Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Georgia Power Recognized as National Leader in Environmental Protection Agency's ENERGY STAR(R) Campaign

/PRNewswire/ -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has named Georgia Power as the 2008-2009 National Pledge Leader for its "Change the World, Start with ENERGY STAR" campaign. The company was also recently recognized by the EPA as the Excellence in ENERGY STAR Promotion Award winner for its Lighting and Appliance program.

Georgia Power promotes the EPA's "Change the World, Start with ENERGY STAR" campaign which encourages consumers to pledge to change at least one standard light bulb in their home to an ENERGY STAR qualified compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL) and more. Last year, Georgia Power collected 97,421 pledges from consumers through its local offices and hundreds of consumer education pledge events.

"We're working to help customers use energy wisely, and they're answering the call," said Georgia Power President and CEO Mike Garrett. "Our programs help save money, energy and the environment, and we appreciate the recognition for our efforts."

An ENERGY STAR partner since 2004, Georgia Power has given away more than 330,000 CFLs through its lighting program over the last three years. According to EPA's ENERGY STAR Web site, last year Georgia Power's campaign resulted in savings of more than $15 million or 112,685 megawatt-hours, enough energy to power approximately 9,000 typical residential homes for a year.

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Kids II Partnership with Savannah College of Art and Design Yields New Toy Concepts, Winning Inventions

(BUSINESS WIRE)--This year, Kids II hosted its first-ever toy design program and contest in collaboration with the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) Industrial Design Department. With guidance from the Kids II design team and SCAD professor Jesus Rojas, 11 students participated in the 10-week interactive project to develop new toy concepts for the company’s Bright Starts™ brand. Four students earned top honors and all participants received course credit for their work as well as material for their portfolios.

Winner Garrett Miller received a $4,000 scholarship award for his Color N’ Croak & Caterpillar Teether. Zarni Ko earned the $2,500 second place award for his hippo, Sang Hyuk Lee earned the $1,250 third place award for his Crack & Roll toy and Shane Bloomberg was awarded a $400 honorable mention prize for his Push & Play innovation.

Miller’s winning invention was a frog that helps the child explore and recognize different colors and textures as well as a caterpillar with a bendable body intended for the development of motor skills and different textured legs for stimulating curiosity in exploration. He is a native of Seattle who will earn his bachelor of arts in industrial design degree by spring 2010. He plans to use the Kids II prize to help fund his final year of study at SCAD.

From Idea to Innovation

This design program and contest is the brainchild of Jose Gamboa, a Kids II designer and SCAD graduate who was previously an industrial design professor. He worked closely with two other Kids II designers, Charles Mitchell and Brad Reese, to determine toy criteria, objectives and safety requirements and they collectively shepherded the process from start to finish.

“It was important for students to get a meaningful real world experience by helping them understand the whole process of taking a product from idea to reality. They learned about everything from mock-ups, engineering and safety to testing and marketing,” said Gamboa, a native of Costa Rica who earned his masters of fine arts in industrial design from SCAD in 2005. “This exercise will help students transition from theory to practice as they prepare for the workforce.”

According to Gamboa, this project is also an ideal opportunity for the company to get creative, fresh suggestions from students who are unfamiliar with obstacles inherent to toy design, manufacturing and retail. “As a result, we get some very original and imaginative concepts we can expand on,” he said.

Additionally, Kids II can leverage this program to recruit well-trained potential employees and freelancers. As a matter of fact, the company currently employs five SCAD graduates in full-time positions and two interns.

Program Highlights

The goal for each participant was to create a toy or family of toys that aids the cognitive, emotional and physical development of children birth to 12 months or 12-36 months.

First, the students researched and analyzed concepts based on an initial presentation from Kids II and their own research. Then, they provided 2D and 3D conceptualizations of their inventions. All concepts demonstrated an understanding of manufacturing processes, assembly and functionality of the toy. Ultimately, a toy prototype was submitted as part of a final presentation that included an overview outlining how the product fits in the retail environment.

Kids II President Ryan Gunnigle believes this project will positively influence the students’ industrial design and toy development perspectives. He said, “Our designers played a critical role brainstorming, reviewing and encouraging creative approaches to the product archetypes. Hopefully, this design education collaboration has strengthened the students’ understanding of the real-world process and bolstered their choice to pursue a design career.”

