College of Textiles Category
Email can seem like such an easy way to communicate.
But, as Cheryl Sutton has recognized, email can also be confusing, unclear and ineffective. Her mission is to help individuals and organizations do a better job with email.
“Very few of us have been educated how to use email,” says Sutton, who graduated in 2004 from NC State with two undergraduate degrees.
To address the problem, Sutton started her own email consulting company, Email Lemonade, from her home in Belmont, N.C., earlier this year. She serves as the company’s president and “email ambassador.”
“I have always taken email very seriously,” she says. “I don’t want people to feel like they have to settle for bad email.”
Sutton, who also earned an MBA from Northwestern University, worked for Jockey International for nearly a decade before she started her new venture. For many of those years, she worked in Jockey’s international division, requiring her to communicate with people around the world.
“There are particular challenges when communicating internationally,” she says. “You have to pay attention to the tone you use. So much of your relationship is based in email. You can’t always pick up the phone or have a face-to-face meeting. I learned how to be very clear, and even preemptively answer questions when I sent an email.”
Sutton, who will be the featured speaker at an upcoming session as part of the Alumni Association’s Career Webinar Series, says that by following some simple steps, people can increase the chances that their emails stand out among the clutter of emails that many people receive.
Make sure, for example, to put a subject in the email’s subject line. Sutton says many people fail to take that simple step, making it likely that their email will move to the bottom of the pile.
She also says it’s important to format your email. “People glaze over it when they see an email with one long paragraph,” she says. “When you break it up into three shorter paragraphs, or put it in some bullets, it’s much easier for the reader to digest the email.”
Sutton says job-seekers need to be careful with their emails with potential employers. “People forget that grammar actually matters,” she says. “Have an opening to the email. Close it with, ‘Kind regards, Cheryl.’ Just really basic content like that. People are so used to texting now.”
It’s critical, Sutton says, that people are mindful of the tone of their emails.
“Tone is one of the most overlooked and also one of the most important considerations,” she says. “If I receive this email, would I think it was friendly or positive. I have seen a lot of business relationships get wrecked because they didn’t think about the tone.”
Sutton’s webinar session on July 8 is free for NC State alumni. To register, visit the webinar series website, and click on the button that says “registration.”
The Alumni Association is honoring 26 NC State professors with the 2014 Faculty Awards for their outstanding work in the classroom, in the laboratory and in the field. We talked (via email) with some of the recipients about their work and the keys to being a successful professor.
Today we’re visiting with Abdel-Fattah Mohamed Seyam, a professor of textile and apparel technology and management. Seyam is one of four professors being recognized as a Distinguished Graduate Professor.
What prompted you to become a professor? My excellent ability in conveying knowledge to others was discovered very early in my life when I was in middle and high school during group studies. My peers then indicated to me how capable I am in teaching and explaining difficult materials in easy to understand techniques. At that stage of my life, I did not even know what a college professor does. I wanted to pursue an engineering college degree with a target to get a job at a textile company in Alexandria (my home city), Egypt, where the textile industry was flourishing there at that time. It was challenging to get to an engineering college then. I met the challenge and was able to get acceptance in the College of Engineering, Alexandria University, Egypt, and after matriculation, my choice was joining the Textile Engineering Department. Again, my peers noticed my capability in transferring knowledge to them during group studies. During classes, conducting projects, and writing reports and papers, I started to understand the role of professors and this understanding deepened with time until I became fascinated by the professor’s job that not only encompasses teaching, but also conducting research, discovering knowledge and mentoring both graduate and undergraduate students. I realized that I could be happier becoming a professor by preparing students to become textile engineers, technologists and researchers and make an impact on society that would be more significant than pursuing a job at a textile company. Making it to the top of my class for the last three years of pursing my BS degree rewarded me with an instructor job that I enjoyed very much.
What are the keys to being a successful professor? In terms of class room instruction, taking seriously the constructive criticism my students and peers give is the most significant key to the teaching/learning effectiveness. Good preparation for classes (regardless of their levels), using instruction technologies effectively, designing labs and hands on projects to complement and strengthen the lectures, and keeping current with the new and emerging technologies and published knowledge are also important keys to a professor’s success. In terms of research, it is important to understand each student’s interest, background, and needs before assigning research projects. Based on these key points, the plan of work of relevant training and courses to prepare students for undertaking a specific research and at the same time meeting their interest is crucial. I encourage students to be organized and engaged from day one of knowing their research project by establishing timelines to achieve specific milestones and final target. It is essential to make myself available to students periodically and as needed. I work more closely with students who need my help more.
