Challenge Accepted - Solving Problems with SU's Engineering Program

Engineers are natural problem solvers. Sometimes, those problems are pretty hefty. Dr. Carol Wellington teaches her students to celebrate each small victory on the way to their end goal by encouraging them to shout “WOOHOO!”

“The harder it is to get something to work, the bigger the rush,” she said. “Our students get that. We teach them that there’s this big complicated thing, but there are a thousand victories along the way. You have to celebrate those.”

Thanks to Wellington and the Computer Science and Engineering Department, Ship can shout a collective “WOOHOO” for its thriving engineering program. Under Wellington’s direction as the first chair of the department, Ship tackled the “big complicated thing” of launching the first engineering program in Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education.

In May, the university received approval for civil engineering, the first in the State System and the fifth engineering program at Ship (see page 11 for more details). The university currently offers ABET-accredited computer and software engineering programs as well as electrical and mechanical engineering.

From developing water sensors that help NASA to measure and analyze sea level rise to working alongside engineers at Volvo, students and faculty have accomplished amazing victories in the relatively young engineering program.

Being the problem solvers they are, about a decade ago faculty in the department recognized a need for a more affordable and accessible engineering program in Pennsylvania. A population of students in the state aspired to be engineers, but cost prohibited them from pursuing the profession, Wellington said. “There’s a mission to this, as a department.”

Drawing on the strengths of a nationally-accredited computer science program and the university’s rigorous math and physics programs, Ship launched its computer engineering program in 2010. At the time, no other higher education institution in Pennsylvania offered computer engineering at tuition rates as low as Ship

. In addition to developing an affordable engineering program, Wellington said they increased accessibility by focusing on student preparedness. Students who want to pursue engineering but do not meet the program’s math requirements can enter the Future Engineers Program. This way, they are able to declare the major while they work to improve their math placement.

“We did a study in 2014 looking at math placement and how well students did in class,” Wellington said. “Math placement predicted if you would succeed in the program.”

Wellington said they discovered it was a preparedness issue, not a math issue. To address it, the department reaches out to incoming students who need to improve in math. “We’re being honest with them. If you can fix the math issue before you get here, you can graduate in four years,” she said. “If not, we provide them with the path they need.”

Students get admitted to the Future Engineers Program as engineering majors. “Our department is very clear—we want them to be part of our department and be one of us,” she said. “I’m proud of the commitment of our faculty.”

These students take one additional course to fix their math placement, then enter the engineering program of their choice, proceeding at the same rate through the program as their peers.

The program’s focus on practical education coupled with dedicated faculty also help prepare students for an in-demand field. “You’re going to engineer while you’re here. You don’t have to wait until you graduate,” Wellington said.

That method works, as Ship’s engineering students are sought out regularly by employers. “When our students go to job interviews, the conversations they can hold with a recruiter are at another level because of the things they’ve done.”

Students troubleshoot alongside engineers at Volvo, applying what they learn in the classroom to the field. “Ship does a very good job of staying at the forefront. We get to pull from that knowledge,” said Michael Foreman, senior electrical engineering major.

Mike MacDonald, principal engineer at Volvo, said he only wishes he knew to come to Ship sooner. “It turns out Shippensburg University students were an ideal match. They were troubleshooting the problems; they were fixing the problems.” Wellington also is proud of the program’s interdisciplinary focus. The students and faculty frequently collaborate with other departments on research and university projects. “It attracts a different set of students, but more important than that, it also adds new skills,” she said. “When we do things, we add another focus to other disciplines.”

Their work with water sensors at NASA’s Wallops Island in Virginia is in partnership with the Geography/Earth Science Department. Engineering students lent their skills to the Biology Department two years ago to construct an actograph to measure the sleep patterns of mosquitos, which can help to determine if the mosquitos are carrying the Zika virus. This past April, Wellington worked with students to engineer a custom cookie mold on the 3-D printer ahead of President Laurie Carter’s inauguration for the first ChocolateShip Cookie.

“We do this for the good of the institution,” she said. “As a culture, we are, ‘OK, let’s do this,’ sort of people.”

It’s this attitude and example that allows Ship to continue to churn out sought after engineers. “When we do a job, we don’t just do what is asked of us.”

Postgraduate Scholars

The NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship Program has been in place since 1964, offering select individuals across all three divisions of college athletics the chance to pursue a postgraduate education based on their outstanding accomplishments from the field and the classroom.

Speaking to the award’s prestige, only ten individuals in the history of Shippensburg University have been awarded NCAA postgraduate scholarships since it began fifty-four years ago.