Kids II is one of the world’s fastest growing infant products companies with more than 100 products in its Bright Stars™ brand suite. The company, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, has the second largest design staff in the Southeast U.S.

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Monday, April 27, 2009

Local Teen's Vision Brings Inspirational Film and Star to Fayette

Darius Goes West, an award-winning documentary, tells the story of Darius Weems, a young man from Athens, Georgia who had a dream of being featured on MTV’s hit show, “Pimp My Ride”.

Raising awareness for the disease that has taken over his physical abilities, Duchene’s Muscular Dystrophy (DMD), Darius dreamt of creating a more loving, compassionate world by making younger generations aware of the debilitating disease that has affected one in every 3,500 births; thus, he and eleven of his closest friends set out on a three-and-a-half week, 7,000-mile journey from the hometown that Darius had never left across the country to MTV’s Los Angeles studios. In addition to dreams of raising awareness, he dreams that the lives of others will be improved upon discovery of a cure for the number one genetic killer of children worldwide.
While the subject matter seems a bit sad on first glance, the story has all the humor you would expect from a road trip film. In addition to laugh out loud moments at nearly every stop on the trek, Darius possesses a unique power to turn a typically tragic situation into one of absolute joy.
When Erin Breedlove, an eighteen-year-old senior at Whitewater High School, saw the film for the first time, she was able to instantly relate to the struggles that Darius and crew faced throughout the journey and continue to face today. As a student with mobility impairment, she could identify with obstacles that the film attempts to break down such as Americans with Disabilities Act compliancy as it applies to public facilities. Erin enlisted the aid of her British Literature teacher, Mr. Sean Bennett, to envision the project and help bring it to reality.
Bennett states, "I just knew from the look in Erin's eyes when she spoke to me about the project that it was something that just had to become a reality". Erin's tenacity and drive have helped make the screening of Darius Goes West a moment of celebration and an opportunity for enlightenment and community outreach.

As a result of her inspiration, on May 8, 2009, Darius and the crew will be making a stop in Fayetteville to address the senior class of Whitewater High School and later that evening, they will be among community members answering your questions and telling their stories in their own words following a screening of the movie that will take place beginning at 7:00 p.m. in the Whitewater High School / Sara Harp Minter Complex.

Featuring group discounts, educator discounts, live music and entertainment, along with many concessions, all groups are welcome to attend. Handicap parking is available in addition to accessible seating.

Come join Erin and her team for a night of food, fun, and awareness to take part in the fight the fiercely raging battle against this deadly disease! Tickets are available for $5 per person in the front office of Whitewater High School or at your child’s school. Please contact the Darius Goes West Screening Team via e-mail at DariusWildcat@gmail.com for donation information and general inquiries.
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Thursday, April 23, 2009

NASA Announces Georgia Aeronautics Research Award

/PRNewswire/ -- NASA's Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate has awarded $249,030 to Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta for work described in its NASA research announcement proposal "Impact of Degraded Environment on Airspace Safety."

Eric Feron is the principal investigator.

Overseen by the directorate's Aviation Safety Program, the project will foster close collaboration with and facilitate the exchange of ideas and information among researchers with NASA, industry, academia and other government agencies to benefit the nation's aeronautics community.

NASA's Aviation Safety Program is dedicated to improving the safety of current and future aircraft operating in the National Airspace System, with research focused on the way vehicles are designed, built, operated and maintained.

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Ga. Tech Researcher Recognized by EPA

Dr. Ajeet Rohatgi, a Regents’ and Electrical and Computer Engineering professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology, was recently recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the American Solar Energy Society (ASES) for a lifetime’s contribution to making solar technology a realistic, low-cost energy solution.

The U.S. EPA honored Dr. Rohatgi as an Individual Climate Protection Award Winner in a ceremony recently held at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

In addition, ASES selected Dr. Rohatgi as this year’s Hoyt Clarke Hottel Award Winner, for contributions in solar energy technology, and will honor him at the SOLAR 2009 conference, in Buffalo, New York later this year.

Rohatgi founded Georgia Tech’s PV research program and later established the first University Center of Excellence for Photovoltaic Research and Education (UCEP), a program funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. In 2007, he founded Suniva, a Norcross, GA-based company, to commercialize the world’s most advanced low-cost high-efficiency solar cells.

