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Alumni

STEAM Alumni

Tessa Cooper
Tessa Cooper has been hard at work since joining the VITAL Lab team in early 2007. As an undergraduate, Cooper honed her game-building skills with the development of an educational Second Life module, the Nutrition Game. At last year’s Student Research and Creative Activity Fair, Tessa shared her game with middle school and high school students who were alarmed by the amount of empty calories they consume in one day. A graduate of Ohio University’s Russ College of Engineering and Technology with a Bachelor of Science in computer sciences, Tessa has been working with Belpre students as a STEAM graduate fellow since summer 2007. “She is good at developing lesson plans and interacting with kids in classrooms,” VITAL Lab Director Dr. Lui said. Read More…
Tessa  Cooper
Mike Farrell
For 25-year-old computer science graduate student Mike Farrell, creating educational computer games for the STEAM project is not outside the norm of his everyday life. “I’ve been programming videos games since I was roughly 16 years old,” Farrell said. His first games, however, were more focused around shooting the bad guys than his current subject – energy waves. Since joining the STEAM team in June 2008, Farrell has been working “Wave Hero,” a STEAM module that teaches concepts of energy propagation. The game’s twist, however, can be observed in its model — the wildly popular “Guitar Hero” video game – one that is sure to make “Wave Hero” effective in teaching science concepts, not to mention a big hit among Farrell’s students. It is Farrell’s strong background in game development that makes him such an asset to the STEAM project, as well as what drew him to STEAM in the first place, he said. In addition to game development experience, Farrell has published papers on the topics of medical software development. Farrell, a native of Severna Park, Maryland, graduated from Salisbury College in Eastern Maryland with a Bachelor’s degree in computer science and started his graduate career at the University of Virginia. As Farrell began the Master’s program at University of Virginia, feelings of confusion washed over him. “I had to decide whether to persist there [University of Maryland, with a different major], or go to another graduate school and pursue a career in computer science,” Farrell said. Mike
Yanhui Fang
After the great success of the VITAL Lab’s awardwinning, EPA-sponsored P3 game, new STEAM grad fellow and P3 team member Yanhui Fang started to believe in the educational power of gaming technology.“Working on the P3 Project inspired me, and I saw great potential to use computer technology, especially gaming technology, within environmental education,” Fang, who is in her third year as a Ph.D. candidate in integrated engineering, said. “I wanted to learn more about gaming technology so that in the future, I could develop games myself.” Despite being a member of the VITAL Lab’s P3 team, Fang worked mostly within the research efforts orts of the game, which focuses on environmental sustainability and chemical exposure safety. As Fang begins developing her first STEAM game,“Labyrinth,” she is faced with challenges in the realm of computer programming. Programming, Fang explains, is a skill she is eager to learn, as well as one that she believes will help her in future endeavors. Fang brings a mindset of deep environmental consciousness to the STEAM project, as well as a desire to share her passion with her sixth grade students at Belpre Middle School. The second STEAM module that Fang will develop is geared toward the topic of energy consumption, she said.“I hope to show my students that improving our environment is not a career or a job to work on,” Fang said. “It should be a theme of our everyday lives that we can improve upon through our lifestyles.” Yanhui
Juan Flores
While most children would think an engineer drives trains, twenty-five year- old STEAM GK-12 Fellow Juan Flores made a childhood pledge to become a mechanical engineer when he grew up.“When I was a kid in primary school, I used to play baseball,” Flores explained.“My mom always told me, ‘I know you like baseball, but you really need to find something you’d like to study. It would be nice for you to be a professional baseball player, but also get a professional degree. The next minute I was saying, ‘I want to be a mechanical engineer.’ I didn’t even have any idea what a mechanical engineer did! But the more I read about it, the more and more I liked it.” These days, Flores hopes to inspire more of his students to become engineers than baseball players, as he works on the“Career Exploration” module alongside grad fellow Bill Young (in addition his solo development of the “Adventure Park” game). As important as it is for Flores to inspire his students to take their studies seriously, he also wants to encourage them to find a personal passion in life and incorporate it into their studies and eventually, their careers.“I’m trying to motivate my students by showing them how hard I work, but also how much fun I have,” Flores said. Flores’ commitment to his classroom is apparent, but what his seventh grade students at Athens Middle School may not know is that they really were the driving force behind his initial interest in the STEAM project. Juan
Jim Wyllie
Jim is a Ohio University Alumni. Previously, he graduated from West Geauga High School in 2001 and graduated magna cum laude from Ohio University in Computer Science in 2005. While obtaining a BS in Computer Science, Jim received the Outstanding Student Award during his junior and senior years as well as numerous scholarships. His work experience includes a 10-month co-op experience at Electronic Vision in Athens, Ohio designing online educational delivery systems, an 18-month position as web and technology manager at The Post in Athens, Ohio designing and deploying a CMS using all phases of standard software engineering, and an NIH-sponsored summer fellowship at The Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio researching MRI modeling technologies. His research interests include networking and operating systems and is a current member of the Internetworking Research Group. Outside of class, Jim enjoys time spent biking, hiking, running, camping, kayaking, and playing club ultimate frisbee. Read More…
Mark Smearcheck
Bruce Bilyeu
Bruce Bilyeu is in his first year of obtaining his Master of Science Degree in Computer Science at Ohio University and specializing in networking and systems. Originally from Barnesville, Ohio, he graduated cum laude from Ohio University with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and a minor in Mathematics. During his Undergraduate work, Bruce served as an Engineering Ambassador, became a Member of Upsilon Pi Epsilon the Ohio University Computer Science Honor Society, and also received the Outstanding Senior Award in Computer Science. Read More…
Bruce Bilyeu
Mitchell Leitch
Mitchell grew up in Mentor, Ohio, which is a suburb 20 minutes east of Cleveland. This is his first year of graduate school in computer science at Ohio University as well as his first year in the STEAM fellowship. He received his undergraduate degree in computer science through the Russ College of Engineering at Ohio University. He served as the Association for Computing Machinery Vice President and later as the President. Mitchell was Robe Leadership Scholar during the 2005-2006 school year.
Mitchell Leitch
Chad Mourning
Chad is from Middleport, Ohio and is a first year graduate student in computer science at Ohio University. He received a B.S. in Computer Science as an undergraduate, also from Ohio University. During his undergraduate career, he spent two years throwing hammer and shot put on the Ohio University track and field team. His other interests include video games, comic books, professional wrestling and quiz shows.
Chad Mourning
Scott Nykl
Scott is a new computer science graduate fellow at Ohio University looking forward to working on such an exciting project. He graduated from Amherst High School in Amherst, Wisconsin and attended college at the University of Wisconsin — Platteville as a Software Engineer. His interests lie in computer networks, graphics, and simulations. In his free time, he enjoys lifting weights and spending time with friends. Read More…
Scott Nykl
Eric Petri
Eric Petri is a first year Master’s student in Computer Science. He graduated from Bellbrook High School in 2002 and from Ohio University with a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and a minor in Business Administration in spring of 2006. As an undergraduate, Eric worked as a website developer for Breckenridge Financial Supplies in West Carrollton, Ohio and as a network technician for Ohio University’s Computer Services Center. Eric was invited to join and was elected the president of the international computing and information honor society Upsilon Pi Epsilon at Ohio University during spring 2006. He is honored and excited to be a part of the STEAM Fellowship opportunity. He looks forward to furthering his education while reaching out to and teaching Appalachia adolescent students. Eric’s research interests in Computer Science include Artificial Intelligence and Bioinformatics. Read More…


