Tag Archives: Trinetia Respress

New TSU, NASA partnership promotes STEM education in Middle Tennessee high schools

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Some of the next generation of NASA astronauts, scientists and engineers may just have their beginning at Tennessee State University. TSU and the federal agency are expanding an existing STEM education program to include high school students in Middle Tennessee. The new initiative is funded with a $480,000 NASA grant over a period of three years.  

Dr. Trinetia Respress

“We are moving into Middle Tennessee to work with high schools,” says Dr. Trinetia Respress, principal investigator of the MUREP Aerospace Academy at TSU.   

“The goals of our project are to inspire, engage and educate students and their families about the infinite possibilities in STEM degrees and careers.  Basically, we want to provide them with STEM education that will support them in their pursuit  of STEM degrees prior to entering college.”

Under MUREP or the Minority University Research and Education Program, the NASA-funded initiative had served only K-8 students, teaching them to design, build, and program robots, as well as learn simple mechanics, sensor functionality, and automation. With the new funding, TSU’s College of Education will target grades 9-12 students in Middle Tennessee. The goal is to get students interested in STEM careers when they enter college.   

Dr. Janet Finch, interim dean of the College of Education, says she is thankful to NASA for expanding the MUREP program to the high school level.   

Cayla Jeff

“Given the successes that have already been achieved with grades K-8th, we look forward to including high school students in our STEM efforts,” says Finch.   

TSU students from different disciplines, specifically the STEM area, will be recruited to participate in the program as mentors to the high school students.  Londee Boyd will be one of them.  The Memphis native is pursuing her doctorate in educational leadership, with a focus on PreK-12.   

“As a teacher at heart, I have enjoyed partnering with the project to encourage, educate and equip our youth with dynamic learning experiences immersed in STEM,” says Boyd. “With the growing demand for STEM-related careers, it is vital to have accessible programs, like the MUREP project, lead the charge in preparing our youth to become future leaders.”   

Cayla Jeff, a senior biology major from Cleveland, will also mentor the high school students.   

“I have enjoyed working with the MUREP project over the last four years. I am very excited to continue moving forward to interact with more students and grow even bigger as a team. I cannot wait to inspire our youth and show them they have so many options to be successful in the future.”   

Sosiak Makonnen will handle overall implementation of the project.

Dr. Jennifer Berry, MNPS’ director of STEAM and Science, says that the new NASA program under the university’s MUREP Aerospace Academy will help enhance Metro schools’ STEM initiatives.     

“This program will benefit our students as they will have an opportunity to engage with professionals in STEM with innovative STEM activities that will pique their interest in STEM degree and careers,” says Berry.  

Respress, who is also professor of educational leadership in the College of Education, says TSU will recruit 100 high school students from MNPS and the surrounding Middle Tennessee areas for the program.

“We have had a long collaboration with MNPS, but it has been with students in grades K-8, so we are excited to continue our partnership with MNPS by moving into high schools,” says Respress.

Dr. Kisha C. Bryan, professor in the College of Education, is one of the co-principal investigators of the new interdisciplinary NASA project.  

“I’m excited about the opportunity to expose Nashville’s diverse high schoolers to a culturally responsive STEM curriculum,” says Bryan. “It is my hope that this community-based, cross-college partnership results in a more racially diverse population of high school students pursuing STEM education degrees. “   

Other co-PIs are Dr. Ranganathan Parthasarathy, assistant professor in the College of Engineering, and Dr. Owen Johnson, professor in the College of Health Sciences. Sosiak Makonnen, program manager in the College of Education, is responsible for the overall implementation of the new program.  

The program will start January of 2023. For more information, contact Dr. Trinetia Respress at [email protected] or Ms. Sosiak Makonnen at [email protected].

NASA ‘Dare to Dream’ STEM Education Workshop Engages 200 Students in Robotics, Flight Simulation, Math Games

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – More than 200 students in grades K-8 from Davidson County and surrounding areas recently took part in a NASA-funded, one-day STEM education workshop at Tennessee State University.

A parent participates with her children in an activity at Dare to Dream STEM Saturday. (Submitted Photo)

Called “Dare to Dream STEM Saturday,” the workshop in April engaged students in scientific experiments, and engineering design processes, such as robotics, coding, drones, virtual reality, flight simulation and math games.

 The TSU College of Education, in partnership with Metro Nashville Public Schools, hosted the workshop under the Minority University Research Education Project, or MUREP, a NASA program at the university.  

Led by TSU undergraduate STEM students and MNPS teachers, the workshop included a Family Engagement component that allowed parents to engage their children in the various projects.

