A New Twist on a Old Tale

The Armory Building has been around more than 100 years, recent renovations from the Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning may prove that you can still teach an old dog new tricks. In the past year, the CITL has brought the old military building into the twenty-first century.

The Center for Innovation and Teaching is normally responsible for helping faculty teach as effectively as possible. It provides faculty development programs, holds introductory courses for teaching assistants, and administers the instructor course evaluation system.

However, some in the CITL, like Jamie Nelson, Head of E-Learning, felt they could be doing more. The Armory Innovations Space was how they were going to do just that.

The Innovations Studio is part of a push by CITL to try out other types of classroom experiences and move past the regular lecture-type class. By introducing professors and students with the latest technology, its goal is to remove the mysticism behind these machines, and allow teachers to examine how they could integrate technology into their classrooms.

The Armory Innovations Spaces were created as part of a 4-million-dollar Capital Project, meaning the university fully funded and paid for it. Much of that budget went to building and room renovations. Most of the technology in the Innovation Spaces is either loaned out or only a few thousand dollars.

The 3-D printers, Nelson pointed out, are all loaned out by MakerGirls, a small organization that holds classes and events at the Spaces to help promoted STEM, science technology engineering and mathematics, in young girls.

The Innovations Spaces includes the “Tec-Hub”, Innovations Studio, and a virtual reality room. Each space provides different experiences and resources to the students.

The Tec-Hub is filled with emerging technologies, a VR headset, 3D printers, and a laser-cutting machine. All open for professors and students to try out.

Aside from class tours and events, the Tec-Hub has open hours when it encourages anyone to come and try out their equipment. Some teachers have already taken advantage of the space, leading to them integrating the technologies they tried out into their classrooms.

Dr. Ashley Mitek, a professor in the College of Veterinary Sciences, came during open hours just to look around, but after trying out some of the Computer-Aided Design programs, she has implemented 3D modeling into her class.

When I saw 3D printing at the open house, I immediately knew I needed to use it someway in the course…So for their capstone project, I asked them to design something that facilitates performing a physical examination in any species,” Mitek said.

Using the program introduced by the Tec-Hub, Mitek’s students designed a variety of 3D designs meant to aid veterinarian examinations. After the success of her first technological trial, Mitek now plans to advocate for the implementation of 3D technology for other classes at the Faculty Summer Institute, an annual conference for educators held at the University.

Lisette Chapa, a recent graduate of UIUC works at both the Tec-Hub, and another of the Innovations Spaces, the Innovation Studio,  a super high-tech classroom, according to her.

“It has two computers, both are touchscreens. One that is a touch table, and then one is on the big screen… It’s a space where you can really share stuff over the computers,” Chapa said.

This focus on sharing is part of an experiment to move away from lecture-based classes. Instead of receiving a majority of the information from the professor in class, it is instead learned out of class. The class is then focused on classmate interaction and projects, with the Innovations Studio’s sharing capabilities facilitating this.

Jim Wentworth, an E-Learning Specialist, is head of the Innovation Spaces as well as in charge of the CITL’s VR, virtual reality, room. It consists of one small helmet, a computer, a TV screen, and a small space to allow for movement during VR sessions. While the Tech-Hub also has a VR setup, the VR room is more to explore the teaching capabilities of virtual reality as well as look into building specific environments for VR to aid teachers.

When you put on the virtual reality helmet, everything a person sees and hears is artificial and is designed for different purposes. Biology students have used it to examine body parts and molecular structures up close, and architecture students are to walk around and study rooms and buildings entirely designed by themselves.

The room has already garnered some interest from faculty as Wentworth explains. One business professor, Professor Madhubalan Viswanathan of Business Administration, is looking into the difference in the experience of VR versus the real life, as Wentworth explains,

The past year has been a trial period for these Innovation Spaces, and according to the CITL, the university has been more than welcoming to the changes. Now all that is left is for the university to decide where the CITL should go from here, a decision the provost is in charge of making.

“We are trying to determine whether it makes sense for the CITL to be in the business of producing VR experiences. They are costly… Right now it’s not really a mandate from campus that we are in that business,” Wentworth said.

While the CITL’s Innovation Spaces have been open only a single year, it has already inspired many teachers and projects. It would seem that even after a century, Armory still has a few tricks up its sleeve.

