Even if you don’t find math the most engaging topic, it’s hard not to appreciate how NC State alumnus Robert Allison uses math to make interactive maps.
With the recent mystery of the missing Malaysia Airlines flight, many people have taken an interest in airplane disappearances. Allison has been interested in airplanes since he was a child because his father was a pilot in the Navy.
Allison, who earned his undergraduate (1987), masters (1990) and doctoral (1996) degrees at NC State, has worked with visual analytics at SAS for over 20 years. He recently developed an interactive map that shows the major unexplained airplane disappearances since 1948.
“NC State is where I learned how to do the graphics and use the SAS software and mapping techniques,” says Allison, who lives in Cary, N.C.
The interactive map he made was based off of one he found while researching the missing airplane on Bloomberg’s website. By downloading a spreadsheet of data from the Aviation Safety Network and using the SAS programming language, he created a new map that contained much more information than the original.
“My goal was just to find a map that I like and make a better version of it,” Allison says. “It’s easy to understand and easy to use.”
Allison focuses on making simple graphics that maximize efficiency. With the map he has created of missing airplanes, researchers could see if there are any trends of which airports these airplanes took off from or make more detailed data sets related to pilot experience or other factors that could have led to these lost airplanes.
“We could potentially utilize some of SAS’ analytic capabilities to help find the missing plane,” he says. “For example, they found 122 pieces of debris in satellite photos that might be from the missing plane – we could use SAS/OR (Operations Research) to optimize the order in which they investigate these 122 pieces, so that they do that in the shortest distance & time.”
Making maps is not new for Allison, but he still enjoys making them for their interactivity and potential for data analysis. Allison has created hundreds of maps and graphics, including maps that track the flu epidemic in California, show the debris from a space shuttle explosion and track iPhone versus Android phone usage by state.
“I’m currently working on a map to try to show all the known information about the missing Flight 370 on one single map,” Allison says.
These maps have the potential to help solve the mystery behind missing airplanes. Allison hopes that future efforts will be made with SAS technology to further this research and find out why some of these disappearances happen.
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Student disenchantment with U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War was typically most visible through protests staged on college campuses. But anti-war sentiment could also be seen in a decrease in the number of students who took part in ROTC.
That was certainly true at NC State. On this day in 1971, the Technician reported that enrollment in ROTC programs at NC State had dropped significantly from the previous year. Col. William Boylston, who was in charge of Army ROTC at NC State, said enrollment was down 15-20 percent from the previous year. Col. O.T. Reeves, head of Air Force ROTC, also said enrollment was down (although he did not provide specific numbers).
Boylston and Reeves attributed the drop to an anti-military feeling on college campuses, although they indicated that those feelings may not have been as deep at NC State.
“We are a very obvious target because of Vietnam,” Boylston said. “It has some influence here at State, although there is not a great anti-military feeling here. We can’t say for sure how much influence it has had.”
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Chris Wimberley spent his childhood dreaming up songs in his head.
And though he didn’t go on to win a Grammy, he now helps artists get their own songs out of their heads and recorded for anyone to listen to as a producer and mixing engineer at Carrboro’s Nightsound Studios. He opened the studio in 2001.
“I’ve been writing songs since I was seven, and having greater control over those songs was originally something I wanted to do for me, but I get just as much, if not more, from helping other people with their songs,” says Wimberley, who graduated from NC State with an arts application degree in 2000.
During college, Wimberley had an apprenticeship at a local recording studio in Raleigh. He also had a mentor, Rodney Waschka, an NC State music professor, who became one of Wimberley’s first clients at Nightsound Studios.
Some larger music recording studios tend to be expensive, and sometimes artists do not get the personal attention they crave. But at Nightsound, Wimberley, 37, has created a place to redefine the music studios of the past and make them more community-based and affordable for anyone who wants to record a song.
“Nightsound has a creative atmosphere, and it’s a community resource,” Wimberley says. “We’re able to accommodate all of these very talented clients from all different kinds of music.”
Wimberley said that the studio has as many as five clients in one day. Musicians recording their music at Nightsound are of various experience levels and have different goals for their music. The staff members at Nightsound help with every step in the process to make sure that the song each client composes is recorded just like they want it.
Engineer Geneva Walata , left, and producer/ engineer Chris Wimberley, right.
“This place is really accepting and open to everyone,” says Geneva Walata, an apprentice at Nightsound and sophomore at NC State.
The variety of genres recorded at Nightsound make for a diverse culture within the studio. This diversity was a primary factor when Wimberley chose Carrboro for the location. “This town is one of the most artistic, creative, twilight-zone wonderlands that you could have an artistic business in,” Wimberley says. “ It’s just perfect for that stuff.”
Some of the artists who have worked with Nightsound are Morning Brigade, Davis Coen, Future Kings of Nowhere and Chase Rice – all from different genres, ranging from country to indie rock. “Expanding and redefining what a recording studio is for all these diverse and talented artists is still a challenge,” says Wimberley, “but it’s definitely a job that I love.”