This spring, however, the honor came full circle.

Madison Scarr, senior field hockey player and Student Government Association president, became the tenth SU honoree in March. An accounting major, Scarr was actively involved in the John L. Grove College of Business. She graduated summa cum laude in May with a 3.83 cumulative GPA.

At this year’s commencement ceremony, Scarr shared a moment with Dr. Tony Winter, recently retired associate dean of Grove College. Winter was SU’s first NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship recipient in 1976, and he went on to study at Arizona State University.

The two interacted often throughout their time at Shippensburg, especially during Scarr’s sophomore year when she served as the Grove College senator for the Student Government Association.

“Dr. Winter was always ready to talk business, but not a meeting passed without him asking about how the field hockey team was doing. Especially for our big games and in the playoffs, Dr. Winter always sent me an e-mail to give his luck to the team. He was not only a huge supporter of me, but to many students. His sense of humor and kind heart never goes unnoticed, and is greatly appreciated by many.”

Scarr, who is working on her MBA, will use her $7,500 scholarship toward her continuing education at Shippensburg. After that, she plans to sit for the CPA exam.

“The athletic scholarship I received during my undergraduate career helped greatly, but no longer receiving that made me question how I was going to cover the additional costs of graduate work. This scholarship relieved a lot of uncertainty that I had when debating whether or not I could afford the expenses.”

“It’s not only a financial help, but an honor,” Scarr added. “To be awarded with the same scholarship as nine other phenomenal Ship athletes is beyond humbling. This honor will carry me through graduate school and motivate me when the waves are rough.”

Whereas the scholarship offers the possibilities of a bright future for Scarr, it also offers Winter the opportunity to reflect.

“It is certainly quite evident to see how blessed I was to have had so many individuals at Ship who cared about and supported me during my educational and professional journey,” Winter said. “The influence and impact of these individuals and many others not only helped to pave the way for my professional career, but also planted the seed in me to ‘pay it forward’ during my memorable thirty-nine-year career at Ship.”

The return-to-Ship journey for Winter dates back to the mid-1970s, when accounting professor Dr. C. William “Bill” Knerr took the time to nominate him for the Postgraduate Scholarship. After Winter graduated and worked for a year, he found the right match thanks to his former head football coach, Joe Mark.

Winter had identified several schools at which he hoped to pursue his MBA, and Mark went out of his way to contact the head football coaches at each school. That way, Winter could assist as a football coach while pursuing his master’s studies.

“Since Linda, my girlfriend and now my wife of forty years, had visited Arizona State to see a childhood friend living in Tempe a year before I graduated from Ship, and because Coach Mark opened the door on a potential assistantship with Coach Frank Kush, I decided to become a Sun Devil and pursue my MBA at ASU,” Winter said. “I had a tremendous experience during my two years at ASU both in the classroom and on the football field. You see, if it wouldn’t have been for caring and committed individuals at Ship like Dr. Knerr and Coach Mark, I would have never found my way to ASU, which began to lay the foundation for my career in higher education.”

Forty-two years separate SU’s first and tenth Postgraduate Scholarship honorees. This year’s award marks the end of one Ship journey, and the beginning of another.

“Dr. Winter is such an inspiration and role model; it is an extreme honor to have been awarded the same NCAA postgraduate scholarship,” Scarr said. “I consider myself blessed and fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with Dr. Winter on both a personal and professional level.”

Winter added, “The people at Ship are truly what makes it the same special place it is today, and what it was when I first arrived on campus forty-five years ago as a transfer student from Lebanon Valley College worried about finding my way at Shippensburg State College. Perhaps Madison, our most recent scholarship recipient, will complete her business studies and one day return to Ship as a young professional to impact the lives of future Ship students.”

 

Inspired to Act - Improving Health in Kenya

Shippensburg University steered Lindsay Bingaman ’12 toward a new chapter in her life, although it wasn’t through the traditional route. Bingaman earned a degree in history and secondary education from Ship, but her studies ultimately led to a career in improving the health of some of the world’s poorest children.

It started with a world geography class that inspired her interest in traveling. Later, a European political studies seminar sparked her fascination in different cultures.

“My studies at Ship ignited a social justice flame inside of me,” said the Greencastle native. “It taught me that we should be global citizens and think outside of the comfort of our lives in suburban Pennsylvania.”

Last March, she began working for Evidence Action as a senior associate for the Deworm the World Initiative in Kenya, Africa. Evidence Action is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the health and lives of people in Africa and Asia.

