Knights Participate in Third Annual
Student Philanthropy Week

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It takes many hands to smoothly and effectively run the second-largest university in the nation. Busy students often don’t realize where our school’s resources come from, so the UCF Student Philanthropy Council started spreading the word of philanthropic giving with Project ’63.

The mission of Project ’63 is to remind students of the importance of philanthropy and its impact on higher education. To accomplish this, the SPC is hosting its third annual Student Philanthropy Week, bringing the spirit of giving back to campus.

This year’s celebration takes place Feb. 22-25, and includes the following daily events to inspire tradition:

Monday – Education Day
Students host a table outside the Student Union and play educational/trivia games.

Tuesday – Appreciation Day
Students sign a “Thank You” banner for young alumni donors, which helps stewardship with donors and gives students a better appreciation for and understanding of how philanthropy impacts their education.

On both Monday and Tuesday, the Student Philanthropy Council also introduces Philanthropy Cab, like the TV show “CA$H CAB,” where members pick up students and drive them to their classes on a golf cart, all the while testing their knowledge and school pride!

Wednesday – Participation Day
Students focus on peer-to-peer solicitation to cultivate donations in anticipation of launching a senior giving program.

Thursday – Celebration Day
The week concludes with all of the previous days’ activities, plus the Student Philanthropy Symposium, featuring a panel of some of the UCF Alumni Association’s 30 under 30 award winners.

“Student Philanthropy Week is one of the first opportunities many students have to learn about the impact of philanthropy on their education,” says Danielle Warren, coordinator of the UCF Fund. “Facilitating experiences through which students might recognize that many academic, scholarship and programmatic opportunities are funded by donations cultivates the spirit of philanthropy on campus — an important step toward assuring the future of private support at UCF.”

For more information about the Student Philanthropy Council and Student Philanthropy Week, contact Danielle at 407.882.1254.

UCF Board of Trustees Revises Downtown Campus Plans

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Rendering of proposed UCF Downtown campus
(PHOTO: UCF Board of Trustees online agenda)

By Eric Gutierrez
Digital Producer, Central Florida Future

Moving forward with plans to establish a stronger downtown presence, UCF’s Board of Trustees unanimously approved of a revised plan for the Downtown Orlando campus. “This update is very different than the plans we saw in January,” Chairman Marcos Marchena said.

The revised plan proposes building an academic services building and renovating the existing Center for Emerging Media. The academic services building will cost about $60 million to build, and renovations for the Center for Emerging Media building will cost about $5 million.

To fund the project, the plan proposes asking the state for about $19 million — about one-third the amount UCF originally asked from the state to build the downtown campus’ first academic building. The remaining funds will be paid for by the university and through private donations.

“We are working with our partners to address parking and housing downtown,” said Provost Dale Whittaker.

The proposed academic building would house academic programs that are well suited for the downtown environment and are expected to bring out more than 7,000 students to the downtown campus the first year. “We’ve refined our plans to include nine academic degree programs with strategic emphasis to meet workforce gaps in Florida,” Whittaker said. “We see the new academic building to be a key catalyst to the development of this campus.” So far, the programs offered are centered around health care, communications, technology, social work and legal studies.

The downtown campus would offer students work and internship opportunities that would apply what they learn in the classroom into the real world, he said.

Though plans for the downtown campus are set to continue, the projected opening date has been pushed back an extra year. “We moved from [opening in] fall of 2017 to fall of 2018,” said Grant Heston, vice president of communications and marketing.

The downtown project has always aimed to improve students by bringing them downtown and improving downtown by having students in the area, Heston said. The overall impact of the project will affect the downtown area in a very positive way, he said.

This story appeared in a Sept. 24, edition of the Central Florida Future online. See original article.

Engineering Students Repair Vandalized Pegasus Sculpture

Engineering students, from left, Anthony Defilippo, Cullen Fitzgerald and Jennifer Ambrose repair the damaged "Wind Dancer" sculpture of Pegasus, which lies hobbled on its back in the Manufacturing Lab at the College of Engineering and Computer Science.
Engineering students, from left, Anthony Defilippo, Cullen Fitzgerald and Jennifer Ambrose repair the damaged “Wind Dancer” sculpture of Pegasus, which lies hobbled on its back in the Manufacturing Lab at the College of Engineering and Computer Science.

By Mark Schlueb

A group of engineering students are repairing a sculpture of Pegasus vandalized two weeks ago.

