scholarships of at least $10,000 per year, in exchange for a commitment to teach math or technology in NYC middle or high schools. For each year of scholarship support, recipients must

teach for two years; Noyce Teachers are a cohort of post-baccalaureate participants who receive ongoing support as they are inducted into the teaching profession and fulfill their required teaching obligation. The tiered project design will facilitate critical transition points for STEM students as they attain associate degrees, progress through the baccalaureate degree in a STEM discipline, obtain licensure as middle and high school STEM teachers, and enter the teaching profession. The five-year Noyce grant builds upon a strong relationship between City Tech and the New York City Department of Education, including the long-standing partnership between the Career and Technology Teacher Education (CTTE) program and schools where students practice teach, the Early College partnerships with City Poly and P-TECH, and College Now programs. The NEST project team started recruitment activities in Fall 2013, and has so far attracted more than 80 students at both City Tech and BMCC. To date NEST program has engaged 25 students as Noyce explorers, summer program participants. The three week summer program, June 2-19, 2014 will be held at BMCC.


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Faculty Lead Assessment Tammie Cumming

It has been rewarding to watch the evolution of the assessment effort at the College since I arrived in 2009. At that time, the President and Provost established the City Tech Assessment Committee, which served as a steering committee for the school assessment committees. Initially, the dean of the respective school served as the committee chair and the Office of Assessment and Institutional Research (AIR) initiated policies to identify and assess a critical course for each program/department, as well as develop a General Education assessment process. At first, faculty were led primarily by the AIR team. The level of faculty involvement has been both impressive and evolving. In accordance with assessment best practices, the long-term goal was met. We have transitioned from an administratively led assessment team to identifying faculty Co-Chairs for each school’s assessment committee. This movement is a reflection of the transition to a sustainable approach that is faculty driven and has a meaningful impact for our students and programs. The faculty now leading their school’s assessment committees have a deep understanding that assessment helps to gather the necessary data to make informed decisions and continuously improve the College’s offerings and student success. As a way of introducing our schools’ new Assessment Committee Faculty Co-Chairs, we asked them to comment on some key questions.

What are some ways in your School that learning is demonstrated?

Susan Nilsen-Kupsch

Benito Mendoza

Sarah Standing

Learning has increased due to the action plans put in place after courses were assessed. That need for more focused learning was realized and a tutoring program, first funded by a Perkins grant, has shown that students have increased their skills with this guided form of practice. Faculty who work with WAC Writing Fellows have introduced scaffolded writing assignments that allow students the opportunity to improve their writing skills with feedback that is targeted to each segment of the assignment.

Our students show what they have learned with their final projects that include both system prototypes and reports, and oral presentations. Many of our students participate in national and international competitions and some of them have won important places. At the program level we evaluate several student outcomes and competencies, including the ones recommended by the Engineering Technology Accreditation Commission (ETAC) from ABET, using both direct and indirect methods.

Learning is demonstrated through tests, essays, etc—traditional forms of classroom assessment. Learning is also demonstrated in several vital and perhaps less obvious ways as well. Our courses provides background and context—the deep and broad perspective for the professions. Students’ ability to relate to the world around them, asking “why?” is equal to an expectation to read and write, to communicate verbally with vigor, nuance, and tact, these are all functions of the School of Arts and Sciences.

Dental Hygiene School of Professional Studies



Computer Engineering Technology School of Technology and Design

Volume 5 | Spring 2014

Humanities School of Arts and Sciences

How will your role fulfill the promise of increasing retention and improving instruction in your School? I view my role as helping my colleagues to understand the value of assessment to our students’ education and to our own gratification/pride when we know that we are helping the student to learn. Students may leave school if they become frustrated that they are not learning. By assessing its courses and programs, instructors/the college will have a better picture of what the student is learning and not learning and will take steps to find out why: monitoring learning outcomes; adjusting content and teaching practices to improve learning and retain students. Increased learning=increased retention

Susan Phillip

Hospitality Management School of Professional Studies Continuously assessing students learning outcomes will provide us with a way of gauging students learning of required material. My role will be help everyone involved take a snap shot of what learning and retention looks like in the School of Arts and Sciences. My involvement in assessment will help faculty and staff improve learning activities which will lead to improved pedagogy and ultimately improve student learning and retention. By doing so hopefully everyone involved will be better prepared to ensure students get the best set of instructions and learning tools.

Ralph Alcendor

Biological Sciences School of Arts and Sciences

Why is assessment of general education, programs, or courses an important aspect of actualizing the mission of the College? Assessment of all student learning - be it general education or program specific - is an important aspect of actualizing the mission of the College which is to prepare a “technically proficient work force.” Technology is changing rapidly, and we as a College must work to continuously improve and update our programs. Assessment of student learning allows us to see exactly how well we are preparing our students for the work force and beyond. General Education supports our collective mission to provide “the educational foundation for lifelong learning.”