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One of the more scandalous would-be visitors in NC State’s history was Playboy model June Wilkinson. The pin-up girl was set to appear on campus in 1962, but the appearance was axed on this day 52 years ago.
The reason why was never totally revealed. According to The Technician, Wilkinson’s appearance was canceled due to one of two reasons. Either school administrators feared she would create too much “havoc” with the anticipated number of young men that would come to see her, or there simply was not room given that Gov. Terry Sanford was scheduled to appear on the same day.
Some even implied it might have been a matter of one not measuring up to the other. “June Wilkinson, allegedly 42-21-39 (?), lost the chance to appear on the State College campus Saturday to Governor Sanford (measurements unknown),” read the lead in The Technician‘s article about Wilkinson’s failed appearance.
However, Wilkinson kept her promise to appear and showed up at the Western Lanes bowling alley for autographs the following Saturday.
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It used to be that job seekers didn’t need to worry about how they looked until they visited a company for a job interview or made the rounds at a career fair.
But like many other facets of life today, the hunt for a job now often takes place online. And that means that people looking for a job – or to switch jobs – need to be mindful of how they present themselves online.
“The hiring process has changed,” says Fiquet Swain, a 2000 graduate of NC State’s College of Design. “The first thing you do now is go online and go behind the scenes and check the person out.”
As the owner of Luxe Apothecary, a Raleigh beauty store, Swain knows a lot about helping women make a good first impression. So she has teamed up with another NC State alumna, photographer Lindsey Williams, to help other Wolfpack women who may be in the job market.
Swain and Williams are the speakers at an upcoming workshop hosted by the Alumni Association’s Career Services office and the Wake County Alumni Network. They will provide advice on how to best apply makeup for professional photos that can then be used on online sites such as LinkedIn. Williams will also talk about how to plan your wardrobe to get the best photo.
Attendees at the workshop will be entered for the chance to win a professional makeover by Swain and a photo shoot by Williams. The workshop will be held at Luxe Apothecary at 4209 Lassiter Mill Road in Raleigh. The cost is $10 for Alumni Association members and $15 for nonmembers. Registration is required.
“I do makeup for a living,” Swain says. “I know what photographs well. Like it or not, it’s now a big part of the hiring process and networking.”
Swain says that some women make the mistake of thinking that they won’t look professional if they use makeup.
“There’s nothing wrong with looking great,” she says. “People have progressed to the point that they can be attractive and serious. They are not going to be looking like they are going to a nightclub. It’s all a balance and about looking your best.”
Williams, a 2007 graduate of the College of Design, does portrait, wedding and equine photography. She welcomed the chance to give back to NC State and its alumni.
“It’s a great way to help women out, to give them something professional they can use,” Williams says. “I want to help people get the photo that they need, so they can have a professional look.”
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Phillip Scott seemingly had a winning platform back in March of 1972 when he was running for student body president and appealed more to those who were the life of the party than to any political one.
He proposed a system wherein food stamps could be converted to beer stamps that could be redeemed at the student union, and he promised that the parking gates on campus would be replaced with cattle guards to keep the coeds in and enable the men on campus to “run free.” And the Technician reported that he vowed to “clean up the thermal air pollution from the English department.”
Scott had seen a similar strategy two years earlier when Eric Plow used humor in a bid that nearly got him elected president. But at least Plow was a real person.
On this day 42 years ago, the Technician ran a story that Philip Scott and his entire campaign was a fake, which trumped even a story about sweeping changes to dorm policies on campus (that story is the one the accompanying picture refers to).
The article reported that an investigation into Scott’s campaign had yielded the discovery that the address he had provided when he filed to run did not exist. He provided no phone number. And he didn’t appear to be listed in any student records in the registrar’s office.
Scott was disqualified for not being real, a requirement under student law. But the mystery continued as there was at least some temporary realness to myth.
“It is known however, that someone going by the name of Philip A. Scott has been seen around campus for at least the last two weeks,” the article read. “He did file as a candidate, was present at an all-candidates meeting … and submitted a campaign statement to the Technician this weekend.”
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Sometimes, it turns out, a baseball field can be too perfect. Or so Kevin Clark found out when he tried to help a group of African-American and Latino students at at an inner-city school in Washington, D.C., learn math and science by playing educational video games.
Clark, director of the Center for Digital Media Innovation and Diversity at George Mason University, had provided the kids with a template for a video game that used baseball to teach math and science. But something was wrong with Clark’s virtual baseball field.
“They asked me who plays baseball in a place like this?” Clark recalls. “The template I provided them was perfect. It was nicely groomed. It was a suburban field. But for them, it wasn’t their reality. They were empowered to change it, to make it their own.”
Clark, who earned an undergraduate degree (1989) and master’s degree (1991) in computer science at NC State, had no problem accepting that his baseball field didn’t make sense to the students. What mattered to Clark was that the students could use the game’s template to change the field to fit their own reality — and hopefully gain some ownership of the technology in the process.