Eric Petri
Josh Schendel
Josh Schendel is a first-year graduate fellow from Elroy, Wisconsin. Josh received his B.S. in Software Engineering from the University of Wisconsin, Platteville in May of 2006. At Platteville, Josh was an active member in such organizations as the Institute for Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), the Association of Industry Technology Professionals (AITP), and the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). Josh’s high academic standing earned him entry into several honor societies, including Alpha Lambda Delta, Tau Beta Pi, Phi Kappa Phi, and Phi Eta Sigma. Josh balanced his classroom work and participation in professional organizations with part-time work. As a sophomore, Josh occupied a position as Network Consultant and later Database Developer for ResNet, the campus’s primary computer support organization. He later worked as a Software Technician at Esterline, Avista Inc. where he performed real-time testing of the C-17 aircraft. In his last semester at Platteville, Josh accepted a part-time position as a Quality Assurance Intern at Widen Enterprises, where he wrote automated tests exercising a collection of client-specific web applications. Josh participated in an 8-month full-time cooperative work experience as a Decision Support Intern for Stora Enso North America, which he used to fund a semester abroad in Nagasaki, Japan through the Japan Studies in Nagasaki (JASIN) program. Read More…


Josh Schendel
Mark Smearcheck
Mark Smearcheck is a first year Master’s student in Electrical Engineering. He graduated from Hoover High School in North Canton, Ohio, and received his Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering accompanied by a minor in Mathematics from Ohio University in Spring of 2006. During his undergraduate education, he co-oped as a Network Engineer at PCC Airfoils LLC. in Minerva, Ohio. He has also held a research assistant position at the Ohio University Avionics Engineering Center since 2004 where his research focused on synthetic vision and terrain referenced navigation systems along with network communication and graphical interfaces. In addition to his education, he is involved in IEEE, Eta Kappa Nu, and Tau Beta Pi. His research interests have an avionics focus, combining both image processing and terrain referenced navigation. Read More…


Mark Smearcheck

Alumni Teachers

Jackie Hlubb
Having lived in Southeastern Ohio her entire life, Jackie Hlubb was born in Marietta, Ohio and graduated from Marietta College in 1973. Jackie received a Master’s degree from Marietta College in 1990. She and her husband, John, and their two children live in Lowell, Ohio. Currently, Jackie teaches 8th grade science at Belpre Middle School. She has taught at Belpre for the last thirty-three years. Read more…
Jackie Hlubb
Keith MaCartney
Now is in his fifth year of teaching, Keith Macartney is the sixth grade science teacher for Federal Hocking Middle School. In addition to teaching science, he is providing content expertise for the STEAM program through Ohio University. Currently, he is working toward a Master’s degree that focuses on integrating technology into the curriculum. Keith lives in Amesville, Ohio with his wife, Megan, and his son, Alex. Keith’s interests include reading, coral reef aquariums, hiking, traveling and his family. Read more…
Keith MaCartney
Kurt Nostrant
Kurt Nostrant is a 1984 and 1991 graduate of Ohio University earning both his B.S. and M.S. He spent his first three years of his teaching career with the Cleveland Public Schools, only to be followed by ten years with the Alexander Local School District. For the past ten years, however, Kurt has been a teacher within the Athens City School District. He has received numerous grants and has been involved in several after-school science programs. He coached two Science Olympiad teams to national competition in 1994 and 1995. Finally, Kurt was inducted into the Ohio University Gifted Hall of Fame for his work with gifted children. Read more…
Kurt Nostrant
NSF This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0538588. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.