A student controls a robot using a tablet. (Submitted Photo)

“Dare to Dream STEM Saturday was designed to celebrate minority innovators in science, technology, engineering and math,” said Dr. Trinetia Respress, director of the TSU MUREP project and interim assistant dean of Assessment and Accreditation in the COE. “It was very rewarding to see students and parents engaged in brainstorming in various activities.”

Among some of the activities, students used an engineering process to build a structure that could handle a load, by testing factors affecting the strength and stability of the structure. Using a template, the students also created a rocket that they launched from a soda straw.

Shaliyah Brooks, a junior English major, from Atlanta, was one of the TSU students who led the workshop. As a technology specialist for the workshop, she exposed the students to  robots through demonstrations on how they work, using devices such as parents’ personal phones or tablets.

A mother and daughter celebrate as they complete an activity at the workshop. (Submitted Photo)

“I definitely think that the students were excited to be there,” Brooks said. “They got a chance to play all day and in a way that was educational. They were very hands-on working with their parents.”

For more information on the Tennessee Minority University Research and Education Project at TSU, go to http://www.tnstate.edu/murep/about.aspx

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209

About Tennessee State University

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU 2018 Summer Camps Emphasize STEM, Music, Arts; More than 1,500 Participating in Nearly 40 Programs

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Summer is here, and that means the start of camps and programs that allow youngsters to have some fun, engage in educational enrichment activities, as well as gain real-world experience.

This year, nearly 1,500 students from kindergarten through college freshmen, coming from as far as Maryland and California, will participate in more than 40 summer camps and programs on the two TSU campuses.

Among them is 13-year-old Adia Diane Gonzales, one of more than 400 students in grades K-8 participating in the Minority University Research and Education Program, a two-week NASA-funded camp that teaches children to design, build, and program robots. The project includes learning simple mechanics, sensor functionality, programming basics, and automation.

“This is just fascinating,“ says the H.G. Hill Middle Prep School 8th-grader, as she and her teammates use remote-controlled devices to command robots they built in just the first two days of the camp.

Christopher Clegg, a TSU graduate student in Computer Information Systems Engineering, is a robotics instructor in the MUREP camp. He works with 7th graders Faheem Mohamed, left, Kemontez Johnson and Dhruv Reddy. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

Gonzales, who up to attending MUREP had not quite settled on what she wants to become, says she is hooked.

“I wanted to be a surgeon, an animator or an artist. I have never built a robot before. But now being able to actually have some experience in building robotics and coding has me interested,” she says.

And that’s the goal of the MUREP program, says Dr. Trinetia Respress, principal investigator of the project.

“The purpose of the MUREP program is to stimulate the minds of young children who would not otherwise consider a career in STEM,” says Respress, who is also interim assistant dean for assessment and accreditation in the College of Education.

“Our belief is that if we expose them early to STEM concepts, they will consider attending TSU and majoring in a STEM discipline,” she says.

Jalen Miller, an incoming TSU freshman from Atlanta, in the ECI camp, uses his iPhone to control a robotic arm. Miller will major in Aeronautical and Industrial Technology. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

In the College of Engineering, 11 high school seniors are getting a head start on college work. They are participating in the Engineering Concepts Institute, a four-week pre-college, residential program intended to prepare participants for academic success in the mathematical sciences or engineering disciplines.

Participants in the ECI program are incoming freshmen who have been accepted to attend TSU in the fall.

Returning for the second year is the Verizon Innovative Learning Summer Camp, which runs from June 4-15. Intended for students ages 10-14, the Verizon camp allows minority males in grades 6-8 to interact with technology.

Rashad Bailey, coordinator and lead counselor in the ECI camp, left, carries on an illustration to students in his program. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

Another returning favorite this year is the Summer Apprenticeship Program, or SAP, offered by the College of Agriculture. It is a science-based initiative for college freshmen and rising high school seniors that exposes them to cutting-edge research. It runs from June 11 – July 13. Thirty students from 10 states will participate in the program this year.

For those into music and the arts, the Community Academy of Music and Arts , or CAMA, is hosting various camps in music, piano, drama, and visual and literary arts. The camps are designed to expose participants to different artistic mediums, crafts and songs.

In addition to early learning activities for kids 5 years and up — such as Little Tigers Football Camp, and Basketball Kids Camp — summer camp themes and subjects range from science, applied mathematics and engineering, to music, athletics, real-world scientific work, and cutting-edge research.

Aspiring young writers also have a chance to hone their skills in  the Little Authors Camp, which runs June 11-15.

Other summer camps are the Pre-Engineering Program to Stimulate Interest in Engineering (P.E.P.S.I.E.) (7/9 -7/13), Biotechnology Summer Camp (June 10-15), CAMA Blues Kids Camp (7/2 – 7/6), Joe Gilliam Football Camp (6/5 – 6/11), Edward L. Graves Summer Band Camp (6/23 – 6/30), STEM Summer Camp (6/24 – 6/29), and Upward Bound Program (6/3 – 7/6), among others.