 

 

Update on Data Story

  • In contact with a sophomore in Industrial Engineering, won’t be used as source, but to find further sources and general information.
  • Look specifically into AP Credits
  • Looking to start getting momentum once people start responding to emails.
  • Emailed Umberto Ravioli, has yet to respond, will email again tomorrow and call if not further response is given.

Affidavit Reveals Sexual Misconduct By Teacher

Christopher Young, local Peabody-Burns teachers, was engaged in sexual relations with two students for months, giving gifts such as promise rings to them, and spending the night with them in his trailer, according to an affidavit released this afternoon.

Police were first notified that Christopher Young, 45, was engaged in what was called a consensual sexual relationship with a student in January by a close friend of the student. Chief Burke, who received the tip immediately launched an investigation into the matter with cooperation from the Peabody-Burns School Administration and the Marion County Sheriffs Office.

The Peabody-Burns administration was able to use its video system to identify inappropriate behavior from Young.

“Multiple times school administration has found Chris Young’s classroom door locked prior to school starting in the mornings and Chris Young and the [student] have been in the classroom together,” said the affidavit.

According to the police source, the relationship had been going on for months, with Young providing the student’s gifts, and the students often spending the night in his trailer.

After a search warrant was issued on Young and the student’s phone, nude of the students as well as text messages that further indicated the supposed relationship.

“…I’m fucking my History teacher and the head cheerleader at this school, my dad’s the head drug dealer and moonshine maker of the town so I’ve got it all made,” One message on the student’s phone said.

While initially during the investigation the students were unwilling to be interviewed, one of the students eventually agreed. The student claimed that she and the other female had engaged in sexual activities with Young on the 28th and 29th of January.

No Arrest warrant has been issued as of the release of the Affidavit.

 

Follow-Ups

  • If there is a formal arrest
  • Possibly look into Young’s history, has this happened before?
  • Interview people who worked with Young, get his character.

 

Mother of 3 Dead in Freak Accident

A  mother of three has died after a 10 pound piece of granite dropped from an overpass crashed through her windshield, the second death of its kind in a year.

Emily Sawyer, 43, is dead after a 10-pound piece of granite crashed through her windshield striking her in the head. Sawyer, an administrative aide,  was driving her 86-year-old mother, Celine Taylor, to church as she did every Saturday since Sawyer’s father had died.

Sawyer was pronounced DOA when she arrived at Carle Foundation Hospital.

Last year Samuel T. Howe, a prominent local lawyer, was also killed when a gas can was dropped off an overpass overlooking Interstate 57.

Sawyer’s two sisters, Felicity Shrove and Donna Taylor,  called for fences to be erected to protect the overpass from further incidents.

“This was a senseless tragedy… It could have been any one of us or any of our kids. We hope that steps can be taken to prevent this from happening to anyone else,” They said in a joint statement.

Police are looking for a group of young males they believe threw the granite off the overpass, after having received reports that support the theory.

Anyone with information about the accident can call Champaign County Crimestoppers at (217) 373-TIPS.

Breaking News.

Police are still searching for those responsible after a ten-pound piece of granite fell from an overpass and killed a mother of three. This is the second such incident this year.

Emily Sawyer was driving her 86-year-old mother to church Saturday when the granite fell through her windshield.

Police believe that a report of young males throwing items from the overpass may be related to the case, and anyone with information is encouraged to come forth.

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For the second time this year, a motorist has died from items thrown from an overpass.

Emily Sawyer was pronounced dead after a football-sized piece of granite crashed through her windshield and struck her head. Earlier this year prominent Urbana lawyer, Samuel T. Howe, also died from a gas can thrown from an overpass.

Emily’s sisters have issued a joint statement calling for fences to be erected to protect future motorists from this danger.

Find out more by reading the full story on our website.

A glimpse into the rise of UIUC E-sports

 

 

The big game is about to start and a roar comes from the crowd as they cheer for their team. The event organizers hand out the last of the free merchandise just as a silence falls over the audience; the casters have begun to announce the names of the home team’s players.  Finally, the game begins, the crowd cheers one last time and the players rush out, not onto the football field, but onto the virtual world of a video game.