“Kenya is an amazing place full of extremely hard working people,” Bingaman said. “Unfortunately, there are large populations here who cannot overcome poverty due to disease.”

Parasitic worm infections, while virtually nonexistent in developed countries, remain endemic in many of the world’s poorest countries. The infections can lead to malnourishment and pose a serious threat to a person’s long-term health

. Children are particularly vulnerable, because malnourishment can stunt their growth and development. More than 836 million children are at risk of parasitic worm infections worldwide, according to a 2016 report by the World Health Organization.

Deworm the World partners with local schools, governments, and health-care systems to administer treatments to schoolage children in several countries.

Bingaman helps coordinate and supervise deworming efforts throughout Kenya, working closely with the Kenyan Ministries of Health and Education. Her team is currently planning for a new round of deworming to take place in several remote regions of the country this year.

Bingaman also coordinates closely with other Evidence Action offices worldwide to ensure they are carrying out the most effective program possible.

“All of our programs and decisions are based on rigorous research,” she said. “We want to make sure we are using lessons learned to make our work as efficient as possible.”

The deworming treatment is simple and cost effective. It consists of a pill, available in chewable form for children and costs less than 50 cents per child per year on average.

In Kenya alone, Evidence Action has provided deworming treatment to 6 million children.

“I am excited to see the advances that Kenya is making. It’s possible that parasitic worm diseases could be eliminated within our lifetime, and it’s amazing to be a part of something that has real impact on children.”

This is not Bingaman’s first experience in Africa. Two years ago, she lived in Kenya while working for a USAID project devoted to building peace and stability in Somalia.

“I fell in love with Kenya and its people,” she said. “Every day is different, which is what I love about this work and living here.”

Her day typically begins with a morning run, much like her time at Ship. As a member of the Ship track team, Bingaman made All-American in 2012 with the women’s distance medley relay at indoor NCAAs, placing in the top eight nationally. She also completed a minor in coaching for track.

She then rides a bicycle two miles to her office, often stopping at a favorite roadside stand for breakfast

 After work, she frequently climbs at a gym with friends. She climbs for fun, and to quench her continual thirst for adventure. Bingaman recently completed an eighteen-hour, eleven-pitch climb on Mount Ololokwe in Kenya.

“When you are on the side of a cliff, you can see the world from a different point of view,” she said. “It’s unreal to have birds soaring past your head, and you think to yourself, ‘Wow, I am not supposed to be up here, but how cool is it that I am doing it anyway?’”

Her dream is to open a climbing gym in Africa someday and teach the sport to a new generation of children.

“So much inequality exists in the world. I want to do as much as I can to ensure that children all over the world have access to equal opportunities.”

Behind the Scenes with Kelly Waltman-Spreha '05

Ten years after Kelly Waltman-Spreha ’05 earned her master’s degree in criminal justice from Shippensburg University, she returned to campus to pursue a different role.


Housed in Horton Hall is a valuable resource for the statewide juvenile court justice system. The Center for Juvenile Justice Training and Research (CJJT&R) was founded as a partnership between the Juvenile Court Judges’ Commission (JCJC) and Shippensburg University, and has been located at Ship for over thirty years. The center provides training, graduate education, balanced and restorative justice, and secure detention monitoring programs for more than 3,000 juvenile probation officers, juvenile court judges, and other juvenile justice staff.
“Anyone who works in juvenile probation in Pennsylvania is familiar with JCJC,” Waltman-Spreha said. “As I was looking at careers, I always thought it would be interesting to work for JCJC—and I have a soft spot for Shippensburg.”

Waltman-Spreha initially accepted a position as the coordinator of the center’s training and graduate education programs. Today, she serves as the center’s first female director.

In addition to daily administrative work, she oversees the center’s Information Technology Division. The IT Division develops and maintains the statewide online juvenile case management system, along with other essential applications used in the processing of juvenile court records. The center is responsible for compiling and publishing the statistics for juvenile court records throughout Pennsylvania, which are used to analyze the function of juvenile courts and plan for the future.

Waltman-Spreha intends to enhance the center’s research agenda and partner with Ship faculty. She said her position allows her to maintain unique perspectives from both the practical side and the more academic side of the job. “I see what is truly going on in the system.”

The juvenile court system is complicated. Children or teenagers who commit a crime often realize that they’ve done something wrong, but their brains are not done developing yet, Waltman-Spreha said. “There are a lot of dynamics—family, neighborhoods, schools. We need research to guide (how to work with juveniles).”