“The primary issue is changing their mind from one of thinking, ‘You have to use what you’re handed,’ to ‘You can create what you need and make it so it solves your problems,’” he says.
That approach, part of Clark’s larger effort to attract a more diverse group of students to the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) disciplines, was recognized by the White House earlier this month when Clark was named a Champion of Change.
“I was surprised,” Clark says. “I was humbled and appreciative. I like to go quietly about my business. But it has definitely shined the light on the type of work I do, which is good.”
As a professor in George Mason’s College of Education and Human Development, Clark oversees the Center for Digital Media Innovation and Diversity. Clark describes the center as a virtual organization that connects a half dozen professors at George Mason with faculty around the country involved in efforts to use technology to get more minority children and girls interested in STEM disciplines, areas that have traditionally been dominated by white males.
The center is involved in research and outreach, looking for opportunities to increase access to STEM education. One of the center’s initiatives has been to create a national database of summer camps and after-school programs that focus on science and technology, making it easier for parents to find opportunities to expose their children to such programs.
At the center of much of what the center does is Clark’s belief that students need to become creators of technology, not just consumers of technology.
“I want to have students learn how to make stuff,” he says. “When you teach students how to build technology, they become in control of that technology. It’s a much more powerful approach.”
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The student body and university administration had been engaged in a two year pickle of a situation in the early 1970s concerning student food choice on campus.
Sandwiched in that debate was a “general dissatisfaction” among students with only having one option of packaged hoagies, according to the Technician.
NC State’s big cheese, Chancellor John T. Caldwell, told students that he was open to suggestions from student leaders about sandwich suppliers other than ARA (Slater) Services, the lone sandwich supplier on campus.
Two committees made recommendations to him, and on this day in 1972, NC State’s administration announced student stores could change sandwich providers.
“The guidelines said, in part, that the Supply Store can implement changes based on negotiations with area sandwich suppliers,” the Technician reported. “The choice of supplier would be based on the company or companies which can supply the campus with the highest quality sandwiches at the lowest possible price. The guidelines would allow all sandwich suppliers to negotiate for a contract on an equal basis.”
Photo courtesy of the Technician.
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Getting fresh, local produce can be a hassle in big cities. Ben Greene, who earned a master’s in industrial design at NC State in 2009, is trying to change that with something called the Farmery.
Greene first had the concept when he was studying for a master’s degree in industrial design at NC State that he received in 2009. He wanted to solve the problem of being able to buy local food in an urban area without having to drive to two different places for grocery shopping.
“I wanted to choose a field that hadn’t really been touched, and that was agriculture,” says Greene.
Greene brought together the farm and the retail grocery store to create a unique shopping experience that he calls the Farmery. The Farmery has three main parts: the farm, the grocery and the café. Some of the produce sold at the Farmery is grown within the facility, reducing packaging and transportation costs while providing the freshest possible produce to customers.
“Growing the produce right there in the shipment containers reduces spoilage and allows for more consistent crops,” says Greene.
One of the main crops grown at the Farmery are gourmet mushrooms, which can be expensive in retail stores and have a short shelf-life. Other crops grown at the Farmery include lettuce, strawberries and other greens.
Along with its unique concept, the Farmery had a unique way of raising money to get started. Greene used Kickstarter to raise $25,000 to fund the initial building, called the Mini-Farmery. Originally built in Clayton, N.C., and moved to Durham, N.C., to open in July of 2013, the Mini-Farmery can now be visited at Raleigh City Farm.
“We’re talking to people about getting the full-scale model,” says Greene. “We plan to start construction this fall and finish it in winter 2015.”
Greene’s main goal with the Farmery is to redefine what a grocery store is in urban areas. With an increased focus on local foods in cities, the Farmery provides a new standard for what a grocery store focused on local food should look like.
“Especially in the South, people are moving to bigger cities, and we want to be the retailer that takes advantage of that by providing local food for these urban markets,” says Greene. “The food is healthy, it’s good, and it’s all in one place.”
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Adlai Stevenson was born with aspirations in his blood to one day live in the White House. His father, also named Adlai Stevenson, was Grover Cleveland’s vice president from 1893 to 1897.
So Stevenson the second spent much of his adult life trying to reach the highest levels of U.S. politics. He built on a successful career as a lawyer and served as assistants to the secretary of the Navy and to the secretary of state. He was elected governor in Illinois, serving a four-year term beginning in 1949.
And he ran for president as the Democratic candidate in 1952 and 1956, losing to Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower both times.
After those losses, President John F. Kennedy appointed Stevenson to be ambassador and chief of the U.S. delegation to the United Nations in 1961.
Stevenson was serving in that capacity on this day in 1962 when he kicked off a new series of speakers, known as the Harrelson Lectures, at NC State.
For much of his talk, Stevenson found himself having to defend the role the United Nations played in the world. He conceded that the United Nations lacked some power but that it was not a weak body. He also said the U.N. was “full of conflicts and contradictions,” according to The Technician, but that is “what the U.N. was built for — to overcome conflict, to keep from exploding into war, and ultimately to tame it into something like a true community.”
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