Scenes like this are common at UIUC, where competitive video gaming, also known as E-Sports, has not only found popularity but success in the many teams. -List some events we have hosted-

One captain of such a team is no stranger to success, Jack Moore, a graduate student studying Mechanical Engineering, has been at the helm of not one but two top collegiate E-Sports teams here and the University in the past two years.

Despite the accomplishments Moore has had with both teams, video games weren’t always his passion. In fact, until he reached college he wasn’t much of a gamer at all.

“In terms of competitive gaming, I didn’t get into anything competitive until a year and a half, two years ago?” Moore said.

Moore first introduction to E-Sports was in fall of 2016 when he tried out for the school’s first Overwatch team. He was recruited and quickly promoted to captain when the manager at the time saw him take charge, though both the team and Moore had a rocky start and finish.

Overwatch is a team-based fighting game, where players choose different characters to play each with unique skills and abilities.  Players must choose the right character to play at the right time, while also working with their team to ensure victory. —Better Explanation of Game—

The first semester for the team was uneventful, but with the complete remaking of the team the following semester, and Moore’s leadership, UIUC’s Overwatch team quickly rose through the ranks.

“I think some would even argue we were a top four team,” Moore said in reference to the teams national standing during the teams the second semester.

With success came stress on both Moore and the team. As the team got closer to the top, the pressure to perform increased. The team started to practices three to four times a week, and drama consumed the team.

“With the amount of time we were spending together, and certain personalities on the team, I think it made it really stressful, it felt like this entire team was consuming my life,” said Moore. —look into comma—

He left the team after feeling burnt out and next semester started a new team, the school’s first PUBG team, which this past fall won the Collegiate League.

PUGB, for those who may not know, is Over-The-Shoulder shooter game, where teams of four are dropped onto a large area and attempt to be the last team to survive.

“I think many people in our generation have read or watched the Hunger Games series, and it’s very similar to that,” says Moore.

Like all sports, the win came after months of work. The team practices about two or three times a week, often for hours at a time. The typical practice includes training reflexes, teamwork, and strategy. This doesn’t include the hours players spend on their own trying to improve their own abilities.

“I constantly grind on the game and am constantly trying to improve myself in any way to get an advantage on anyone,” says Ryan Baier, a freshman studying Systems Engineering and Design and teammate on Moore’s team.

Not keen on repeating mistakes, Moore has made sure the stress of practice and competition doesn’t overcome the team. Team outings to see movies, get food, or just hang out are common and help release tension and build a team bond.

This more relaxed environment also has translated into Moore’s leadership in matches where the pressure is at its peak, contributing in no small part to its success.

” Jack is a very easy-going captain, he usually will make a final decision on what we do but mostly it’s a team effort… our[team] seems to strive with a collective leadership being self-reliant on each other to show a good dependence to succeed on each other,” says Baier.

Moore’s time with Illini E-Sports ends this semester as he graduates. He passes on his role as captain onto a younger generation and hopes for best for his old team.  He leaves his teams having lived through as many victories and defeats, both on and off the field, as any student-athlete.

 

Those that sat this one out

 

Life continues uninterrupted for a few teaching assistants and graduate assistants who decided not to strike this week. While many walked the circle and chanted along, others found that it just wasn’t worth the effort.

One such TA is Mike Baumgartner, a master’s student, and TA for SE 101. He explained that despite being a member of the GEO, he said his Professor, James Leake, director of engineering graphics, had fought for 3 semesters to keep him as a TA, and Baumgartner felt he should pay back that hard work.

“I’m currently the most experienced TA for the class so my absence would create a lot of extra work for him,”  Baumgartner said.

Baumgartner also noted how not many Engineering TA’s were striking, and how different it might be if more did.

“If TAs from the college of engineering were involved I think the strike would have been over in a day,” Baumgartner said. It would seem that for some departments at Illinois, there simply wasn’t enough to gain from the strike.

The strike is planned for a week of picketing and rallies as TA’s protest the school’s treatment of them in contract negotiations. The strike reaches many of the school’s main quad buildings including Altgeld, Lincoln, English, and Foreign Languages Building.

Classes are not officially canceled, although professors may choose to move their classes to non-picketed buildings,  as Andreas Cangellaris, Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost, explained in an email.

Allegations Thrown At Chancellor Jone

Accusations of double-standards in the matter of sexual harassment cases at the university were thrown at the recent Senate meeting. Others were certain that the University was in violation of its own Statues in the Rosenstein case.