What gives you the greatest satisfaction as a professor? I have over five years of industry experience in the USA. While I worked in exciting projects as an R&D engineer and project manager, I missed teaching and mentoring students. In a university setting, the ability to create my own broad and varied research areas in the field is a very exciting aspect. Additionally, teaching/mentoring undergraduate and graduate students is highly satisfying. Without any hesitation, the greatest satisfaction as a professor is publishing and collaborating with my continuing and former U.S. and international students and watch them grow and occupy great positions at prestigious universities, research institutions, and governments all over the globe.
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.
Tracy Bissette considers herself an architect even though she’s never built a house or designed a building.
Instead, Bissette, who graduated from NC State in 1995 with a degree in textiles, is a self-proclaimed “chief learning architect” at her business WeejeeLearning, an e-learning company that develops fun and exciting programs companies can use to train their employees.
Businesses approach Bissette and the other designers at Weejee, which Bissette started with a business partner in 2010, with a specific goal in mind. They may want their employees to take part in orientation or undergo compliance or customer-service training. Bissette has different ways of explaining what Weejee does with the training, claiming that “The Blah Stops Here” or describing the development as “Funification.”
Regardless of what she calls it, the goal is the same: Engaging adult learners at various Fortune 500 companies in ways they have not been educated before. “I see it is as making [learning] more ‘edutainment,’” says Bissette. “It used to be that every module was two hours long and they had a fifteen-minute closing. If training is going to be effective, you have to get their attention.”
Bissette calls upon her master’s degree in instructional design from George Mason University and her previous endeavors with developing e-learning curricula for education companies like All Kinds of Minds and Mindworks Multimedia to find creative ways to get learners involved. It may be adding music or telling a story instead of just providing a list of instructions to employees. Sometimes, she’ll develop a game to teach the material.
Those solutions help Bissette and WeejeeLearning take home awards for their creative solutions. She was named by the Triangle Business Journal as one of RTP’s “Top 40 under 40″ in 2012, and the company’s designs have been heralded in Training Magazine.
Getting involved in his school seemed to come naturally for Ed Stack. He helped establish the first student government at his junior high school in Rowan County, N.C., and then became the school’s first student body president. In high school, he was involved in student government, sports and, as he says, “every club that you could think of.”
So when he came to NC State, Stack didn’t hesitate to get involved — even if it was on a much larger stage than the small schools he had attended before college. As a textiles management major, Stack got involved with the Textile Student Council when he was a freshman.
“Fortunately, the textile school is a very fostering and encouraging place to be,” Stack said in one of his interviews as part of the Student Leadership Initiative, an effort by NCSU Libraries to chronicle the experiences of student leaders at NC State. “I mean, I certainly didn’t come to State with the mindset that I was going to run for student body president, although I had always been involved in student government.”
His time on the Textile Student Council, though, whetted Stack’s appetite for student government. He was elected student body president his junior year and then re-elected again his senior year, holding the office from 1990-92.
But while Stack enjoyed being involved with student government — working with other students on different programs and issues – he did not particularly enjoy the election process. “I’ve always been surprised at how much politics — pure, ugly politics — is involved in student government, or at least was at the time,” he said. “That is probably the thing that I liked least about it.”
Stack served during a tumultuous time for NC State, with state budget cuts impacting the hours that D.H. Hill Library could be open. Stack challenged the student body president at UNC to a fundraising contest to raise money for the libraries at the two universities. “Even though State and Carolina are big rivals, we can come together on such an important issue and send a strong message to the state legislature,” Stack said at the time.
The loser of the contest would have to wear the winning school’s colors at an NC State-UNC basketball game. Stack raised over $6,000, more than enough to win the challenge.
Stack, who is now associate executive director of The Wolfpack Club, says his motivation for being involved in student government — or in his fraternity or anything else at NC State — was simple. “Anything that I got involved in,” he said, “was really an effort to make NC State a smaller place.”
Rows of greenhouses show up on campus maps behind Kilgore Hall as far back as 1955. Years later, the rows multiplied and filled up much of the space behind Kilgore, stretching south to Yarborough Drive and the railroad tracks. The run-down greenhouses gave the area an almost industrial feel.
