UAFS ‘STEM’ students present posters in Little Rock

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 164 views 

Four students from the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith were among a group of 90 from 14 higher education institutions across the state making presentations Feb. 6 at the STEM Posters at the Capitol event in Little Rock.

Presenters were Theva Chanthaseny, Chris Arnold and Kevin Tran of Fort Smith and Jessie Cunningham of Mulberry. Accompanying the four were Dr. Ragupathy Kannan of Fort Smith, professor of biological sciences, and Dr. Kevin Lewelling of Fort Smith, professor of electrical engineering.

The event allowed STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) undergraduates a forum to talk about their scientific work with elected state officials, the media, the general public and other undergraduates and faculty.

Chanthaseny’s topic was “Mars Rover Project.” Arnold and Tran’s poster was on “An Efficient Passenger Size Electronic Vehicle.” Cunningham’s topic was “Status and Dispersal of the Exotic Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto) in Arkansas.”

This type of exhibition provides an opportunity to showcase student work, according to Dr. Mark Arant of Muldrow, dean of the College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics at UAFS.

“I know we have some outstanding work being done by our students, and this will give UAFS a chance for that work to be seen by others across the state,” said Arant. “We are told that last year’s event attracted the attention of legislators and state officials as well, which gives those officials an opportunity to view the quality of what is taking place in higher education classrooms.”

Kannan agreed.

“Jessie is one of our best biology major students,” said Kannan. “I gave her the chance to go beyond the classroom and do some original research concerning a new bird for Arkansas. Her performance was scholarly, and a paper of this work has been accepted for publication in the next issue of the Journal of Arkansas Academy of Science, due in April 2013. The opportunity to present a poster at the Capitol is an added feather on her cap.”

The work done by Arnold, Tran and Chanthaseny is also impressive, according to Lewelling.

“I have worked with Chris Arnold and Kevin Tran for over two years outside of the classroom,” said Lewelling. “Both are engaged in designing a critical part of a second generation Battery Electric Vehicle with research, design and construction. Chris’ work is focused on the specialized BEV electronic control. Kevin’s project is on an efficient voltage rectifier.”

Lewelling said he was “extremely proud” of the students. Arnold and Tran have presented talks and posters at multiple conferences, and Chanthaseny is the recipient of a 2012 Arkansas Space Grant Collaborative Research Program scholarship.

“Theva began working on the Mars Rover Project in summer of 2012,” he said. “This is a joint project with Harding University. Harding is responsible for the mechanical systems, and UAFS is responsible for electronics. To date, Theva has designed and tested a scaled version of the rover which is autonomously guided. Currently, she is in the process of constructing the printed circuit boards used to speed control the two electronic motors, which requires not only hardware design, but also significant microcontroller programming.”
Two sessions were held during the morning, with participants then hearing luncheon speaker Dr. Richard F. Jacobs, president of the Arkansas Children’s Hospital Research Institute. In addition to UAFS, other participating institutions included Arkansas State University, Arkansas Tech University, Harding University, Henderson State University, Hendrix College, John Brown University, Ouachita Baptist University, Philander Smith College, University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, University of Arkansas at Little Rock, University of Arkansas at Monticello, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and University of Central Arkansas.

The STEM Posters at the Capitol event was coordinated by Dr. Patrick Desrochers, professor in the Chemistry Department at the University of Central Arkansas.