For a complete list of summer camps and programs, and contacts, go to http://www.tnstate.edu/events/camps.aspx

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209

About Tennessee State University

With more than 8,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 25 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU Offerings, Culture of Diversity and Inclusion Attracting International Students

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Eman Abdulrahman Alharbi spent only three years at Tennessee State University, but she is leaving with a bit of proud history, as the first student from Saudi Arabia to earn a doctorate at TSU.

Eman Abdulrahman Alharbi received an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership at last fall’s graduation. (Submitted Photo)

Her history-making feat, though, may be short-lived if the current influx of students from her country is any indication. She is part of a growing number of international students from Saudi Arabia that call TSU home. Records show more than 70 percent of the nearly 570 foreign students at TSU are from Saudi Arabia.

This is a good thing, university officials say.

“Ninety-nine percent of these Saudi students come here fully funded by their government as Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission scholars,” says Mark Brinkley, director of International Education in the Office of International Affairs.

Studies show the surge of Saudi students is not unique to TSU.

Nationally, Saudi Arabia ranks fourth with 4.9 percent of total 1.08 million international students in the U.S., only behind China, South Korea and India.

Students representing various nations, participate in a pageant organized by the Office of International Affairs. (Photo by OIA)

An annual report by the Institute of International Education and the State Department shows that the number of international students in the United States increased by 3.4 percent over the prior year. The rise marks the 11th consecutive year of expansion in the number of foreign students in the U.S. This is also a dramatic jump from the fewer than 600,000 who studied here just a decade ago, according to the report.

Experts attribute this rise to expanded higher education opportunities. At TSU, Brinkley says the university is offering what the students want and providing an environment that makes them want to stay, and that makes others want to come.

The biggest draw, he says, is the university’s highly accredited engineering program.

Saudi students offer a Taste of Saudi Arabia during a cultural festival at TSU (Photo by OIA)

“They select TSU because we have been able to offer the majors that they want to enter, particularly in the field of engineering,” says Brinkley. “Well over half of our engineering majors are SACM students.”

Dr. S. Keith Hargrove, dean of the TSU College of Engineering, is not surprised by the influx of foreign students in his program. He says in addition to quality, the TSU program is designed around providing students an environment that appreciates differences in culture, race, origin and background.

““Our goal in the College of Engineering is to produce what we call the ‘global engineer,’ says Hargrove.  “This is a graduate who is prepared to demonstrate technical competency to work anywhere in the world. This objective has been supported by our study-abroad program and the invitation to international students to complete their engineering degree at TSU.”

South American students provide entertainment at a cultural festival on campus (Photo by OIA)

For Alharbi, who earned an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership at last fall’s graduation, the TSU culture of diversity and inclusion was the welcoming factor.

“My advisor at MTSU (Middle Tennessee State University) where I received my master’s degree, recommended me to Tennessee State University, and I am glad I came,” says Alharbi. “The people made me feel at home. TSU has great professors, who never gave up on me even though there was a language barrier.”

Alharbi is not alone. Even though these international students come very determined to succeed, the language barrier can be a major stumbling block for many – not just Saudis. This is another area where TSU stands out – helping students navigate the language difficulty and succeed.

Officials of the Office of International Affairs: Mark Brinkley, Director of International Education, left; Dr. Jewell Winn, Executive Director of OIA; and Mark Gunter, Director of International Affairs (Photo by OIA)

Dr. Trinetia Respress is the interim assistant dean in the College of Education, who also mentored and advised Alharbi. She says professors must “actually be ready to go beyond and give extra support” to help these international students overcome the language barrier.

“As a person, I saw Eman to be a very tenacious and determined person who wasn’t going to allow anything to turn her around,” says Respress. “It is that she actually wanted it and she went after it. She is a very good student and very bright.”

Alharbi earned her doctorate in three years at TSU. Her interest is in higher education accreditation with a goal to help more Saudi universities gain international accreditation. And Her dissertation, “Preparing Saudi Universities for International Accreditation in the Area of Government and Leadership,” reflects that desire.

“My plan is to work with Saudi universities in evaluating outcomes and assessing the weaknesses and strengths in helping them get international accreditation,” says Alharbi. “I want to work with accrediting agencies and to bridge the disconnect between universities in the United States and my country in the area of accreditation.”

According to Brinkley, Alharbi represents the kind of “international ambassadors” that TSU cultivates.

“In most instances, our surge is the result of word-of-mouth referrals about the culture here at TSU being supportive,” says Brinkley. “That’s what draws them here. They find our programs to be academically and culturally supportive by offering the majors they are looking for and an environment suited to their needs.”

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209

About Tennessee State University

With more than 8,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 25 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.