“This is a critical time in the history of solar research and deployment. Never before in my career have I seen today’s confluence of technological advances, political will and economic conditions necessary to bring solar into the mainstream. I’m honored to receive such recognitions as America and the world embrace photovoltaics as a practical energy solution,” said Rohatgi.

Throughout his career, Dr. Rohatgi has pushed the frontiers of PV cell performance and cost through research into the effects of impurities in silicon solar cells, the design and modeling of solar cells and the development of new fabrication techniques that simultaneously speed manufacturing and reduce costs. Dr. Rohatgi has authored and co-authored over 375 technical papers about solar, set 14 solar cell world records and helped more than 40 of the world’s largest solar companies develop new technologies.

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Monday, April 20, 2009

Fayette County Educator Recognized for Teaching of Holocaust

The Georgia Commission on the Holocaust has awarded Suzanne Carey of Rising Starr Middle School in Fayette County the 2009 Georgia Distinguished Educator of the Year Award for Middle School.

Each year the commission selects one full-time educator from the elementary, middle and high school level who has demonstrated excellence and creativity in the development and presentation of lessons in the Holocaust, character education or diversity. Competition participants are required to submit a lesson plan containing measurable objectives, materials, methods of assessment and impact on students in addition to a recommendation from a student, parent or peer and an administrator. Georgia Power sponsors the competition.

As the middle school winner, Carey will receive a $1,000 cash prize, have her name placed on a permanent Georgia Power plaque located at the Anne Frank in the World Exhibit and the Thomas B. Murphy Holocaust Teacher Training and Resource Center, receive a Georgia Power plaque to hang in the school and have her lesson plan posted on the commission’s website.

Three years ago Carey inspired her students to create a Holocaust Memorial Garden at the school during their study of the Holocaust. Students refresh the garden each year by adding new plants and flowers. A total of 44 students and their parents worked after school last Friday adding new plants and a Japanese Maple tree. The students raised approximately $500 for the project.

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Two high school teams advance to national TEAMS competition

Teams from two Georgia high schools—The Academy of Richmond County in Augusta and Grayson High School in Loganville—who competed at the University of Georgia earlier this year have advanced nationally in the 2009 Junior Engineering Technical Society’s TEAMS competition.

TEAMS, which stands for Test of Engineering, Aptitude, Mathematics and Science, brought 44 student participants to UGA earlier this year for a competition that fosters creativity, critical thinking, teamwork and problem solving, said John Mativo, an assistant professor in the College of Education’s department of workforce education, leadership and social foundations; and member in the faculty of engineering.

The TEAMS 2009 theme was “Behind the Scenes: Theme Parks.” There were two sessions within the competition: a 90-minute, 80 multiple choice question session in the morning and a 90-minute, open-ended, four-question session in the afternoon.

The Academy of Richmond County, coached by Patricia Croft, and Grayson High School, coached by Billy Jones, were among six student teams advancing from Georgia, the national TEAMS office announced on April 2. The other four were Chamblee High School of Chamblee, Northside High School of Columbus, Frederick Douglass High School of Atlanta and Columbus High School of Columbus.

Other high scoring teams in the competition at UGA included Rockdale Magnet School of Conyers, coached by David Bonar; Lucy C. Laney High School of Augusta, Hephzibah High School of Hephzibah, and A.R. Johnson Health Science and Engineering Magnet High School of Augusta, all coached by Patricia Croft.

“Many high school students perceive math and science classes as dry,” Mativo said. “To bring these two courses to life, students need to use these disciplines in a systematic way to solve real problems. For example, the flow rate of fluid in a tube can model the blood traveling in a vein or artery. Math would be used to find out of where the blood’s velocity is highest by calculating the flow rate, while the science part would analyze conditions of the substrate in which the blood flows. Combined, math and science become the basis of engineering design and analysis.”

Mativo worked with Chi Thai, an associate professor in the department of biological and agricultural engineering, which co-sponsored the project that was praised by student participants and coaches.

“I was not aware of the strong engineering program at Georgia before this competition,” Croft said. “It was well run. My students were excited to be a part of this competition and look forward to participating again.”