The “Wind Dancer” sculpture of Pegasus that sits in front of the Burnett Honors College was damaged on Sept. 3 after UCF’s first football game of the season. Security camera video captured a man trying to climb atop the winged horse, which was left bent and staring skyward. Despite the offer of a reward, police have not yet caught the vandal.

Burnett Honors College alumnus Jeff Douglass, ’02, founder and CEO of Cybis Communications who contributed significantly to the original cost of the sculpture in 2007, has offered to cover the cost of repairs. As it turns out, those costs should be minimal.

College of Engineering and Computer Science Professor Ali Gordon recruited several seniors majoring in mechanical and aerospace engineering to repair the sculpture. Students Jennifer Ambrose, Anthony Defilippo, Cullen Fitzgerald and Chad Robinson removed it from its base on Tuesday and moved it to the Manufacturing Lab at the College of Engineering and Computer Science, the same lab where the Limbitless team produces 3D-printed arms and hands for children.

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The students found that the vandal’s rough treatment of the relatively delicate aluminum sculpture had sheared off its mount and caused several pieces of its “mane” to come loose.

On Wednesday, Ambrose, Defilippo and Fitzgerald designed a new mount for the sculpture and used a machine lathe to begin forming it. They expect to weld the aluminum sculpture where needed on Thursday, with the hope of having it back in place before the next home football game this Saturday.

Defilippo says it should be much sturdier after they make the repairs and modifications.

This story appeared Sept. 17, 2015, on UCF Today. It has been slightly edited in accordance with AP and alumni association style guidelines. See original article. 

UCF Students with Disabilities Move into Dorms and Experience College in New Pilot Program

One teacher said Amanda Carbonneau would never graduate high school. Now, she’s a freshman at UCF.

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Amanda Carbonneau (center) holds the door open for her mother, Janet (left),
and sister, Jordan, as they help move her into her UCF dorm.
(PHOTO: Sarah Espedido, Orlando Sentinel)

By Gabrielle Russon
Education Reporter, Orlando Sentinel

Amanda Carbonneau’s new student ID lanyard hung from her neck, a proud symbol of her freshman status.

Two hours before her first class Monday, she mentioned the hip-hop class at the gym she wants to try. She had already discovered how delicious school food can be and stumbled upon Knightro the UCF mascot, good material for a Facebook post.

This is what life is like moving on campus for Carbonneau, a pioneer at the University of Central Florida. She is one of six students enrolled in a test program aimed at making higher education more accessible for those with intellectual disabilities.

The program is debuting at a time when there has been a greater focus on helping disabled students get the necessary education to find good jobs.

Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, who has a son with Down syndrome, has pushed for the state to devote more resources to the issue. Although Gov. Rick Scott vetoed money for a statewide center for students with disabilities, UCF moved forward with its previously planned small test.

“We need to get the word out. This is an option,” said Debra Hart at the Institute for Community Inclusion at the University of Massachusetts Boston.

“Students [with disabilities] can — and do — go to college,” added Hart, who advised UCF with the pilot.

Carbonneau now lives in a dorm room with a view overlooking a lake and the marching-band practice fields. The decorating process went fast: the turquoise comforter in place, her quilt made from old soccer T-shirts up and the heart lights strung up over her bed.

“It feels like home,” said Carbonneau, 21.

Growing up, Carbonneau took therapy to learn how to hold a pencil and improve her speech. She reads on a fourth-grade level.

“Amanda has really struggled with school her whole life,” said her mother, Janet, a UCF alum who met her husband at college in the 1980s. “She is one of the kids who in the public-school system falls through the cracks. She’s not severely handicapped. She’s not autistic. She doesn’t really have a diagnosis. She’s not Down syndrome. … She just has some learning issues.”

At one school, her teacher said Carbonneau would never graduate from high school. Her mother switched schools.

Janet and Guy Carbonneau wanted a normal life for their daughter, who liked roller coasters, played soccer, baby-sat, earned her drivers license and graduated in 2013 from what is now known as Willow Schools.

“Nothing makes her fearful. She just says, ‘I’m going to try,'” said her former Principal Carla Brandt. “You can just tell she wants to go into this world. Once she finds her place, her niche, she will just thrive.”

Her family, which lives 20 minutes away in Winter Springs, moved her in last week, battling a rainstorm. They didn’t want to miss a preseason NFL game, which only increased the urgency to get Carbonneau’s TV working.

“We love Amanda,” wrote her older sister, Jordan, on a white board on move-in day.