When balanced and restorative justice became a focus in the mid-1990s, the juvenile court system started looking at the person who committed the crime as well as other components, such as the impact on the victim and the community, she said.

“Over the last ten years, we’ve been working to emphasize the importance of evidence-based decision making. One example is the implementation of a standardized risk assessment. We need to focus on the high-risk kids who need certain services,” she said. “What services make the most sense, and what can you do to repair the harm to the community… We have to talk about what is helping and not harming, and talk about choices.”

As director of the center, she works with criminal justice professors to review the Master of Science in Administration of Juvenile Justice at Ship. While the graduate program has been offered through Ship for over thirty-five years, it was recently updated. The inaugural class of the new master’s degree will begin in fall 2018. This partnership is unique because it is a scholarship-based cohort program for juvenile justice professionals, and, based on funding, JCJC pays tuition and fees for those going through the program, she said.

Each year, JCJC hosts an annual conference, which Waltman-Spreha helped organize last November. The two-and-a-half day James E. Anderson Pennsylvania Conference on Juvenile Justice attracts about 900 juvenile justice professionals statewide and nationally. Workshops during the conference focus on practices, programs, and initiatives that represent best practices in the field. A youth awards program honors winners of the Creative Expression and Outstanding Achievement contest. Last year’s theme was Positive Thoughts Lead to Positive Actions.”

Looking ahead, Waltman-Spreha hopes to advance research through the center and expand partnerships with departments on campus for a truly interdisciplinary approach. She foresees students completing more internships and research projects with JCJC.

“We are the best-kept secret on campus,” she said. “JCJC is rife with possibilities for research in areas like criminal justice, social work, and education. …We want to increase our partnerships and expand our untapped potential with students and faculty on campus.”

Granting New Possibilities

Sometimes you have to step outside your realm of comfort and challenge yourself to explore new ideas before you can secure a true sense of growth and direction in life. Rachel Shaffer, a senior chemistry major, came to this realization with the financial assistance and academic opportunities provided to her through the Reber-Offner Research Grant.

Shaffer was the first recipient of the grant in spring 2016 and received a $5,000 stipend to participate in a ten-week research project last summer. Vera Reber, a former Ship professor and Honors Program director, and her husband John Offner, also a former Ship professor, endowed the research grant several years ago. Their hope for the annual grant was to ease the financial burden for a female honor student majoring in math, physics, chemistry, or computer science, so that they may immerse themselves in their studies.

“I was going to do research over the summer with no monetary backings. It was nice to find out that we actually had some money to conduct the research and for me to stay (in Shippensburg) to do a longer project than I originally anticipated,” Shaffer said.

Shaffer partnered with Dr. John Richardson, professor of analytical chemistry, for her fully funded summer research project, and together they explored the spectroelectrochemical qualities of heavy metals such as lead and zinc on Indium Tin Oxide (ITO) coated glass. These heavy metals are common components of gunshot residue, Shaffer explained. The duo approached their research from a forensic angle by analyzing the composition and properties of gunshot residue in a solution on the glass slides.

By exposing herself to electrochemical and analytical concepts that diverged from her biochemistry concentration, Shaffer cultivated applicable skills and gained an appreciation of the strenuous process that goes into scientific research. “One big thing that I needed to learn in doing this research before doing any other research was essentially how to try and fail at things,” she said. “A lot of research is trial and error, especially when you are fairly new at it. You have to learn to take those failures and say, ‘Okay, how do I have to modify a procedure to get the result I am looking for?’”

But Shaffer gained more than problem solving skills by the conclusion of her research project. She also landed an internship at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

The research she conducted during her summer project at Ship was rooted in the same information gathering techniques that NIDA interns use, giving Shaffer an advantage over other applicants. While at Ship, Shaffer studied a substance’s composition on a micro-scale with glass slides. At NIDA, she conducted an in vivo study looking at drugs like cocaine in the brain of a rat.

“Because I did this analytical research, especially with the electrochemistry, the PI (Principal Investigator) at NIDA found my application in the database, and that’s one of the reasons why he chose me to be his intern. It gave me a good foundation to do the work that I was doing there,” Shaffer said.

After Shaffer paid the summer expenses from her research, she had the opportunity to use the remaining money to fund her travel to the American Chemical Society National Meeting in San Francisco. While there, she networked with other students and chemists and presented her research during the undergraduate session.

Before Shaffer was awarded the grant, she planned to be a clinician and attend medical school. However, the experiences that stemmed from her grant research opened her eyes to new interests and opportunities.