“You used to walk through campus and when you would get there, you would feel like you were not on campus anymore,” says Lisa Johnson, university architect.
Today much of the space appears on maps of NC State as a patch of green to signify the park that has replaced the greenhouses.
After the Marye Anne Fox Science Teaching Laboratory was completed in 2004, the research greenhouses were moved off the main campus. A few greenhouses used for teaching are now located behind Fox, while in front is a wide lawn with patches of daylilies for color, walkways for strolling and benches for resting. In one corner, a vine-covered arbor offers shade near a grove of fig trees.
The park-within-a-campus was named the Governors Kerr and Bob Scott Courtyard. Kerr Scott was governor from 1949-53; his son Robert served from 1969-73. The elder Scott graduated from NC State in 1917, while his son graduated in 1952.
At the dedication of the courtyard in 2010, William C. “Bill” Friday ’41, president emeritus of the UNC system, spoke of the contributions of two NC State graduates who went from farming to the governor’s office.
Friday died in 2012; today a bust of Friday is part of the courtyard, facing Nelson Hall, which for many years was the home of the School of Textiles, of which Friday was a graduate.
— Sylvia Adcock ’81
The faculty and administration at the College of Textiles were not eager to be pioneers on Centennial Campus. They voted unanimously in 1987 against the college moving from Nelson Hall and David Clark Labs on the main campus to the new campus that was still more imagined than real.
Nonetheless, it was on this day in 1988 that the ground was officially broken for a new home for the College of Textiles on Centennial Campus. The 300,000-foot square foot facility, which was actually to be four interconnected buildings, was expected to cost $30 million to build and equip. Over 175 people turned out for the groundbreaking.
“If this $30 million investment says anything, it says the textiles industry is a number one priority at North Carolina State University,” then-Chancellor Bruce Poulton said at the groundbreaking, according to an account in the Technician. “This building is really symbolic of our constant commitment to have the best College of Textiles in the free world.”
The new College of Textiles complex was dedicated in 1991.
Kyle Blakely loves his job at Under Armour. It helps that he finds himself surrounded by other graduates of NC State.
At least 17 NC State alumni work at the Baltimore headquarters of the sporting apparel company, according to Blakely. “It’s a lot for a small company,” says Blakely, who graduated from NC State in 2007 with a textiles degree.
Blakely, director of material development, works with a team to develop and engineer textiles that Under Armour uses for their athletic wear. “We’re engineering the fabrics that go into garments,” he says. “Part of that is working with our mill partners and the other part is working with design partners here.”
Blakely attributes the large number of employees at Under Armour from NC State to the education that the university provides. “Most of us are from College of Textiles,” he says. “But, one is from sports marketing – that’s a big deal. I think there are a few with engineering degrees, but it’s mostly textiles. We do have other fields present and we even have a few from UNC. Most of them majored in finance.”
It’s nice to have so many colleagues who share his Wolfpack background, Blakely says. “Baltimore – it’s a great city, but we’re from North Carolina,” he says. “Anyone from North Carolina that has lived there for an extended period has an understanding about how great it is down South. It’s nice to have people here that understand your culture and your background.”
Blakely and his coworkers have filled their walls with NC State paraphernalia. “I have an NC State jersey on the wall,” he says. “It’s everywhere. You can tell NC State people because we have it all over our desks. Everybody displays their NC State stuff with a lot of pride.”
In addition to hiring so many NC State graduates, Under Armour has developed a more formal partnership with the university. “We have a great working professional relationship with NC State,” says Blakely. “We show some of our designers our school, show them the textiles machine. We take proofs to NC State and (the designers) have a whole new perspective. It’s beyond just us working here.”
The success that Blakely and his NC State colleagues have enjoyed at Under Armour, he says, undercuts any suggestion that a degree in textiles is not useful in today’s economy. “While the manufacturing side isn’t as heavy as it used to be, there are still mills in this hemisphere and they are thriving,” he says. “There are many job opportunities and brands (in textiles) … In all reality, there is more opportunity than ever, especially since we’re specialized and there are not a lot of us (textile majors).”
Blakely says his textiles degree has worked well for him. “When I came into textiles, people were like are you kidding me?” he says. “I couldn’t be happier. I have the coolest job on the planet.”
The Alumni Association is honoring 21 NC State professors with the 2013 Faculty Awards for their outstanding work in the classroom, in the laboratory and in the field. We talked (via email) with some of the recipients about their work and the keys to being a successful professor.