This semester, Carbonneau will take two classes, one on college skills and another on childhood education. She will get paired with other UCF students to help her adjust to school and campus social life.

Carbonneau and the other five students are not degree-seeking, so they will not get letter grades for their classes. They didn’t need high test scores or grades to gain admittance either.

The university is still working on the details, such as whether they will receive certificates or a special degree, said Adam Meyer, director of UCF’s Student Accessibility Services.

“We know at the state level we need to have those conversations,” Meyer said.

What makes UCF’s program unique is the buy-in, from top to bottom, Hart said.

For instance, Provost Dale Whittaker has touted the program to UCF leaders, and professors who support Carbonneau in their classes will adjust assignments so they are appropriate for her.

It also stands out because the majority of university programs don’t allow disabled students to live on campus, Hart said, amid concerns the students are exposed to sex and alcohol and other typical college issues.

Hart said she believes the UCF program is “very robust and rich for the students.”

“They want an authentic college experience, meaning it’s the real deal,” she said.

In a cheerful tone, Carbonneau listed off her plans for school: maybe join a club, meet new friends, go to the football games land a job at a university day care because she likes children.

Who knows? Maybe she will meet a nice boyfriend in college.

“I’m excited for that, too,” she said.

This story appeared in an Aug. 24, 2015, edition of the Orlando Sentinel online. It has been slightly edited in accordance with alumni association style guidelines. See original article.

More Info

UCF Today

UCF PD Brings New Pup to K-9 Unit

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The newest UCF PD K-9, Justice, plays keep-away with Scott during a break in training. (PHOTO: Deanna Ferrante, Central Florida Future)

By Deanna Ferrante
Senior Staff Writer, Central Florida Future

The newest member of the UCF Police Department can’t use handcuffs or fire a gun, but he can chase his tail.

Justice is the newest pup on patrol with UCF PD’s K-9 unit. On his first night of active duty, Justice and his partner, Officer Matt Scott, were called in to handle a narcotics case.

On Aug. 5, Scott and Justice were called to the scene of a traffic stop when another UCF PD officer pulled over a woman who had recently been arrested for possession of cocaine, according to the arrest affidavit.

When Scott and Justice arrived, the dog indicated a positive alert on the suspect’s car. Inside, officers found a purple Crown Royal drawstring bag filled with used syringes, a green USB cord used as a tourniquet, and an Altoids tin containing 28 plastic bags filled with white and brown powder residue.

A sample from one of the bags was field tested for heroin and yielded a positive result, and the woman was arrested on charges of heroin possession.

Justice and the other K-9s are imperative in making arrests like these.

“That’s the call we want the dogs to be at their highest capacity for,” Scott said.

It was a big night for Justice, who has only been with the department for a few months. After Scott’s previous dog Buster was forced to retire due to medical reasons, Justice was purchased in replacement.

While UCF PD put in 480 hours to train Buster, Justice was purchased already trained from Germany.

It’s not uncommon for police dogs to be trained in Europe, Scott said. In fact, he said, for the most part, almost every K-9 in the country is brought in from overseas.

Because of the way he was originally trained, Scott uses German commands to give Justice orders.

The K-9 unit is made up of four teams: Scott and Justice; Officer Chris Holt and his dog, Jogy; Officer Mica Wenner and her dog, Samson; and Cpl. Chuck Reising and his dog, Max. Two of the dogs, including Justice, have been trained to handle narcotics cases, while the other two handle explosives detection.

Twice per month, the four teams meet behind the police department for an extensive day of training.

The dogs learn how to do bite work, narcotics detection, tracking, and building searches. The officers also train the dogs to be comfortable in many different situations and environments.

“Some of these dogs have never been on tile,” Scott said. “You don’t want a dog freezing up because he’s never been on marble before.”

Reising, the K-9 unit’s leader, said they put the dogs in a variety of different situations to get them used to any scenario that could happen while on patrol.

They take the dogs into the Reflecting Pond to get them used to water, make them climb over fences and take them to the gun range to get them used to the sound of shooting.

The dogs must follow their partners’ commands immediately, or they risk the chance of accidentally hurting someone besides their intended targets.

The dogs are trained to run after a suspect and, then, after a command from their partner, to instantly stop the chase and return.

“If another cop or someone else gets close, the dog might key on them,” Reising explained. “We don’t want the dog to bite an innocent person.”

When they aren’t training, the teams alternate shifts to patrol. Their schedules vary, but they usually work 12-hour shifts for half of the month on alternating days during the week.