“Both this project and all the projects I have gotten to do have shown me that I’m not ready to give up any kind of research in my career,” she said.

Shaffer now plans to take a gap year to participate in a post-baccalaureate program with NIDA, where she will be able to work with professional scientists to conduct biomedical research.

“Taking a gap year is something that didn’t realize was important until I actually had these research opportunities where I met post-bacs and realized how important they are if you are unsure,” she said. “With the way the medical cycles go, I didn’t feel like I had a lot of time to make a decision.

I didn’t want to go into (a program) and not be happy with the choice I made.”

A Minute With...Chris Morton

By Catherine Amoriello ’17

It’s safe to say Lt. Col. Chris Morton, professor of military science, is one of the most well-traveled people on Ship’s campus. 

Having a father serving in the US Army, Morton got an early taste of military life as a self-proclaimed Army brat. He later graduated from the United States Military Academy in 2000. The Oklahoma native’s military career took him to places such as Alabama, Kentucky, Texas, Washington, DC, South Korea, Iraq, and Afghanistan. In 2016, Morton settled down in Pennsylvania as the chair of the Military Science Department at Ship. 

What is your favorite part about working at Ship? 

I think my favorite part of the job is interacting with the students. ...I get the opportunity to sort of give back because you get all these opportunities and you just want to be able to give them back to someone else so that they will do a better job than you did. I think because of how important it is, the things we do, it’s really important for us to get it right. So, if I have a little bit of opportunity in my little corner of the world to influence a couple students who are going to be lieutenants to do better than I did, then that’s just a fantastic opportunity. 

What do you do in your free time?

I’m married with two kids, so I love hanging out with family. My kids do sports... my oldest does cross country, both of them swim, (and) they do track and field, so hanging out and doing stuff with the boys. I’m into country music. ...I like to hunt, so I’m in the right state, obviously. Although, I am a rabid Oklahoma Sooners football fan, so if the Sooners are on TV, that’s usually where I am, in front of the TV watching them.

If you could meet anyone, who would it be?

I think I would go meet Bobby Stoops. He just retired as the head football coach of the Sooners and I would just love to sit and talk with him about football. That would be really cool.

What was the last movie you saw in a movie theater?

The last movie I saw in a movie theater was Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. I was born in the year the first Star Wars came out, and my dad is a big sci-fi fan, so I’ve kind of always been a sci-fi (fan). I think Star Wars is best viewed in a movie theater. And my kids love it. They think it’s cool, so we took them to the movie.

What’s your biggest pet peeve?

It seems like a lot of times these days people can’t just have a discussion without it turning into a really angry disagreement. It’s OK to have a talk about something. I’m like, “Man, did you really have to turn this into something bigger than it is?”

What’s your current favorite television series?

I started watching The Good Doctor. It’s pretty neat because I think it’s interesting to see how, on the one hand, he’s got some disabilities, but he’s really good at medicine, so he’s able to overcome those things because he’s so good at everything else. 

Can you speak a foreign language?

I speak a little bit of German. I’m not like Angela Merkel, but I can have a conversation about what we’re having for dinner and things like that. I lived there when I was a kid. My dad was stationed in Germany, so I guess I lived there for about three years. I took it there, obviously, and took it in high school and in college. I know enough to make my kids think I’m fluent.

Sheetz or Wawa?

Oh, Wawa for sure. I’ve had Sheetz sandwiches but (when we go to our ROTC headquarters in New Jersey) I will not eat until I get to Jersey so I can eat a Wawa hoagie. Gotta get the chicken salad with bacon.

If you could have any super power, what would it be?

I would fly. (My son) claims that super speed is better than flying, and it’s not. It’s just not.

Where is the coolest place you’ve been?

Have you ever been to Disney World? You know the princess’ castle, right? Well that castle was modeled after a palace in southern Germany called Neuschwanstein. So, there’s actually a palace that the princess castle is modeled after, and it’s absolutely gorgeous in the Bavarian Alps. 


Catherine Amoriello ’17 is an intern for SU Magazine. 

 

Steep Adventures, Substantial Rewards

By Katie (Paxson) Hammaker ’93 

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in 2014 was a great adventure for Michelle Deller ’96, but the biggest thrill was knowing that her efforts would provide clean drinking water for nearby villages. 

That trip inspired Deller to develop Steep Adventures, a Lancaster-based company that organizes adventure challenge trips throughout the United States and around the world.