During a discussion the recent incident involving Professor Rosenstein, Chancellor Jones fought back against allegations that the professors current non-disciplinary administrative leave was in violations of University code.  Allegations of double-standards were also brought up in reference to the case and similar Title IX cases.

Professor Rosenstein was arrested on the 22nd of January after filming a student in Chief garb in the restroom. Shortly afterward charges were dropped against him and he has been on administrative leave since pending a University investigation.

Chancellor Jones denied claims from Bruce Rosenstock, in the Department of Religion that Prof. Rosenstein was not allowed on campus or talk to university colleagues.

If this were true, it would mean that the action was disciplinary in nature, a regulated act with restriction the University would need to follow. Paid administrative leave under Illinois Administrative Code is reserved for specific occurrences, and have a limit of ten days, according to Rosenstock, of which those ten days were already up as of the meeting.

“Then your not following the Illinois Administrative Code”  replied Rosenstock to Jones’ denials.

Kate Clancy, a professor in anthropology, also voiced concern by bringing up how quickly action was taken to put Rosenstein on leave, while other cases involving sexual misconduct, covered under the Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. 

“So what seems curious to me is that it feels like a moving goal post a little bit if that if we’re putting Professor Rosenstein on leave for this thing. . . but then there are people with active Title nine files on them and they’re not on leave,” Clancy remarked.

Jones’ responded by mentioning his limited ability to comment on the matter due to it being current and involving personnel. He also remarked how the privacy aspect of the case made it different from other Title IX cases.

“We’re trying to resolve what was the best course of action to taken based on the information that we had at the time which was information that suggested that,” commented Jones.

 

 

Dangerous Driving Leads to Accident

On January 30, around 8:30 pm on Grand Avenue two cars collided resulting in multiple individuals requiring hospitalization and several citations being issued. The collision caused one of the cars, a 2002 blue Volkswagon Bug, to become totaled after it subsequently collided with a tree.  The other vehicle, a 2011  white Dodge Dakota, was voluntarily towed away by the owner from the scene of the accident and sustained only minor damages.

The driver of the Bug, Kassidy Trapini(18) and a fellow passenger, Ryleigh Peterson(13) were driven via ambulance to Hillsboro Community Hospital for moderate injuries.  Jasmine Coperhaven(15) and Anna Baugh(16), both passengers in the  Dakota, were sent via ambulance to St. Luke Hospital in Marion for reportedly minor injuries.

The Volkswagon also initially contained 13-year-old passenger Michael Cruz who reportedly left the scene of the accident and was later found safe in his home after a search by police.

The incident occurred during what police have called a “game of chase” or more specifically “car tag”.  “Both drivers were charged with reckless driving” with the additional charges of speeding being giving Trapini, and “Following another car to closely” given to the driver of the Dakota, Kolton Harms(17). Additional charges may still be filed according to Hillsboro police chief  Dan Kinning during an interview about the incident. During the interview, he also mentioned, “Not everybody was being truthful and cooperative as we sorted it out”, though he did not elaborate on the at further.

 

Book Signing At Urbana Free Library

Urbana Free Library will be host to Dan E. Ferguson as he presents his new book, “Grace’s Mirror: Healing for Perfectionists” Thursday, February 14th, at 7 pm.  The event includes a program hosted by Ferguson on perfectionism and a book signing. It will be held in the conference room of the Library.

Dan Ferguson holds a degree in both Philosophy and Religion from Friends University and is currently a pastor for Douglass United Methodist Church in Kansas. His book looks to offer advice and guidance to those struggling with perfectionism in their life through tips and biblical guidance.

For more information call the Urbana Free Library (217) 367-4057.

Art Center Finally Fully Funded

After nearly six years, the Shari Flaming Center for the Arts has finally reached its goal of opening fully funded. The building, which cost a total of 13.6 million dollars, received the last 150,000 it needed to be debt free after a last-minute push by organizers. This was the final step in a larger push by organizers called “The Grand Finale” of which 1.1 million was raised altogether.

The art center will house performances held at the school as well as weekly the schools weekly chapel in its auditorium. It contains labs, workshops, studios, as well as a theatre and art gallery. The center was opened early this December and had its first performance this past January.