Annually, more than 14,000 students across the country participate in TEAMS competitions. Questions are aligned with national education standards. UGA is one of four competition sites for Georgia students. Other sites include Atlanta University Center, Savannah State University, and Auburn University in Auburn, Ala.

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Booth Paper Accepted for Presentation at Distance Learning Administrator’s Conference

A paper written by Clayton State University Associate Professor of Information Technology Larry Booth, his wife, Vickie Booth, and Fred Hartfield has been accepted for presentation at the Distance Learning Administrator’s Conference to be held in June at St. Simon’s, Ga. The paper won a best paper award, which will be presented during the opening dinner on Sunday, June 21. In addition to being published in the Distance Learning Administration Annual, award winning papers are invited for publication in the Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration.

The paper, “Continuous Course Improvement, Enhancements, and Modifications: Control and Tracking,” develops an innovative process that employs roles and business rules to define a change management system for continuous improvement, enhancement, and modification of an online curriculum. All three authors are part of the University System of Georgia’s (USG) WebBSIT program. The WebBSIT, a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology degree, is a fully online degree offered through a consortium of five USG institutions. At Clayton State University, the WebBSIT is offered by the Department of Information Technology in the College of Information and Mathematical Sciences.

In addition to his teaching position at Clayton State, Larry Booth (LarryBooth@clayton.edu) serves on the WebBSIT operating board. Vickie Booth (Vickie@GAWebBSIT.org) is the executive director of the Georgia WebBSIT, with her office at Southern Polytechnic State University. Hartfield (fhartfield@spsu.edu) is an associate professor in Information Technology at Southern Polytechnic and also serves on the WebBSIT operating board.

A unit of the University System of Georgia, Clayton State University is an outstanding comprehensive metropolitan university located 15 miles southeast of downtown Atlanta.
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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

UGA weather forecasting team wins national honors

A top-three finish in the national team rankings. Multiple regular-season and post-season individual honors. It sounds like another one of UGA’s stellar athletics teams.

Instead, it’s UGA atmospheric science students and their faculty, competing in the national weather forecasting contest known as WxChallenge. What’s more, this is only UGA’s second year to compete in the contest.

UGA’s team just finished the regular season in third place. Geography department faculty team member John Knox and graduate student Michael Carter qualified for the post-season individual tournament, which began April 6.

Knox assembled the UGA WxChallenge team in fall 2007 as a way to help teach undergraduates how to forecast the weather.

“Geography Professor Tom Mote, who helped found the UGA atmospheric science program in 2000 and who is the most experienced forecaster on our faculty, had conducted his own forecasting contests for many years,” said Knox. “He was on a Fulbright to Brazil, I was pinch-hitting for him in the senior-level forecasting class last spring, and I was nervous. So, I decided to participate in the national contest for the first time as a way to bone up on my teaching assignment. I thought some students might want to do it, too.”

Team members are: geography faculty members Knox and Marshall Shepherd; graduate student Carter; and undergraduates Emily Wilson of Cumming, Jason Muhlbauer of Kennesaw, Matt Daniel of Social Circle, Brent Sinclair of Dacula, Clayton Hunt of Athens, Kelly Keene of Warner Robins, Mary Mays of Savannah, Kelly Keene of Warner Robins, Andrew Phillips of Woodstock, Jonathan Tarantino of Lilburn, Myron Petro of Dacula, Haley Gowen of Folkston and Laura Paulik of Hinsdale, Ill. The team also includes “redshirt freshmen” Laura Beth Wrenn of Watkinsville and Sarah Summers of Kennesaw, whose scores do not count toward the cumulative team score.

WxChallenge is managed by research staff at the University of Oklahoma, famed for its tornado research. The contest is open to all undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students, as well as higher-education faculty, staff and alumni. It consists of making next-day forecasts of high and low temperatures, maximum sustained wind and precipitation amounts for a series of 10 U.S. cities during September through April. Forecasts are scored versus the national average forecast and can be compared to forecasts made by the National Weather Service and the best computer forecast models of the atmosphere. The best human forecasters in the contest routinely outperform both the computer models and the NWS.

About 50 institutions in the United States and Canada, consisting of more than 1,500 individual forecasters, compete every year for the team crown. Analogous to the NCAA basketball tournament, the top 64 individual forecasters go on to the “big dance” and compete in postseason brackets leading an individual winner to the top.