Deller is not a typical travel agent. Her trips combine adventure with the opportunity to raise money for various humanitarian organizations and projects. “I’ve always been an explorer by nature, always wanted to try new things. All of our participants have a love for adventure. But the idea of tying something good to it, that’s what gives the trip purpose.”

Deller and a group of twenty-four men and women raised $100,000 through the Kilimanjaro climb. The money was donated to Compassion International, which enabled the organization to build two wells and sanitation facilities in two villages in Tanzania. From that trip, she launched Steep Adventures in January 2017.

A sociology major at Ship, she previously worked as an administrative director for a start-up company. The job prepared her to start her own business.

Deller’s close connection to other Ship alumni also has helped grow her business. Deller was a member of the campus Christian Fellowship group. Several former members have provided encouragement and financial contributions toward her fundraising projects.

Steep Adventures’ pilot trip was a six-day, 334-mile bike ride from Washington, DC, to Pittsburgh in July 2016. The trip raised $2,200 for Humankind’s efforts to provide clean drinking water around the world. 

In October 2017, Deller took a group of nine adventurers from Lancaster-based Eastern Mennonite Missions to Peru, where they hiked for sixty-one miles around Ausangate Mountain. At 20,945 feet, it is the highest peak in that region of Peru. The hikers crossed four mountain passes of over 16,000 feet. A highlight of the trek came on day three, when the hikers reached the Rainbow Mountains. Its peaks are naturally covered in beautiful bands of color.

Several participants described the climb as one of the hardest things they had ever done. Altitude sickness and unpredictable weather made the trek even more challenging.

“We saw snow, sleet, hail, rain, sun, and clouds, sometimes all in one day.”

According to Deller, for most trekkers the best part of the trip came at the end when they visited PROMESA, the Peruvian school they had worked to support.

“When possible, I try to arrange interaction with the people who will benefit from the money raised. This creates a connection and makes the trip more personal,” she said. “The students were so grateful. They held an assembly to honor and thank us.” 

The adventurers raised $58,000 for PROMESA. The funds will help finance the construction of a new road and bridge to the rural, mountainside village where construction of the new, larger school will begin.

Steep Adventures treks range from mild to more challenging. A low challenge trip, according to Steep Adventures, could include hikes of up to six miles on rolling hills instead of mountains. A high challenge trip might include bike rides of up to seventy miles daily for multiple days, over mountains with elevations of up to 14,000 feet. Some adventures combine multiple sports, like kayaking and hiking.

Deller will customize challenges based on a client’s request. She’s up for just about anything. “Trekking a volcano in Guatemala, or biking the villages of Vietnam, I’m willing to try it.”

Due to the physically-challenging nature and potential risk, adventure trips are for adults only. Deller maintains an intense training regimen to keep physically prepared for trips, and highly encourages clients to do the same.

“It depends on the grade of challenge as to the physical training required,” she said. “For Peru, I suggested a twelve-week calendar of running, weights, swimming, and cardio activity such as hiking and biking.”

Once the trip and fundraising project are planned, both team and individual fundraising goals are set. Participants then raise the funds from friends, family, coworkers, and others.

Plans are underway for a return trip to Peru as well as trips to Chile and Nepal, each raising funds for a different cause.

“It is my hope that Steep Adventures will connect adventure and mission in a way that changes lives forever,” she said.

For more information, visit steepadventures.com. 


Katie (Paxson) Hammaker ’93 is the director of development and marketing for the Susquehanna Chorale and is a freelance writer based in Mechanicsburg. 

Frightfully Delightful Entertainment

Exploiting people’s fears is Riley Cameron’s specialty. The 2009 Ship grad makes a living off a unique combination of his love for special effects, his art degree, and a technical background. 

“I had always done special effects from an early age. I was always interested in Halloween,” he said.

Cameron owns Nevermore Productions, a company that develops custom animatronics and set design for nearly every theme park and haunted house attraction in the US as well as many abroad. He’s also applied his talents to the newly opened Steel Key Escape Room in Chambersburg, which leads players through an immersive cold case murder mystery with Hollywood-quality sets.

After tinkering with special effects for haunted houses in high school and college, Cameron realized he found a way to entertain and make a paycheck through his passion. “People were enjoying it, and I could make this a career. I wasn’t just making creatures, I was playing on fears people already had.”

During his senior year at Ship, he scraped together enough money to be a vendor at the TransWorld’s Halloween and Attractions Show, a special effects trade show held each March in St. Louis. His gamble to attend paid off, and his products were well received.