Today we’re visiting with Keith Beck, a professor of textile engineering, chemistry and science in the College of Textiles. Beck is one of six professors being recognized as Alumni Association Distinguished Undergraduate Professors.
What prompted you to become a professor? In my early days as a graduate student in the Purdue University chemistry department, my assistantship required that I teach organic chemistry labs. Through those opportunities to learn and practice the art of teaching, it became apparent that I really enjoyed, not only the generation of knowledge, but also sharing it with others, especially in the hands-on laboratory part of chemistry. When my research adviser would need to be out of town on business, he gave me the opportunity to lecture about organic chemistry to 260 undergraduate chemistry and chemical engineering students. Those days of large blackboards and chalk have morphed into our technologically advanced classrooms and all the resources of the internet, but after 43 years in the classroom and laboratory, my joy of sharing knowledge with students is still strong.
What are the keys to being a successful teacher/professor? My teaching philosophy has always been centered on expectations. If you expect only a little from students, it is highly likely that they will achieve at that level. At the beginning of each course, I explain my expectations to the students, including a lengthy interactive discourse on the importance of academic integrity. Secondly, timing is very important. In the real world, expectations are that people will be prompt for meetings and with project responsibilities. One of my goals is to always start and finish classes and labs on time, so that the students can attend to their other responsibilities. I also return homework, lab reports and exams in the next class meeting so that students can receive rapid feedback on their performance. Finally, it is important that, through your actions, students sense that you care about their education and future. Because my classes are typically small (15-40 students), I learn the student’s names during the first week, so that I can call on them by name. Students will be more motivated to work hard if their instructors demonstrate concern for their future and a willingness to get to know them.
What gives you the greatest satisfaction as a professor? My greatest satisfaction is generated in observing the “aha” response that students exhibit when they finally understand something or they do well on an exam or a chemistry experiment gives them results that they can understand and explain. Having a small part in the process that generates that response is very rewarding. I still enjoy that experience in the lab when experiments produce new information about textile materials with which I am working. Also extremely satisfying is the interaction with former students who are doing well and relate some of that success back to their educational experience at NC State.
Bryan Jones never thought he would be a writer.
“I can’t even spell,” Jones says. “I’m atrocious at grammar.”
But 14 years after graduating NC State with a degree in political science, Jones finds himself creating children’s books with Hootie Bowman, who graduated from NC State with a textiles degree in 1997.
The die-hard Wolfpackers Jones and Bowman are the creators of Collegiate Kids Books, a company based in Hickory, N.C. It started with the idea that avid sports fans can be cultivated at a very early age.
Go … Wolfpack … Go! is just one book in the collection. Currently, there are five books in the collection, but Jones plans on expanding. The books are interactive, with scratch-and-sniff items and textures for children to feel. They are tailored to include the landmarks, mascots and well-known establishments of beloved ACC schools.
There’s even one for UNC-Chapel Hill, which wasn’t easy to write, Jones says, even though his mother and wife both went there.
“I still feel like I need to go wash my hands,” Jones says. “It was a little difficult. But really, I want Carolina kids to grow up to be passionate Carolina fans and hate State. I want them to be just as passionate about beating State as we are about beating Carolina.”
Jones was inspired with the idea for the books when his daughter Lauren was born. He was looking for good books to read her before bed. He read books like the N.C. State-centric Hello, Mr. Wuf, by Aimee Aryal and Pat the Bunny, a touch-and-feel book, and realized he could fuse the State themes of the one with the interactive qualities of the other to create his own concept.
“You want your child to love NC State,” says Jones. “I thought I could combine those ideas.”
So he did. Now, Jones and Bowman’s book collection is steadily growing to expand into other conferences besides the ACC.
“We’re coming out with South Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, Auburn and Clemson maybe as early as March,” says Jones, who adds that the company will eventually produce books about professional teams and even smaller schools. “We’re also going to do the military and Harley-Davidson. We want to do it if there’s a passionate group of people that want to pass that on to a younger generation.”
Now the father of two girls and one boy on the way, Jones hopes to take advantage of his product to get his children invested in the Wolfpack. If they like any other school, he’ll attribute it to a job well done.
“If they like UNC better, maybe I did my job too well with the Tar Heel book,” says Jones. “But, having both of these books kind of negates for one of them to sway (my children) to the other side.”