One of those individuals is usually UGA graduate student Michael Carter of Louisville, Miss., who has competed in the WxChallenge individual tournament both at UGA.

“Every year, Mississippi State and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology duke it out for number 1,” said Carter. “MIT always seems to win on the last day of the regular season.” Could the fledgling UGA team hope to compete with the big boys in just its sophomore season in 2008-09?

“Our students said, yes we can,” according Knox. At the students’ suggestion, a forecasting seminar class was created in which forecasts are discussed and debated. During the spring semester, the seminar is meeting until 7 p.m. four nights a week.

The extra effort paid off for the team and for Gowen and Wrenn, both of whom won trophies for being the best undergraduate forecasters in the nation for one of the cities. For the season, Knox, Carter and four other team members (Wilson, Muhlbauer, Daniel and Sinclair) all placed in the top 100 individually to go along with their third-place team finish.

While the UGA team would like to be number one, they’re pleased with their performance this year.

“We’re on the podium,” said Andrew Phillips of Woodstock, referring to the third-place bronze medal at the Olympics. “And we beat Tech!”

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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

UGA's disability resource director wins national service award

Karen Kalivoda, director of the University of Georgia Disability Resource Center, recently received the 2009 American College Personnel Association College Student Educators International’s Disability Service Provider Award. This award is presented annually to a disability service professional who has advanced services for students with disabilities through dedication and advocacy. UGA’s center has won numerous awards under Kalivoda’s leadership and the award recognizes contributions made for university students with disabilities for over 25 years.

“Dr. Kalivoda has made a significant, positive difference in the lives of thousands of people associated with the University of Georgia,” said Rodney Bennett, vice president for student affairs. “She has provided visionary leadership for student life programs and services that enhance the educational mission of the university. Dr. Kalivoda is an outstanding professional who brings integrity, experience and the ability to work collaboratively towards the accomplishment of institutional goals.”

Jeanne Higbee, professor at the University of Minnesota added, “Given the scope of her contributions, both in direct service to students at the University of Georgia and in the dissemination of knowledge through her many publications and presentations, I cannot think of anyone more deserving of Disability Service Provider Award.”

The American College Personnel Association is headquartered in Washington, D.C. at the National Center for Higher Education, and is the leading comprehensive student affairs association that advances student affairs and engages students for a lifetime of learning and discovery. This award is among the most prestigious honors given by the ACPA. Kalivoda was recognized at their national conference in Washington, D.C. in March.

Kalivoda holds degrees in psychology, rehabilitation counseling, and higher education from the University of Georgia.

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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Metro Senior Takes Double Prizes in State Ag Day Contests

A Lassiter High School senior in Cobb County was a double winner in the annual Ag Day art and essay competition sponsored by the Georgia Department of Agriculture and the Georgia Agriculture in the Classroom Council.

Allie Knouse* placed first in the 9-12 art category for the third year and won second place in the essay contest. This year’s theme was “Georgia Grown – A Better Choice”. The first place winner in the 9-12 essay contest was Derrek Moore,* a Northview High School student in Fulton County.Miss Knouse and 18 others who were selected in the top five places in the art and essay categories attended proclamation signing ceremonies in the Capitol with Governor Sonny Perdue, Commissioner of Agriculture Tommy Irvin and Deputy Commissioner Terry Coleman. Commissioner Irvin presented the awards in a ceremony in the Agriculture Building.

The second place winner in the 9-12 art competition was Kimberly Bicknese, a Coffee County High School student. Jesse Abbott,* a Habersham Central High School student of Demorest, placed third in the art contest.

Other metro area students who placed in the art or essay competition were:
Art K-3, first place, Mahogany Radford,* a student at C. L. Gideons Elementary School in Fulton County;
Art 4-8, third place, Emily Schuler, a student at J.C. Booth Middle School in Fayette County; Essay 4-8, second place, William “Robby” Ryan,* a student at Fayette Middle School in Fayetteville; and
honorable mentions in Art 4-8 to Troy Morrow,* Shiloh Middle School, Snellville;
Essay 4-8 to Jenny Edwards,* Lula Elementary School in Hall County;
Essay 9-12 to Megan Zanone,* Twin Spring Academy in Banks County.
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