“Animatronic characters always drew me in. I have a very heavy hammer and nail background and then art with technical painting and sculpting. This enabled me to use both aspects of what I liked,” he said. “One of my props was a three- to four- foot spider with realistic motions. Not that there weren’t spiders already, but I figured out how to do it better.”

Every year, Cameron attends the show with four or five new products, takes orders, then fulfills them with his team over the summer. He avoids trends or cheesy characters and sticks with what he knows will indefinitely be a hit—spiders, snakes, creepy mannequins, or dolls. He also offers set design and construction. His products and sets are regularly used at local attractions like Jason’s Woods and Field of Screams as well as in major theme parks such as Six Flags, Busch Gardens, and Kings Dominion.

Cameron recently discovered a new application for his work through the escape room craze. Having built sets for his clients, he decided to open his own. “It’s a great combination of the set design and props.”

Steel Key Escape Room in Chambersburg is a cold case adventure game set in a remote cabin. Groups of two to ten people are challenged to solve a twenty-year-old murder
by scavenging around for clues and making connections before police release the suspect. Cameron said it took about two months to produce a strong storyline and mood.

“It’s been a nice change from just producing a product,” he said. “We put people in an immersive experience.”

The escape room has been a hit with varied audiences, he said. He feels people enjoy the engaging, physical adventure game. “People are so technology-based—on their phone, on the computer—this gets you out of there to physically do something.”

Based on the success of their first venture, Cameron said they are creating a second escape room this spring that features a viral outbreak in an underground bunker. Players must find the anecdote to stop the outbreak. 

 

An Advocate for Science Education

By John Walsh ’01

The world of science education is in the midst of a major renovation, and Shippensburg University’s Dr. Christine Royce is one of the leaders of this initiative. Royce, who has been a professor at Ship since 2002, was selected as president of the National Science Teachers Association for the next three years.

“The theme for my presidency with NSTA will be associated with being an advocate for science education, and ultimately that includes STEM education,” Royce said.

“I will be involved with the promotion of STEM into the integration of content areas with science educators, and collaboration with technology, all while utilizing engineering and mathematics.”

STEM—or Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics—is a hands-on, collaborative, problem-solving approach in education. “We have many areas where STEM is already being incorporated at Shippensburg University,” Royce said.

She believes this interdisciplinary work will enhance students’ learning and teaching abilities. The students’ varied backgrounds lead to robust conversations that promote STEM. “The business students are bringing perspective where STEM fits into the business world while the science and mathematics students are bringing perspective on what is coming content-wise and what is found in the laboratories.”

Royce first became interested in science at an early age. She fell in love with nature while in Girl Scouts and became infatuated with earth and space science in school.

“Science was the natural fit, because I have always been interested,” she said.

She brought that curiosity and fascination to her classes, sparking a love of the subject matter in her students.

Royce believes her passion and new appointment with NSTA will greatly impact Ship students now and in the future. “At Shippensburg, I have the opportunity to bring more experiences I will have while visiting different groups across the United States back to the students at our university. Our students will get a broader view of what other schools are doing rather than just having a localized view. This will cause Ship students to have the opportunity to hear and understand different initiatives across the United States.”

Royce knows this will help Ship students connect with their own students on a higher level. “Anytime we can involve students in expanding their knowledge and interact and engage in content-area subjects with STEM, I think that is a good thing.”

She already has witnessed the implementation and use of the STEM program within public education.

“I think with the public school side of it, we need to not focus so much on the outcome of a test and worry about students’ grades. We need to focus on how students are learning the information. Students need to learn the content and also apply it as they set their sights on the future.”

Royce stressed that students will only improve their chances of success and happiness with their careers by utilizing a hands-on, problem-solving approach. “Not all students are going to desire to go to a four-year liberal arts institution. Post-baccalaureate training at career and technology centers have programs that are preparing students for areas in trade, all of which involve STEM anymore.

“We, as educators, know we have to prepare students to begin to grasp opportunities, think critically, use design-thinking approaches, integrate concepts together, and work collaboratively as a team. All of those things fall under what STEM is doing as we look toward the future.”

STEM also is being used more often during after-school and summer programs at all levels of education. Royce believes this is an integral part of developing the problem-solving mentality for students.

“We spend lots of time, energy, and money in our country promoting after-school and summer programs for students. STEM is finding a place in the extracurricular vein as well. This will only help develop our students.”

Royce said a key for Ship students is to have a passion for what and who they chose to teach. “Find an area that you want to teach in terms of grade level and subject. Always keep in mind you teach students first and foremost. You can help students develop a love of learning in that content area with your enthusiasm and passion.