Because of the long hours, Scott said he makes sure he keeps a close eye on his partner. He must make sure he stops to give Justice water or a bathroom break so the dog is always ready to jump into action.

“That way, when the time to deploy him comes, he’s doing what he needs to do,” he said.

For Scott and the rest of the K-9 unit, preparing the dogs also includes a lot of petting and praising; they want the dogs to be happy when they come to work.

“You want the dog to be excited,” Scott said. “You want the dog to want to be here.”

This story was published in an Aug. 20, 2015, edition of the Central Florida Future online. It has been slightly edited in accordance with AP and alumni association style guidelines. See original article, which includes more photos.

Veterans Share Stories through UCF History Project

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A veteran shares his story of military life through UCF’s Community Veterans History Project.
(PHOTO: Courtesy of Tiffany Rivera)

By Bridgette Norris
Digital Producer, Central Florida Future

Sitting in his kitchen, Navy veteran Jim Middlekauff, ’99, tells the tale of a time many students today couldn’t imagine.

The UCF alumnus is one of many to share his personal story through the UCF Community Veterans History Project, an interdisciplinary campus project and collaboration of several different departments, which started in 2010 in support of the Regional Initiative for Collecting the History, Experiences and Stories of Central Florida.

“From my experiences, and the experiences of all veterans, students can learn that freedom is not free,” says Middlekauff, former assistant for the University Registrar for Veterans Services at UCF. “Veterans dedicate their lives through their service, and the Veterans History Project is a unique narrative where students can get a personal perspective of the life of a veteran and the role that military personnel have played in securing our freedom and way of life.”

Once the project came to campus, the departments quickly made a goal to serve as significant contributors to the national initiative, the Veterans History Project through the Library of Congress.

All veterans who served in the U.S. armed forces, on active or reserve status, are welcome to participate.

Eligible veterans can also be those who have experience in wartime and peacetime, served in combat units, supported units behind the lines, and trained and held administrative positions at home.

After the veterans are interviewed, the recordings are archived and preserved in the UCF Library’s Digital Collections. Interviews that meet the national project qualification of being at least 30 minutes long with no breaks or pauses are sent off to the national project.

“I came to this position with a true interest in supporting veterans … and a passion for veterans and their stories being told,” says Tiffany Rivera, assistant director of educational and training programs. “It is a way to get the public involved in their own history in ways that are relevant and that are outside of the traditional classroom.”

So far, the campus project has interviewed more than 400 veterans through varying methods.

For the first two years, students conducted the interviews either voluntarily or through a class.

Now, along with this approach, a peer-to-peer initiative has been adopted, through which participants in the project go out into the community and train residents to do interviews with their peers.

There are also corporate interview days when participants travel to corporations to conduct interviews with veterans who are employees at places such as Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, and JHT Inc.

“Because the interviews are available online and accessible to the public, it’s a great way for researchers to find information they won’t be able to find in a textbook per se,” Rivera explains. “Some want students to understand what they have done and appreciate the freedom they have and sacrifices they have given.”

Initially, the project was collecting about 50 interviews per year, and now about 50 are conducted each semester. Rivera credits the increase in interviews to the community’s involvement and peer-to-peer interviews.

“I have learned that veterans are not always respected in the way they should be, and this project has taught me that each story is unique, each experience is unique and you don’t have to have some big combat story to have contributed,” she says.

As a 22-year veteran, Middlekauff says he felt obligated to assist with the project because valuable military history is being lost nationwide as the number of veterans of previous wars are declining.

“Military history is an important part of our country’s history,” he says. “This is a history that, without being told, would be lost forever.”

While the project has expanded to more than just student efforts, students still play a major role.

Daniel Bradfield, a former UCF graduate research assistant, says oral histories provide students with an opportunity to learn about individuals from a specific period of time and hear personal experiences with historical events and people.

“I enjoyed hearing people’s stories and using historical research to investigate people’s lives and adding their individual voices on a topic,” he says. “Additionally, I became interested with the interview process and building a valid and interesting oral history project.”

Any student is able and encouraged to get involved in the project.

“Our students do these interviews and walk away with their eyes huge because they have talked to someone who has experienced something really foreign to them,” Rivera says. “More and more families don’t have a service member, so hearing these stories is a unique opportunity.

“This project is a way to capture history while it’s still alive.”

This story appeared in an Aug. 6, 2015, edition of the Central Florida Future online. It has been slightly edited in accordance with AP and alumni association style guidelines. See original article. 

More Info

riches.cah.ucf.edu/veterans