Gerarda Shields

Construction Management & Civil Engineering Technology School of Technology and Design


Volume 5 | Spring 2014



is country made the news His country made the news. It’s been a while since other nations noticed its existence but now – it’s a front page story now.

It’s on computer screens, in papers, on TV. It is discussed by experts, and non-experts, excited, mispronounce distant names and ask him what’s the matter with his country and why it is exploding, splintered, split. They want a simple answer. There is none. It is too painful to opine about and nearly impossible to explain. His country made the news – but wait, for what? It’s for the brutal conflict, not achievement. There is some ugly truth on either side. What’s real is the harshness of the fight. It is a fight for freedom, this is true, the freedom from oppression, by oppression and for oppression. Only time will tell what justified the cruel crazy spell. The nation is destroyed. Long live the nation! What do you want – the Requiem or the ovation? Spectators watch explosions, fires, fights but he can see the streets of long ago when they were peaceful. 2014.03.18 Vasily Kolchenko



Volume 5 | Spring 2014


Ralph R. Alcendor is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences. His research interests include Oxidative Stress and cell survival mechanisms. Dr. Alcender is presently looking at the effect of plant extracts on stress resistant mechanisms in Tetrahymena thermophila. Sandra Cheng is an Assistant Professor of art history in the Department of Humanities. Her research interests include early modern drawings, caricature, art theory, and the history of collecting. She is also the Communications Lead for CityTech’s Department of Education, Living Lab grant: Revitalizing General Education for a 2st-Century College of Technology. Gwen Cohen-Brown is a Professor in the Dental Hygiene Department, a licensed Dentist in New York State and a Fellow in the Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology. Dr. Brown is the Dental Expert for WebMD and faculty at the NY/NJ AIDS Education and Training Center. She has lectured extensively on the topic of HIV/AIDS, Common Oral Lesions, Infection Control, and Oral Cancer since 1992.

Benito Mendoza is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Engineering Technology. Before joining City Tech, he worked as postdoctoral research engineering at ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company. His research interests are in the areas of Multiagent Systems, Situation Awareness, Artificial Intelligence for Education, and Social Computing. Susan Nilsen-Kupsch is an Assistant Professor in the Dental Hygiene Department. Because of her position as a clinic coordinator, she and colleague Maria Bilello have established a clinical remediation program open to all dental hygiene students. Scholarly interests include educating the dental community on the topic of Plastics and BPA in dental materials through lectures and publications. Susan Phillip is an Associate Professor in the Department of Hospitality Management. Her area of expertise is tourism. She teaches Geography of Travel and Tourism, Sustainable Tourism, Urban Tourism, and Hospitality Management Research Seminar.

Pa Her is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Social Science. Her research interests focuses on three, interrelated areas: (1) socialization beliefs and behaviors across cultures, (2) parent-child relationships and their interactions during early childhood and adolescence, and (3) the effects of family background and culture on self development, well-being and social competence.

Gerarda Shields is an Associate Professor in the Department of Construction Management and Civil Engineering Technology and faculty advisor to the American Society of Civil Engineers student chapter. She is a licensed civil engineer whose expertise is bridge hydrology and hydraulics. Her research interests echo her professional practice, studying the impact of climate change projections on New York City area bridges.

John Huntington is a Professor in the Department of Entertainment Technology. Through his consulting company, Zircon Designs, Huntington freelances as an entertainment and show control systems consultant, author, and sound designer/engineer. His photographs are displayed on his blog, blog/2014/2/2/cuba.

Sarah Ann Standing is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Humanities where she teaches theatre and communication. Her research interest lies in the intersections of theatre, performance and ecology and she has published in Readings in Performance and Ecology (Palgrave), PAJ, Theatre Topics, The Eugene O’Neill Review, American Theatre, and Western European Stages.

Vasily Kolchenko was born and educated in Kiev, Ukraine, and moved to New York in 1994. He is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences. He also teaches Bioinformatics and conducts his biosensor research at NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering. His interests include playing and performing music, writing songs and poetry, and developing innovative pedagogical techniques.

Geoffrey D. Zylstra is an Associate Professor of history in the Department of Social Science who studies the design of technology and nature in urban spaces, passionately examining how social relationships connect to the built environment. He is a Contributing Editor to the Journal Technology and Culture and serves as chair of Women in Technological History.


Volume 5 | Spring 2014




Volume 5 | Spring 2014

Nucleus Volume 5 Spring 2014  

Nucleus Volume 5 A Faculty Commons Quarterly