“Students at Ship will benefit by thinking about what they are doing in their classrooms in a broader perspective. The faculty is also incorporating real-life applications of the content in their coursework. Students are then able to start to see where information they need to learn for a test becomes very useful for the future.”

There is no doubt Royce’s promotion of STEM will have a major impact on education today and in the future. 


John Walsh ’01 is a language arts teacher in northeast Pennsylvania. 

Building Self Confidence and Safe Spaces

By Molly Foster ’19

Senior Trent Bauer’s dedication to academics, athletics, and extracurricular activities has led to numerous honors and substantial leadership positions during his undergraduate career at Ship. While Bauer cherishes the recognition he’s received for his efforts, that’s not what he considers his biggest accomplishment.

Surrounded by supportive Ship students and faculty, Bauer developed a newfound confidence. During his sophomore year, Bauer said he came out as gay.

“For years I was so afraid of what people would think about me if I came out. I was so hard on myself,” he said. “I didn’t realize the overwhelming support that I was actually surrounded by.”

While Bauer said he was hesitant to vocalize and take pride in his sexuality, the decision to do so became a blessing that multiplied as he began sharing bits of his struggle with other SU students who were in the same position.

Bauer attributes his altruism to his parents. He also found inspiration through his lifelong role model, Ellen DeGeneres, and her spirit of generosity. Because of his involvement on campus, he developed a close-knit support system and the confidence to value himself for the person he is—both critical factors in his decision to come out.

Ship recruited Bauer to play basketball, which he did through his sophomore year, then he decided to pursue a leadership role in student government. Bauer also participated in the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, Multi-cultural Student Affairs, and SU New Student Orientation. For his involvement and leadership at SU, he received the Outstanding Sophomore Award at the 2015 Student Life Awards.

Building off his success at Ship, Bauer focused on providing a voice and security to other LGBTQ students on campus. He believed that coming out as LGBTQ should not be a decision rooted in fear, and with that in mind, he proposed a plan for an LGBTQ resource center on campus.

“A resource center for the LGBTQ community is an idea that SU had for many years,” Bauer said. Serving as a pioneer in the LGBTQ resource center’s development, he has conducted surveys on campus to determine what resources SU needs. While the center is still in the developmental stage, what once was a mere idea has materialized into a not-so-distant reality because of Bauer’s efforts.

“Being someone who was questioning who they were as a person—both sexually and as a student—I want the center to be a safe place where students can go and feel like they belong.” Bauer compared the end product to the Women’s Center on campus, which works to advance gender equality through education and assists women who are victims of violence.

The LGBTQ resource center will provide an inclusive space to meet, along with guidance on LGBTQ-related matters and same-sex education, since it is typically bypassed in high school sex education. Similar to the outreach of the Women’s Center, the LGBTQ resource center will focus on the needs of LGBTQ students at SU, but will be a resource that the entire campus community can use.

“The center will also be able to help all students who may have questions like how to deal with a gay roommate or even parents who want to know how to bring up sexuality with their child,” he said.

One of Bauer’s friends wanted to highlight the positive work he’s accomplished. She wrote a letter to Bauer’s role model detailing the charitable work he has done for the LGBTQ community at Ship. While attending a recording of the Ellen DeGeneres Show in October, DeGeneres recognized Bauer’s generosity toward the LGBTQ community when she invited Bauer on stage to award him $10,000. Touched by his endeavors, DeGeneres presented the hefty check as a part of the One Million Acts of Good project.

“It’s actually kind of funny,” Bauer said. “I completely blacked out what was happening. Being in the same room as someone you looked up to your whole life and having them recognize you, it was definitely a life changing experience to say the least.”

Bauer will use part of the money DeGeneres presented him to pay off his student bills, and the rest he will invest into creating an LGBTQ scholarship at SU.

Since his appearance on the Ellen DeGeneres Show, Bauer has received words of encouragement via social media from people around the globe. He now realizes that what he is doing matters and is progressively making a positive impact on the larger LGBTQ community.

“There are so many supportive people out there,” he said. “I have received 2,100 messages on social media thanking me for what I am doing.”

After graduating from SU in the spring, Bauer said he will look into graduate schools. He plans to stay involved in the center’s development in whatever way he can and continue to make strides toward a lasting impact on the LGBTQ community.

“I really hope that this shows if any student is passionate about something, to pursue it wholeheartedly. If you want to see something change, change it.”


Molly Foster ’19 is an intern for SU Magazine.